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DDR - Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration

There are 200 or more warlords in Afghanistan. Under the December 2001 Bonn Agreement: "Upon the official transfer of power, all mujahidin, Afghan armed forces and armed groups in the country shall come under the command and control of the Interim Authority, and be reorganized according to the requirements of the new Afghan security and armed forces."

This has not happened.

The main vehicle for dissolving the militias was the Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) initiative, part of the Japanese-led Afghan New Beginnings Program (ANBP). In early 2003, ANBP established a goal of 100,000 militiamen. The number is arbitrary, because the true size of the Afghan Militia Force was unknown.

The actual size of the militia forces is unknowable. Warlords hide their troop strengths by paying their men with profits from the opium trade. Force estimates have ranged from 60,000 to 250,000. And the International Crisis Group's report of March 2004 quoted a UNAMA estimate that the number of men serving in the commanders' militias may be no more than 45,000.

The militia forces processed through DDR were those considered as the most expendable by the warlords. Commanders also retain large numbers of civilian followers, who may be mobilised as and when necessary. It has been suggested that many of these men, equipped with obsolete arms, have been put into the DDR process, while the full-time fighters and their more sophisticated weaponry have been held back.

The National Demobilization and Reintegration Commission presented a draft action plan to donors and government ministries for comment during the last week of April 2004. The draft outlined how Phase One of the Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) process would be undertaken. The process was scheduled to begin in early May. Under the DDR process, all Afghan militia forces would be demobilized by the middle of 2005. Forty percent of the Afghan militia forces would be demobilized by June 1, another 20 percent from July to October, while the remaining 40 percent would be demobilized by the middle of 2005.

The Afghanistan's New Beginning Program (ANBP) commenced the pilot phase for disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of military forces in selected areas that by April 2004 had been completed in Kunduz, Mazar-i-Sharif, Kabul and Gardez and will start in Kandahar and Bamyan soon. By that time over 5,200 soldiers had been disarmed and 3,300 reintegrated so far. Heavy weapons cantonment had begun in Kabul and some other areas.

As of November 2003 there were 4,200 people in the framework of the third corps, which had four divisions and other small contingents. All were disarmed and reintegrated through the main phase of the DDR.

According to UN figures, a total of 9,719 officers and soldiers had been demobilised by 24 June 2004. On this basis, around 20 per cent of the total number of Afghan militia forces will have been demobilised by 30 June 2004. This clearly fell well below the ambitious target of 40 per cent demobilisation by 30 June set by President Karzai at the Berlin Conference.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the Afghanistan's New Beginnings Program (ANBP) started the disarmament demobilization and reintegration (DDR) program in Heart on 11 July 2004 - the eighth and final region to enter the programme. A parade and ceremony, attended by the media, MOD and ANBP officials and hundreds of soldiers from 4th Corps in Heart, marked the start of disarmament in the region.

General Ali, Commander of 4th Corps, invited all of his soldiers and the rest of the personnel from the Afghan Military Forces (AMF) to participate in the DDR process and help with the reconstruction of Afghanistan. He said that while weapons were needed at one time "now is the time to lay down those arms and help Afghanistan recover from war". 80 soldiers from the 316th Regiment, the 4th Armoured Brigade and the 17th Division in Heart had entered the DDR process so far. Disarmament also continued in Jalalabad with soldiers from the 1st Corps Headquarters, the 11th Division, 84th Parachute Regiment and 743rd Regiment; in Bamyan with soldiers from 34th Division and 35th Divisions; and in Kabul with 597th Regiment.

By January 2005 more than 30,000 of an estimated 60,000 members of Afghan militia forces had been disarmed since the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) process. In addition, more than 90 percent of all heavy weapons in Afghanistan had been collected.

By 13 February 2005 Jalalabad was the second region to be completely disarmed, with the disarmament of the 1st Corps in Jalalabad being completed. The first was the Mazar-e Sharif region when 7th and 8th Corps entered the DDR process. Although Jalalabad has been declared disarmed about 300 personnel remained on duty in order to guard military equipment. This brought the national total of disarmed military personnel to 39,197.

As of early June 2005 almost 60,000 former Afghan military troops had disarmed, and most of them have entered a programme aimed at helping them to re-join society. Of the 58,974 officers and soldiers who laid down their arms, 49,205 entered the New Beginnings Program reintegration process.

