Afghanistan — Training Puts Afghan Police on Track to Take Over Security

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)

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