A critical element in NATO’s plans to stabilize Afghanistan is rebuilding the country’s National Security Forces, which consist of the National Army and the National Police.
Training and mentoring the National Security Forces has been an important aspect of Canada’s contribution to the international mission, particularly in Kandahar Province.
President Hamid Karzai has stated that the National Security Forces would begin taking a lead in providing national security in 2011 and assume full responsibility by 2014.
However, NATO and its partners will have to continue making considerable investments in training, mentoring and equipping Afghan security forces until the country can sustain them independently.
Reliable assessments of when the Afghan government will be able to do this are difficult to obtain. Its own assessment is between 2025 and 2030. The NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s estimated time frame is by 2040.
In a June 2010 report, the US Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction raised concerns about the reliability of assessments by the US and the International Security Assistance Force, saying they appeared to exaggerate progress.
by October 2010
by October 2011
|Afghan National Army
(target reached in August)
||240,000 (by 2014)
|Afghan National Police
||160,000 (by 2013)
Recent mentoring and training efforts
NATO efforts to reconstitute the Afghan National Police have struggled under high illiteracy rates, corruption and tribal factionalism. As a result, they have lagged behind efforts directed at the Afghan National Army.
In 2009, NATO established a training mission in Afghanistan intended to maintain the momentum behind training the Afghan army, while adding focus to developing the National Police.
The United States, which has committed the most resources to rebuilding the Security Forces, including anticipated spending in 2010 of more than $9 billion, employs Embedded Training Teams.
These are units of US military officers and non-commissioned officers who provide on-the-job mentoring, including accompaniment on combat operations. The international counterparts of these US teams are the Operational Mentor and Liaison Teams (OMLTs) , which were established in 2005. These usually have a complement of 11 to 28 personnel.
Some countries permit their OMLTs to accompany trainees into the battlefield or, in the case of a Police Operational Mentor and Liaison Team , to work beside Afghan police officers. Other contributing nations operate their teams under more restrictive rules of engagement.
NATO has found it difficult to field the number of training teams required to meet targets for rebuilding Afghanistan’s National Security Forces.
For 2010, there is an anticipated shortfall of 25 Operational Mentor and Liaison/Embedded Training Teams. The shortfall for Police Operational Mentor and Liaison Teams amounted to 163 in March 2010.
Canada’s efforts in Kandahar Province
Some 200 Canadian Forces personnel serve in Canada’s six Operational Mentor and Liaison Teams in Kandahar. Canadian OMLTs have been deployed since August 2005 to advise and mentor the 1st Brigade of the Afghan National Army’s 205th Corps at individual and unit levels.
They also provide liaison, including combat air support, between the Afghan National Army and Joint Task Force Afghanistan, headquartered at Kandahar Airfield.
In September 2007, the Canadian OMLTs formed a sub-unit to work with the Afghan National Police. The Police mentoring teams consist of soldiers from combat arms units and military police who work with Afghan police units serving at police substations across Kandahar Province. Separate from the Police Operational Mentor and Liaison Team effort and under RCMP leadership, Canada also has a civilian police mission, which consists of about 50 RCMP and municipal officers, plus 40 military police personnel. They provide mentoring for the Afghan National Police, primarily through the Canadian Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kandahar.
Canada’s funding commitment of $99 million over three years to train and mentor Afghanistan’s National Security Forces expires in 2011.