By Jian DeLeon
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, April 22, 2011 – In a country of 30 million people, a national law enforcement presence is crucial to maintaining and sustaining a democratic society. Army Maj. Gen. Stuart Beare, deputy commander for police with NATO Training Mission Afghanistan, is working closely with a team of advisors and the Afghan interior ministry to give Afghanistan that capability.
Beare discussed the police training mission during a “DOD Live” bloggers roundtable yesterday.
The NATO training mission provides training, education and field support to the Afghan police force so the interior ministry can concentrate on logistics systems, infrastructure and finance -– all crucial operations to ensuring the sustainability of Afghanistan’s burgeoning law enforcement program, Beare said.
The command also routinely assists in bringing Afghan recruits into the training system. With 37 training centers across the country, NATO Training Mission Afghanistan not only helps to turn the recruits into capable law enforcement officers, the general said, but also eases their transition into the operational force, which has been growing exponentially.
In 2009, Beare noted, the Afghan police force had about 95,000 members. Now, he added, Afghanistan has more than 125,000 national police officers.
“We're turning in all ways in the right direction, and more and more police forces are serving the people of Afghanistan each and every month as our recruiting and training effort continues to deliver more in quantity and more in quality,” Beare said.
But the Afghan National Police still have a long way to go before they are completely self-sustaining, the general acknowledged.
“They need still significant help on our part and developmental effort inside the institutions so the back-office functions can become completely Afghan-owned and Afghan-run,” he said. This, he added, is why the establishment of ministerial institutions is such a crucial part of the support the training team provides.
But although much remains to be done, Beare said, he is seeing some great strides.
“They're trending [from] us having to do things for them to us doing things with them,” he said. “And in many cases, they're doing a lot of things on their own, with us just providing overwatch or assistance when required.”
Beare said he’s pleased with how receptive the Afghan police are to the training program and how easily and eagerly they are learning.
“They pick it up very quickly, and they're motivated to do it themselves,” the general said.
Afghan women are included in the training, and Beare said their place in the police force is “no different than anywhere else.” A female senior member of Afghanistan’s interior ministry received the “Women of Courage Award” last year, he noted, showing that the country recognizes women’s achievements.
All in all, the general said, he is extremely pleased with the growth and professionalization of the Afghan National Police and the training system that grooms Afghans from recruits to an operational force. While there is definitely room for progress, he added, he believes the police force is on track to stand on its own feet soon.
“We are working very hard and very well with the Afghan police recruiting system, which is really charging hard. … I think we're [taking in] about 2,600 recruits a month now, which is extraordinary compared to [two or] three years ago,” he said.