July 15, 2010
Doonesbury the mentor
Doonesbury's been looking at the Iraqi army this week; rang a few bells. Worth your time.
Today's essential Afghan reading: Forsberg and Kagan
Carl Forsberg and the Kagans sort out the tangle of armed Afghans working in and around Kandahar, and how the Karzai clan continues to tighten their grip independent of official government forces in the area.
The formation of a powerful conglomerate of PSCs under the political control of local powerbrokers like Ahmed Wali Karzai would undermine the long-term stability of southern Afghanistan and the strength of Afghanistan’s legitimate security institutions. There is a very real risk that these institutions will be relied on by the Karzais and their allies as the guarantors of Kandahar’s security. If the Kandahar Security Company were in fact to grow to 2,500 armed men as Ruhullah suggests (and this is certainly feasible) it would be more than twice the current size of the Afghan Uniformed Police in Kandahar, and would exceed the size of the expanded police force that ISAF and the MOI are planning to add to the city.
A must-read to understand the local power dynamics: for instance, note the complete absence of the ex-Canadian provincial governor anywhere in the link-analysis schematic on page 2. (That itself should be a "well, there's your problem" kind of moment.)
The report recommendations don't seem particularly sound, however:
ISAF’s aim should be to disband these armed units and replace them with ANSF. To achieve ANSF primacy, ISAF cannot simply incorporate these PSCs or their members into the formal security forces. It will be necessary to vet their members, retrain them, and disperse them throughout the country via the established national recruiting and assignment procedures. The army would better incorporate these militias than the police, because of its ability to assign forces nationally.
Yeah, that's not gonna happen.
Indeed, things are going the other way entirely, so much so that one has to assume that Karzai's support for the new ISAF plan to expand the AP3 program out of Wardak hinged on his thinking he'll be able to go to that well to arm and deputize those local Kandahar militias that support his family, like the KAU.
You really can't grok Afghan security politics until you grasp that the president really trusts his national army much less than we do.
"endearingly macho" -- Mark Steyn
"wonderfully detailed analysis" -- John Allemang, Globe and Mail
"unusually candid" -- Tom Ricks, Foreignpolicy.com
Bill & Bob
Ghosts of Alex