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Paramilitary: Fit To Fail
   Next Article → WARPLANES: Hot Refueling Is A Bad Sign
March 5, 2010: In Afghanistan, two-thirds of police recruits fail to complete their training. Despite that, the national police force has been expanded to 76,000. A major issue is the illiteracy problem (most recruits, like most Afghans, can't read). Afghanistan is finding that illiteracy is a growing problem in the army and police. Only about 25 percent of recruits are literate, and only 35 percent of all policemen are literate. While this can be ignored for the lower ranking troops, police supervisors need to read. Illiterate recruits also take longer to train, and more effort to work with. The U.S. has provided an intensive literacy course for soldiers, which gets most of them to basic ("functional") literacy within a year. A similar program has been implemented for the police. They need it. In addition taught to read signs and maps, the newly semi-literate police are taught to sign their names, and write out the serial number of their weapon. Illiterate police selected for promotion to sergeant, are given more literacy training. That's because being able to read and write has long been a critical asset for any paramilitary force. The Roman Empire, at its height 1800 years ago, had an army over 100,000 troops, a third of which were literate. But with modern forces, an abundance of technology makes literacy even more necessary. The Afghans can get by without it, but can do a lot better with it.

In the last eight years, many police recruits received no training at all. That had a lot to do with the high dropout rate. That has changed, but it will be several years before all police are trained to an acceptable level.

In fact, there are some even more serious problems with the cops, mainly because of a lack of good leadership. Afghanistan has never had a real national police force, and building one isn't easy. The culture of corruption, and tribalism, plus widespread illiteracy, are proving to be formidable obstacles. Those police units that are well led (and there are some of them) and have worked out good relationships with local tribal leaders (difficult, because of the many feuds, and short tempers), do a good job. Having to battle the Taliban and drug gangs puts additional strain on an already weak force.

 

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trenchsol       3/5/2010 1:14:48 PM
On the bright side, they can't write down your car plates........
 
DG

 
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