Afghanistan

Private forces hurting efforts in Afghanistan?

Afghanistan

“Financing armed, alternative power structures fulfills the security needs of international personnel in the short-term,” says Jake Sherman, the report’s primary author, “at the cost of consolidating government authority and protecting Afghan citizens in the long-term.”

NYU (US)—A recent report suggests over-reliance on private security—above all, on local militia groups—by international military forces is harming stabilization efforts in Afghanistan.

The Public Cost of Private Security in Afghanistan, authored by New York University’s Center on International Cooperation, analyzes the negative impact of weak private security oversight.

The report’s findings indicate that contracted security increased the cost of highway reconstruction projects by up to 15 percent, and that the number of U.S. Department of Defense security contractors increased 19 percent—to 5,198 personnel—from March to August 2009.

More than 1,000 local militia groups have been employed, trained, and armed by international military forces since 2001, and 10 to 20 percent of reconstruction funding is spent on private security, according to the report.

“Financing armed, alternative power structures fulfills the security needs of international personnel in the short-term,” says Jake Sherman, the report’s primary author and associate director for peacekeeping and security sector reform at NYU, “at the cost of consolidating government authority and protecting Afghan citizens in the long-term.”

In addition, the study provides essential background on the use of private security by the U.S. government and NATO forces in Afghanistan, and on the regulatory framework governing private security, as public evidence of gross negligence at the U.S. Embassy by ArmorGroup North America has come to light.

The surge in U.S. forces will also increase demand for private security, the report finds, pointing to risks, including shorting Afghan public security forces, increasing the costs of reconstruction, and strengthening criminal groups.

NYU news: www.nyu.edu/public.affairs/

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