Academic journal article Prism : a Journal of the Center for Complex Operations

Challenges of Developing Host Nation Police Capacity

Academic journal article Prism : a Journal of the Center for Complex Operations

Challenges of Developing Host Nation Police Capacity

Article excerpt

Stability operations embrace a wide range of civil-military missions in fragile or conflictaffected states, and they range from traditional peacekeeping to combat with well-armed insurgents or criminal elements. Often different activities, including combat, policing, humanitarian assistance, and reconstruction, occur concurrently in the theater of operations. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has described these operations as:

military missions, tasks, and activities conducted outside the United States in coordination with other instruments of national power to maintain or reestablish a safe and secure environment, provide essential governmental services, emergency infrastructure reconstruction, and humanitarian relief. l

Establishing the rule of law is a key strategic objective of stability operations. In states plagued by conflict or where the government is discredited or lacking, the maintenance of law and order may fall to foreign military and police intervention forces. These contingents must impose and maintain order in the absence of the effective national and local police forces that would perform this task in stable, functioning states. They must also train and mentor indigenous police forces to enable the transition from conflict to normalcy that will allow foreign forces to withdraw.

Military forces are often essential to create the initial security conditions that allow the civilian components of a stability operation to build a durable peace. However, armed forces are not intrinsically suited to police work. Soldiers are trained to apply lethal force in war. Military force can have a deterrent effect on militias and criminal gangs, but the deployment of soldiers in a law enforcement role sometimes leads to excessive violence, which invariably alienates the local population and provokes armed resistance. Some militaries can and do perform effectively in a policing role, but their efforts are ultimately intended to buy time for the development of host nation police capabilities. As the latest British counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine acknowledges, "where armed forces have to act to support the civil authority they should transfer such security responsibilities to the civil police as soon as conditions allow. Any sense of permanent presence by allies or partners is likely to be exploited by insurgents and critics from home and abroad."2

In a postconflict situation, effective policing helps to keep violence at a manageable level and can build public confidence in the stabilization process so large-scale military force does not have to be employed. It is not surprising, therefore, that the number of police deployed in United Nations (UN) peace support operations has increased dramatically since the end of the Cold War. UN policing roles in the early 1990s were limited to monitoring, observing, and reporting on indigenous police services, but in the last 15 years, policing operations have become increasingly complex with the requirement to undertake executive policing functions and often the major reform of local police services.

Despite the increase in activity, building the capacity of indigenous police has often proved problematic. In Afghanistan, for instance, rapid expansion, inadequate training, and insufficient resources created an Afghan National Police (ANP) that lacked capability, legitimacy, and integrity and was plagued by problems of corruption, high desertion rates, illiteracy, and drug abuse.3 Although the East Timor operation (19942004) is regarded overall as a UN success story, the police capacity-building program has been described as hampered by "slipshod planning, squandered opportunities and unimaginative leadership."4

This article addresses the challenges of policing UN and coalition stability operations and assesses efforts to achieve host nation police primacy, defined as a situation where indigenous police forces have the main responsibility for internal security and maintenance of the rule of law. …

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