CIGI Senior Fellow Mark Sedra has written an article in the Parliamentary Brief outlining the obstacles and challenges facing the security sector reform process in Afghanistan. The challenges are many: a national police force described as a “basket case,” a corrupt and inefficient judiciary, a shadowy and recalcitrant National Directorate of Security, and an over-matched, under-resourced bureaucracy to manage it all. This is, of course, not to mention the ongoing, virulent Taliban insurgency.
Despite the bleak outlook, there is reason to believe that a shift in mentality from the current train and equip mentality to a more holistic SSR program can facilitate progress. The international effort must:
- Accept the political nature of SSR and try to achieve consensus around contentious issues;
- Abandon the assembly-line mentality to army and police training that uses the SSR process as a counter-insurgency tool;
- Extend the commitment of NATO troops for as long as it takes to properly train the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF);
- Commit to sustaining the ANSF financially for the foreseeable future;
- Renew focus on forgotten aspects of SSR, such as the justice and prison sectors and governance institutions;
- Engage informal and traditional justice mechanisms–which resolve 80 percent of disputes–and build complimentary relationships with formal justice institutions that exploit their respective comparative advantages.