In a speech to introduce a new report on reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko lamented that infantry officers and aviators have been responsible for teaching Afghans on how to conduct local police work.
He specifically mentioned how one army officer interviewed for the report admitted to watching television shows “Cops” and “NCIS” to glean tips on how to train a police force. Sopko characterized this as a “misalignment” of U.S advisers.
I was involved with the training of “Afghan Local Police” while I was a rifle platoon leader and rifle company executive officer partnered with Army Special Forces and Navy SEALs. When I heard that Special Inspector Sopko was seemingly alarmed that an officer would turn to “Cops” on how to raise a police force, my first thought was “that’s not such a bad idea,” considering how the military is trained to handle such a task.
With few exceptions, our conventional and special operations forces are not law enforcement professionals. They receive little to no training or practical experience with routine law enforcement activities, let alone those that would apply in a vastly different cultural realm like Afghanistan. Sopko’s assessment, seen here, identifies the Afghan police force as more of a paramilitary organization than a law enforcement one. To that statement, I can only respond with frustration.