Thursday, May 15, 2008

Afghan National Army progress, Afghan National Police problems/A road

Note to the opposition and our media and to critical "experts": this is the "exit strategy" (but observe that this story mentions the good ANA news only after lengthy focus on ANP problems):
Afghanistan's police force is about three years behind the Afghan National Army in its development, and that poses a problem, says Canada's outgoing commander in Afghanistan.

"There's still a lot of work left to be done, and I think everybody in Afghanistan understands that," Brig.-Gen. Guy Laroche told reporters in Kandahar on Wednesday.

The capacity of the Afghan police must be built up, otherwise it will have an impact on the country's security in the long term, he said.

This is a task for not just Canada but the entire international community in Afghanistan, he said.

Some analysts have said that Afghan police not only lack training in basic policing, they lack the training and equipment to defend themselves against Taliban attacks.

Laroche officially handed over command responsibility to Brig.-Gen. Denis Thompson on Wednesday, ending a tour of duty that began in August...

The Zhari and Panjwaii districts remain hotspots within Kandahar province, Laroche said.

In the fall of 2006, Canadian troops engaged in what was called the heaviest combat since Korea in Panjwaii.

While there isn't the same intense fighting now, those areas still aren't safe enough for non-governmental organizations to be able to operate there, he said.

"You have to be able to create security bubbles and development zones in those districts," he said, adding, "it's going to take a while."

But those are only two districts out of 17. The hope is to raise the security level to that of Arghandab or Daman districts, he said.

Thompson didn't comment to reporters on Wednesday, but he has said the plan is to step up development efforts.

More Afghan troops?

At the handover ceremony, an Afghan army commander in Kandahar province told reporters he has asked the army's chief of staff for another two battalions of troops.

"If I get two more kandaks (battalions) I will provide security for (the) whole province," said Brig.-Gen. Gul Aqa Naibi, who heads the Afghan 205 Corps.

A unit from the 205 Corps' 1st Brigade is in charge of Zhari District, having taken over responsibility in January.

"What we have seen the past four months is remarkable," Laroche said .

"They are taking the initiative. They are very proactive."

Laroche hoped that another Afghan unit could take over security in Panjwaii, with Canadian troops playing a supporting role [emphasis added].

"Are we going to get more in the near future? I'm not sure," he said.

"The more troops you've got, the more progress you're going to make and more rapidly you're going to meet the finish line."

During an appearance at a forum before the April NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said a "realistic" plan would be having Afghan forces "manage the security environment going forward -- manage it, not necessarily eliminate the insurgency."
More on ANA and Canadians here, here and here.

Afghans, troops pave way to safer road

Work being done on route by locals could mean difference between life and death for Canadian soldiers
The Globe and Mail noticed the story a month after this one by CP (CP also had a report in February). Hmmm. And note the overwrought sub-head.


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