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Germany and the United States Failed to Train Afghanistan's Police

The creation of a stable and well-functioning state requires a well-trained police force that is not corrupt, but abides by the law and enforces the law without bias. Afghanistan is not anywhere close to such a police force. According to a Congressional Research Service report (see Atlantic Review post) "the United States has become more active in training the Afghan police, possibly as a result of the reported deficiencies in German training." Now it seems that the US training has failed as well: "Five years after the fall of the Taliban, a joint report by the Pentagon and the State Department has found that the American-trained police force in Afghanistan is largely incapable of carrying out routine law enforcement work, and that managers of the $1.1 billion training program cannot say how many officers are actually on duty or where thousands of trucks and other equipment issued to police units have gone." writes the New York Times:
The training experts say the United States made some of the same mistakes in training police forces in Afghanistan that it made in Iraq, including offering far too little field training, tracking equipment poorly and relying on private contractors for the actual training. At the same time, those experts say, the failure to create viable police forces to keep order and enforce the law on a local level has played a pivotal role in undermining the American efforts to stabilize both countries. In Afghanistan, the failure has contributed to the explosion in opium production, government corruption and the resurgence of the Taliban. In Iraq, the challenge is even larger: Sectarian death squads have infiltrated the police force and helped push the country to what many are now calling a civil war.
Ulrich Speck writes in his Kosmoblog (in German) that Germany should conduct such evaluations as well. Indeed, the German police training and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and elsewhere should be evaluated with scrutiny. In the long run, Germany can only justify its refusal to send troops to South Afghanistan, if the German policies prove successful, argues Ulrich Speck. Thus, a lot has to be done regarding reconstruction in the North and the police training in the entire country.
The International Herald Tribune has written about criticism of Germany:
Germany is coming under severe criticism for failing to train an effective Afghan police force to provide security for the local population and help NATO against Taliban insurgents in the south, according to military officials and defense experts. The criticism of Germany, which has been leading the program to train the Afghan police since 2002, comes as the European Union - under pressure from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to play a greater role in providing security - agreed Tuesday [November 14, 2006] to send a fact-finding mission to Afghanistan to study taking over the program.
"I strongly believe that we should strengthen our efforts to build up the police force and that we should ask ourselves if our contribution to reforming the political institutions, especially the rule of law, is sufficient," the German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said Monday at a meeting of EU foreign and defense ministers in Brussels.
So far, Germany has only 41 police officers involved in training the Afghan police. Since 2002, it has spent €70 million, or $89.7 million, in training 16,000 police, most of them officers and non- commissioned officers. In comparison, the United States has spent $862.2 million to train 40,000 police, mostly highway and border personnel. By 2007, a total of 62,000 police will have been trained by Germany, the United States and Norway, according to the German Foreign Ministry. (...) NATO's top military commander, General James Jones, has repeatedly criticized Germany's role in training the Afghan police and the police's inability to protect civilians. "The training has been very disappointing," Jones said in a recent interview.
41 German police training instructors is totally insufficient.
One reason, why the US training of an Afghan policeman is much more expensive than the German training, is probably the use of private contractors by the US, like
DynCorp International of Virginia. According to the above mentioned NYT article police training experts said that what needs to be investigates is also "the quality of private contractors and the cost and effectiveness of relying on them to train the police officers."
A well-trained police force, that is not very corrupt, is crucial for creating a stable Afghanistan. Germany's failure in this regard is more severe than the refusal to send troops to South Afghanistan.
Building institutions like the police force is of more importance than just fighting insurgents, but unfortunately the NATO debates seem to focus on the fighting in the South.

About training the Afghan army: Tom Koenigs, the UN representative in Afghanistan, who is also a member of the German Green Party, is quoted in The Guardian: "In forthright comments which highlight divisions between international partners as Nato battles to quell insurgency, Mr Koenigs said that training the fledgling Afghan national army to defeat the Taliban was crucial. 'They [the ANA] can win. But against an insurgency like that, international troops cannot win.'"

• The Christian Science Monitor highlights the drug problem that undermines the Afghan government's authority:
The Taliban and FARC - the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - both got their start protecting peasants from corrupt governments. There's evidence both initially fought narcotics traffic but then levied taxes on the trade for much-needed cash. Over time, the FARC began to use its soldiers to protect shipments, and took over coca factories. They forced farmers under their control to grow coca. Eventually, they became self-sufficient and set up a parallel government in their semiautonomous zone. They now earn an estimated $500 million a year from cocaine.

• Spiegel: NATO Chaos Deepens in Afghanistan: "The Germans Have to Learn How to Kill"

• DW World: US Calls on Germany for Riskier Afghanistan Missions

• German Embassy in Washington: German Troops Will Not be Transferred within Afghanistan: "A transfer of forces from northern Afghanistan to the southern part of the country would endanger the peaceful development in the northern provinces. The Federal Government is not only relying on the military component. Development aid, creation of institutions, and assistance for the Afghan police are all an integral part of the support services."

