U.S. report says confusion, graft harm Afghan guard scheme

KABUL Sat Dec 17, 2011 4:44pm IST

Members of the Afghan National Police (ANP) conduct a patrol with German ISAF soldiers (not pictured) near the settlement of Nawabad in the Chahar Dara district December 14, 2011. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Members of the Afghan National Police (ANP) conduct a patrol with German ISAF soldiers (not pictured) near the settlement of Nawabad in the Chahar Dara district December 14, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Thomas Peter

Related Topics

KABUL (Reuters) - A scheme that pays and arms Afghans to defend their villages against insurgents is being hindered by corruption and the difficulty of distinguishing the guards from other armed groups, a U.S. military report has said.

The Afghan Local Police units were a flagship project of U.S. General David Petraeus, who stepped down as commander of foreign forces in Afghanistan earlier this year, but they have been criticised by rights groups, including in a Human Rights Watch report in September.

They aim to use modest salaries and foreign mentors to build or formalise local protection networks in areas with a heavy presence of insurgents and few soldiers or police, but critics say their lack of training and accountability can make them a threat to the public.

An investigation by U.S. forces in Afghanistan into the HRW allegations found that some were credible, said a report dated December 6 but only made public this week.

"Many of the allegations that are tied to ALP are in fact not ALP units. Unfortunately there are many groups out there that claim to be ALP or are identified as ALP," a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan said on Saturday.

"This was a finding by the investigating team and there were recommendations made ... to address this problem," he said.

They include the possibility of introducing a standard uniform for all ALP members, and better education and awareness of the groups.

The controversial groups, formed in response to worsening security in Afghanistan, have worked in some areas, with Afghans citing improvements in security. But in others, criminals and insurgents are joining the ALP or government-backed militias, securing access to money and guns, the HRW report said.

The ALP is likely to be expanded and extended, a senior officer from the NATO-led coalition fighting in Afghanistan said on Monday, as foreign combat troops prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan completely by the end of 2014.

Original plans called for up to 30,000 members, although only around 10,000 are in place at the moment.

The investigation, conducted by U.S. Air Force Brigadier General James Marrs, said the ALP was "effective" and in the main complied with orders concerning human rights, but in his report he acknowledged there were shortcomings.

"Ethnic divisions, political differences, power struggles and corruption are some of the multiple challenges to overcome before the system will become most effective," Marrs wrote.

"Many of these issues are not restricted to local areas and extend up to the executive branch of the Afghan government."

(Editing by Paul Tait)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Top News

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Microsoft Earnings

Microsoft Earnings

Microsoft sales beat Street hopes, cloud profits up.  Full Article 

Canada Shooting

Canada Shooting

Canada Parliament gunman had planned to travel to Syria - police.  Full Article 

Sarita's Suspension

Sarita's Suspension

India hope to get boxer Sarita Devi's suspension reversed.  Full Article 

Fighting IS

Fighting IS

U.S.-led air strikes killed 553 fighters, 32 civilians in Syria - monitor.  Full Article 

Market Pulse

Market Pulse

Sensex gains in special trading session on Diwali.  Full Article 

Ebola Outbreak

Ebola Outbreak

Mali becomes sixth West African nation hit by Ebola.  Full Article 

Climate Deal

Climate Deal

EU strikes compromise to set new climate target.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage