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Aug 5, 2010 | Commentary

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.