Afghan security forces still not so secure after NATO boost
NATO surge strategy aims to boost Afghan security forces. But, as the recent assassination of a provincial police chief of Kandahar showed, they're still far form secure.
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Sergeant Haqdust says he saw the worst fighting in Uruzgan Province, north of Kandahar. But when he arrived in the Arghandab in the surge of reinforcements last fall, he says: "It was all-out war. You'd get shot at three times before your patrol even walked a few kilometers."Skip to next paragraph
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For Afghan police, who've traditionally suffered higher losses than the Afghan Army because they tend to operate in smaller numbers with less equipment, the situation in Arghandab was no less perilous. In his first few months working as a policeman here, Janan Alokozai took two bullets in the leg during a gun battle with the Taliban. Later, he was kidnapped by the Taliban and held three days before escaping through a window.
As the situation quiets in the Arghandab, many Afghans say they're pleased with how the Army performed against the insurgency. But they widely view the police as corrupt. After his ordeal, Mr. Alokozai quit the national police because he didn't trust his supervisor: "I wanted to save our area and its people from the militants." So when the US formed an Afghan Local Police unit in Lowy Manarah, his home village here, he joined.
"In the cities, the Afghan National Police are good, but [in the villages] they just give them a gun and then say they're ANP," says Afghan Army Sgt. Sayefuddin Uzbek. "If we go on a patrol we have all our gear like body armor and a helmet, but the ANP don't have any of that."
A larger issue looms of what the ANSF will look like as NATO reduces its Afghan commitment. The Afghan government relies almost entirely on foreign support to maintain its security forces. Mr. Obama requested $11.6 billion from the US Congress for 2011 to expand, train, equip, and sustain Afghan security forces. The Afghan government – with tax revenues totaling only $1.8 billion – can pay little of its security expenses.
"If I don't have [foreign] help ... [t]here would be no budget, there would be no security," says Haji Shah Mohammad Ahmadi, the Arghandab district governor. "We wouldn't have anything. Anything we have now is because of ... foreign people."
Editor's note: This is part of a cover story project that is a report card on the surge, with on-the-ground reports from three facets of the surge: the US military, the Afghan security forces, and the Afghans themselves.