The Roundtable met with a very distinguished Canadian General Officer this morning who expressed some great thoughts and ideas on the progress made by the Afghan National Police in the last six months. Major General Mike Ward, Deputy Commander-Police from the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A) said there was “cause for optimism” for the future of the Afghan National Police. Facing similar challenges as the Afghan Army, the Afghan National Police (NP) are fighting literacy issues, attrition and corruption while receiving training from multiple agencies. General Ward said they have reached critical mass and are focused on police training and leadership with positive outcomes! But he still described some challenges as possible deal breakers for the hearts and minds of the Afghan people.
The metrics are changing with new recruiting goals being met, a maturing effort for police officers and the #1 priority of developing leaders. He described the officer ranks as stable but the challenges of corruption within the ranks as troubling. Afghanistan, according to the general, is second to last in the world for corruption and it is widely accepted. It is not just a police issue but a social phenomena and it will take a generation or two to change the mindset of the population. One of the causes of low level police corruption is pay and they recently made police pay parity with the Army a goal. The Afghan President is providing top down assistance with a government order on ending corruption. Ward said they must fix corruption to increase credibility and to win the war! Quite a statement of need to say the least!
The ANP is a diverse group but tribal affiliation is a bigger issue than the ethnic makeup of the force according to Ward. At the higher levels the country does a great job of balancing the ethnic issues. At the local and tribal level the challenges are bigger and if one tribe has all or most of the police officers the other tribes tend to gravitate to the other side of the conflict. With training and a five year plan for the ANP strategy now in place the coalition forces and government plan to turn this around and leave the country with an infrastructure that provides trainers, training facilities and leadership for an ethical police force. As the security situation changes the ANP can switch from a security force to law enforcement. At the present time 90% of their efforts are spent in security efforts to protect the people from the anti-government forces such as the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
“Cause for Optimism”? Or Cause for Alarm? Our success in Afghanistan may hinge on these efforts to train and equip the ANP for the future!
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A big thank you to General Ward and the Roundtable moderator, LT Jennifer Cragg, US Navy for this great discussion!
Photo Credit: Maj. Gen. Mike Ward, deputy commander-Police, NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan DoDLive