On 30 June 2005 the disarmament of the former army units ended, in keeping with the timeline endorsed at the Berlin conference of 2004. At that time over 90,000 personnel from the AMF had been taken off the Ministry of Defense (MoD)'s payroll, resulting in over $100 million in savings for the national budget. Over 9,000 heavy weapons had been cantoned and millions of tons of ammunition have been surveyed and efforts are being made for their safe disposal.

On 7 Jul 2005 the Afghan government ended the disarmament and demobilisation phase of the Disarmament Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) as the last ex-militia member was disarmed at a ceremony in Kabul. By that time almost 63,000 former combatants had been disarmed and demobilised, with up to 53,000 having been assisted with reintegration.

Cantonment of Heavy Weaponry

The second element of the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration exercise, the cantonment of heavy weaponry, exceeded some expectations. But in many cases the warlords turned in obsolete, incomplete, and nonfunctioning weapons and equipment.

The redeployment and cantonment of heavy weapons is an initiative of the Afghan Ministry of Defence. Under the terms of the Military Technical Agreement between ISAF and the Government of Afghanistan, signed on 9 December 2003, ISAF has been supporting the Afghan Ministry of Defence in its efforts to carry forward the cantonment of heavy weapons outside Kabul city limits. The cantonment of heavy weapons constitutes an important step towards the further development of a capable Afghan National Army (ANA), as it is likely that most of these weapons will eventually be used to equip ANA units.

The first time heavy weapons were moved to a cantonment site was in mid-December 2003, when elements in the Panjshir Valley moved their weapons, including surface-to-surface missile systems, multiple launch rocket systems, tanks, and artillery pieces, into the Pol-E-Charki site, a few kilometres west of Kabul.

On 15 January 2004, the multinational brigade, the battalion, the National Support Element and the National Command Element were instrumental in moving weapons to the Heavy Weapons Cantonment Site at the Afghan Militia Forces' (AMF) 88th Brigade headquarters, located just beside Camp Julien on the outskirts of Kabul. Four hundred tanks, rocket launchers, and artillery pieces were handed in by the individual owners, given into compounds run in accordance and in assisting the ministry of defence. That of course means that because of the conditions in Kabul, at least local commanders, warlords, factional leaders, and regional leaders felt comfortable handing over weapons systems, which they have had in their possession for close to 20 years.

By September 2004 almost all of the heavy weapons of the 7th Corps in Mazar-E-Sharif and in Shiberghan were cantoned and as well as those of the 200th division of the 8th Corps. The 8th Division officers and soldiers gathered and cantoned over 237 heavy weapons in just five days in late August 2004.

As a result of the Heavy Weapons Cantonment, by early 2005 the regions of Jalalabad, Kandahar, Gardez, Herat, Parwan, Konduz, Mazar-e-Sharif, Bamyan and Kabul were said to be free of all working or repairable heavy weapons. ISAF completed the cantonment of 751 heavy weapons in the Kabul area. Around Kabul ISAF has reached the landmark that 1,000 weapons had been placed in one of the four-cantonement sites on the outskirts of the city. In total, 3,304 heavy weapons (operational and repairable) 78% had been cantoned in sites that are under the control of the ANA. They remain the property of the Ministry of Defence.

The transferred weapons include tanks, artillery pieces, surface-to-surface missile systems, and multiple rocket launching systems belonging to armed factions in the country. The storage of these heavy weapons will operate under a "dual key" system, which guarantees that none of the stored equipment can be taken from the cantonment site without the agreement of both the Ministry of Defence and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). ISAF was involved in the planning of the transfer and is assisting with the logistics.

As of March 2005 a total of 8,603 serviceable heavy weapons had been cantoned in six of the eight targeted regions, twice the total number of heavy weapons that were originally surveyed. Heavy weapons remain to be collected in two areas: approximately 60 in the Shindand and Farah regions; and 160 in the Koundoz region. Significant stocks of ammunition have also been collected and are being stored either for reutilization by the Afghan National Army or for eventual destruction.

As of early June 2005 around 33,500 medium and light weapons were collected from military units which had gone through the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) process. Somewhat less than a third of those weapons were transferred to the Afghan Ministry of Defence and the Afghan National Army. Useable ammunition has been transported to safe storage.



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Page last modified: 17-08-2012 18:47:42 ZULU