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Afghanistan: Police

Volume 463: debated on Wednesday 12 September 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the (a) capability and (b) membership of the Afghan police force and the Afghan armed forces; and if he will make a statement. (155062)

[holding answer 10 September 2007]: The strength of the Afghan National Army (ANA) on 1 August 2007 was 40,360 against a target figure of 70,000. The reason for this disparity is because the ANA has had to be recruited and trained from an almost non-existent base since 2001. The ANA is a key ally in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) campaign, and is proving itself to be increasingly capable of conducting operations alongside ISAF partners.

The Afghan national police (ANP) is the primary law enforcement body within Afghanistan and receives training and mentoring from international donors, including through the US-led police training programme Combined Strategic Transition Command Afghanistan (CSTC-A) and the EU policing mission. The latest assessment by the CSTC-A estimates that there are around 76,000 members of the ANP drawn from all regions of Afghanistan. Our assessment is that the ANP requires further mentoring in order to be capable of conducting operations independently. Capability in policing functions is supplemented by the specialist skills of the counter narcotics police of Afghanistan, the Afghan border police and the Afghan national civil order police.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what targets have been set for reform of policing in Afghanistan; what progress has been made towards reaching these targets; and if he will make a statement. (155063)

[holding answer 10 September 2007]: The main Afghan national police (ANP) training programme is run by the US-led Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan (CSTC-A). The CSTC-A programme's target is for the ANP to be capable of operating effectively without international support, except in extremis, by December 2012. Support in meeting this target is provided by the EU policing mission launched in June, with the aim of improving the quality of the ANP. The latest assessment by the CSTC-A estimates that there are around 76,000 members of the ANP drawn from all regions of Afghanistan. The agreed policing structure, signed by the Afghan Government in 2007, anticipates growth of the ANP to reach a total of 82,000.