Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, May 20th, 2019

Challenges of the weak system of democratic civilian control of the armed forces

The national security forces day was just observed in Afghanistan. During this event the role of armed forces is usually admired and the sacrifices of them are highlighted. However, highlighting the sacrifices of the national forces or admiring their outstanding role in maintaining the national security and public order is one side of the story; we must highlight the critical challenges these forces face as well in order the Afghan government address them in a sustainable manner. Weak System of Democratic Civilian Control of the armed in the country is one the strategic challenges in the security sector: This problem is the root of some of the critical problems in the security sector that are discussed below:
Weak Effectiveness in security provision:
Afghan citizens expect the system of democratic civilian control provide the clearly defined and professional chain of command the armed forces need to fulfill their responsibilities effectively. This can strengthen strict discipline and internal control mechanisms personal or corporatism decision-making. However, they do not see and feel the impacts of such a control in the armed forces. As a result, the armed forces perform their duties poorly and discipline among the armed forces is not much observed.
Political neutrality:
According to this notion the civilian control shall provide the operational independence that the armed forces need to be effective, while acting upon the orders of the political authority of democratic civilian government. Ensuring this requires professional and committed armed forces officials and a strong national government widely supported by the people. To be honest, in the current context of Afghanistan there are tough challenges to realize these two points in our country, though there has been good progress in these areas in Afghanistan.
Human Rights Protection:
A strong system of democratic Civilian shall control and provide the institutional resources, discipline, training and oversight required to prevent and discipline human rights abuses against the people. However, our security have come short of them due to presence of powerful war lords and wide spread corruption among the security sector institutions. If the government wants to address this problem in a practical manner, it not only must appoint the professional officers as at the higher levels but also act seriously against those who are involved in corruption and other illegal activities in the security sector of Afghanistan.
A system of democratic civilian control shall establish checks and balances on the state’s use of military force and hold civilian and military leaders and officials accountable for their decisions and actions. This is one of the most challenging issues in Afghanistan. The country occupies the forth place in the ranking of the most corrupt countries announced annually by the transparency International. However, corruption in the security is more prevalent than the civil public sector. Indeed, the NUG has taken some bold measures to tackle corruption in the security sector, including the Ministry of the Interior Affairs. These measures include initiating civilianization in the MOIA, appointing the chiefs of police districts on merits, etc. However, to tackle corruption in a systematic manner requires the officials of the security forces to act in the limit of the boundary of law and avoid preferential policies. In other words, they shall not make the anticorruption policies a tool to sideline their rivals or change it to a tool to replace their own relatives under the pretext of countering the corrupt people.
A good system of democratic civilian control shall ensure a high level of credibility in the performance of the armed forces and thus increases public confidence, trust and legitimacy in the country. This is one of the weaknesses of our security forces that require more attention to be addressed. Afghanistan faces tough security challenges, and every now and then there is a terror attack in the country and our security forces have not been able to prevent such attacks while they have taken different measures to counter such attacks. One of the main causes of this phenomena is that our security forces have not been able to ensure the legitimacy of the government among all the Afghan citizens and the terrorist group misuse this weakness as an opportunity and not only recruit from among the people but also plan and implement their plots using this vacuum. As a result, our security forces shall ensure high level of credibility in their performance and further improve their relations with the people to gain their support fully.
A good system of democratic civilian control shall allow for more representative and participatory processes of national security policy-making, which make security provision more responsive to the distinctive security needs of all men, women. Policy development is generally weak in Afghanistan and especially in the security sector of the country. Parts of these issues go to the low capacity in policy making in the security sector and the security nature of these institutions has restricted them to include the various security stakeholders including the civil society to be part of the policy development process in these institutions. Therefore, the security institutions shall rethink their policy development approaches and involve a wide range of security stakeholders in the security policy development process in order to develop an applicable security policy in the country to be supported by their stakeholders.
Observing the national security forces day is a good opportunity to highlight the vital role of the security forces in our country and appreciate their sacrifices. However, it is also a good opportunity to assess the problems theses forces face and call the government to address them properly in order to have a more popular and legitimate security forces in our country.