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The Killid Group

Obstacles to Afghan Security Takeover

Written by Gulkohi
Thursday, 29 July 2010 11:12

The Afghan government's commitment to take over the security lead by 2014 has been appreciated and welcomed by the international community. The critical question this raises however is whether the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) will be ready to take over from the international security forces in that time.

According to the spokesperson of the Ministry of Defence, General Zahir Azimi, 2014 does not represent a date for the withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan, but their withdrawal from the frontline. International forces are expected to be redeployed and withdrawn from cities and forward bases to their military camps in order to fulfill their supportive function while Afghan forces take over the battlefield operations.  "This handover will be province by province and so far this handover has already taken place within Kabul" says Azimi.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said international forces would begin their withdrawal from 2011 but that Afghan forces need to be strengthened by then. General Munir Mangal, Deputy Interior Minister is supportive of this plan. "The responsibility of security will be handed over from foreign forces to the Afghan security institutions province by province from next year."

The question before many Afghans is whether this will be possible. Articulating this doubt Atefa Ahmadi, an Afghan correspondent based in Kabul says: "Every Afghan wishes their own security forces to ensure nationwide security, but it is a big challenge for ANSF to fulfill these expectations because they face many problems."

Motivation of security forces

According to some political experts, patriotism is the most important factor for the effectiveness of a country's armed forces.  "When a member of the security forces is committed to national interests, they can carry out their mission with much less equipment", says Member of Parliament and security analyst Hellaluddin Hellal. But Hellal feels most of those recruited into the ANSF are in the job for their salary because of economic constraints rather than any patriotic feeling in defence of the nation, something that makes them less effective.

The lack of professionalism in the ANSF is a matter of concern for most Afghans. "The locals are getting frustrated more and more with the government and security forces in Ghazni province" says Mohammad Hanif Watanyar,  a Ghazni resident. "They should feel secure during the parliamentary elections in September but there is no security in most of the districts across the country." Watanyar doubts that ANSF will be able to assume the responsibility for nationwide security by 2014.

General Azimi however insists that the ANSF are motivated by a feeling of national unity.  "No one would be ready to risk their lives and go to the battle unless motivated by national unity."

General Azimi also emphasizes that those wishing to join the army need to have good conduct guarantees from two people and this prevents them from engaging in any illegal activity as the repercussions would fall on their family and friends. General Gul Nabi Ahmadzay, Head of the Police Training Center in Ministry of Interior says: "Recruits need to have a clean record with no previous conviction for any crime and no relationship with any destructive network." The recruits are vetted through a process of investigation to ensure that they comply with these qualifications.

According to political experts, another problem that prevents qualified candidates from joining the army and police is the lack of ethnic balance in the higher positions. "When we have an independent national army and police we will be able to optimize our recruiting process but no such ethnic balance and equality exists right now", says Daud Sultanzoi, a Member of Parliament. General Azimi however says the current national and tribal combination in the army is satisfactory as the recruitment is on the basis of qualifications. He admits however that recruitment from the volatile areas is much less than other areas.

The growth of the ANA and ANP has also been hampered by the high rate of desertion within the ANA and ANP which has steadily eroded the gains of recruitment, though higher salaries and better working conditions have to some extent helped prevent the loss of personnel. Recent reports have also highlighted the problem of a lack of discipline within the ranks. There is sufficient evidence of a high rate of drug addiction within both the ANA and ANP.  There have also been numerous incidents of ANSF personnel engaging each other in fire-fights because of some inter-personal problems.

Education and Equipment

General Azimi is confident that the Afghan National Army will be ready by 2014 to assume the full responsibility, but points to the problem of lack of equipment. "Our main problem is our air force and lack of equipment and this problem needs to be solved through the assistance of the international community. Last year the governments of US and Italy jointly donated a number of aircraft. The Afghan air force currently suffers from the lack of sufficient support aircraft, intelligence gathering aircraft, bomber aircraft and other required equipment. We have agreed with the international community that this will be provided within the next four years. We also have insufficient tanks but the international community thinks there are other priorities and this is not part of the plan in the next four years."

According to the agreement between the international community and the Afghan government ANA will reach strength of 171,600 personnel and the ANP of 134,000 by October 2011.

Doubts persist whether the ANSF will be capable of taking control of security throughout Afghanistan.

"We will know only when the security handover starts in different areas of the country. But it does not seem plausible that ANSF can ensure security in all areas of the country" says Hellal.

Mohammad Nasir Fadaee Afghan, a student in Political Science believes that the efficiency of the ANSF is also linked to corruption.  "If Afghan government can deal with this issue there will be a national confidence into these forces and every Afghan will honor them."

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