Afghanistan Security:

U.S. Programs to Further Reform Ministry of Interior and National Police Challenged by Lack of Military Personnel and Afghan Cooperation

GAO-09-280: Published: Mar 9, 2009. Publicly Released: Mar 9, 2009.

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The United States has invested more than $6.2 billion in the Afghan Ministry of Interior (MOI) and Afghan National Police (ANP). The Department of Defense's (Defense) Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A), with the Department of State (State), leads U.S. efforts to enhance MOI and ANP organizational structures, leadership abilities, and pay systems. This report assesses the status of U.S. efforts to help Afghanistan (1) restructure MOI and ANP, (2) retrain ANP units, (3) screen MOI and ANP personnel, and (4) enhance MOI and ANP pay systems. GAO reviewed Defense, State, and United Nations (UN) data and met with officials in the United States and Afghanistan.

U.S. agencies and Afghanistan have achieved their goals of restructuring and reducing a top-heavy and oversized MOI and ANP officer corps, modifying police wages, and planning a reorganization of MOI headquarters. These efforts are intended to help ensure that the MOI and ANP are directed by professional staff that can manage a national police force. U.S. agencies and MOI cut the officer corps from about 17,800 to about 9,000, reduced the percentage of high-ranking officers, and increased pay for all ranks. MOI is scheduled to implement a U.S.-supported headquarters reorganization. CSTC-A has begun retraining ANP units through its Focused District Development (FDD) program, which is intended to address district-level corruption that impeded previous efforts to retrain individual police. FDD is achieving promising results, according to Defense status reports. In February 2009, Defense assessed 19 percent of FDD-retrained units as capable of conducting missions, 25 percent as capable of doing so with outside support, 31 percent as capable of partially doing so with outside support, and 25 percent as not capable. However, a lack of military personnel is constraining CSTC-A's plans to expand FDD and similar programs into the rest of Afghanistan by the end of 2010. Defense has identified a shortage of about 1,500 military personnel needed to expand FDD and similar police development programs. CSTC-A has previously obtained military personnel for ANP training by redirecting personnel from its Afghan army training program. However, the army program's demand for personnel is likely to increase as the Afghan army grows from 80,000 to 134,000 personnel. MOI and ANP officers were screened by Defense and State, but the full extent of the screening is unclear because State did not systematically compile records of its efforts. The screening effort was intended to improve the professionalism and integrity of the officer corps through testing by CSTC-A and background checks by State. At least 9,797 (55 percent) of the nearly 17,800 officers who took the tests passed, according to CSTC-A. State was unable to provide us with statistics concerning the results of background checks because it did not systematically compile its records. U.S.-supported pay system efforts are intended to validate MOI and ANP personnel rosters and ensure that wages are distributed reliably. Despite progress, these efforts face challenges that include limited ANP cooperation and a shortage of banks. U.S. contractors have validated almost 47,400 MOI and ANP personnel but have been unable to validate almost 29,400 personnel--who were paid in part by $230 million in U.S. contributions to a UN trust fund--because of a lack of cooperation from some ANP commanders. As of January 2009, 97 percent of all reported MOI and ANP personnel had enrolled in an electronic payroll system and 58 percent had enrolled to have their salaries deposited directly into their bank accounts. However, growth of the direct deposit system may be constrained because almost 40 percent of ANP personnel lack ready access to banks.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Following the release of our report, the Departments of Defense (DOD) and State informed Congress in 2009 that the President ordered the addition of 4,000 troops to train Afghan police and other security forces. State ended its role in the training of Afghan police at the beginning of 2010. In April 2010, DOD informed Congress that the USG had taken several additional actions to increase trainers and mentors for Afghan police. For example, the USG has actively engaged its allies and partners to contribute forces to fill requirements for trainers and mentors. DOD is coordinating an interagency plan to find foreign non-NATO mentors and trainers. DOD and NATO have established a Combined Training Advisory Group to help mentor and train a newly-created Police Training Command. Finally, the USG has identified short-term solutions to the most critical trainer shortages.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that the FDD program can achieve its goals, the Secretaries of Defense and State should undertake a coordinated effort to provide dedicated personnel to support the creation of additional police mentor teams needed to expand and complete the FDD program.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Following the release of our report, the Departments of Defense (DOD) and State informed Congress in 2009 that the President ordered the addition of 4,000 troops to train Afghan police and other security forces. State ended its role in the training of Afghan police at the beginning of 2010. In April 2010, DOD informed Congress that the USG had taken several additional actions to increase trainers and mentors for Afghan police. For example, the USG has actively engaged its allies and partners to contribute forces to fill requirements for trainers and mentors. DOD is coordinating an interagency plan to find foreign non-NATO mentors and trainers. DOD and NATO have established a Combined Training Advisory Group to help mentor and train a newly-created Police Training Command. Finally, the USG has identified short-term solutions to the most critical trainer shortages.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that the FDD program can achieve its goals, the Secretaries of Defense and State should undertake a coordinated effort to provide dedicated personnel to support the creation of additional police mentor teams needed to expand and complete the FDD program.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The State Department concurred with our recommendation in 2009, but later transferred its role in the ANP program to DOD. While DOD did not initially agree with the recommendation in 2009, DOD's Combined Security Transition Command in Afghanistan informed GAO in 2012 that it "no longer concurs" with that position and was working with the appropriate Afghan ministry to verify each member of the ANP. It also indicated that by early 2014 the verification process would allow a linkage between U.S. contributions to LOTFA and the extent to which U.S. agencies had verifed the status of ANP personnel.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that the United States does not fund the salaries of unverified ANP personnel, the Secretaries of Defense and State should consider provisioning future U.S. contributions to LOTFA to reflect the extent to which U.S. agencies have validated the status of MOI and ANP personnel.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The State Department concurred with our recommendation in 2009, but later transferred its role in the ANP program to DOD. While DOD did not initially agree with the recommendation in 2009, DOD's Combined Security Transition Command in Afghanistan informed GAO in 2012 that it "no longer concurs" with that position and was working with the appropriate Afghan ministry to verify each member of the ANP. It also indicated that by early 2014 the verification process would allow a linkage between U.S. contributions to LOTFA and the extent to which U.S. agencies had verifed the status of ANP personnel.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that the United States does not fund the salaries of unverified ANP personnel, the Secretaries of Defense and State should consider provisioning future U.S. contributions to LOTFA to reflect the extent to which U.S. agencies have validated the status of MOI and ANP personnel.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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