Afghanistan’s Civil Order Police: Victim of Its Own Success

  • In 2006, a day of deadly riot in Kabul dramatized the need for an Afghan constabulary force capable of controlling outbreaks of urban violence. In response, the U.S. military and Afghan authorities created a elite gendarmerie, the Afghanistan National Civil Order Police (ANCOP).
  • Although ANCOP was conceived of as a riot control force, it was assigned to the Focused District Development Program to replace district-level Afghan Uniformed Police who were away for training. The high demand and constant transfers required by this duty resulted in rates of attrition among ANCOP unit of 75 to 80 percent.
  • In 2010, ANCOP's superior training, firepower, and mobility were recognized in its assignments, along with a "surge" of U.S. military forces, to reverse the Taliban's hold on key areas in Southern Afghanistan.
  • In heavy fighting in Marja, Helmand province, ANCOP was demonstrably unprepared to serve as a counterinsurgency force, particularly in areas that had not been cleared by coalition and Afghan military forces.
  • Subsequent improvements in training and partnering with U.S. forces improved ANCOPS's performance in kandahar, where ANCOP was used to hold areas that had been cleared by the military.
  • By 2011, ANCOP had firmly established its place as an elite rapid reaction and counter-insurgency force with a positive reputation among coalition troops and afghan citizens.

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