Afghanistan — Pay Raises, Training Combat Afghan Corruption

WASHINGTON, May 18, 2010 — Cor­rup­tion has con­sti­tut­ed a viable threat in Afghanistan for some time, but mea­sures are being tak­en there to help keep Afghan offi­cials hon­est.

Increased train­ing, as well as salary and com­pen­sa­tion reforms for Afghan police and sol­diers are among the tools being employed to reduce cor­rup­tion, Army Col. Thomas J. Umberg, chief of anti-cor­rup­tion activ­i­ties for NATO Train­ing Mis­sion Afghanistan, said in a “DoD Live” blog­gers round­table yes­ter­day.

When offi­cials don’t need to take bribes or behave uneth­i­cal­ly to pay the bills and feed their fam­i­lies, Umberg explained, cor­rup­tion will decrease across the board.

“If you don’t have sys­tems in place that lim­it oppor­tu­ni­ties for cor­rup­tion, you’re going to have it,” Umberg said. “And then, if you don’t pay ade­quate salaries, then you also cre­ate an envi­ron­ment for cor­rup­tion.”

Umberg explained that Afghan sol­diers and police his­tor­i­cal­ly were under­paid, due in part to their pay sys­tem. Rather than being paid in reg­u­lar install­ments by the gov­ern­ment, sol­diers received pay from their lead­er­ship, who received a bud­get for salaries.

“The … com­man­der would receive the pay for all his sol­diers or patrol­men,” the colonel explained, “and then [would] pay the sol­diers and patrol­men as he thought appro­pri­ate. As you can imag­ine, that pro­vid­ed oppor­tu­ni­ty for all sorts of dif­fer­ent meth­ods of pay­ment.”

Now, Umberg said, about 95 per­cent of Afghan sol­diers receive elec­tron­ic direct deposits for their pay­checks, and police are receiv­ing a liv­ing wage. Police have been prob­lem­at­ic, he added, because they’ve resort­ed in some cas­es to “shak­ing down” peo­ple on the street for their pock­et mon­ey. Start­ing patrol­men make $165 month­ly, though if they work in a more hos­tile area, such as south­ern Afghanistan, they can make as much as $240 a month.

“And in the past, when the patrol­men were gross­ly under­paid, there were chal­lenges just sort of sur­viv­ing,” Umberg said. “And today, on $165 or $240, you can live in Afghanistan. Now, you can’t live all that well, but you cer­tain­ly can live. So that’s one way to meet the chal­lenge.”

Train­ing also has helped to reduce cor­rup­tion. Pre­vi­ous­ly, local sta­tions were giv­en the respon­si­bil­i­ty of train­ing new recruits on cor­rup­tion. That has proven to be inef­fec­tive for a num­ber of rea­sons, Umberg said. Now, anti-cor­rup­tion train­ing is cen­tral­ized and giv­en before a patrol­man reports for duty.

“Part of the train­ing con­sists of train­ing with respect to ethics and cor­rup­tion, and the Islam­ic and Quran­ic under­pin­nings with respect to, in essence, steal­ing from the com­mu­ni­ty,” Umberg said. “Because that’s what you’re doing when you shake down folks or engage in that kind of graft: you’re steal­ing from the com­mu­ni­ty.”

The train­ing is very care­ful to focus on under­ly­ing beliefs that pro­hib­it cor­rup­tion and oth­er dis­hon­est behav­ior, the colonel said. Because the Quran and Islam­ic teach­ings deter dis­hon­esty, there isn’t a feel­ing of impos­ing ideas on Afghan trainees, said he added.

“We define cor­rup­tion as where you put your per­son­al inter­ests above that of your job or your mis­sion,” he said. “So for exam­ple, if you are hir­ing some­one based on cri­te­ria oth­er than who would do the best in that job, that’s cor­rup­tion. Obvi­ous­ly, to take a bribe, that’s cor­rup­tion — you take a bribe to do some­thing that is a detri­ment to the mis­sion.”

Cor­rup­tion, ethics and issues of hon­esty are fair­ly uni­ver­sal ideals, so it’s not real­ly nec­es­sary to tai­lor the train­ing to any sort of “cul­tur­al norm,” the colonel said.

“I don’t think we need to impose West­ern val­ues,” he said. “The Islam­ic and Quran­ic under­pin­nings — as you know, vir­tu­al­ly every­one here is Mus­lim — they’re pret­ty strong and pro­found with respect to cor­rup­tion. So we don’t need to impose our val­ues upon them.”

Umberg said he sees hope in young Afghans who don’t see mod­ern­iza­tion as a bad thing. They have strong faith, fam­i­ly val­ues and nation­al pride, he said, and those things make them want to make a bet­ter Afghanistan.

“I was on an inves­ti­ga­tion sev­er­al months ago, and a young, 24-year-old sergeant was report­ing cor­rup­tion on behalf of a senior offi­cer — at some risk to him­self,” Umberg said. “I asked him how he had the courage to come for­ward, and he said, ‘I do this for my faith, my fam­i­ly and my coun­try. I’m stay­ing here.’ ”

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

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →