February 27, 2010: The U.S. is spending over $600 million in the next year to build about 200 police compounds in Afghanistan. These small forts (which is how much of the rural housing in Afghanistan is built) will be made of reinforced concrete (and not the shoddy bricks normally employed). The police stations will be bullet proof and bomb resistant. Each compound will come with barracks, office space, jail cells, generators, vehicle parking and maintenance areas, sanitation facilities and storage space for food, water and fuel. The police compounds will have an outer perimeter enclosed by a barbed wire barrier, and guard posts at each of the four corners. The hundred or so police stationed at each compound spend most of their time on patrol, or trying to deal with local disputes, or bandits.
The security aspects of the police compounds reflect the need for a secure refuge during periods when there are a lot of Taliban in the area, or some warlord or tribal chief has mustered several hundred gunmen to settle some feud (and the police are standing in the way.) There is fear that some of these compounds will be used, by corrupt police chiefs, as refuges for local warlords or drug gangs. NATO trainers are trying to create a force of professional and well trained commanders for the police force, but corruption is a stronger and more ancient tradition in the region.