U.S. Has Pissed Away $6 Billion on Afghan National Police

Over the last eight years, the United States has “invested” $6 billion in arming and training the Afghan National Police. To no appreciable effect. ProPublica reports that our government estimates that “fewer than 12 percent of the country’s police units are capable of operating on their own.” Anecdotally, oy vey. “The people of Marja will tell you that one of their greatest fears was the police coming back,” says Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, who recently assumed command of U.S. efforts to train Afghanistan’s security forces. Who to blame? Everyone. Flawed policy (eight-week training). Squabbling bureaucrats (State Department vs. Defense Department). Endemic corruption (siphoning ammo for the black market). And the quality of the candidates themselves. “Most of the recruits are rural villagers who have never been inside a classroom. Roughly 15 percent test positive for drugs, primarily hashish . . . The ANP still takes just about anyone who applies.” IGW (It Gets Worse).

Since January 2007, upwards of 2,000 police have been killed in action—more than twice the figure for Afghan Army soldiers. U.S. officers say as many as half the police casualties were a result of firearms accidents and traffic collisions . . .

Whether or not recruits have mastered their subjects, almost everyone graduates. Even if they fail the firearms test, they’re issued a weapon and put on the street. Only the Interior Ministry can flunk a candidate, and that rarely happens . . .

There’s plenty of incompetence to go around.

At Kabul’s police training center, a team of 35 Italian carabinieri recently arrived to supplement DynCorp’s efforts. Before the Italians showed up at the end of January for a one-year tour, the recruits were posting miserable scores on the firing range. But the Italians soon discovered that poor marksmanship wasn’t the only reason: the sights of the AK-47 and M-16 rifles the recruits were using were badly out of line. “We zeroed all their weapons,” says Lt. Rolando Tommasini. “It’s a very important thing, but no one had done this in the past. I don’t know why.”

Consider this peace lost. Respecting the limits of fair use and my own limits of revulsion, I’ll leave you with the lede, which pretty much says it all.

Mohammad Moqim watches in despair as his men struggle with their AK-47 automatic rifles, doing their best to hit man-size targets 50 meters away. A few of the police trainees lying prone in the mud are decent shots, but the rest shoot clumsily, and fumble as they try to reload their weapons. The Afghan National Police (ANP) captain sighs as he dismisses one group of trainees and orders 25 more to take their places on the firing line. “We are still at zero,” says Captain Moqim, 35, an eight-year veteran of the force. “They don’t listen, are undisciplined, and will never be real policemen.”

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