Revolution in South Asia

An Internationalist Info Project

AWTW: Afghanistan Security Forces Vicious & Weak

Posted by Sole on November 30, 2008



This article was shared with Kasama by A World to Win News Service

Afghan Maoists: Why the U.S.-Led Afghan Security Forces Are So Vicious, Corrupt – and Weak

24 November 2008. A World to Win News Service. The following edited and combined excerpts from issues 18 and 19 of Shola Jawid – organ of the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan – is a follow-up to the article “Afghanistan’ s ‘ national’ security forces – another big problem for the people” in our 27 November news packet. The explanations in parentheses are by AWTWNS.

The military forces of the regime might seem strong, but they are completely hollow. Never before in Afghanistan’s history have occupiers organized such puppet forces. The British never attempted to form a puppet military force when they ruled Afghanistan. They just gave military and financial backing to the puppet Emirs (rulers). During the Soviet invasion, building a puppet army only went as far as training and educating a section of the high-ranking officers of the army and police, and arming these forces with weapons sold to the lackey regimes. However, the armed forces of the present puppet regime were wholly created by the occupiers. All the officers and soldiers have been trained by the occupiers and the existence and activities of these forces are totally dependent on the occupiers. Even most of their new weapons and equipment were donated by the invaders. These forces do not have their own war strategies and are fully in the service of the occupation forces and under their command.

The regime claims that there are 70,000 members of its police force, and its army troops total 50,000 so far. According to the schedule established by the 2001 Bonn Conference, the army’s ranks are to number 70,000 by the end of this year, But Afghan regime officials, including Karzai and his defence minister, argue that an army of that size will not be sufficient to ensure the security of the country, and they are asking for an army of at least 150,000 men. They admit that the decision of the Bonn conference was based on an overly optimistic view – that the war in Afghanistan was all but over and that there would be no need for a big army.

About the police

A major part of the police force is made up of subcontracted groups, especially in the provinces and in suburban areas. Top police officials have hired them without setting any conditions or standards. After a short period of training by the PRT (the occupation’s Provincial Reconstruction Teams) that usually takes a few weeks, they are assigned to tasks in the regional police organisations. Another section of these police forces consists of members of the militias connected to warlords who themselves are now high-ranking police officers.

Not many provincial police bases are staffed on a permanent basis. In many cases, the local police chief has to recruit his own men. Like the officers, the lower ranks who put on police uniforms have motivations other than “ensuring security” or even serving the regime. Desertion rates among them are high. If they find a better job, or for some reason are not happy with their officers, or if they don’t get a chance to loot and plunder, they will walk away.

Tens of thousands of these men have deserted since the formation of the so-called national police. Many of those absent are still counted as present in their barracks, and still receive their wages. When reported missing, it is usually said that they have deserted with their weapons, whether that is the case or not.

Those contracted by the police suffer a high level of deaths and injuries due to a lack of discipline and training. Usually no compensation is paid to their family. It seems that the issue of compensation is not covered in the contract. The survivors are allowed to register in the list of “families of the martyred” and receive whatever benefits other such families get. If these men are injured, again their only recourse is to join the other war invalids who receive about 160 Afghani (less than 4 U.S. dollars) a month. The result is that most of those who contract in groups to become members of the police are undisciplined men who have either abandoned their families or been cast out by them. The local police chiefs also prefer to employ these kinds of people so that they themselves can profit from this situation.

Another section of the police forces is comprised of already-existing militias that follow tribal leaders. These militias are called Arbaki Yad in the Pashtun areas bordering Pakistan. (The Pashtun are the dominant nationality in Afghanistan, and are found on both sides of the border.) The employment of these militias in the police organisation has always been a source of dispute and tension between the Pashtun chauvinists and non-Pashtun reactionaries in the regime, and so their expansion was halted. The Arbaki Yad militias have received no formal military training under the current occupation. Their training has been limited to traditional and tribal military instruction, or the training they had under the Soviets. Many of these militias worked for the Soviet puppet regime in the old days. Now, through clan and tribal connections, they are now in the service of today’s American puppet regime.

The police forces are much fewer in number and much more poorly equipped and trained than the regime and its foreign masters like to claim. Much of the membership exists only on the payrolls. For example, if a regional police organization is supposed to have men, at least 25 of them are not present at their posts at any given time. The wages of the absentees are shared between these men and their officers. In some cases the employees appear only on payday at the end of the month to collect their wages and sign a receipt. The regional commander and his officers take half of their wages and keep the other half for themselves.

