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Report | May 24, 2013

Executive Summary–Assessment of U.S. Government and Coalition Efforts to Develop the Afghan Border Police


Who Should Read This Report?

Personnel within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the U.S. Central Command and its subordinate commands in Afghanistan, the military departments, and agencies responsible for and engaged in mentoring, partnering, training, equipping, and other aspects of the development of the Afghan Border Police should read this report.


The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Joint Command, and North Atlantic Treaty Organization Training Mission-Afghanistan/Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (NTM-A), in coordination with the Ministry of Interior and the Afghan National Police, have committed to the development of the Border Police force.  The Afghan Border Police is one of the eight police force pillars that comprise the Afghan National Police.  It consists of personnel recruited, trained, and assigned to provide security to the border security zone that extends 50 kilometers into Afghan territory, as well as at border crossings and ports of entry, such as airports and rail crossings.  This mission entails significant shared responsibilities and capabilities on the part of Coalition forces.  ISAF is the executive agent responsible for planning and executing the Border Police program.  ISAF Joint Command is responsible for the general support of the program and the Border Police units operating within their battle space.  Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan has the responsibility for managing the use of U.S.C. Title 10 fiscal resources for equipping the Border Police and for building the capacity of the Ministry of Interior in support of the Afghan National Police and the Afghan Border Police. 

The mission of the Afghan Border Police has been broken into two broad categories:  green and blue.  The green border mission encompasses paramilitary and counterinsurgency functions in the border security zone, such as safeguarding the national boundaries against external aggression, taking immediate action against border incursions, and deterring insurgency and criminal activities within the vast terrain between the established border crossing points.  The blue border mission focuses security functions at ports of entry and includes controlling the entry and exit of individuals at borders and international airports, preventing all types of smuggling (weapons, ammunition, goods, drugs, historical artifacts, humans, etc.) and controlling the entry and exit of refugees and emigrants.  Additionally, the Afghan Customs Police, a separate security force jointly managed by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Interior, collects customs duties at border crossing points and ports of entry, with security at the crossings provided by the Border Police.

The Afghan Border Police are responsible for providing border security along 5,529 kilometers of international borders, 5 main airports, and 15 land and rail ports of entry.  In coordination with NTM-A, the Afghan government authorized a Border Police end-strength of 23,090 personnel, and the Ministry of Interior approved 43 kandaks1 in 6 zones and the capital region.  Each zone has unique terrain, cultural characteristics, and challenges.  As of January 2013, NTM-A reported 23,086 Border Police on duty.

Notable Progress

Although work remains to be accomplished, there were several noteworthy areas of progress identified by the assessment team discussed in detail in Part I.  These areas included:

Coalition Coordination

– IJC hosted weekly synchronization meetings between ABP points of contact from IJC, regional commands, NTM-A, the International Police Coordination Board, U.S. Border Management Task Force, and other international police organizations associated with Afghan Border Police development.  We considered this a best practice for other ANSF development points of contact.

Joint Border Coordination Centers

– The Joint Border Coordination Centers at Khyber Pass and Wesh-Chaman provide a meeting place for personnel from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and U.S. forces to coordinate issues and provide open communication between the entities. 

Ministry of Interior Logistics System Development

– Although the MoI logistics system is still not fully matured and does not fully support the ABP’s logistics requirements, the DoD IG noted progress has been made, since our “Assessment of U.S. Government Efforts to Train, Equip, and Mentor the Expanded Afghan National Police,” dated March 3, 2011.

Female Border Police Recruitment and Professional Development in the North

– ABP Zone 5 employed approximately one-third of the females working for the ABP.  The leadership was recognized for their efforts to integrate females into the zone and for establishing support programs.  For example, the Zone 5 Headquarters established a child development center to support the women and their children.

Development and Use of Afghan Trainers

– Afghans training Afghans throughout the ANSF is critical for the continued building of ANSF capacity.  At all of the police regional training centers we visited, courses were being taught by Afghans instead of Coalition advisors or contractors. 

Challenges — Areas of Concern


Border Strategy – The Afghan Border Police often share mission space with other elements of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), including the Afghan National Army and other Afghan National Police elements.  However, the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defense do not have a plan to fully integrate the Border Police into a common border defense strategy that would enable the ANSF to sustainably provide border security without the assistance of Coalition forces.  Specifically, Afghan government and ANSF officials have not taken steps to ensure other ANSF forces would support the Border Police with firepower, logistics, or shared intelligence.  Without the development of a common border defense strategy which includes the Afghan National Army and all relevant Afghan National Police personnel, the government’s ability to maintain border defense in the future as U.S. and Coalition forces drawdown is uncertain.


– Coalition forces currently provide key enabling support to the Border Police in the areas of engineering, intelligence, logistics, and casualty/medical evacuations.  Border Police capabilities in these areas are unlikely to mature before the scheduled 2013/2014 drawdown of Coalition forces.  ISAF, in coordination with the Ministry of Interior, has not completed the planning to ensure the development or sustainment of these enablers.  Without these enablers in place, Border Police mission accomplishment will be at risk.

Tashkil Authorizations

– Each zone has its own Tashkil2 that establishes the requirements for weapons, specialized personnel, and other equipment.  However, the equipment levels established in the Tashkil do not reflect the unique characteristics and requirements of each zone, such as mission, enemy, or terrain.  As a result, the zones were either over- or under-resourced.  In zones where equipment levels were above operational needs, Border Police officials were unlikely to move excess equipment to areas where it was needed more, creating the risk for waste or abuse of materiel.  In zones that were under-resourced, zone commanders do not have the resources to meet their operational needs.

