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American Forces Press Service

Afghan Police Leaders Discuss Internal Security

By Capt. David Huxsoll, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service

KABUL, Afghanistan, Jan. 18, 2006 Afghanistan's recently selected top 31 leaders from the Ministry of the Interior and Afghan National Police met Jan. 7 and 8 on how to increase security, fight internal corruption and eradicate poppy production.

With the theme "building internal security for the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan," the conference provided a forum for senior officers to exchange ideas on issues affecting the MOI and ANP, as well as hear from senior representatives in the international community.

Acting Minister of the Interior Zarar Ahmad Moqbil opened the session stressing the importance of seizing this moment in history to lead needed police reform.

"As the top leadership, members of the Afghan National Police will be looking to you to set the example by leading reform efforts to build a trusted security force, fight corruption and eradicate the drug trade," Moqbil said.

Speakers representing the international community included U.S. Ambassador Ronald Neumann; U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robert Durbin, who heads the Office of Security Cooperation Afghanistan; Helmut Frick, German special ambassador for police sector reform; Graham Zebedee, Embassy of the United Kingdom Counternarcotics Department; and Richard Bennett, head of the U. N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan's human rights unit.

"Afghanistan is at a critical moment in its history, and you have a chance to directly influence your country's future by executing police reform," Durbin told the group. "Few people in any country ever have such a unique opportunity.

Durbin predicted a long and difficult reform process and safety risks along the way. "You must realize your efforts are to benefit your children and their children," he said.

Afghan police not only face an external problem of establishing security for the nation, but also the internal problem of rampant corruption, the general noted. He said corrupt practices undermine public confidence and must be targeted for elimination.

"In the next weeks and months, your jobs may seem overwhelming," he said. Durbin encouraged the men to organize their offices and build trustworthy and competent staffs empowered to make decisions and accomplish tasks.

"Communicate and coordinate with other pieces of the police force and the Afghan National Army," he said. "Figure out what changes in the structure and chain of command work best for this nation."

"The establishment of a professional ethos begins at the top and flows down through all the ranks," U.N.'s Bennett told the general officers. "Instead of thinking of yourselves as a force, think of yourselves as a service.

"You serve the government, the constitution and the law -- but most of all, you serve the people of Afghanistan. You will know that you have achieved this ethos when ordinary citizens trust you enough to approach you with their concerns and when they thank you for your assistance," he said.

The conference also included an open-forum discussion facilitated by Moqbil, which the generals said they found extremely valuable.

The top 31 were selected in November from an applicant pool of more than 230 ANP general officers. Their selection was a competitive process that included a written exam, file review and interview.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai had met with the group shortly after its selection.

"You have a most important and vital responsibility to the people of Afghanistan," he told the new top leaders. "It is the greatest wish of the Afghan people to have a safe and proud country."

(Air Force Capt. David Huxsoll is assigned to the Office of Security Cooperation Afghanistan.)

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