You have got to be kidding me.

Someone (sorry, I can’t remember whom) recently pointed to this story about the trials and travails of trying to turn illiterate backwards Afghans into police officers in 8 weeks or less.

Dyncorp, a contractor that employs ex-LEOs as instructors, has been hired to perform this impossible task.  The entire premise that completely uneducated, illiterate peasants could be turned into even marginally functional police officers in 8 (or, more recently, 6) weeks is ridiculous on its face, but you’d think that the contractors would at least TRY to do the job they’re being paid for.

Throughout the entire piece, the inability of the contractors to train the recruits in basic marksmanship is lamented repeatedly; on page three, however, at least part of the problem is revealed:

At Kabul’s police training center, a team of 35 Italian carabinieri recently arrived to supplement DynCorp’s efforts. Before the Italians showed up at the end of January for a one-year tour, the recruits were posting miserable scores on the firing range. But the Italians soon discovered that poor marksmanship wasn’t the only reason: the sights of the AK-47 and M-16 rifles the recruits were using were badly out of line. “We zeroed all their weapons,” says Lt. Rolando Tommasini. “It’s a very important thing, but no one had done this in the past. I don’t know why.”

The Italians also had a different way of teaching the recruits to shoot. DynCorp’s instructors started their firearms training with 20-round clips at 50 meters; the recruits couldn’t be sure at first if they were even hitting the target. Instead the carabinieri started them off with just three bullets each and a target only seven meters away. The recruits would shoot, check the target, and be issued three more rounds. When they began gaining confidence, the distance was gradually increased to 15, then 30, and then 50 meters. On a recent day on the firing range only one of 73 recruits failed the shooting test. The Italians say that’s a huge improvement. (DynCorp says its civilian police advisers are “highly qualified”; the average trainer has more than a decade of law-enforcement experience.) [emphasis added]

They were trying to teach raw recruits to shoot and DIDN’T EVEN BOTHER TO ZERO THE FREAKING RIFLES??????

Not to mention that anyone who’s ever done any firearms training at any time knows that you start beginners out at very short range, one shot at a time, and getting them on target first to build confidence, then backing off to more challenging ranges.

In my humble opinion, this is nothing more than the latest of a never-ending stream of evidence that even a lifetime of work as a law enforcement officer carrying a sidearm on a daily basis, does NOT make one a firearms expert or proficient shooting instructor.

Real life is not fiction.  Simply carrying a firearm in a holster every day does not impart expertise by osmosis.  Unless a LEO is a firearms enthusiast on their own time, the odds are they are only marginally more qualified to use and teach others to use firearms than the clerk behind the counter at your local Wal-mart’s sporting goods department.


7 thoughts on “You have got to be kidding me.

  1. Geez… Even it the sights were ok to begin with, except for practicing the "skill" of moving your finger over and over, there's almost zero benefit to letting new shooters wail away at a target that far away. Not with the lack of feedback for where each shot was (or wasn't) hitting.


  2. Sometimes, experience can lead to sloppiness and assumptions. The contractor's response also betrays a sense of arrogance. None of those traits are desirable in a teacher.

  3. This doesn't surprise me.

    When we lived in northern Virginia, we used to go to Shooter's Paradise, a local indoor range (until it burnt down). A lot of LEOs would come to the range to shoot in their free time to improve their shooting, and some of them were pretty lousy shots. I've seen all manner of silliness from Police Officers who came to that range and it's made me realize that just because someone carries a firearm in the line of duty doesn't necessarily mean they are any better with that firearm than John Q. Citizen who has one at home for protection. Proficiency is something you acquire by spending hours and hours at the range, practicing. Not something you acquire qualifying once a year.

  4. Not to slam *ANYONE* but just because you're an ex-LEO does not mean you have the skill to train others. Being a user of a tool does not imply the ability to build said tool.

    Training/teaching is an art that combines communications, tact, knowledge of subject, and a lot of humor. You have to always start from the perspective that your student is completely ignorance of the subject matter and go from there. I taught adults for 10+ years and anytime you *assume* anything about your students, everyone loses…

  5. I wonder if Dyncorp will get some NRA certified instructors to teach the marksmanship. Sure, the cops can teach cuffing, investigating, and dealing generally with the local toothless population; maybe the Afghani po po would be better served having some bona fide shooting instructors give them the basics.

    It sounds like the Italians are doing a fine job though.

  6. I believe you may not be giving the ex-LEOs at Dynacorp credit.

    There have been more than a few Afghani police who end up shooting at NATO soldiers.

    Perhaps this was self preservation taken to extreme.

    I think shooting skills would be the last thing I'd teach, and then only if the recruit in question had passed parts of the course on rule of law, anti-corruption, and ethics.

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