Understaffed Afghan Border Police force struggling to control drug, arms trafficking

June 10th, 2009 - 4:54 pm ICT by ANI  

Taliban Kabul, June 10 (ANI): In a bid to stop drug trafficking on Afghanistan’s southern border, the US is trying to build up the region’s border police, but only 200 officers have been trained so far to guard an 800-mile boundary skirting Kandahar, Helmand, Nimruz, and Zabul.

Every day, more than 25,000 people cross the southern Afghanistan border along with Pakistan. Some of these commuters feed the insurgency by smuggling weapons and Taliban fighters into Afghanistan, or by bringing out drugs that fund the rebels’ activities.

To control this, only a fraction of Afghan Border Police (ABP) officers here have been formally trained, and the American commanders acknowledge that they are finding difficulties in training the border guards due to their corrupt and unprofessional behavior.

Many border police are recruited from the regular Afghan National Police, but it’s hard to attract the best training officers due to a pay differential: Border police trainers earn less than their district police counterparts.

The work is also arguably more dangerous than district policing.

“These guys are out in the middle of nowhere in small teams. In the south, the enemy is enabled by forces in Pakistan, not dependent on Pakistan,” says US Army Col. Bill Hix, who commands coalition troops responsible for training Afghan security forces.

Brigadier General Saifullah Hakim, who oversees the southern ABP program from a base in Spin Boldak, near Kandahar, says that one consequence of the added danger and pay differential is that much of his force is poorly educated, even illiterate.

“If you tell them something 101 times,” says General Hakim of his men, “maybe the 101st time, they will learn it,” the Christian Science Monitor quoted him, as saying.

Last month, 200 ABP officers graduated from the six-week training program - the second group in the south to complete this training, out of a total of about 3,200 ABP officers.

The US Army hopes to bring the number of ABP on the southern border to just over 4,400 men.

Shermohammed Zazi, who commands the Afghan National Army’s 205 Corps in Kandahar said: “But they (ABP) don’t have enough personnel to cover a 1,000-plus kilometer border, and they don’t have proper equipment.” (ANI)

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