May 18th, 2010
02:20 PM ET

Security Brief: Attack raises Afghan policing questions

Investigators examine the site of an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan that killed

The suicide bomb attack in Kabul Tuesday underlined that the Taliban are still very capable of causing substantial carnage in the Afghan capital – months after promises that security would be tightened.

The minivan – with an estimated 1,500 pounds of explosives – was driven into a U.S military convoy on a busy thoroughfare called Dar-ul-aman Road, and close to a U.S. military base, Camp Julien. 18 people were killed.

The Taliban had warned about such attacks in a communiqué issued earlier this month announcing its spring offensive. “The Al-Faath operations will target the invading Americans, NATO military personnel, foreign advisers, spies who pose as foreign diplomats, members of the Karzai stooge administration … ” and many others.

After the last such attack in Kabul three months ago, in which 14 people were killed in an attack on a hotel and shopping center, there were promises that security in the capital would be improved. And for a while there were no major incidents. But this attack will revive anxiety about the ability of Afghan security forces to make the capital - and important military and government installations - safe.

Among the questions bound to be raised: did the suicide vehicle pass through any checkpoints? Was there any intelligence about the planned attack? And are the Afghan National Police capable of providing security in Kabul – or anywhere else in Afghanistan?

That final question is the one that NATO commanders return to time and again.

Just last Friday, U.S. Marine Major General Richard P. Mills described in a teleconference from Helmand province that progress in training Afghan police was "baby steps but progress nonetheless.”  On Monday, U.S. Admiral James Stavridis, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, appealed for more police trainers. Describing the training program as his most important mission, Admiral Stavridis has appealed to NATO partners to help bridge the shortfall of 450 trainers, and says “there may be a few hundred more needed by early next year.”

With some allies reducing their commitments in Afghanistan, U.S. troops are having to fill the void. Earlier this month a battalion of the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division deployed from Stuttgart, Germany. "Somebody has to step forward. If nobody does this, the training doesn’t get done and we don’t accomplish our mission," Col. Gregory T. Breazile, a spokesman for the NATO training mission, told “Stars & Stripes.”

Last month, General Stanley McChrystal submitted to Congress his half-yearly assessment of progress in Afghanistan. It includes a stark acknowledgment of the difficulties in training the ANP.

“Currently, 1,810 trainers are assigned out of the 4,083 trainers required, resulting in 44 percent staffing rate.” Later the report admits: “There is overall concern among the U.S. interagency and the international community regarding the ability of the ANP not only to grow but also to improve the quality of both basic police training and the quality of the fielded force.”

Among Afghan civilians, there is little trust of the police. Many recruits to the ANP are illiterate – about 85 percent cannot read or write adequately. Fifteen per cent of recruits test positive for illegal drug use; and illicit drug use continues to be a problem even among serving offcers. There is a high rate of recidivism, although better pay has improved retention.

In Kandahar last month, CNN’s Michael Holmes saw at first hand the problems NATO trainers were experiencing in getting recruits trained in just a few weeks. And when coalition forces cleared the Marjah area of insurgents in February, they handed over security duties not to the regular police, but to the better-trained and equipped Afghan National Civil Order Police. And even the conduct of that elite force has since been criticized by locals in Marjah, with the Taliban widely reported to be re-establishing a presence in the area.

The training program for the ANP has been revamped this year to a “recruit-train-assign” model. That may sound a statement of the obvious, but in Afghanistan it’s almost a revolutionary step to ensure police recruits receive necessary training before performing official duties. Right now, the Training Mission says it is on target to have 109,000 ANP by October. But questions will persist about the quality of those recruits.

soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. joele

    hi everybody i glad to chat about this news today and i need to learned more about it thanks u.

    May 18, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ShareFacts

    No matter we like it OR not, If we want to end this conflict in Afghanistan, we have to get help from Pakistan, so they can force Afghan Taliban to get on with negotiations with USA.

