Policy and Research Papers
This report studies the transition from civilian to military-dominated police-building in Afghanistan. From 2002, Germany was the lead nation responsible for coordinating international assistance for police-building. The German police programme in Afghanistan was designed as a sustainable project with a civilian approach. However, Germany only invested relatively little funds in the building and reform of the ANP. This reflected the initially rather limited involvement of the international community as a whole in Afghanistan. The United States’ Afghanistan policy relied on cooperation with the warlords as well as on the military regime in Pakistan. This policy served to strengthen the armed opposition forces. Once it became clear that the building of the ANP was not progressing quickly enough, the USA de facto assumed the lead role in police-building in Afghanistan. This meant a change of paradigm from a civilian-based
police reform to a military-based police reform. Militarization was accelerated by the US dominated change of strategy in favour of counterinsurgency in 2009.
The report refers to the problems of the dominance of military elements in building the ANP. It is not clear whether the militarization of the ANP has significantly improved the chances of survival for members of the Afghan police. What is certain is that militarization cannot solve the problem of the weak legitimacy of the Afghan state. There is still a lack of trust between the public and the police, especially as the ANP is inadequately equipped to prevent or solve crimes. Moreover, the possible long-term consequences of militarization are problematic: It is easier to militarize the police now than it will be to drive out the spirit of militarization at a later date. The militarization of the ANP is therefore at the best ineffective and at the worst counterproductive. Only a police force which the people trust can be effective.
Intervening states apply different approaches to the use force in war-torn countries. Calibrating the use of force according to the situation on the ground requires a convergence of military and police roles: soldiers have to be able to scale down, and police officers to scale up their use of force. In practice, intervening states display widely differing abilities to demonstrate such versatility. This paper argues that these differences are shaped by how the domestic institutions of sending states mediate between demands for versatile force and their own intervention practices. It considers the use of force by Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States in three contexts of international intervention: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Afghanistan. The paper highlights quite different responses to security problems as varied as insurgency, terrorism, organised crime and riots. This analysis offers important lessons. Those planning and implementing international interventions should take into account differences in the use of force. At the same time, moving towards versatile force profoundly changes the characteristics of security forces and may increase their short-term risks. This difficulty points to a key message emerging from this paper: effective, sustainable support to states emerging from conflict will only be feasible if intervening states reform their own security policies and practices.
An accelerating trend to establish paramilitarized security forces has been occurring in peace operations to help fill security gaps. But the practice is problematic from a security sector reform(SSR) point of view, because SSR aims at distinguishing between the military and the police and at promoting civilian policing. This article shows that while the SSR concept leaves room for paramilitarization, it demands much caution. The paramilitarization of regular police forces is incompatible with even a flexible interpretation of SSR principles. The US-driven paramilitarization of the Afghan National Police (ANP), reflecting a search for quick fixes, is a dramatic case in point.
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