Funding for Canine Program

– Coalition forces and German Police Training Teams worked with the Border Police to develop a canine program to search for explosives and narcotics at airports and border crossing points.  The program has achieved some stability and has been moderately successful.  However, neither Coalition forces nor the German Police Training Teams had planned funding post-2014 to continue the program.  As a result, Border Police commanders at airports and major border crossings did not know if their canine teams would be available post-2014, which prevented planning for effective security screening in the future.


Corruption at Border Crossings – Afghan Border Police personnel support the work of the Afghan Customs Police in collecting customs fees by providing security at border crossing points and at major airports; however, alleged corrupt activities by the Customs Police was not being investigated by the Border Police.  This occurred because a Memorandum of Understanding between the ministries of Interior and Finance was not being enforced.  As a result, Coalition forces estimate that the Afghan government’s ability to generate revenue at major airports and border crossing points has been significantly impacted by suspected corrupt Customs Police practices and Border Police inability, or unwillingness, to eliminate or reduce such activity.

Zone Commander Authority

– Zone commanders cannot remove or appoint certain personnel without approval from MoI.  The Border Police adhere to a centralized military command and control model for personnel issues, but this management model impedes the ability of the zone commander to professionalize his forces by removing corrupt individuals and appointing those with proven leadership abilities and potential.  It also potentially fostered corruption, cronyism, and nepotism by individuals at the highest levels of the Border Police and the Ministry of Interior.


– Although improving, the Ministry of Interior logistics processes in support of the Border Police were not capable of supplying them on a timely and sufficient basis.  The highly centralized logistics system required unnecessarily high levels of approval for issuance of minor items of supply, and logisticians were either reluctant or unable to forecast requirements.  Locations of outposts, poor road conditions, and dangerous terrain required a route clearance capability which was not organic to the Border Police.  In cases where equipment was damaged or destroyed, the logistics system was slow to investigate and issue replacement items.  As a result, some Border Police units did not receive authorized or replacement equipment and supplies in a timely manner, hindering the zone commander’s ability to perform the mission.

Vehicle Maintenance

– The Border Police conducts much of its green mission in remote areas across very difficult terrain, and the current vehicle maintenance contract was not sufficient to support their needs.  For example, the contract did not require damaged or inoperable vehicles to be retrieved by the contractor, requiring the Border Police unit to move the vehicle to the contract maintenance site, delaying vehicle repair and impeding mission performance.  Vehicle maintenance facilities did not exist within a reasonable proximity of many outposts, and trained mechanics were not readily available in rural areas where Border Police are located.  The lack of routine vehicle maintenance and timely vehicle repair created operational readiness and logistics system issues.


– In cases where negligence or accidents resulted in damage, destruction, loss, or theft of vehicles or other equipment, Border Police commanders did not enforce Ministry of Interior policies or decrees that required a determination of accountability.  The concept that individual ABP are responsible for equipment damaged, lost, or stolen was not institutionalized and, as a result, equipment was being damaged or destroyed at unacceptable and unsustainable levels.

Identification Cards

– Although the Ministry of Interior has made progress in re-vetting and providing identification cards to Border Police personnel deployed throughout the country, personnel in remote or dangerous locations had not been fully vetted.  The Ministry of Interior has a team responsible for re-vetting Afghan National Police units; however, the team had not demonstrated the capability or desire to complete re-vetting of all Border Police personnel.  Inconsistent re-vetting processes provide the opportunity for fraudulent practices by allowing corrupt officials to pay personnel who are not active on the rolls.  Furthermore, failure to complete re-vetting increases the potential for green-on-blue or green-on-green attacks.3

Intelligence Training

– Less than 20 percent of Border Police Intelligence personnel had received classroom training at the Police Intelligence Training Center.  Although billeting and dining facilities were available at the training location, intelligence students were not authorized to use them.  As a result, Border Police commanders would not send students to receive the training.

Border Police Training

– Although Border Police recruits were required to attend police basic training, which included introductory training in police operations, rule of law, human rights, etc., approximately 15 percent of patrolmen had not attended.  Zone commanders, Border Police headquarters officials, and NTM-A differ on the actual number of personnel that have received training.  This raises concerns that not all Border Police will receive basic training.  Failure to provide a basic level of training to all personnel has hampered the professionalization of the Border Police and, therefore, limited its mission effectiveness. 

Gender Integration

– Ministry of Interior recruiting goals and criteria for Border Police gender integration did not reflect the unique mission requirements or societal limitations across the zones.  Some zones, such as Zone 5 in the north, have been able to integrate female Border Police into their operations.  But in other zones, the same effort to integrate females was not occurring and did not appear to be socially acceptable.  The gender integration goals set by the Ministry of Interior will not be reached in most Border Police zones by the end of 2014.  The absence of female Border Police available for search and inspection of females at crossing points and points of entry increases security risks and the possibility of continued revenue loss.

1. A kandak is a battalion-sized unit within the Afghan National Security Forces, both ANA and ANP. 2. A Tashkil is the Afghan document that authorizes personnel and equipment for an organization, similar to a U.S. military Modified Table of Organization and Equipment. 3. Green-on-blue—an attack by an ANSF soldier or policeman on Coalition personnel; green-on-green—an attack by an ANSF soldier or policeman on other ANSF personnel.  


This report is a result of Project No. D2012-D00SPO-0210.000.