Afghanistan: July 28, 2003


Taking the long view, a thousand senior Iraqi police officials are undergoing a three year course of instruction by coalition instructors. The first class of lower ranking 253 police constables are finishing a one year course. The national police will be 50,000 strong, but will take three years to recruit and train. A 12,000 man Border Police are also being organized. European and American trainers are providing the instruction. In the past, corrupt police have been a major cause of unrest and the inability of a central government to rule the entire nation. A professional police force won't guarantee a stable national government, but it will make it more likely. There is no easy way to overcome the problems brought about by the tribalism that still influences the loyalty and behavior of most Afghans. 

Local tribal militias are generally able to deal with the few thousand armed Taliban supporters that are still active. American forces provide a central reserve for situations where the Taliban attack. But the Taliban are not interested in attacking, but intimidating. By persuading tribes to not attack Taliban fighters and to supply food and shelter, the Taliban can build up the capability to take control of parts of the country, and eventually the entire nation. But the Taliban have not yet overcome the combat power of US troops (especially the Special Forces and warplanes overhead dropping smart bombs. Another problem is that most Afghans do not remember the period of Taliban rule fondly, so the Taliban are usually seen as another tribe trying to expand their power. 

Local leaders in the mountains north of Kandahar are calling for government or coalition troops to come and deal with several groups of Taliban fighters (numbering several hundred men) who are moving through the region, threatening local leaders and pro-government militiamen. 


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