The trick, then, is to manage the risk that’s inherent in having an under-resourced international force and reaching the level of capacity at which the Afghan national security forces ought to be. I think you know well — I think you probably heard a lot of times, both from my friend David Petraeus and a lot of other people — that in a counterinsurgency environment the best force to use is generally taken to be indigenous security force, and of the indigenous security force, often in counterinsurgency, the best force to use is police force.
The Afghan National Army has made great progress. It does very well in developing its capacity under the U.S.-led coalition called CSTC-A, which is responsible for training and equipping. The police are a bit behind. I would judge, in terms of development, they might be as much as 18 months behind the Afghan National Army, and there’s no news there. But there is some good news associated with it. Some time late last spring, early part of the summer I think the international community came to the realization, and there has been almost a galvanizing interest amongst the internationals to get behind the police. There certainly has been the largess of the U.S. Congress in pushing money to help to develop the police. And with some initiatives, most notable being the focused district development, I see that by the end of the summer we might see a considerably fast rate of progress in the police; yet we will still be short the force to wage this.
We all knew, it’s the first time we had some empirical data of all the events that occurred in calendar year 2007, 70-to-71 percent occurred in 10 percent of the districts. We took the top 40. And so when you consider that, then go back to that underpinning of counterinsurgency doctrine, typically the best force to use is an indigenous security force. And of the indigenous security forces, the police are best to use. So I’d say we’re at a juncture right now that it’s not about huge numbers of international forces, nor taking the Afghan national army beyond the 80,000, I think, is the agreed-to level right now. But it’s about getting effective police out where they need to be. And so I’d be reluctant to say I need this many tens of thousands. What I think we need is, more than huge numbers of international force, is effective capacity in the Afghan national army and in the Afghan national police. Yes, ma’am.
Q Sir, how do you explain that not enough police trainers have been sent. And those that have been sent, how would you assess their ability from the different countries? Which countries have stepped up and sent those police trainers? And what are the weaknesses that you’re seeing in the training?
GEN. MCNEILL: I think the fact that there are not the requisite number of police mentors there is a function of the members of the alliance thinking they’re doing about all they can do with their human resource. We clearly need more police mentors. I think you know that part of the Marine contingent that will come this spring will satisfy some part of that. I think you know that the EU, last spring and early part of this summer, decided that they need to play a bigger role. I think there are other nations beginning to see it.
What that will mean over the long haul, in terms of numbers, I’m less certain. But there is no question of this dimension. The Afghan police, just like the Afghan national army, perform considerably better when they have an effective Western embed, and I offer my conclusions as to why that is so.
If an Afghan is advancing, is going forward against the insurgent, they like to know that if they get shot, there is a high probability that they will be medically evacuated, maybe even by air. They will get to a medical facility, indigenous or international, and they’re likely to survive that. They also appreciate the fact that if they have a Western embed and they get in an intense fight, they’re likely to hear an attack helicopter, back over the next terrain feature, coming their way, or they will see a fast mover.
They also know, if there’s a protracted fight over several days, and they begin to run low on ammunition, they’re likely to hear a Chinook or some other cargo helicopter coming forward. They are not afraid to engage the insurgent, to engage the enemies of their country, and they have a culture of fighting. And there’s no news there to anybody who has studied the Afghan history. But on the modern battlefield, they like to know they’re back-end supported by the right sort of things.
So if there’s no other reason out there, that’s a good reason to have the Western embeds.
They make them more professional. They make them more efficient, as fighters.
How ’bout Sons of Afghanistan? Can we have those?