Afghanistan’s Police Force Needs 2,300 More Trainers, U.S. Says
By Ed Johnson
July 23 (Bloomberg) — Afghanistan needs an additional 2,300 international personnel to train its police force, the U.S. commander in charge of instructing the nation’s security forces said.
“The Afghan police are several years behind the Afghan army in terms of capability and in terms of trust of the Afghan people,” Major General Robert Cone told reporters in Washington yesterday.
While the nation has 79,000 police officers, many are unable to operate independently, Cone said in a video news conference from Afghanistan. He called on coalition partners to help meet the shortfall in instructors.
A Pentagon-funded report last month said Afghan police officers were often corrupt and that it would take at least a decade to build an acceptable force. The United Nations has said President Hamid Karzai’s government is beset by a corrupt justice system that is hampering the fight against the Taliban.
“People understand that in the end game for Afghanistan, police and the rule of law and the security that they provide is an essential component,” said Cone, according to a U.S. government transcript.
The major focus is on training police officers at a district level, with an emphasis on “things like values, constitutional responsibilities, rule of law,” he said.
The eight-week program has been completed in 20 districts, said Cone, adding it is a “long, slow process.”
Afghan police have been “corrupt, incompetent, under- resourced and often loyal to local commanders rather than to the central government,” the National Defense Research Institute, a center run by the Washington-based RAND Corporation, said in a report last month for the Pentagon.
Training officers was a low priority for the U.S. until 2005, according to the report.
Police are failing to win the trust of the local population as officers demand bribes, loot shops and compete for posts on opium smuggling routes where they can extort the most money, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group said last year.
Karzai’s government is supported by about 70,000 soldiers from more than 40 countries battling an insurgency by supporters of the Taliban. The regime was ousted in 2001 by a U.S.-led coalition after it refused to hand over al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
Abdul Rasaq, a Taliban commander in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province, was killed with three of his fighters in a July 20 missile strike north of Musa Qala, Agence France-Presse reported, citing the U.K. Ministry of Defence. Mullah Rahim, another senior Taliban leader, gave himself up to authorities in Pakistan hours earlier, the ministry said in a statement, according to AFP.