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PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 7:29 am    Post subject: Canadians pay to bolster Afghan security Reply with quote

Canadians pay to bolster Afghan security


KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Canada has decided to sidestep the corrupt Afghan government and ensure the safety of Canadian soldiers by paying Afghan police directly, in cash.

It's an attempt to buy stability in the dangerous districts west of Kandahar city, where Canadian soldiers stake their lives on the reliability of their Afghan allies.

“This is brand new,” said Brigadier-General Guy Laroche, Canada's top commander in Afghanistan, during an interview Monday. “We're going to make sure our people eat.”

The lack of salaries made it especially difficult to keep Afghan officers serving in Zhari and Panjwai, where the insurgency has inflicted heavy losses on local police and provided an ongoing challenge to Canadian Forces.

“The money did not get to these guys,” Gen. Laroche said. “Somebody is taking 10 per cent here, 10 per cent there, and at the end the poor guy is left with nothing. Would you stay in a place like that without being paid? I mean, c'mon.”

Starting last week, police officers in Zhari and Panjwai districts no longer received their monthly salaries through their regular chain of command in the Ministry of Interior, Gen. Laroche said.

Instead, payments were distributed by Canadian and U.S. soldiers who serve as mentors for Afghan law-enforcement, in the first such experiment in southern Afghanistan. The mentorship programs are themselves a new initiative, as NATO struggles to rein in Afghan forces widely accused of thievery and corruption.

Police were forced to steal for a living when their pay didn't arrive from Kabul, which hurt morale and fostered resentment among local Afghans, the commander said.

“They had to take bribes from the people, because they have to live,” Gen. Laroche said.

Kandahar Governor Asadullah Khalid announced last month that a basic patrolman's wages would be increased to $150 a month, up from $77, but many officers say they rarely see a fraction of that.

“The government failed to pay salaries, made promises and didn't pay them, so the condition of the police was very bad,” said Bismullah Khan, Panjwai police chief, in a telephone interview.

“We are happy about the Canadians' new plan, because I want my men trained and paid,” the police chief continued. “They will be controlled by the Canadians, trained by them and paid by them directly. It's a very good idea.”

The problems of underpaid police, and the mayhem that results when armed citizens resist thieving cops, were so widely understood in Kandahar that many residents applauded the Canadians' pay reforms, saying it could help bring peace to their war-torn districts.

“This is a good plan, this is the way to success,” said Ajmal, 26, a wealthy landowner whose farms surround a small Canadian base in the village of Sperwan.

Noor Rahman, 40, moved his family off their farm in Zhari district as the Canadians got embroiled in fighting there last year, and now owns a shop in Kandahar city. He said there's hope of peace returning to his village if the police can be brought under control.

“If the Canadians pay the police, the police won't steal things from us,” Mr. Rahman said. “If they have a good salary, maybe they will behave. The Canadians will give them good training and weapons and monthly salaries, and this is the way they can clean the Taliban from our area.”

The Canadian military is not funding the salaries, which continue to be drawn from an Afghan government trust fund. All of the money in the fund comes from donor countries, however, and Canada is a major contributor.

Last year, military officials said they planned to fix the pay system by giving Afghan police their own bank accounts and depositing money directly from Kabul. Banks are non-existent in rural areas, however, and the difficulty of travelling to the nearest branch made this idea difficult to implement.

Gen. Laroche said his soldiers are also supporting their Afghan allies with supplies, and ensuring that military backup is available if they get attacked.

The results are already showing, the commander said. When a corrupt police chief was fired recently in Zhari district, local officials worried that the departing chief would inspire many of his patrolmen to abandon their posts.

“When he left, we thought at one point he would be leaving with all the police in the district,” Gen. Laroche said. “It did not happen. All the policemen at the different checkpoints, they stayed there. They stayed with our people. It's a good sign.”

Well, duh... Of Course Canadians have been paying for Afghan mission.... what else is new? Trying to embolden the opposition to this mission now?

Joined: 02 Sep 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know, I think this is a pretty well-written and balanced new story. So, I expect that it was buried on page 20- or 30- something...

Great to see innovations like this developed and implemented by our men and women in Afstan.
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Canadians pay to bolster Afghan security

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