After the United States' rapid withdrawal from Afghanistan several years ago (following operations in the area for well over a decade), there's been a big initiative for remaining American advisers to train a new Afghan police and security force in order to continue to manage the conflict in the area.
The Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, has been bringing in U.S. military aviators, infantry officers and civilian contractors in order to train the Afghan Local Police, or ALP, and has been doing so for years now. However, according to SIGAR inspector general John Sopko, things could be going much better.
In particular, Sopko's comments seem to paint the current operation as making the ALP something more like a paramilitary organization or a militia than any real organized police force.
Trust me, the comments aren't pretty...
Speaking to the Military Times, Sopko claims that “The U.S. lacks a deployable police development capability,” mentioning that “mostly untrained U.S. military officers and coalition officers are conducting that mission.”
He doesn't seem to be kidding when he talks about the "untrained" part either. According to Sopko, “As one U.S. officer told us, he watched TV shows like ‘Cops’ and ‘NCIS’ to learn what to teach Afghan police recruits.” That's right, legitimate armed military personnel are being trained via freaking NCIS.
It isn't just the personnel that are insufficient either. According to the Military Times,
"In one example, Afghan forces received PowerPoint presentations on NATO operations in the Balkans, according to Sopko. The NATO mission in the Balkans has little to no comparison with the situation in Afghanistan. These 'cut-and-paste activities' are a problem, he said."
Ultimately, it sounds like the issue is that more direct management of the situation is needed. With the continued amount of insurgency in the area, the ALP will only continue to be more important in the coming years. According to Sopko, there is "still time to make a difference."