Afghanistan: Police Moving Into Bandit Country


December 5, 2005: As more Afghan troops and police enter service, they are being sent to areas in the south that have long been pro-Taliban. This has resulted in more attacks on police, and more clashes between the army and armed groups of pro-Taliban tribesmen. But the police have been able to develop informants in the tribes, and this information allows the army to stage raids. Weapons caches are being found and seized, and arrests of known Taliban leaders made. This growing battle with the diehard Taliban tribes has killed about 1,500 people so far this year, most of them Taliban gunmen. Many of the reported "clashes with Taliban" are actually with bandits, who have long roamed the countryside looking for opportunities. There are probably over 10,000 men actively involved (plus a lot more part timers) in banditry and other forms of crime. Compared to that, there are several thousand active Taliban gunmen, and perhaps a few hundred al Qaeda.

December 4, 2005: In southern city of Kandahar, a suicide bomber tried to attack a military convoy, but was too late, and left two dead (the bomber and a passerby.)

These suicide bomb attacks are carried out as a joint effort by the Taliban (which uses their ability to smuggle people in and out of the country) and al Qaeda (which supplies the bomb builders, and suicide bomber volunteers.) The number of people involved in all this is believed (because of what those caught and arrested have said) to be small (less than a hundred.) But the interrogations also reveal plans to try and increase the number of suicide attacks.

November 29, 2005: The U.S. is spending about a billion dollars a year to train and equip the new Afghan army (some 80,000 troops) and national police force (57,000). While much of the money goes into construction (barracks and police stations), weapons and equipment (vehicles and radios), a lot is devoted to training. This is particularly the case with commanders. Afghanistan's history is one of poorly trained, corrupt and inept police and army commanders. If a man had a natural talent for such command, and a few do, they would succeed. But this would leave Afghanistan with far fewer effective commanders than a Western force, were trainable commanders are sought out and taught how to do the job right.

November 28, 2005: The government has succeeded in curbing the independence of the provincial governors. This is done with a combination of negotiating skill, and muscle (the 80,000 Afghan army, and access to U.S. troops and smart bombs.)


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