News / USA

NATO Focuses on Training Police Force in Afghanistan

Multimedia

Audio
Jennifer Glasse

The head of the NATO training mission is in Europe this week with his Afghan counterparts to attend the Afghan National Police Development conference in Brunssum, Holland, discussing the progress of the mission and soliciting support for more assistance.  Lieutenant General William Caldwell spoke exclusively to VOA.

Click to Listen:

Download/Play Audio File


Afghanistan's police force was considered unreliable and corrupt, so last fall NATO stepped in and a new training mission was established under Lieutenant General William Caldwell.

"And so on November 21st, 2009, we stood up a new command inside of Afghanistan because there was a real lack of overall coordination and collaboration as to how the help the police forces in that country," he said.  "And that was one of our primary missions.  We have the Army too, but police was a real void that needed to be addressed, and that is how NATO did it, by establishing this command."

His mission is to reform the existing police force and expand it.  He says what he started with was not ideal.

"We recognized within the country here, over half of the police have never been formally trained, so you have a police force out there of about 90,000, 95,000 people and less than half have ever received any formal training," he added.

He says major challenges include working with recruits who speak multiple languages and illiteracy.

"Only about probably 18 percent of our recruits who come in to be police have any level of literacy, and when I say literacy, we are talking about a 3rd grade level of basic reading and writing skills, so 80 percent have none," he noted.

But Caldwell says there is an even more basic problem.

"I would say our biggest challenge really is probably leadership," he explained.  "After 30 years of war here in Afghanistan there is no real leadership amongst the ranks, especially within the police forces.  It just does not exist."

NATO plans to expand the police force to 109,000 by the end of October.  One group it is targeting is Pashtuns from the south of Afghanistan.  Caldwell says they are not part of the police, probably because of Taliban influence in the region.  He is hoping the recent military operation in Helmand province will help spur Pashtuns to join.

"Once they have seen the Afghan security forces come through and clear, and now they see the Afghan government coming in with basic services and programs and development, the thought is they would then feel more inclined to serve as a part of the Afghan security forces and would be willing to sign up and become part of the police," said Caldwell.

Caldwell says corruption is a challenge across Afghanistan.  Low pay led police to ask for bribes, but last month NATO doubled the pay of officers.  A new recruit starts at about $165 a month, plus hazard pay, longevity pay and the opportunity for promotions.  

A new training culture is also part of the NATO plan for combating corruption among new recruits.

"If we can start as they first come in and teach them the right philosophy and the right habits, and then also work to get more mid-grade level leaders in there, through some leadership development programs we have just finished putting into place, then we are hoping that will eliminate the corruption we see," he said.

U.S. President Barack Obama has set a date of July 2011 as a benchmark to start drawing down U.S. forces in Afghanistan.  Caldwell says that date is about gauging progress toward the ultimate goal, letting Afhgans take control of their own security.

"I think that by the programs we put in place and the training that we are doing with the Afghans, so that they can be more responsible for things, that is probably a reasonable date that you can expect to see a difference starting to occur," he noted.  "But I do not think anybody thinks that that will be the point by which the mission here will be complete."

This week, Afghan president Hamid Karzai held talks with a Taliban-linked insurgent group.  Caldwell says any effort that supports a peaceful solution rather than a military one is positive.

"The ultimate solution for what happens in Afghanistan really does have to be led by the Afghanistan people and the government of Afghanistan if it is going to work.  It has got to be their solution to their problem that can endure and be best for their people," he said.

Caldwell says his main focus is on quality instead of quantity.  While he has a numerical goal to achieve, he says the best way to get there is to ensure the recruits they choose, have a real chance of completing the training, and becoming good police officers.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid