The training and operational capability of the Afghan forces has been held in doubt by many independent observers and organisations.
Skeptical and critical of their readiness to assume security control, reports from these quarters have expressed concern over the transfer of responsibility to the Afghan forces in 2014. The latest such report issued by the British charitable organisation Oxfam is on the same lines.
Highly critical of the Afghan police’s professionalism and accountability, it also notes deficiencies in the training (or lack of in some cases) provided. More significant is the listing of human right abuses at the hands of these security forces that are meant to ensure civilians’ security. The report also notes civilians abuse and intimidation including that of children. Lack of sufficient trainers is a reason for the state of affairs as is corruption, nepotism, lack of accountability and monitoring of the officers. The overall trend denotes emphasis on recruiting and swelling the numbers of the security personnel rather than providing quality training and bolstering capability. This does offer a bleak glimpse into an area that was regarded a top priority both for Kabul and Washington.
With the start of withdrawal of US forces scheduled in mid July, the pressure is on especially after the successful US covert operation that killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The voices demanding the wrapping up of the war in Afghanistan, post Osama are getting louder by the day. While this does give the US an opportunity to expedite withdrawal, a more sizeable exit may not be on the cards. The war against the Taleban-led insurgency is far from over even if Bin Laden is no more. However, in case the hunt for Taleban leader Mullah Omer is successful, it will deal a blow to the insurgency and give the International Security Assistance Forces a big boost.
In any case the war has now entered a decisive phase and the goal for Kabul should be to have its national security forces ready to start assuming more responsibility. While outsiders can only help with the training and equipping of these forces, it is the responsibility of the Afghan government to keep a strict eye on the monitoring of the behaviour and activities of these personnel and strictly rule out any illegal behaviour. Not only will this impact the war efforts adversely it will turn the people away from the government whose security custodians cannot be trusted. This is highly important and deserves immediate attention.