By Seaman William Selby, USN
Special to American Forces Press Service
Jan. 28, 2008 - Coalition forces are making slow but steady progress training the Afghan police force, a top leader in the effort said Jan. 25. Army Col. Edward Kornish, commander of Regional Police Advisory Command, is training police in western Afghanistan, a high-risk area.
In a conference call with online journalists and "bloggers," he credited a variety of new strategic programs and new tactics with bringing progress about.
One such strategy, checkpoint consolidation, is being adopted countrywide, he said.
"We have worked with the Afghans and convinced them that they can have better security and better survivability of their police by consolidating checkpoints and building police stations, which in turn provides more security for the citizens," Kornish explained. "The citizens in the area (in which) we initiated that program have been very positive with their feedback on the success of the program."
While coalition efforts have made progress, officials still face a variety of challenges with the police -- most notably, corruption. But Afghan officials are trying to weed out corrupt police officers and leaders, the colonel noted. "They've eliminated some of the corrupt leaders and replaced them with more honest, more capable leaders," he said.
Another challenge is reforming the pay for the police. Until recently, the police were being paid less than the Afghan army, and they typically face more danger than the army, Kornish said. The coalition has reformed that by working with the Afghan government to raise police salaries, he said.
Kornish also said new coalition training programs begun in December allow leaders to train as a group and the police to train as units in highlighting progress.
"In summary, I would say that although it's challenging, it's also rewarding, and that we've seen good, steady progress the whole time we've been here," he said. "And we think we're making a difference for the people of Afghanistan. They much prefer our company to the Taliban's."
(Navy Seaman William Selby works for the New Media branch of American Forces Information Service.)