Story and photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Snodgrass
LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan – First Lt. Patrick Abell has one of the toughest and most important jobs a Marine can have: teaching future Afghan Border Policemen how to do their job after coalition forces leave Afghanistan.
As the ABP mentor for Border Advisor Team 1 in Helmand province, Abell is responsible for advising ABP leaders on how to effectively and efficiently secure their borders and key points of entry.
Hard work, dedication and determination are qualities he believes in, and qualities he believes can exist within the ABP.
Abell brings many qualities of a leader into the field when he sets out to complete his missions, said Gunnery Sgt. Jeffrey Holliday, operations chief for Abell’s advisor team.
“His integrity is his best feature,” said Holliday. “I have never known him to be crass or disrespectful to his juniors.”
Abell, an Akron, Ohio, native, takes the hard work and experience he gained growing up with him into his work. At Revere High School, he was a football team captain, class president and a member of the drama guild. He graduated from Harvard University in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in American history.
These experiences instilled the knowledge that extra time and effort can make the difference between success and failure, a lesson he finds applicable in his mentor role with the ABP, he said.
The three professional goals that Abell wants to achieve as a mentor are to train strong, quality leaders who can command the ABP; to have 90 percent accountability for all the personnel’s training and equipment; and to move them to a new, centralized location.
“Having strong leaders will ensure that their borders are secure and their unit is free from corruption,” Abell said. “Getting them moved into their new headquarters will be a big step to them having more capabilities and independence.”
A standardized point system for promoting ABP personnel and a direct deposit payment system are other improvements he would like to see implemented.
Abell’s team has seen progress in preparing the ABP to eventually handle the security of Lashkar Gah by themselves, but there is still work to be done, he said.
“We’re taking it one step at a time,” he reflected. “This way, we’re making a sturdy foundation of success we can build on. In the end, it’s their country to win or lose, and I think most of them have decided they want to win.”