    We have already tried alone for 9 years alone and its not working.. We will have to accept the fact that Pakistan Army / ISI will never let India get into any role in Afghanistan..because they do not want to get encircled by india from both sides..

    As soon as we realize above, we can we out of this mess in Afghanistan..

    May 18, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Smith in Oregon

    There were a great many questons about the 'shake and bake' McChrystal's afghan Police forces that were created and poured into Marjah with less than stellar results. This is being used in a cookie-cutter approach by McChrystal in 'shake and bake Police and Regional Governors' are plugged into Kabal as well. The questions being raised by the Kabal residents are simply being added to the many questions and problems already experienced and voiced in Marjah by the residents there.

    Is McChrystal even listening to anything but the sound's of his own drum?

    May 18, 2010 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mohammad A Dar

    Talabans are fighting on their own turf. occupying forces after nine years have no choice, but declare victory in traditional style and go home. save money and lives. Afghanistan is not meant to change. call it sixth century or twentieth century, does not matter, it is just an opinion, not a fact.

    May 18, 2010 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mohammad Jaber

    As history tells us, Afghanistan is where empires go to die. It's the Asian Switzerland.

    May 18, 2010 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. brown

    Well I'm glad our soldiers showed restraint, that's the most important thing.

    May 18, 2010 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tim Ford

    When you fight a gurilla war they do not look to hold ground. They use terror as a reason for you to leave. I was in Afghanistan in 2003, Bush left us, we stayed and worked. The afghani's want us there to become what they once were, an open society, budist, muslim, jew all living together. The Taliban is a radical muslim religion through money and discorse left afghanistan a vertual desert. We have alot to make up for, we left them, they still want us to become a country who lets live, not destoyed by one religion. We as Americans failed when we broke into Iraq, we left the people and soldiers in afghanistan to fend for themselves. Now we have to finish what we promised the afghanis, they die along side us, they fight alongside us and want us to help, this should have been done years ago but we left and now we are paying the price for leaving. From one soldier that was left, wondering how the hell we were supposed to complete our mission when Bush and Rumsfeld left us all alone.

    May 19, 2010 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
  8. Tim Ford

    Look we do not need help from Pakistan. Yes we do. All we need is Pakistan to give back the land Britain forced a king in afghanistan to give up so Britain had a comfort zone between India they were thrown out of. Give afganistan a sea port, put money into that see port and watch the taliban and those idiots on the border fall. If we put our time and money into getting afghanistan a sea port all the pakistani border falls apart. They control goods into afghanistan, they all buddy buddy, its about money not religion, open a sea port and watch the taliban die. Let afghanistan live on its own, how open up a sea port where they do not have to rely on Pakistan or Iran and watch the dominoes fall.

    May 19, 2010 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Aurangzeb

      Seems like a very odd idea . Since its America's war , why not America give one of its state for the Afghan people.That Afghan people will be happy and everyone else left in Afghanistan will be Taliban so American can simply Nuke them.

      May 19, 2010 at 7:00 am | Report abuse |
  9. what1ever

    I think its fairly obvious that the only choice is to leave Afghanistan and Iraq then just sit back and wait for terrorists to attack us. (before you start yelling at me this was a joke

    May 21, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Have Passport will show

    If you are true Muslim you are not tolerant.
    What should we start out with it; well we could always use:
    1) Do not allow women to go out of the house without a man.
    2) Let us not forget marrying those little 12 year olds to the 50 year olds.
    3) Or maybe we could stone somebody to death for whatever.
    4) Or give somebody 50 lashes for having a beer.
    I could go on but you get the idea. The Muslim religion is Such a Tolerant Religion, Such a Tolerant Society; Such a Tolerant Law. I know Americans are not tolerant the first thing you see as you enter any American town or city is a sign that says zero tolerance. :-) But at least they do not stone you to death for it :-)

    May 24, 2010 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |