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Cablegate: Prt Asadabad: Kunar Police Frustrated As Fighting Season

VZCZCXRO4380
RR RUEHBW RUEHIK RUEHPOD RUEHPW RUEHYG
DE RUEHBUL #0980/01 1131055
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 221055Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3655
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 000980

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/FO SCA/A, S/CRS, EUR/RPM
NSC FOR WOOD
OSD FOR SHIVERS
CENTCOM FOR CG CSTC-A, CG CJTF-82 POLAD

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV AF
SUBJECT: PRT ASADABAD: KUNAR POLICE FRUSTRATED AS FIGHTING SEASON
LOOMS

1. (SBU) Summary: Frustration among provincial police chiefs boiled
over at an eastern region governors' conference in late March, as
Kunar Brigadier Abdul Jalal declared that he was under-staffed and
under-resourced. Jalal also asserted that the Ministry of Interior
(MoI) has yet to release a now overdue staffing plan for the year,
leaving the police confused about which year's employment schedule
to follow. (Note: The staffing plan was finally approved April
14.) Auxiliary police, who make up over half the force in Kunar,
continue to train to qualify for regular police positions, which
they must do by October 1, when the auxiliary program ends. To
date, however, no such graduates have moved over to regular police
positions, and many auxiliary contracts will expire within one
month. Jalal also claims that the police are too lightly equipped
to fight heavy-weapon-toting insurgents who attack roadside
checkpoints.

Lack of Personnel
-----------------
2. (SBU) Three police checkpoints along the Pech Valley road were
blown up in February. Residents credited two of the incidents to
insurgents, and the third to a land dispute. In the aftermath,
Governor Wahidi accused Jalal's district police chiefs of failing to
man the checkpoints. At least one of the sites was reportedly empty
when destroyed. (The PRT suspects that insurgents told police to
vacate the premises "or die," or that police had information of an
imminent attack.) After performing random spot-checks and finding
more unmanned stations, Wahidi increased pressure on Jalal.
However, the Governor's weekly denouncements of police ineptitude at
security meetings have only served to shame Jalal in a public forum
and evoked little response.

3. (SBU) Jalal, scrambling to save face amid accusations of
ineffectiveness, called in district chiefs to criticize their
performance. He stated that every time a police checkpoint is
intimidated, overrun, or blown up, it sends a message to the local
population that the police are weak or unwilling, a theme that
insurgent propaganda exploits. Jalal emphasized, however, that the
police force's biggest problem is personnel numbers, not resolve.


4. (SBU) Jalal pointed to Watapur district in the Pech River valley,
which has been allocated 180 police positions, of which only 71 are
currently filled. Jalal asserts that with these numbers and limited
force protection features it is unreasonable to expect that police
will stay overnight in regularly-attacked positions.

Training Status
---------------
5. (SBU) None of Kunar's 14 districts (five of which form a 260-km
border with Pakistan's Chitral settled area and Bajaur and Mohmand
tribal areas) has been publicly designated for Focused District
Development in 2008 or 2009. As a result, a U.S. Military Police
unit, DynCorp police mentors contracted to DOS/INL, and the Police
Mentoring and Training team are partnering to provide "immersion
training" in each district. These mixed civil-military teams go to
one district for 30 consecutive days to retrain police as a unit.
The plan was somewhat successful in Chowkay, a southern district on
the west side of the Kunar River. But in that district, the
Provincial Reconstruction Team's contractor responsible for the
32-km Chowkay valley road project reported that police refused to
venture more than two kilometers into the valley from the
Jalalabad-Asmar paved road. Immersion training is now ongoing in
Narang district, also south of Asadabad.

6. (SBU) Kunar is authorized 800 auxiliary police, of which 771 are
currently on the books. Mentors estimate that actual numbers are as
low as 670. Auxiliary training is 22 percent complete, but
rollovers to the regular police have not begun, and Brigadier Jalal
does not yet know how many of the 800 auxiliary positions will
become regular police slots in next year's staffing allocation.
Many of Kunar's auxiliaries signed on at the beginning of the last
Afghan year (1386) and their contracts are about to expire. If
their contracts end before they finish training, Kunar could face a
drastic reduction in available police personnel.

7. (SBU) Two Afghan National Army battalions reinforced both the
Pech River valley and the area east of the Kunar River in February.
This, combined with a border police recruitment campaign, has

KABUL 00000980 002 OF 002


alleviated some of the pressure on regular police to man remote
positions, particularly in the eastern districts of Sarkani and Khas
Kunar. With up to 700 Afghan Border Police trainees scheduled to
deploy from the district of Kamdesh, Nuristan Province, south to
Khas Kunar in the next two months, Governor Wahidi has asked Jalal
to have police fall back to main roadways and create 100
percent-check traffic control points. While supportive of the idea,
Jalal has been noncommittal, saying his staff is already spread too
thin.

8. (SBU) There is a perception among provincial leadership that the
Ministry of Interior staffing plan fails to account for threat and
allocates positions and equipment based only on population. (Note:
Planners for the new police staffing patterns utilized a formula
that included both population and threat assessments to allocate
police positions by district.) Jalal does not appear to be dodging
responsibility for manning of police posts in the province, but is
voicing legitimate frustration over his ability to recruit, retain,
and rollover patrolmen into the force. The PRT expects the
increased army and border police presence to mitigate the usual
uptick in insurgent activity due to warming weather, but regular
police are neither confident nor optimistic about their ability to
interdict insurgent traffic on main roads.

WOOD

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