Afghanistan — General Provides Update on Afghan Police Training

WASHINGTON, April 9, 2010 — The impor­tance of devel­op­ing Afghan police forces is equal to that of rais­ing a strong mil­i­tary there, a senior offi­cer involved in that effort said yes­ter­day.

Cana­di­an army Maj. Gen. Mike Ward, deputy com­man­der of police train­ing for NATO Train­ing Mis­sion Afghanistan pro­vid­ed an update on the Afghan Nation­al Civ­il Order Police dur­ing a “DoD Live” blog­gers roundtable. 

Despite recent suc­cess­es in Mar­ja and gains in pop­u­lar­i­ty among civil­ians, Afghan police have much to over­come, Ward said. “Everyone’s aware, I’m sure, of how frag­ile the Afghan Nation­al Police are,” Ward said. “They have the worst rep­u­ta­tion for a nation­al insti­tu­tion in the coun­try — the high­est lev­el of corruption.” 

But that rep­u­ta­tion tends to over­shad­ow a lot of pos­i­tive actions in the police force, he added, espe­cial­ly plans com­ing down to the police from the Afghan inte­ri­or min­is­ter. “He fol­lowed [a broad­er nation­al police pol­i­cy] with the first of a series of five one-year plans,” Ward said. “He’s gone on notice to iden­ti­fy where he wants to take the min­istry, and what … he expects the police to achieve dur­ing that timeframe.” 

The NATO train­ing com­mand has imple­ment­ed strate­gies in recent months to reduce Afghan-police attri­tion, improve train­ing and improve lead­er­ship and oper­a­tions effec­tive­ness. By employ­ing mea­sures such as oper­a­tional deploy­ment cycles, per­son­al asset inven­to­ry, pay par­i­ty and lit­er­a­cy train­ing — as well as ful­fill­ing part­ner­ship com­mit­ments with coali­tion forces — Ward said offi­cials expect to sta­bi­lize, rein­force and enable the force. Embed­ded part­ner­ing has been a big part of the train­ing of Afghan police as well as sol­diers. Ward said the intent is to cre­ate a “war­rior bond” in which the train­ers pro­vide a good exam­ple and the trainees learn to work in some­times do-or-die situations. 

“This notion of get­ting clos­er to the Afghans so they can be suc­cess­ful in the bat­tle space is pro­gress­ing,” Ward said. “It can nev­er hap­pen fast enough, but what the [troops] are learn­ing with their Afghan coun­ter­parts … is if the mod­el is suc­cess­ful, the issue of nation­al­i­ty is almost invis­i­ble. If you have peo­ple who respect each oth­er and are ful­ly com­mit­ted to the mis­sion, what you get is a pos­i­tive expe­ri­ence in pro­fes­sion­al and war­rior terms for both sides.” Ward acknowl­edged that the com­mand suf­fers from a short­age of train­ers to pair with trainees. Afghan army com­man­do units have the most 1‑to‑1 train­ing pairs and the high­est reten­tion and low­est attri­tion rates, he noted. 

Hav­ing that same train­er-to-trainee ratio with the Afghan police, Ward said, would bring about a “quan­tum improve­ment” in per­for­mance, ethics and reten­tion. At least 600 more instruc­tors are required across the 30 or so train­ing cen­ters the NATO train­ing com­mand has estab­lished in Afghanistan, Ward said, which now have only about 400 instruc­tors, includ­ing con­tract­ed police instructors. 

Ward said the short­age of instruc­tors is a con­cern, cit­ing the pri­or­i­ties estab­lished by Army Gen. William V. Cald­well IV, who com­mands NATO Train­ing Mis­sion Afghanistan. “Gen­er­al Caldwell’s com­mit­ment is to qual­i­ty and quan­ti­ty, in that order, and we don’t want to miss the oppor­tu­ni­ty to make sure these peo­ple are well-trained, and safe, and that the Afghan peo­ple are proud of them,” Ward said. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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