Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

Lack of Relevant Training & Skills Renders Afghan Police Force Irrelevant to Match Existing Challenges

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Lack of Relevant Training & Skills Renders Afghan  Police Force Irrelevant to Match Existing Challenges

A well trained, skillful and strong police force is pre-requisite for a stable, secure, law-abiding and flourishing society. Afghanistan has more than one-hundred-and-forty-thousand strong police force, but due to lack of appropriate training, skill, accountability, problems in check and balance on performance, dysfunctional command and control and lack of defined roles and duty-structure has turned this potent force a liability rather than asset and arm of Government to service society, people and legal institutions of the country - liability in a sense that hundreds of millions of US dollars are spent every year to keep this large force in place. Factors that contribute to, and exacerbate the present status of Afghan police force include meddling by members of parliament, local chieftains, warlords, campaign contributors and political groups and parties in the process of recruitment of officers and service members to fill positions in various geographical locations in the country to suit personal interests. This phenomenon has become accepted trend since efforts by United States and other international donors to set up a standing, professional police force began one and a half decade ago. In addition, lack of a viable, multipronged and inclusive strategy for formation of police force has rendered the process susceptible to conflicting strategies of donor nations, which has resulted in spending hundreds of millions of US dollars on so called training and education without tangible impact on the force. His Excellency, Mr. Wais Ahmad Barmak, Minister of Interior Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has said that police force did not have necessary training and skills to conduct duties.
Most of the trainers hired for high salaries are assigned to advise, develop police institution and police training are people with military background, lawyers and white color civilians. They have seldom undertaken policing tasks of a police station. They apply sophisticated management processes which do not align with the core aspects of operational policing. They do not know tits and bits of police processes and only give general framework. Teaching discipline and loyalty to institutions, enameling it to police culture should be parts and parcels of all training sessions and education system of Afghan police force. Trainers with civilian background cannot understand police culture, institutional pride, institutional loyalty and discipline hence they are not fully relevant for the job. It is important to bring about doctrinal changes as part of the process to reform Afghan police force.
The recently released SIGAR report in 2017, which include narrations about Afghan police force, has concluded that police was converted to paramilitary as it was trained by military as support force with the core mission to hold the territory and it lacks anti crime capacity. Almost all police development efforts were modeled on military rather than civilian police institutions. (http//www.sigar.mil/pdf/lessonslearned/SIGAR-17-62-LL.pdf). 
Police should be trained by police – NOT military! Military has evolved Afghan police force around military doctrine. No one has expressed as clearly as SIGAR report that, ‘developing and training a national police is best accomplished by law enforcement professionals’. To go a bit more in details, police maintains the safety and security and so, every police officer is considered to be always on duty but in Afghanistan some of the basic principles of police institution, which is a soft arm of the state, a visible symbol of the state and whose personnel are always on duty, have not been adhered. Afghan police model should be adapted to its culture, socio economic status and the region. An unending demand for more money, resources and facilities persists throughout the institution. The present leadership of the Ministry of Interior has diagnosed many of these fundamental problems and want to restructure police training programs, but lack of skilled police practitioners who understand police functioning and are able to manage large organizations comprising of hundred thousands of people. Ministry of Interior is an important State institution consisting of hundreds of thousands of police personnel spread all over the country. Hence, ad-hoc approaches and managerial practices adopted in non-government organizations and private sectors may not be suited.
Ministry of Interior is one of the highest budget Ministry and a large portion of it is supported by international donors through financial, technical, and logistics supports and institutional development and professionalization. In spite of these, police is not able to perform as people of Afghanistan expects. Outside funding and Afghan funding both amounting to billions of dollars have been spent. As per SIGAR report and UNDP data, UNDP itself spent almost 5 billion dollars in the last 15 years on police. Whether this money was spent wisely or landed in corruption and mismanagement malice? It needs serious introspection into funds management and utilization.
We keep hearing fatalities in police ranks. We are under war like situation and the police which is supposed to provide safety, suffers with casualty and attrition. Police is the only state institution, which can use force in times of peace. Its police personnel are to be trained in defending themselves and protecting us. A paramilitary type police force does not have soft policing skills and so, in operational situations it uses excess force alienating communities. Also, human rights organizations start to cry foul about it and make big issue of it. This situation triggers international criticisms, which in turn sap police morale to the lowest ebb. Police seems to be at the crossroad: confused and perplexed. Use of force by police is not unlawful per se, but it ought to be proportionate and it has to be lawfully used. Police is to be trained for this and also to be trained in soft policing skills and police processes.
At this point in time, many centers of gravity are pulling Afghan police force in multiple directions. There isn’t a single, inclusive strategy with multiple moving parts to direct training programs and reform process in Afghan police force. In order to break free from this awkward situation, Afghan Government should charter its own path leading others and start to plan for economic independence, and this is possible only when Afghan Government war strategy and policing efforts are paralleled with development of a viable economic development strategy. Afghanistan has large mineral, petroleum and copper and iron ore riches. There is potential for agro based activities and small and medium scale manufacturing. Under an inclusive, multi-pronged strategy, Afghan economy can develop speedily. Afghanistan and Iraq were two nations on the path to rebuilding State institutions. The reasons why Iraq got her institutions built up and functional is because of her economic independence. Export of large quantity of oil has generated huge amount of fortune for Iraq. But Afghanistan continues to depend on foreign aid, thus does not have the independence and free will to design structure and future for her institutions. His Excellency Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan should take heed of this Achilles heel of his country and take drastic steps towards sailing the country on the path of economic development and financial independence as soon as possible.        
With the onset of so called spring fighting session since last three weeks, insurgents and terrorist groups ratcheted up their attacks on civilians, foreign and government organizations. There is a clear change in tactics and targets of these attacks in a sense that civilians and unarmed individuals and organizations are frequently targeted in cities and residential areas in recent months. Insurgents’ main military targets before included military bases, units and police contingents engaged in war with insurgents in the fields. The purpose of attacking soft targets that comprises unarmed civilians, individuals and organizations is to create chaos and build pressure on government for its failures to protect civilians, hence destabilize social order, commerce and market activities and to instill a sense of insecurity among general public. This change clearly originates from weaknesses and defeat of terrorists’ and insurgents’ war efforts in the fields in countryside. This senseless pursuit of cruelty and mercilessness on the part of insurgents and terrorists groups that inflict harm and death on children, women and men – who are not players in this war – is a clear sign of their defeat, thus the war on terror is passing through its critical stage. At this point in time, National Unity Government (NUG) and its security apparatus that include Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Defense, office of National Security Advisor and National Directorate of Security (NDS) should re-visit the war agenda and amend it in accordance to changes occurring in style and tactics adopted by terrorists and insurgents. Afghan police training program should also be oriented and built around these new realities on the ground in order to ward off changing terrorist war tactics and to tighten circle around them with a view to completely defeat them. Police should protect civilians, provide security and establish rule of law in communities

The author is the emerging writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mg.sahibbzada.ceo@kainaatgroup.af

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