Working paper 2 2013 - Policing – The Face of Peace in Afghanistan
1 ACMC Paper 2/2013 > Policing – The Face of Peace in AfghanistanPolicing – The Face of Peacein Afghanistanor mitigate corruption. Police of course are not alone in therule of law space; the judiciary, corrections services, othergovernment agencies and non-government agencies allplay an important part. This notwithstanding, in the day-to-day life of an average Afghan, there is no other governmentinstrumentality with the same breadth and depth ofresponsibilities as the police.At its core, policing is about a government attempting tokeep its population safe and secure from crime and disorder.This is a task which has been undertaken in various formssince the eras of the ancient empires. While today, theexact way in which policing services are delivered varies tocertain degrees between jurisdictions, all modern civilianpolicing structures emanate from one of two service deliveryparadigms that evolved about 200 years ago.The one we are most familiar with in Australia is the modelborn in the 1829 creation of a police force in London bySir Robert Peel. Peel’s ‘bobbies’ embraced the philosophy> Paper 02/2013Superintendent Jason ByrnesThis paper outlines the critical challenges in regards to theevolution of the Afghan National Police (or ANP). Rather thanlessons learned per se, the paper argues that the lessonsto be learned from the Afghan experience are that themilitarisation or securitisation of nascent civilian capabilitiesis problematic. For a model of civilian policing to be effective,it has to be one that the community desires and/or accepts.For Afghanistan, this also requires a true unity of effort onthe part of the international community in supporting anAfghan initiated civilian policing model, even if aspects ofthe model are not regarded as ideal to the Western eye.Let us start with the proposition that police are the faceof peace.For the rule of law to be operable, police must not just beeffective, but must be seen to be effective, and accepted(if not embraced) by the general population as being alegitimate and beneficial part of the community. Issues offreedom and order always intersect at the police.1Police arethe public manifestation of government authority; they arethe government institution that most directly impacts onpeople’s daily lives. Police create a stable environment inwhich industry and commerce can thrive, in which educationcan flourish and in which communities can stabilise andgrow. Police can also represent a force that checks theillegal use of power by government, and can disrupt, counter
2 ACMC Paper 2/2013 > Policing – The Face of Peace in Afghanistanthat the police are the public and the public are the police.In this community policing paradigm, police officers arethe only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon everycitizen. This policing by consent or community policingmodel has been extremely influential in international policedevelopment, particularly in the democratic nations of whatis considered the Anglo world, including Australia, NewZealand and the United States of America.The gendarmerie model of policing consolidated in19thcentury continental Europe, but was (and is) usedthroughout the world. A version of it, the so-calledconstabulary model, was utilised by Great Britain inseveral colonial settings during the 19thand 20thcenturies.The gendarmerie model is where policing is performedby military or quasi-military bodies. These bodies maybe specifically tasked to conduct policing duties, orthose duties may be incidental to their military tasks. Theadvantages of this model include the ability to conductunit expeditionary operations in remote or rural areas,particularly where the rule of law is challenged or lackspopular support. Often such operations involve coercionor at least a heavily regimented presence.While many gendarmerie organisations have movedsubstantially away from their military origins over thepast century, their mode of operations still represent adegree of militarisation that modern militaries find readilycomplementary to their own practices. It is important tonote two vital developments in the gendarmerie model;the first is that in many localities they operate in additionto separate urban-based community police forces.Additionally, several gendarmeries have embraced thecommunity policing concepts of police professionalism inregards to providing policing capabilities that are within thereasonable and proportionate framework of operations.While there are some significant operational and conceptualdifferences between the community policing andgendarmerie paradigms, as a general rule, the best agenciesof both paradigms regard themselves as undertaking agenuinely unique profession which is both responsive to theneeds of the community and subject to external (particularlygovernment) oversight.A form of civilian policing emerged in