• Related post in the Atlantic Review: Afghanistan Intervention "on the cheap"


Atlantic Review on : Trans-Atlantic Cooperation: Are Europeans Unwilling to Share the Burden?

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Ivo Daalder and James Goldgeier are disappointed by European contributions to the transatlantic alliance and want to globalize NATO to enhance burden sharing with other democracies. In their Financial Times op-ed "US and Europe must learn about allia


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2020 on :

There will never be enough police in Afghanistan as long as the taliban can infiltrate the country from Pakistan. Besides, it's nice to know that the U.S.A. have killed/arrested already the tenth number two of the Al Qaeda, however. Better than nothing, resuming five years after 9/11.

Anonymous on :

I find the statement "The creation of a stable and well-functioning state" extremely ironic. US & EU helped destroy a well-functioning state in the Balkans called Yuoslavia - and please spare me your usual propaganda of human rights etc. US and EU propose also to destroy the Iranian and Syrian state as well and then rebuild them - like the fine job that they are doing in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon. "We will destry you first in order to rebuild you in our image".

JW-Atlantic Review on :

> US & EU helped > destroy a well-functioning state in the Balkans called > Yuoslavia - and please spare me your usual propaganda of > human rights etc. What is "our" propaganda? "Well-functioning"? Is Yugoslavia functioning any worse today than it was before the Kosovo war? I don't think so. Or do you blame the EU and US for the wars which Milosevic started against the former Yugoslav republics. > US and EU propose also to destroy the Iranian and Syrian > state as well and then rebuild them - like the fine job that > they are doing in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon. > > "We will destry you first in order to rebuild you in our image". What destruction have the US and EU proposed? Please, substantiate any such claims with credible sources.

Anonymous on :

I am not going to try to prove a negative. If you believe Yugoslavia was not a well-functioning state then please tell us why. My source for the German police in Afghanistan is this:,com_csis_pubs/task,view/id,3639/type,1/ and My point is that there is more efficient ways of helping Afghansitan than by flying Germans -who cost quite a bit more than Iranians - to train the Afghans. Moreover, because of the cultural affinity of Iran and Afghanistan, the Iranian police experience would have been much more relevant. Iran did in fact offer to train the Afghan Army and that was shut down by US. There comaprison between Iran and Pakistan does not obtain - Pakistan was the creator of the Taliban and still shelters the same people that are killing NATO soldiers. When it comes to religion and its centrality to the Muslim people you are probably ignorant. This does not surprise me coming from an EU citizen. I have noticed that they are like the Don Juan character in the Mozart opera of the same name - they know of God but think him irrelevant to what they are trying to do. My last sentece was made with a sense of irony. Different Afghans want different things from Iran and certainly there is a lot of Iranian influence in Western Afghanistan. See below:

Anonymous on :

The German effort in training police in Afghanistan has two problems: 1- They are training the Afghans for police work in Germany and not in Afghanistan. 2- The German instructors are not going out in the field with the Afghan police to teach them how to apply the (German) training in actual practical situations. It is really really stupid to have the Afghan police trained by Germans - there are language, religion, cultural barriers. It would have been much more efficient, practical, and effective to give that task to the Iranians - they are the only effectively functioning state in that area. But no - God forbid - that makes too much sense. And we cannot have the Iranians having influence in Afghanistan - a part of their country only 150 years before. This is the stupidity of it - US & EU trying to politically isolate Iran and thus make the achievement of their own goals that much more difficult.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

What is your source? My source says: Germany trains the police force in Afghanistan. The German Foreign ministry wrote this (in English): [url][/url] There was some cooperation between the US and Iran in Afghanistan. More cooperation might be a good idea. Though, I am not sure, if police training would be a good idea. The arguments you mention could also be used to let Pakistan train the Afghan police. This would increase friction. Having the neighbors too involved could cause many problems, since they might pursue their own interests. Outsiders like the EU or Japan or Australia might be considered more impartial. We are not interested in favoring one ethnic group in Afghanistan over another. Iran and Pakistan, however, have such interests. Still, if the Afghans want help from Iran in police training, then the EU should not oppose that. It is their country. Are you aware of any such calls by Afghans for Iranian help? "It is really really stupid to have the Afghan police trained by Germans - there are language, religion, cultural barriers." Germans are pretty popular in Afghanistan. Significant cooperation in the last 100 years. Call me ignorant, but I don't understand the importance of religion for police training. "And we cannot have the Iranians having influence in Afghanistan - a part of their country only 150 years before." This could be a reason why the Afghans don't want the Iranians to mess with their security forces. Again, if you have any information about what the Afghans want from Iran, please let me know.

Keeeeellllyyyy on :


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