Paramilitary: The Great Experiment Fails


March 1, 2010: A decade long experiment in having the U.S. State Department manage American training of foreign police forces has come to an end. The training of police will be returned to the Department of Defense, at least for Afghanistan. The original switch was made because it was considered more politically correct to have the State Department training foreign police forces, even though the Department of Defense had been successfully doing it for decades. But, at the time, U.S. president Bill Clinton was trying to downplay the use of military personnel in delivering something as touchy as police training.

The State Department was never able to develop an ability to manage a police training program. The State Department does have its own security force (for looking after the safety of embassies and State Department personnel overseas), but not as many trainers as the Department of Defense, nor the decades of experience in this area. Attempts to hire retired Department of Defense personnel for the police training effort did not work out either, and there never developed, at the senior levels of the State Department, a sense that the training efforts were not doing well. The worst performance was in Afghanistan, and despite several warnings, the State Department was not able to turn the situation around. The State Department will still help with training criminal investigators and senior police commanders.



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