Allied Strategy at Risk as Afghan Police Run Out of Recruits

Low Pay, Dangerous Conditions a Recipe Most Afghans Eager to Avoid

by Jason Ditz, October 22, 2009

US efforts to dramatically expand Afghanistan’s domestic security forces are running into a brick wall as officials say they simply aren’t able to recruit enough people to meet the Western goals.

Perhaps even more worrisome is that about a third of the police force is quitting now in any given year, so the recruitment effort is having a hard enough time replacing the outgoing police, let alone adding to the force.

It’s not hard to see why. Afghan police make only $120 a month and are often placed on the front lines of the nation’s security, facing some of the most dangerous conditions possible. In the end only the desperate are willing to take such low paying jobs.

The low pay is likely also a source corruption, as $120 a month is only about half of what is required to support a family, and it is generally understood that recruits will make up the different with bribes. As one of the trainers put it “the best we can hope for is that if they are taking bribes, at least they know it’s wrong.”

But likely the ones who know it’s wrong are the ones leaving in droves, and those remaining are either those incapable of doing any better or those that have found ways to supplant their meager income in one of the most corrupt governments on earth. This is likely part of the reason why Western officials aren’t even willing to hazard a guess how much longer this war will take.

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