More problems with Afghan police training
Afghanistan police inspection near Kandahar Photo By: AFP/Getty Images
August 15th, 2011
04:44 PM ET

More problems with Afghan police training

By CNN Senior National Security Producer Charley Keyes

A new report released Monday raises fresh doubts about the success of a key element of U.S. policy in Afghanistan: Beefing up the local security forces as American troops withdraw.

And the problems are completely divorced from the ongoing military challenge of the fighting between U.S. forces and Afghanistan insurgents.

Instead the culprit is poor coordination, planning and communication inside the U.S. government, between the departments of State and Defense.

The inspectors general of both departments focused on the difficulty of switching control of police training from State to Defense. "DoD and DOS officials did not conduct sufficient planning to include developing a comprehensive transition plan or a memorandum of agreement to guide, monitor, and assign transition responsibilities," the report said. "Instead, DoD and DOS officials relied on independently developed contractor transition-in and demobilization plans, some of which were not feasible and did not address inherently governmental tasks."

And the private contractor, according to the report, was denied sufficient information to achieve a smooth transition. "DoD and DOS had no guidance for planning the transfer of contract administration responsibilities from one agency to another, which contributed to contractor schedule delays. Specifically, the Departments lacked guidance for planning or conducting complex transition-related activities," the report said.

Too few employees were in place to ensure the training program could proceed.

"The incoming contractor did not have 428 of the 728 required trainer and mentor positions in place," the report continues. "Field police units and Afghan training command were not receiving the mentoring essential to developing a self-sustainable Afghan Government and Police Force."

And the lack of planning extended to how to oversee weapons and security clearances for the police training.

This is the second of a series of reports on training Afghanistan security forces and the latest volley in ongoing official U.S. scrutiny of how billions of American taxpayer dollars could have been better used. An April report from the office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said that despite $1.5 billion for investment and training of Afghanistan police, much of it provided by the U.S., it was still impossible to say how many police were on the job or whether the right people were being paid.

Other reports have questioned whether the Afghanistan government will be able to maintain and sustain police training facilities and other major projects once the U.S. military departs.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Diplomacy • Military
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. David Lewis

    Since the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan was stood up over 21 months ago, we can say that developing the Afghan forces is well on track. There are 33 countries, under NATO command, which are dedicated and committed to ensuring that Afghanistan’s security institutions (Army, Air Force, and Police) are self-sufficient, self-sustaining, and enduring.

    Over the past two years, an additional 113,000 Afghan soldiers and police have been trained and are working with 130,000 NATO. In seven areas of Afghanistan, encompassing 20 percent of the population, Afghan Army and Police are already leading security efforts. Local militias are integrating into the formal security structure; commerce is returning; and schools are opening. GDP has increased from $170 under the Taliban to $1,000 per capita in 2010, almost all Afghans now have access to basic health services (only nine percent did in 2002), school enrollment increased from 900,000 (mainly boys) to almost seven million (37 percent girls), and women now serve in government. Most of the country is now connected via mobile phones and highways. The powerful force of social media is altering the landscape as over one million Afghans have internet access and over 215,000 have facebook accounts.

    There are still untold challenges ahead but the force of 2011 has little resemblance to the one NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan began advising two years ago. Over the next several years, the force will develop key support forces such as logistics, human resources, and finance. Professionalizing the force is a key to creating enduring institutions and reducing Afghan reliance on ISAF for combat support. As Afghans assume the security lead, NTM-A’s focus shifts to training the trainer.

    Any reference to the ‘Bear coming over the mountain’ would seem irresponsible and derisory. The Afghan people are working successfully with hundreds of NTM-A advisors from around the globe. Together with international partners they are developing leaders, establishing enduring institutions, and creating a self sustainable, autonomous Afghan National Security Force. The progress is astounding. The mountains belong to the Afghan people, and with the help of the world community, the Afghans are reclaiming them.

    August 18, 2011 at 8:19 am | Reply
  2. Stan Jones

    DoS and DoD never learned to play well together in kindergarten...

    August 17, 2011 at 3:29 am | Reply
  3. Col Dave Johnson

    Mr. Keyes states in his post that “Too few employees were in place to ensure the training program could proceed.” This is not accurate. On page 15 of the Joint Audit by the Inspector’s General of Department of State and Department of Defense on Afghan National Police Training Program: Lessons Learned during the Transition of Contract Administration, it states that no training classes were cancelled. At the time of the contract transfer, only 300 of 728 DynCorp positions were filled, a 41% manning rate. However, to ensure training was not cancelled or degraded, NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan extended current DoS contractors, about 90 positions, retasked NTM-A personnel and requested NATO support for another 148 personnel to support. The total number of positions filled at the time of contract transfer was 540 of 728 positions or 74% manning rate. Today, 633 of 673 adviser, trainer, or mentor positions are filled, a 94% manning rate. The bottom line is NTM-A assumed risk in other areas to ensure that the police training and advising continued. Regarding Mr. Keyes comment, “And the lack of planning extended to how to oversee weapons and security clearances for the police training” is without context. The fact of the matter is that the switching of contracts did not adversely affect the ability to oversee weapons accountability and security clearances required for the Afghan National Police advisors or trainers. Due to the DoD’s more stringent weapons accountability and security clearance procedures, the transfer of weapons and personnel from the DoS contract to the DoD contract was delayed due to increased processing procedures and timelines. This administrative procedure to ensure accountability and proper stewardship did not affect the training and advising responsibility. The question of whether the Government of Afghanistan will be able to maintain and sustain its police facilities and other major projects after 2014 is a legitimate question. At NTM-A, we are committed to ensuring that Afghanistan’s security institutions (Army, Air Force, Police) are self-sufficient, self-sustaining, and enduring. Significant investment, by the American taxpayer, has been made to consciously provide the Army, Air Force and Police with capable, affordable and sustainable weapons, vehicles, equipment, and infrastructure. This investment must first, meet the requirement to defeat the current threat and protect the people of Afghanistan; it must be affordable and provide the best value over time; it must be sustainable and durable to withstand the harsh Afghan environment; and it must able to be maintained without international assistance. Developing the Afghan security forces to endure will continue to be the goal, but it will require patience and commitment on the part of the international community. The return on the investment is a capable and professional ANSF that endures long after the last of the coalition combat forces has departed Afghanistan.

    August 16, 2011 at 9:40 am | Reply

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