Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

An effective Afghan police force: still wishful thinking


U.S. President Barack Obama reiterated on Monday his belief that the Afghan police and army had to grow in order to pave the way for a United States and NATO military drawdown in Afghanistan.

Strengthening Afghanistan’s indigenous security forces has always been one of the main planks of the NATO-led ISAF military strategy. But the Afghan police have a lot of problems. The are often accused of endemic corruption, colluding with Taliban insurgents, being poorly trained and badly organised. In some areas, we have reported before, their criminal behaviour has actually turned the communities they are meant to serve toward the Taliban, unwittingly empowering the insurgency.

police-1The United States and its allies have spent billions of dollars on the Afghan police, but as this July report, funded by the European Commission states, “sustainable returns on investment seem very limited”. The report is still one of the most forthright and frank accounts of the problems facing the Afghan police.

The report points to five major problems facing police: 1) forced to take on military responsibilities sometimes such as engaging militants in gunfights, 2) lack of trust by Afghans 3) lack of training and equipment 4) a very high level of illiteracy and 5) allegations of endemic corruption.