Afghanistan in themid-20thcentury, during the reign of King Amanullah. Therelatively limited numbers of police officers were mostlylocated in urban centres, with occasional patrols or alimited presence in the rural areas. Although the systemwas not particularly sophisticated or effective, it comparedfavourably to other South Asian policing systems of thetime.2Communist rule and Soviet occupation both politicised andpara-militarised policing; it then disintegrated during thecivil war and Taliban rule of the 1990s.Efforts to implement a workable civilian policing system inAfghanistan since the West’s intervention in 2001 have ofcourse been undertaken against the backdrop of a viciousand seemingly intractable insurgency in a country affectedby decades of warfare and terror, with a population thatis insular, traditionally hostile or indifferent to centralgovernment, barely literate and poorly educated.For the Afghan National Police (ANP), efforts since 2001have been bloody and fraught with danger and despair.Over 3,000 ANP officers have been ‘martyred’ (i.e. killed/murdered) with thousands more injured. The casualty ratiofor Afghan police in comparison to the Afghan National Armyis astonishingly high, around 2:1 or even 4:1 depending uponthe criteria used and period covered. The ANP is copping thebrunt of the conflict, and this is partly reflected in high ratesof desertion (although these are reducing).The most significant strategic challenges for policingin Afghanistan during the transition period of 2014 andbeyond include: sourcing adequate funding, defining andconsolidating a professional ethos, and overcoming thedegree of militarisation it has been subjected to since 2002.The ANP was created as, and remains, a product of amilitary counterinsurgency mindset. This development wasinitiated by the International Community, and in particularthe US Army,3and was subsequently embraced by Afghanauthorities.As a consequence, the ANP – actually six differentorganisations4– was subsumed into the Afghan NationalSecurity Force (ANSF) architecture. Indeed, even today,official documentation and discussions often use the termANSF when actually referring to police specific matters.This is problematic as, even in a country wracked by war,not every policing matter is a national security issue andnot every national security issue is a police matter.
3 ACMC Paper 2/2013 > Policing – The Face of Peace in AfghanistanFrom their first days in training, Afghan police recruits spendas much if not more time on military or battlefield relatedskills as on core policing skills. Just over two weeks is spenton theoretical and practical police subjects such as law,human rights and arrest procedures. The remaining sixweeks are spent on assault rifle training, combat first aid,checkpoint and marching drills, as well as literacy training.It is readily acknowledged that this is a better situation thanexisted pre-2011 where most recruits, if they were trainedat all, received maybe a week on police specific issues.Nonetheless, it still serves as a dramatic indicator of thecompeting tensions at play. This raises the issue of whethertraining is supporting the inculcation of a policing or militarymindset.Today, up to 60 per cent of the ANP is a quasi-light infantryforce used in accordance with counterinsurgency doctrineto ‘hold the ground’ taken by military forces. Given there arearound 150,000 men (plus only 2,000 women) employedas ‘police’ in Afghanistan, this represents over 80,000undertaking duties which are not civilian policing in nature.An informative example of the realities of this point isthe experiences of the Afghan National Civil Order Police(ANCOP). In providing this example, citations are drawnfrom the Special Report written earlier this year by RobertPerito of the United States Institute of Peace, an organisationestablished by the US Congress.5ANCOP was conceived as the result of a series of deadlyriots in Kabul in 2006. At the time the ANP did not have away of providing large numbers of police to undertake crowdcontrol or public order duties. ANCOP’s logistics, commandand operational structures were within a gendarmerie(paramilitary) paradigm – large numbers of trained tacticalpolice were to deploy in formed police units.It is perhaps for this reason that during ANCOP’s formativetraining phases, the group was redirected to a series ofcounterinsurgency taskings, including the aggressivemilitary-style patrolling of districts dominated by insurgents.In 2010 an ANCOP battalion was placed in a crucial holdingrole during coalition surge operations in Helmand Province.The result was euphemistically referred to by Mr Perito as a‘mistake’. In short, the battalion disintegrated; it wilted underthe type of combat conditions for which it was not prepared.Desertion and drug use was widespread, and the battalionlacked the numbers, training and equipment necessary toprovide security in a combat