WASHINGTON, Oct. 21, 2010 — Significant progress over the last year in training the Afghan National Police has put Afghanistan’s interior ministry on track to care for its country’s own security by 2014, a senior official involved in the training effort said today.
Maj. Gen. Stuart Beare of the Canadian army, deputy commanding general for police at NATO Training Mission Afghanistan and Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, briefed Pentagon reporters via teleconference from the Afghan capital of Kabul.
Beare said he’s impressed by the scope of the intervention playing out across the International Security Assistance Force mission, especially in the training mission for the “comprehensive development of the Afghan security forces, both army and police, from the [interior] ministry to the troops in the field.”
“I’m also struck by the scale of the intervention in terms of the quality of people and the amount of people that we are now covering down on or using to cover down on — ministries, institutional systems, training centers and partnering in the field — and the amount of money that is being applied to that to make it all work,” Beare said.
In terms of strength, the police force numbers have risen from 95,000 to nearly 120,000 in less than 12 months. The Afghan police force comprises uniformed police, border police, civil order police, the anti-crime police forces and the Afghan public protection forces.
“We’re on track to growing the forces entirely to 134,000 by this time next year,” Beare said. “And we know we have the capacity in our training system to do that. We know we have the recruiting base to achieve that. And we’ve taken on enough trainers to be able to continue to deliver that.” More trainers will be needed, however, to grow and sustain the force beyond 2011, he added.
The challenge of growing and “professionalizing” the Afghan police force also depends on the effectiveness of ongoing anticorruption efforts in Afghanistan, Beare said, noting that Interior Minister Gen. Bismillah Mohammadi has six priorities for the police force: training and education, leadership, anticorruption, taking care of the force, structure reform, and using a reward-and-punishment system.
Each one of those priorities, Beare said, has an anticorruption effect. But he acknowledged that in spite of its rapid progress, the Afghan police force is not yet ready to take charge.
“They’re counting on us to continue to assist them in their development at the ministerial level [and] to assist them in the creation of their institutional systems that connect that ministry to its operational police forces,” Beare said. “They’re counting on us to work with them and partner with them in training their police forces, including professionalizing their training base, their police training base — that is, bringing on Afghan leaders into their training system and bringing on many more Afghan instructors.”
Beare said the interior ministry’s capacity to move forward in assuming more responsibility and authority for managing its affairs grows every day. And the Afghan people are noticing that NATO is working with their police force similarly to how their army was trained, he added.
As the Afghan police force becomes professional and more operationally effective, especially with such forces as the Afghan National Civil Order Police, its credibility increases, the general told reporters.
An important factor in the growth of the police force is Afghans’ willingness to join. Beare said the plan calls for recruiting and training about 50,000 more people to grow the force from 120,000 to 135,000, accounting for attrition.
Afghans want to be a part of their national security force for several reasons, Beare said. They want to protect their fellow citizens, find a vocation in life or an opportunity for employment, and take advantage of what for many is the best opportunity for education and literacy.
“We’re achieving great success through their basic training experience in terms of the numbers who graduate against the numbers that join, to the tune of about 90 percent,” Beare said. “We’re recruiting about 1,800 a month for the police, and we’re going to raise that number so that we can continue to grow police forces like the Afghan National Civil Order Police, and we can grow substantially over the course of the next year as well.”
Adding more trainers is key to the success of growing the force, Beare said. The existing 650 trainers comprise military police, military contemporary forces, civil police and gendarme. There is a need, however, for 900 positions by spring in the training base and the institutional base, he said, to sustain the progress that has been made.
“We can get from here to there with what we have today,” Beare said. “And if we don’t get [additional trainers to sustain progress], we’re going to have to find ways to be able to continue to deliver on the quantity we’re looking for and still invest in the quality without stepping back on either.”
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)