If somebody wants to become a high-ranking army officer, all it takes is a bribe of a few thousand dollars. The amount paid depends on the rank and assigned task. But it costs much more to buy a similar position in the police. In addition to their direct “income” (from bribery and extortion), provincial gendarme commanders also get a certain percentage of the “income” of the regional branches and bases. Regional and local command positions are sold off at least once a year. The price for the position of gendarme commander is usually in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and if located on a drug transportation route, it will go for as much as millions of dollars.

The ranks of the police and army are full of drug addicts. This spring, the Taleban were able to capture all of the men at a police post in the suburb of Ghazni (the capital of a central province by the same name) without firing a single bullet. It is said that all of the 15 police at this post were opium addicts and incapacitated by drugs at the time of this operation.

The regime’s intelligence services

Another body of armed men that must be mentioned is the General Supervision of National Security of Afghanistan. Intelligence is the main function of this organization headquartered in Kabul with branches in the provinces, but it also carries out certain military tasks.

A great many of these men now at the service of the U.S-led occupiers used to work with the intelligence network of the pro-Soviet regimes. At present the chief of the Karzai regime’s security organization is a former member of Parcham (the pro-Soviet Afghan party of Babrak Karmel brought to power by the Soviet invasion). He used to work with KHAD (the Afghan secret police during the pro-Soviet regime). Many of the provincial branch heads are the ex- Khadists. And naturally those who work under their commands are mainly agents trained by the Soviet KGB and the Najibullah regime (the last president of Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation, Najibullah was the long-time head of KHAD before becoming the head of the country).

Contradictions arise between the dense Parcham/KHAD combination leading the country’s new intelligence service, on the one hand, and the strong combination of jihadis and ex-Taleban members dominating the army and police forces on the other. These contradictions lead to mutual accusations and exposures, and create difficulties for the regime.

In the same way that the regime’s army and police are employed by the foreign forces and are assigned to serve occupation war strategies, the intelligence network is also in the service of the occupiers. For example, the provincial heads are in direct contact with the occupation Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) and operate under their instructions.

Afghan private security companies

There are approximately 100 companies of this sort. Their owners are warlords, former anti-Soviet jihadi and Taleban commanders now supporting the Karzai regime. They are estimated to employ approximately 10,000 armed men.

These companies were created in imitation of U.S. private security companies. The initial aim was said to be controlling the warlords and their related forces. But in the context of the crisis that the regime is going through, instead of reining in the warlords, this turned to the latter’s advantage. The independent behaviour of these “companies” reflects the character and inherent disorder of the regime as a whole.

Usually they remain uninvolved in military operations. Their main job is to protect regime personalities and the owners of companies and businesses. They are also responsible for the security of governmental establishments and NGOs, and the security of the roads. Most often hired for a particular task, region and timeframe, they resemble “normal” security companies in that they work under contract and their employees receive wages. If they want more income, they loot and plunder the masses.

Irregular armed groups

These organizations are often referred to as non-responsible armed groups, since they are not responsible to anyone. Their existence is not officially recognized and they have no legal tasks, but at the same time they do not oppose the occupiers and the regime. Generally they are remnants of jihadi forces and militias related to various political groups working with the regime. (A disarmament programme aimed at them has had only partial success.)

Unlike the previously mentioned organizations, these groups are not supposed to play an important role in the security and strengthening of the central government. On the contrary, they are an important factor behind the regime’s instability and weakness. At the same time, they play a role in prolonging the situation of the occupation and in general the rule of reaction in the country. Many remote areas of the country officially considered under regime control are in reality under their control. But because they do not oppose the occupiers, they are tolerated. For example, in areas where the central government’s power cannot reach, these groups prevent the emergence of an armed opposition force or even an unarmed anti-occupation movement.

Producing and trafficking drugs, kidnapping, hostage-taking and armed robbery are the routine ways these groups finance themselves. Since various groups have the backing of one or another regime strongman, they manage to continue in this manner. However, when contradictions within the regime intensify, they expose each other’s atrocities.


The fighting spirit of the puppet regime’s armed organisations is weak and increasingly in decline. Now the occupiers plan to double their numbers. This could be considered a great military force. But the general understanding, among official foreign military experts and among the masses, is that without the existence of the foreign occupation troops, this immense military force would not be able to defend the rule of the puppet regime, even for a short period of time, and the puppet regime would quickly collapse.

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