Colonel Ed Kornish has a tough job. He took some time to tell some bloggers about it, including me, thus the departure from the usual themes on this blog. COL Kornish commands Regional Police Advisory Command – South in Kandahar.* He has 230 American guys and gals, soldiers, sailors and airmen, 70 Brits and 100 Canadians in 4 Provincial and 15 District Police Mentor Teams all over southern Afghanistan trying to train 10,000 Afghan National Policemen. We really don’t have National Policemen in America, and they really don’t have local yokels, county mounties and Smoky the Bear in Afghanistan. I gather that municipal, district and provincial law enforcement organizations outside of the ANP are discouraged.
“. . . there is one police force, which is Afghan National Police. There’s not like a city police force or a county police force — all of the district police are part of the Afghan National Police.”
This was my first Blogger’s Roundtable and COL Kornish lost his satellite and fell off the line before I could get a word in edge-wise, but I did email him the questions I would have asked, and he graciously emailed me back and answered them.
COL Kornish’s Region is the Wild West of the East. Pashtun tribal and clan chiefs with their lashkars, warlord jefes with their pickup trucks full of banditos, local security contractors with their pickup trucks full of “security officers,” and then there are the opium cartels and their bully boys, all going about their business while the Brits, Dutch, Canadians, Romanians and Americans hunt the Taliban, who are not readily distinguishable from the previously described gentlemen.
I asked him about the ethnic make up of the ANP in RC South. He said they don’t keep those kind of records, but most of the ANP in RC South were Pashtuns. The Pashtuns have their own laws, so Tajiks in gherkin green ANP uniforms trying to enforce the writ of Kabul have their work cut out for them. The traditional Pashtun Code and the people still trying to live by it are under great stress from the outside world, from wars, narcoterrorism, and violent graduates of Deobandi madrassas. RPAC-S could really use a Human Terrain Team to sort all this combat anthropology out, but kandaks before cops. The Brits are trying “to increase their support for community defence initiatives, where local volunteers are recruited to defend homes and families modelled on traditional Afghan ‘arbakai’,” , but echelons above RPAC-S disagree with that. I asked COL Kornish if his British PMT’s were mentoring arbakai. He doesn’t know.
The Canadians have a flap going on about not turning over their prisoners to the locals lest they get tortured, so I asked COL Kornish if any of the PMT’s are mentoring Afghan correctional officers. They’re not.
I asked him about the European Union Police Mission in Afghanistan and how they interacted with his operation. EUPOL really doesn’t affect him at his level, they interact with CSTC-A. DynCorp is doing good things, though:
However, we do work side-by-side every day with international civilian police assigned to our area. First, DynCorp under International Narcotics Law Enforcement under US Department of State provides contract civilian law enforcement officers in our area that serve as advisors for police training and mentors for the police. The advisors help train and mentor at the regional and provincial level. They do some training but primarily advise certified Afghan police trainers who are the primary instructors. They mentor as part of my regional and provincial teams such that we have combined civilian and military mentor teams at the regional and provincial level. We jointly mentor the Afghan police on 5 primary systems: personnel, finance, logistics, operations, and training. In addition to the DynCorp civilian
police officers who are primarily from the US, we work with the UK in Helmand Province and they have a number of civilian police officers from the UK. In Kandahar, we work at the regional, provincial, and to a lesser extent, district level with Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
We have an RCMP Superintendent as a permanent member of our ARSIC staff and an RCMP element embedded with our US military Police Mentor Team (PMT) and DynCorp civilian police mentors in Kandahar Province.
Dyncorp is one of those eeeevil mercenary corporations, don’t ya know. I was at one time employed by DynCorp, but not on CIVPOL. I remember when the Canadians rolled into KAF in 2005. They had one lone Mountie with them back then, in their Provincial Reconstruction Team. He was pretty easy to spot in the Main DFAC wearing his gray patrol uniform like he was ready to roust drunks in Yellowknife.
COL Kornish speaks highly of his ANP leaders:
In RC South, our Regional Police Chief, BG Wahdat, and all of our
Provincial Police Chiefs have been assigned after rank reform by the Ministry of Interior. These officers are intelligent, competent leaders that are dedicated to making the Afghan National Police a trusted and professional force. Rank reform is ongoing at the district level and below at checkpoints and police substations. Leadership at these lower levels varies in quality but is improving as reform progresses.
Two of his 15 district PMT’s are mentoring the Afghan Border Police in RC South. Mentoring the Border Police is one of RPAC-S’s critical missions. Nobody is mentoring the Border Police on the Iranian border with Nimruz province, he tells me. Nimruz doesn’t have a Provincial Reconstruction Team or much of any NATO/ISAF/Coalition presence.
COL Kornish and his people have an incredibly complex task, dealing with diverse ethnic and national ways of doing things in a tough environment. Embedding with the Police is a much hairier gig than embedding with the ANA. Their posse has a lot less firepower. I hope some of these mentors write books. They would rival the adventure stories of Rudyard Kipling.
Foreign Internal Defense used to be a Special Forces mission, and before we had Special Forces American soldiers and Marines recruited and led Philippine Constabulary, Haitian Gendarmerie, and Nicarauguan Guardia Nacional. We even worked with Imperial Iranian Gendarmerie during WWII. The Brits set up the Frontier Corps who have been losing forts to the Taliban lately. But the ANP is different. I don’t think we have a template to model it on. We are trying to set up an organization to extend the writ of Kabul throughout the land, and that has never been done before.
* RPAC-S is part of Afghanistan Regional Security Integration Command – South, which is part of Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix VI, which falls under Combined Security Transitional Command – Afghanistan (CSTC-A). And he’s in Regional Command South, so a
British Canadian general can jerk his chain, too.