Force replacing private firms being set up
KABUL (PAN): ISAF and the US Embassy are assisting the Ministry of Interior to set up an Afghan force to take over from private security firms after an assessment that the planned disbanding of the firms is unlikely to be met in March, officials said on Wednesday.
"ISAF and the US embassy are assisting the MoI to develop the management and command and control necessary for the APPF (Afghan Public Protection Force) to meet the needs of the coalition and the international community," ISAF said in a statement.
Last year, President Hamid Karzai ordered security companies be disbanded for flouting Afghan laws and creating the equivalent of paramilitary forces.
According to a US government report released last month, the new force — called the Afghan Public Protection Force, or APPF — is short about 18,600 of the 25,000 guards needed to take over all the work currently performed by privately contracted guards.
Only about 615 guards have graduated from training programs, which were meant to turn out 500 guards every three weeks. The training programs have been hampered by a shortage of resources, insufficient infrastructure and health challenges, according to the report.
Recruitment has also been slow. All of the newly trained guards were previously working as private contractors, even though the plan calls for at least 11,000 recruits from outside of these companies.
The report concluded the APPF “is not on track to assume the responsibilities for security services” by the March 2012 target.
On Wednesday, a senior NATO official told reporters in Kabul that the US-led coalition is working with the Afghan government to speed up training and do what’s needed to meet that target..
As part of this, Brig. Gen. Edward Dorman said that NATO is assigning an additional 150-170 advisers to get the program back on track. “I am confident that we are on the right path,” he said.
Dorman declined to say how much the additional push would cost but said the money will come out of funds already allocated for improving the Afghan security forces. He said that the funds were not being taken away from any other initiatives.
Afghan Deputy Interior Minister Jamal Naser Saddiqi said that there were 46 security companies that still need to be disbanded — 23 Afghan firms and 23 international. Saddiqi said that while the shift is happening slowly, he was confident that the goal was attainable.
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