environment. This should nothave been a revelation given that ANCOP was raised as acivilian police unit for undertaking crowd control dutieswith batons and shields. In the wake of this event and otherincidents in 2010, a substantial program was undertaken toreequip and retrain the ANCOP, not for crowd control duties,but for further counterinsurgency taskings. Meanwhilethe ANP still lacks an effective large scale crowd controlcapability.Moving from the past to the future, it is important tohighlight that senior Afghan and coalition officials areactively discussing how to shape the ANP into the future.Several senior coalition figures have publicly acknowledgedthat insufficient focus has to date been placed on ANPdevelopment – sentiments also shared by Afghanauthorities. No doubt the pending transition deadlineof 2014 is helping to focus minds on future options.The most important strategic question or challenge is theissue of what type of policing model should be adopted, ormore fundamentally, what type of policing service is bothsuitable and sustainable beyond 2014?This is ultimately a decision for the Afghans to makethemselves, and it will be driven by a range of cultural,political, financial and associated factors.A snapshot of the complexity of the challenge at hand inrelation to defining what type of police the Afghans want,and how that compares with what has occurred to date,can be seen in a perceptive report delivered in January 2012by the research and analysis organisation CNA Analysis &Solutions.6It highlighted that Afghan residents in the south-west find it difficult to imagine a police force of the typeenvisaged by the Coalition, as the concept of communitypolicing (as defined by the West) has not previously existed;neither has a the gendarmerie model, nor has the other termcommonly used within the country: democratic policing.This highlights the complex issues at play; first is the needto identify what type of police service delivery models thecommunity will accept or embrace; second, reconcile thatagainst the priorities of the local, regional and nationalgovernments; thirdly, evaluate how that outcome would bebest served either by a community policing or gendarmeriemodels. Indeed, it may actually represent an impetus for analternative, Afghan specific model.Finally, the preferred model has to be implemented aspart of a functioning (not necessarily perfect) rule-of-lawframework, while at the same time the government and itsforces has to meet community expectations and out-smartthe insurgency. It is no easy task.
4 ACMC Paper 2/2013 > Policing – The Face of Peace in AfghanistanArising from this challenge is the issue of establishing aviable, effective and professional policing culture. Theterm police culture is often misunderstood, derided andcriticised, but the reality is that like all organisations, policeforces need an effective culture to ensure that there isorganisational resilience, capacity and effectiveness. Thisis particularly the case when the police force is operatingin the midst of, and is the target of, a violent insurgency.It should never be forgotten that Afghans have beenasked to develop a comprehensive policing system injust over a decade, even though such systems have takenthe West over 50 years to develop. Additionally, muchof the coalition’s police development efforts during thepast decade have been focused on logistics and enablers(i.e. ensuring the right numbers of guns and trucks aredelivered, and that tashkils7are filled) rather than fosteringconsideration and debate on issues such as an appropriatepolice ethos or what type of police the ANP wants to be.An associated issue is how the ANP is managed and led.To the Australian eye it is peculiar that there is no policecommissioner or chief police officer equivalent positionwithin the ANP; its numerous generals are answerabledirectly to the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministerhimself. It is not a wrong or incorrect model, but it is onethat has certain impacts on the operational independenceof the police, the workload for the Minister, and the powerand influence of the Ministry. The recent appointment of aserving Police General to the position of Minister – the firsttime this has occurred in the life of the current government –is therefore an interesting and promising development wellworth watching.However, perhaps more than any other single factor, theissue of funding will be the significant determinant inshaping future police structure, capabilities and operationalmindsets.Throughout the world, policing is expensive. This isparticularly the case in Afghanistan which has a police topopulation ratio of around 1:190 – a figure almost doublethe internationally accepted norm, and even higher than theratio in many of the countries neighbouring Afghanistan. Infact the total cost of maintaining both the ANP and AfghanNational Army amounts to 3 per cent of the