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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Apathy and Corruption in Afghanistan

As the U.S. military sets out to secure cities including Kandahar, it is relying far more heavily on Afghan forces than at any time in the past nine years, when the American mission focused mainly on defeating the Taliban in the countryside, rather than securing the population. But the Afghan forces are proving poorly equipped and sometimes unmotivated, breeding the same frustration U.S. troops felt in Iraq when they began building up security forces beset by corruption, sectarianism, political meddling and militia infiltration...

The United States and other Western allies still plan to inject hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands more troops into Kandahar and surrounding villages this year to try to wrest control of Taliban strongholds and allow breathing room for the expansion of government services in an area that has been effectively lawless for decades...

The vast majority of police officers in Kandahar are illiterate. The allocation of fuel they get from the Interior Ministry is either insufficient or partially stolen virtually every month. Officers are dependent on NATO troops for everything from fuel, ammunition and bottled water for checkpoints to generators and air conditioners for police stations.

Corruption is institutionalized throughout the ranks, and American soldiers say Taliban spies and sympathizers have infiltrated the force.

The former police chief at the station Rathmann is embedded in was dismissed recently for suspected links to insurgents. His deputy was locked up briefly for allegedly stealing cases of bottled water.

The new chief defends officers' right to collect bribes, pointing out that their starting pay -- $210 a month -- is grossly inadequate...

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