“After 2011, the military mission will end,” said Defence Minister Peter MacKay, repeating the Conservative government’s well-worn line.
“What we will do beyond that point in the area of training, will predominantly be in the area of policing. And that is very much a key component part of security for Afghanistan.”
Training the Afghan National Police. That was contracted out to DynCorp in 2003, wasn’t it? They put together a training program for police that went from being eight weeks long, to six weeks, now down to three weeks.
How’s that going so far?
Afghan Cops — A $6 Billion Fiasco (excerpts):
“More than a year after Barack Obama took office, the president is still discovering how bad things are. At a March 12 briefing on Afghanistan with his senior advisers, he asked whether the police will be ready when America’s scheduled drawdown begins in July 2011, according to a senior official who was in the room.
“‘It’s inconceivable, but in fact for eight years we weren’t training the police,’ replied Caldwell, taking part in the meeting via video link from Afghanistan. ‘We just never trained them before. All we did was give them a uniform.’
“The president looked stunned. ‘Eight years,’ he said. ‘And we didn’t train police? It’s mind-boggling.’ The room was silent.”
“Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, who took over in November as chief of the U.S. program: ‘You constantly hear these stories about who was worse: the Afghan police that were there or the Taliban.'”
“Since January 2007, upwards of 2,000 Afghan 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.”
“Fewer than 12% of the country’s police units are capable of operating on their own. Yet of the 170,000 or so Afghans trained under the program since its inception, only about 30,000 remain on the force.”
“Steve Kraft, who oversees the program for the State Department: ‘Once they leave the training center, we currently don’t know whether they stay with the force or quit. The bottom line is, we just don’t know.'”
“Tracy Jeansonne, a former deputy sheriff from Louisiana who worked for DynCorp from May 2006 to June 2008: ‘A lot of the police officers wanted to be able to extort money from locals. If we caught them, we’d suggest they be removed. But we couldn’t fire anybody. We could only make suggestions.'”
Ann Jones in The Huffington Post: “In many districts, the police recently supplemented their low pay and demonstrated allegiance to local warlords by stuffing ballot boxes for President Karzai in the presidential election.”
And then there’s the missing and unaccounted for billions of dollars in US government contracts. AEY Inc., based in Florida, and described by the New York Times as “a fledgling company led by a 22-year-old man whose vice president was a licensed masseur,” dispatched to the Afghan security forces 100 million Chinese cartridges, some 40-years old and in “decomposing packaging,” under a $10 million Pentagon contract.
Currently, the Pentagon has given the Space and Missile Defense Command Contracting Office in Huntsville, Alabama the task of deciding between DynCorp and Blackwater/Xe for the new billion-dollar training contract.
On March 12th, President Obama devoted much of the monthly video conference call between his Washington national security team and his senior commanders in Afghanistan to questions about how the police training problem should be tackled.
I guess that’s where we come in. MacKay, today :
“We will work within the parameters of the parliamentary motion, which states very clearly that the military mission will come to an end in 2011. We will then transition into some of the other important work that we’re doing. That includes a focus on police training. The prime minister has been clear in saying our commitment to Afghanistan is for the long-term.”
Training the Afghan police alongside either DynCorp or Xe will be the new parliamentary “parameters” necessary to keep those trucks rolling between Windsor and Detroit .