U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Cops or Robbers? The Struggle to Reform the Afghan National Police

NCJ Number
Andrew Wilder
Date Published
July 2008
94 pages
After presenting an overview of the policing effort in Afghanistan, this paper assesses police reform efforts since 2002 and identifies five key issues that must be addressed if the creation of an effective Afghan National Police (ANP) is to be achieved.
Afghanistan has never had a very strong or effective civilian police force. Whatever progress was made in developing a civilian police force during the 1970s was lost during the more than two decades of conflict that followed. The ANP is the country’s overarching police institution, which consists of the following forces: Afghan Uniformed Police (AUP), which is responsible for most daily police activities; the Afghan Border Police (ABP); the Afghan National Civil Order Police (ANCOP); and the Counter Narcotic Police of Afghanistan (CNPA). In 2006, a temporary force, the Afghanistan National Auxiliary Police (ANAP), was established separate from the ANP in order to support counterinsurgency operations. Police reform activities have been in the areas of training and mentoring, upgrading and expanding equipment and infrastructure, and institutional restructuring and reform of the ANP and the Ministry of Interior (MOI), which oversees provincial and district administration and the implementation of the government’s counter narcotics policies. If police reform is to succeed in Afghanistan, the major actors--the government, the United States, and the European Union Police Mission in Afghanistan (EUPOL)--must address five key issues. First, they must develop a shared vision and strategy for the ANP. Second, they must replace Security Sector Reform (SSR) pillars with an integrated and comprehensive rule-of-law strategy. Third, they must make donor assistance conditional on comprehensive MOI reform. Fourth, they must prioritize the quality of police over the quantity. Fifth, they must prioritize fiscal sustainability of the security sector. 5 tables, 7 figures, a 78-item bibliography, and appended list of persons interviewed