By Ian Graham
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity
July 1, 2010 - The Afghan National Police force needs to grow and be able to train itself for the NATO mission there to be successful, a military official said yesterday.
Army Col. Chadwick W. Clark, deputy commander for NATO Training Mission Afghanistan's Combined Training Advisory Group Police, spoke in a "DoD Live" bloggers roundtable about the continuing mission to train a domestic police force in Afghanistan.
Clark said his group is focusing on improving two areas over the next 16 months. First, he said, the number of police trainees will have to nearly triple, training 70,000 new police in addition to the existing 42,500 trained in the last five years. Secondly, he added, the quality of training needs to increase.
Looking at numbers can be confusing, Clark said, addressing a blogger's concern that such a large increase in numbers and the intended increase in training quality seems daunting over such a short time. The colonel explained that part of the increase in quality is an expansion of programs.
An officer candidate school and noncommissioned officer courses for Afghan police are being supplemented by other courses for provincial, brigade, battalion and commanders to add to the breadth of training available to the Afghan police, he said.
The extended options and increased reputation of Afghan police training programs, Clark said, will draw more recruits to the force. Eventually, he said, Afghan officers will be training the new recruits, and senior Afghan leaders will train up-and-coming officers.
"We feel that quality will attract quantity," Clark said.
Right now, there are 10,300 seats in police training programs, Clark said. A year from now, he said, he expects to have about 17,000 available, and to have 24,000 training seats by February 2012. More police training advisors are being brought in from Romania, Germany, France's Gendarmerie and the Italian Carabinieri to help develop training programs.
"We're almost doubling the amount of professional police trainers we have coming in," Clark said, "and we're replacing our contracted training advisors with these professional training advisors."
For Clark's group to reach its goal of increasing the Afghan police force to 134,000 from the 105,000 currently serving by October 2011, a lot of work needs to be done, he said. But with the growth in training capacity and the improvements he sees coming over the next year, Clark said, he's sure the effort will be successful.
"We have some pretty big objectives that we've set for ourselves," he said. "We're going to have to train an awful lot of patrolmen, police officers and noncommissioned officers, but I think we're up to the task."