While much attention has focused on the Afghan National Army ‘s ability to secure the country after the withdrawal of NATO combat forces in 2014, the equally-important role of the police is frequently overlooked.

Future
Pictured left to right, Michelle Hughes, Shawn Stith, Ambassador Catherine Royle, and Robert Perito

Huge investments by the international community to create the Afghan National Police (ANP) have had mixed results. Disagreements over what the police force should look like have led to the simultaneous development of multiple models. Now Afghanistan will need to take the lead in resolving this enduring dilemma and creating a professional law enforcement agency suitable for a democratic society. Planning for this transition is underway, but the challenge of transforming the interior ministry, which supervises the police, and the 157,000-member force is formidable. Among the most pressing issues is the future of the Afghan Local Police, a controversial, U.S.-trained local village defense force that does not have police powers, but reports to the interior ministry.

Recently, USIP has published two new reports – Counterinsurgency, Local Militias, and Statebuilding in Afghanistan and The Afghan National Police in 2015 and Beyond - that address the issue of planning for police transition and the future of the Afghan Police. On May 27, U.S. Institute of Peace held a public discussion with experts on the future of policing in Afghanistan. A panel of distinguished experts discussed the history of how the international community has tried to build the ANP and the future of policing in Afghanistan.

Speakers

Ali Jalali, Opening Remarks
Former Minister of the Interior of Afghanistan
Distinguished Professor, Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies

Ambassador Catherine Royle
Former Head, International Police Coordination Board Secretariat
Former Deputy Ambassador, UK Embassy, Kabul

Aziz Hakimi
Co-Author, Counterinsurgency, Local Militias, and Statebuilding in Afghanistan
PhD Candidate, Department of Development Studies, SOAS, University of London

Michelle Hughes
Author, The Afghan National Police in 2015 and Beyond
Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer of VALRAC Innovation, LLC

Dr. Jonathan Goodhand
Co-Author, Counterinsurgency, Local Militias, and Statebuilding in Afghanistan
Professor, Department of Development Studies, SOAS, University of London

Shawn Stith
Former Director, International Security Assistance Force Ministry of Interior Ministerial Advisory Group

Related Publications

Even After Withdrawal, U.S. Retains Leverage Over Taliban

Even After Withdrawal, U.S. Retains Leverage Over Taliban

Thursday, April 29, 2021

By: Karen Decker

President Biden’s announcement that U.S. troops would withdraw by September 11 has many Afghans and observers warning of a quick collapse of the Afghan state and a new phase in the country’s civil war. Without minimizing the challenges ahead, the United States should avoid any self-fulfilling prophecy of imminent collapse by insisting that the only future for Afghanistan is one that advances the gains of the past 20 years. As troops begin to depart, it is an opportune time to examine three forms of leverage the United States has to promote a political settlement.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes

Democracy Is the Afghan Government’s Best Defense Against the Taliban

Democracy Is the Afghan Government’s Best Defense Against the Taliban

Thursday, April 22, 2021

By: Scott Worden; Belquis Ahmadi

The Biden administration’s announcement last week that U.S. troops would be out of Afghanistan by September 11 came as a blow to the current peace talks and many Afghan citizens who appreciate the rights and freedoms that international forces have helped to defend against the Taliban. Still, President Biden made clear that the United States continues to support the Afghan government and democratic system, and, to that end, the administration has indicated it would request $300 million from Congress in additional civilian aid. But Biden explicitly de-linked U.S. troops from that equation — stating that they would not be “a bargaining chip between warring parties.”

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes; Gender; Democracy & Governance

U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan: End to an Endless War?

U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan: End to an Endless War?

Thursday, April 15, 2021

By: Scott Worden; Johnny Walsh; Belquis Ahmadi; Ambassador Richard Olson

President Joe Biden formally announced on Wednesday that the United States will withdraw troops from Afghanistan by September 11 of this year, the 20th anniversary of the al-Qaida attacks that led to the U.S. overthrow of the Taliban. The decision comes a month after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken looked to jump-start the moribund intra-Afghan peace talks in Doha, Qatar with a sweeping set of proposals. Although the withdrawal would mean an end to America’s longest war, the implications for Afghanistan’s hard-won progress are immense and many fear the possibility of a rejuvenated civil war after U.S. troops leave.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes

The Current Situation in Afghanistan

The Current Situation in Afghanistan

Thursday, March 25, 2021

In February 2020 the U.S. and the Taliban signed an agreement that paved the way for the first direct talks between the Taliban and representatives of the Afghan republic since 2001. This nascent peace process has sparked hope for a political settlement to the four-decade-long conflict, although slow progress and increasing levels of violence threaten to derail the process before it gains momentum.

Type: Fact Sheet

View All Publications