Good Cop, Bad Cop: Afghanistan's National Police

Police Is Critical Part in Fighting Insurgency, But Many Problems Remain

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One of Caldwell's biggest challenges is he still doesn't have enough manpower for the mission. Nine nations have sent 500 police trainers, but hundreds more are still needed.

At one training camp we visited, some Italian police officers were teaching the recruits marksmanship and crowd control. As of now, most Afghan police recruits only get six weeks of training.

In past years, many Afghan police received no follow-up training in the field. The goal today is for American and international forces to regularly supervise them.

National Guard troops from the Boston area with the 101st Field Artillery Regiment and are spending their year-long tour mentoring Afghan police north of Kabul.

"Pretty much if he opened up on us right now, he might not hit anybody," a U.S. sergeant joked, referring to an Afghan policeman standing nearby holding a large machine gun.

To keep the Afghans on target and turn them into a professionalized force that can win the support of the country's rural population, the Americans spend up to four days in a row living and working with them, keeping a constant lookout for corruption.

"The army's there to protect the nation; the police are there to protect the people," Caldwell explained.

When asked how important the police are to the counterinsurgency efforts of the U.S., the general said, "Perhaps one of the most critical pieces."

"Most critical?" Cooper asked. "More than the Afghan National Army?"

"Even more so than the army," Caldwell said. "And the reason why is because the police are the face of the Afghan government."

"The police are exactly what General Caldwell says they are. They are the face of the government. If the government is corrupt, the police are inevitably corrupt. And that is how the population sees them," Peter Galbraith told Cooper.

In 2009, Galbraith was the United Nations' number two man in Afghanistan.

"Part of your portfolio when you were with the U.N. in Afghanistan was the police," Cooper remarked. "Have you had interactions with the police?"

"Well, I had one particular incident with the police, actually, just near the American embassy. As I passed a roundabout, my bodyguard had to pay off the police in order for us to proceed," Galbraith remembered.

"So, wait. You got hit up by the Afghan National Police in Kabul?" Cooper asked. "For a bribe?"

"Hit up by the Afghan National Police, a stone's throw from the American Embassy, for a bribe," Galbraith replied.

Asked what that tells him that the Afghan National Police would hit him up for money, considering his important status, Galbraith said, "If they would do that for someone in my position, just imagine what it was for ordinary Afghans."