nation’s GrossDomestic Product (GDP). Without continuing donations fromthe international community, Afghanistan simply cannotafford its current and projected policing commitments.8Asthe quantum of aid declines in future years, the size of theAfghan police (and military) will inevitably reduce unlessalternative funding can be sourced. Innovative solutions,including decoupling policing from the counterinsurgencyparadigm as well as managing the impact of any potentialdemobilisation program, will become essential, if theGovernment of Afghanistan wants to stay ahead of thecurve and future-proof policing.This paper has outlined the challenges facing Afghanpolicing, in part by drawing on past episodes and lessons,as well as outlining how policing paradigms can impacton service delivery. Afghanistan is a complex imbroglio inwhich there are no easy solutions or outcomes – just manychallenges.There are two key takeaways to this paper. The first is thatthe process of implementing a sustainable policing modelmust be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned. If it isn’t, then any‘solutions’ will be discarded when international attentionshifts. The second takeaway is that there must be a trueunity of effort by the international community in supportingwhat the Afghans want to implement. This will require somedifficult decisions to be made as to what the internationalcommunity will and will not accept in regards to acceptablepolice practices/philosophies.In conclusion, the following two issues should be consideredwhen assessing the challenges ahead, as well as progressto-date.The first is an argument put forward by respected policeacademic David Bayley. In discussing whether policing iseffective in any society, he posed one question: do parentsteach their children that when they are away from home andneed help, they should seek out the police? In Afghanistan it’snot known if this is the case – it is something that needs tobe asked and assessed by the authorities.The second issue to consider arises from a newspaper reportin late 2012, mentioning security developments in BamyanProvince. The article covered the pending withdrawal ofNew Zealand military forces and the increasing instabilityin the Province, which has historically been one of the mostsecure regions. The article included comments from a localANP chief who pined for heavy machine guns, RPGs andmortars. Given the risks of the situation, this officer’s desireto ensure his men and families had the best protectionand tools available are understandable. The comments arenonetheless illustrative of the important question of, how farfrom the military mindset has the ANP has progressed?
5 ACMC Paper 2/2013 > Policing – The Face of Peace in AfghanistanNotes1 David H Bayley, 2006, Changing the Guard: DevelopingDemocratic Police Abroad, Oxford University Press.2 For a detailed overview of the history of policing in Afghanistan,see: Antonio Giustozzi and Mohammad Isaqzedeh, 2011,Afghanistan’s Paramilitary Policing in Context: The Risks ofExpediency, Afghanistan Analysts Network Website, availableat: <http://aan-afghanistan.com/index.asp?id=2265>.3 The Bonn Agreement of 2002 assigned Germany theresponsibility for developing Afghan policing. In 2005 the USassumed lead responsibility after protracted disagreementsover the speed of institution building and the model to beapplied to the ANP.4 The Afghan Uniform Police (AUP), Afghan Border Police (ABP),Afghan National Civil Order Police (ANCOP), Afghan Anti-CrimePolice (AACP), Afghan Local Police (ALP) and the Afghan PublicProtection Force (APPF).5 Robert M Perito, 2012, Afghanistan’s Civil Order Police: Victimof its Own Success, United States Institute of Peace, availableat: <http://www.usip.org/files/resources/SR307.pdf>6 Catherine Norman, 2012, What do Afghans want from thePolice? Views from Helmand Province, CNA Analysis & Solutions,available at: <http://www.cna.org/research/2012/what-do-afghans-want-police-views-helmand-province>7 Broadly, the equivalent of authorised or approved staffing levels.8 For details of the grim predictions for Afghanistan’s finances, seethe World Bank Report Afghanistan in Transition: Looking Beyond2014.About the authorJason Byrnes has over 22 years of experience in theAustralian Federal Police (AFP). He has undertaken policingduties in local, national and international environments,including a posting to the United Nations PeacekeepingForce in Cyprus. From mid-2011 to mid-2012 SuperintendentByrnes was a member of the AFP’s contingent in Afghanistan.At the time of presenting this paper he was the AFPsecondee to the Australian Civil-Military Centre.This paper was drawn from a presentation given at the8th International Lessons Learned Conference, SydneyAustralia, on 4 December 2012. The views expressed inthis paper are those of the author and do not representany official position of the Australian Federal Police orthe Australian Government.