Yar Mohammed is a police chief in Kandahar and his "in-tray" is overflowing. Besides commanding fledgling recruits to the force - and trying to convince more to join, he is a prime target, as is anyone in a position of authority - for the Taliban. And he has to deal with the perennial curse of corruption within his own force.
He tells visiting U.S. soldiers that when he sends new recruits to submit their paperwork, they often have to pay a fee - in cash. There should not be any fee, but this is Afghanistan.
Tales of corruption abound - Afghans going through the Western training courses tell their trainers how they never get their full salary because their senior officers take a cut first.
The latest program to improve the professionalism of Afghan police is an eight-week course overseen by international trainers. It's basic - after all, while many express a desire to protect their people, some recruits are illiterate.
"So, in the classroom, we have to teach them by rote, and when they're tested it has to be all verbal," one official said.
Many are already on the job, before having been through any training. One Western official familiar with the courses said he had met one man who had been an officer for nine years without having had a day of training until he was sent on this course.
At one police station in what the Americans call "district two," Afghan police prepare for a joint patrol with U.S. MPs.
U.S. Staff Sgt. Armando Velez offers a few tips on getting the best out of the new police. The officer in charge "should go down the line and make sure their weapons are good and they have enough ammunition to go on this patrol," he says. Most of the men have never been shown how to fire a weapon properly - and in Kandahar that could be deadly, says Velez.
Those who've been through the course have clean uniforms and an air of some professionalism. In the courtyard of this police station, it's more ragtag, more a case of "Well, at least they're trying."
No two police officers looked the same, with various pieces of webbing and vests on different officers and some with none at all.
U.S. and Canadian troops are working around the clock to stand up the police force in Kandahar, part of a nationwide program to create a force of 134,000 police men and women by October 2011. That's just after President Obama's target date for beginning to reduce the U.S. military presence.
As of December last year, according to NATO, there were 96,000 serving officers. Across the country, about 8,000 recruits are being trained at any one time. Canadian, French and German trainers are also prominently involved in what is a truly multinational mission.
There's been plenty of criticism of previous attempts to train Afghan police, attempts that have cost U.S. taxpayers some $6 billion so far. In a detailed report earlier this month, the magazine Der Spiegel quoted German trainers as saying that the training mission was "impossible" because of the level of corruption and the caliber of applicants. We are training officers at a rapid pace, one German trainer told Der Spiegel, "and when they leave we have no control over them." Some have even turned on NATO troops - five British soldiers were shot dead last fall by an Afghan policeman.
So the crash course is an uphill battle. The course we saw in Kandahar also involved classroom work - encouraging police to work with the population, rather than see them as a source of income. And it was complemented by joint patrols. We joined Lt. Danielle Champagne out on patrol with a police unit. She says her charges are learning. "Like one day we'll find an IED here and they'll learn from it and now they'll check that area and learn from those techniques."
Some of Kandahar's police show promise and are inspired by a real animosity toward the Taliban. Lt. Abdul Ghani is a recent graduate of such training by Canadian trainers. He bears the scars of a shoot-out with insurgents that left one hand paralysed. He says it's made him more determined to be a good officer. Another recruit, Saeed Mohammad Shor, is looking forward to graduation. "I have learned a lot about working with people," he says. "I'm not scared for myself. I want to protect my people, I want them safe."
A Western official involved in the training told me: "The process is pretty frustrating. We're proud of some of the men who go through - we've stopped being surprised at how inept others are."