An army officer singled out as "the principal architect of an extraordinary momentum of transition in security responsibility to Afghan forces" has been made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).
Lieutenant Colonel James Coote, of 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales Royal Regiment, was awarded the honour for his role commanding the police mentoring and advisory group (PMAG) responsible for mentoring the Afghan National Police.
The 400-strong PMAG was responsible for more than 3,000 Afghan uniformed police, 160 checkpoints, the Police Regional Training Centre and the operational co-ordination centres at district and provincial level in the war-ravaged country.
Lieutenant Colonel James Coote, of 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales Royal Regiment, who has been made an OBE
Lt Col Coote, 41, was decorated for his work during Herrick 15: last year's operation.
"Herrick 15 was when we saw the first momentum for change in the Afghan National Police becoming a police force rather than a security force. But I have to say, I think we were able to achieve that momentum in the transition because of the work our predecessors did to developed the Afghan police, just as I hope the transition we achieved will be the legacy of our tour," he said.
"I am very proud of this OBE which reflects the work of every one of the men and women in the PMAG and what they achieved during 2011 and 2012."
It was the officer's second tour of Afghanistan, having also deployed to Kosovo, Northern Ireland and Iraq where his actions earned him a Distinguished Service Order.
Recently numerous soldiers have been killed by Afghan colleagues in "green on blue" attacks but Lt Col Coote said he was never concerned.
"In an environment where there are so many weapons and violence is commonplace, there are always risks but we took steps to mitigate those where possible and I never once personally felt at threat from my Afghan counterparts," he said.
"And I certainly wouldn't say that the incidents that have happened are undoing the progress that has been made. Yes, they are extremely saddening and not something we would want to happen, but we should keep in mind that on a day-to-day basis there are thousands and thousands of interactions with Afghans and Isaf (International Security Assistance Force) troops that are successful and amicable and in the spirit of cooperation.
"We shouldn't let the bad penny spoil the whole jar."
The officer, who is from Southampton, was applauded in his citation for his role.
It states: "His impact on police capability and on transition has been nothing less than transformational."
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