Forces: Revenge and the Afghan Security Force

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December 19, 2005: In late 2001, the UN and U.S.-led Coalition organized the "Afghan Security Force" (ASF), a provisional constabulary that would take over local security duties while a transitional Afghan government was established. After that, it was believed that new national institutions, and particular a new police force and a new army, would be formed. The ASF grew into a motorized light infantry force of some tens of thousands of personnel, and took control of local security in many parts of Afghanistan during the next few months. The ASF drew its personnel from tribal militias, former soldiers, and returned exiles. Although often ill-trained and the cause of some abuses, the ASF helped bridge the security gap until regular police and army forces could be formed, trained and deployed. As the new Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP) were organized and began to take to the field, many ASF personnel passed into their ranks.

With the ANA and the ANP now more or less fully operational, plans are afoot to dissolve what's left of the ASF, which has been reduced, through transfers or discharges, to perhaps 2,000-2,500 men. This is creating a problem. While most former ASF men have found a niche in the police or the army, some have not. A few of the discharged personnel have been unable to adjust to civil life, government compensation has been poor and some of the men have found that their service in the ASF has brought them some degree of hostility in their native regions. There have been a couple of incidents in which discharged ASF personnel have engaged in banditry. Other discharged ASF men have been attacked, with a few deaths reported, by hostile tribesmen or Taliban agents. This has led the personnel still on active duty, most of whom are for various reasons unable to join the police or army, to seek provisions for their security, including jobs and protection. So far the Afghan government has not been responsive. If the men are simply discharged Coalition security experts have expressed concern that some of them might resort to criminal activity or even join the remnants of the Taliban.

 


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