|Analysts say the current training scheme of relying on expensive contracts is not sustainable [EPA]|
A US-based military contractor has failed to provide nearly 60 per cent of the instructors needed to train Afghan police under a contract with the US government, according to an audit issued on Monday.
The audit focused on the transfer of the Afghan police training programme from the US State Department to the US Defence department.
The investigation, carried out jointly by both departments, criticised both institutions for a lack of co-ordination in regards to police training in Afghanistan, which is a priority for the US-led NATO coalition as it prepares to transfer security to Afghan forces.
Under a $1bn, two-year contract signed between the Defence Department and DynCorps International in December 2010, the firm was required to have instructors in place within a 120-day deadline.
Defence officials “reported that the incoming contractor did not have 428 of the 728 required personnel in place within the 120-day transition period,” said the audit.
The most notable discrepancy was in the number of police mentors that DynCorps was supposed to provide to the Afghan forces.
The audit said that 213 of the 377 required “Fielded Police Mentors” were not in their positions during the transition period.
It said the shortage “placed the overall mission at risk by not providing the mentoring essential for developing the Afghan government and police force.”
A spokesman for the Afghan ministry of interior declined to comment on the matter, saying he needed time to study nuances of the report.
But a former deputy minister of interior, aware of previous deals with contractors, said he was not surprised by the findings.
“We have repeatedly stressed that we need to train our trainers and Afghanise the process,” General Hadi Khaled told Al jazeera.
“This system right now is not sustainable. They pay lots of money for brief contracts, without actually listening to the needs of the Afghan police.”
The audit criticised both the US state and defence departments for a lack of co-ordination on training programmes and for failing to create a clear plan to oversee and monitor the transition from one contractor to another.
State and defence “officials relied on independently developed contractor plans, some of which were not feasible and did not address inherently governmental tasks,” it said.
One example of such lack of co-ordination was in the training weapons transfered from one contractor to the next.
The audit said “39 days into the transition, Department of State officials announced that some of the weapons the outgoing contractor used could not transfer to the new Department of Defence contractor because the weapons were purchased with Department of State funds”.
An understanding was reached in regards to the transfer of weapons only 67 days into the transition period.
The two departments also failed to develop a security clearance process for the personnel that transferred from the previous contractor to the new.
“Not until … 95 days into the transition, did DoD [Department of Defence] and DoS [Department of State] officials develop a strategy to mitigate this issue,” the audit said.
Sustainability in question
The report comes amid a major increase in efforts to train and expand Afghan security forces, paving the way for the eventual exit of NATO-led coalition troops.
The NATO mission aims to train a 134,000-strong police force by October as it prepares the Afghan forces to take over security responsibility by 2014.
But many, like General Khaled, raise questions about the quality of the trainers flown into the country and the system put in place.
Contractors such as DynCorps bring in trainers who are not professional police officers, but rather former army or private guards, he said.
“The trainers are not professional, they have turned the police into a fighting force such as the army and NATO. The police are supposed to be following the judiciary, as a preventive force,” he said.
Problems of co-ordination, both within US entities as well as with other NATO member nations, has often been cited as one of the reasons for the Afghan police being less prepared than the Afghan army as transition looms.
“A GOA [US Government Accountability Office] official testified that DoD and DOS had a history of being unable to effectively collaborate and co-ordinate on previous Afghan National Security Forces projects,” the audit said.
“[An] official stated that despite a prior 2005 audit recommendation for DoD and DOS to develop a co-ordinated and detailed plan to sustain the Afghan National Security Forces, the agencies developed no such plan.”