Good Cop, Bad Cop: Afghanistan's National Police

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

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Galbraith was fired by the U.N. after protesting the fraud associated with Afghanistan's presidential elections. He says the police are the most corrupt institution in the country.

"Who are the police? They are illiterate villagers, many of them users of drugs who come in, they have a six-week training course. Now, how can you teach somebody to read and write, to be a policeman, to defend themselves in six weeks? It just isn't possible. So what emerges is not a policeman, but someone who is marginally more effective at extorting money from his fellow citizens," Galbraith said.

Asked if he believes the police are making the insurgency worse, Galbraith said, "Without a doubt."

They certainly made it worse in a place called Marjah. When U.S. Marines went on the offensive there last spring, they weren't just trying to root out the Taliban - they were also there to help replace corrupt Afghan police who had been harassing and extorting local residents.

"When somebody says there's corruption in the police force, my answer is, 'Okay, first of all, we haven't formally trained 'em, and then we didn't pay 'em right,'" Caldwell said. "In other words, the amount of money they were gettin' paid each month was insufficient for them to provide for themselves to live with a family in Afghanistan. So we in fact had set the conditions that made that policeman have to look for other ways to make money."

"I remember being in Kabul in 2002, going out with special forces and everyone then said, 'Look, this is a key element. This is crucial to helping Afghanistan stand up for itself.' Did people just forget about the police?" Cooper asked.

"There just hasn't been the focus on the police," Caldwell replied.

Before Caldwell arrived, much of the actual police training was overseen by civilian contractors working for the U.S. State Department. But according to a government audit, there was no "measurement of contractor performance," nor was any "specific…type of training . . . required."

Nevertheless, of the $7 billion the U.S. has spent training the police, over one billion went to pay the contractors.

"Has the money that's been spent training the Afghan police over the last eight years, has that been wasted?" Cooper asked.

"What I would tell you, it has not gotten us to where we need to be today," Caldwell said.

Since taking command, Caldwell has reorganized the entire training program. He has replaced nearly 400 private contractors, who he says lacked initiative and flexibility, and saved $150 million in the process.

There is now a plan to teach tens of thousands of Afghan police how to read at a basic level. Drug testing is mandatory, and to combat corruption, police wages have been doubled. To make sure Afghan officers actually get paid, American military teams monitor the police bureaucracy.