Both British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have criticized the European Union’s police training mission in Afghanistan this past week, and it is not hard to see why. With just over 200 staff (many of whom are bureaucrats and not trainers), the NATO Parliamentary Assembly has described the EU Police Mission as too small, underfunded, slow to deploy, inflexible, and largely restricted to the safety of the capital.
It is more than two years since the European Union undertook to train Afghanistan’s police force and the mission is scheduled to end this June. Before the EU thinks about reapproving the mission, someone should suggest diverting these resources to the NATO Training Mission instead.
The training of the Afghan National Police is an essential part of Gen. McChrystal’s counterinsurgency strategy for Afghanistan and critical to the future of the country. The NATO Training Mission for Afghanistan, which was announced at the Strasbourg-Kehl Summit last April, will bring together the various training programs for both the Afghan National Army and the Police and will be led by a single commander. This unity of command will benefit Afghans far more than the EU’s disparate and separate efforts.
Many European NATO members have home guard, paramilitary, and armed police resources that could aid NTM-A, including French Gendarmerie, Italian Carabinieri, Spanish Guardia Civil, and Turkish Gendarmerie/National Guard and Reservists. Rather than let political wrangling get in the way, these European countries should work with NATO, rather than against it.