Struggle for Kandahar: the rest of the story


“Struggle for Kandahar”, an article I wrote in early 2015 giving a history of the most recent fighting in Kandahar Province, was published in #21 of Modern War magazine, appearing at the end of 2015. An 800 word sidebar I had written on the Afghan National Security Forces was omitted. I reproduce it here, since it’s unlikely to see the light of day otherwise.

Also, here in PDF format is a small situation map I made that also did not run, related to Operation HAMKARI conducted in 2010.

Oct 2010 sit



Afghan National Army

As of 2014 there were about 170,000 members of the Afghan National Army (ANA). The actual number fluctuates considerably during each year as recruits arrive and deserters leave. It is organized into six regional commands or Corps, each one responsible for a section of the country, with a seventh divisional command responsible for the security of Kabul.

The 205th Corps is responsible for Kandahar, Zabul, Daykundi and Uruzgan provinces. It was established in the summer of 2004. The Corps consists of four brigades, a commando battalion, and transport aviation and logistical support elements. Each brigade consists of three infantry kandaks (battalions) of about 600 men each plus a fourth that serves as a training and replacement unit, a combat support battalion with heavy weapons (mortars or artillery), and a combat services support battalion.

Corps HQ, 205 commando battalion, and support depot (Kandahar Airfield)
1 Brigade (Kandahar Airfield)
2 Brigade (Qalat, Zabul province)
3 Brigade (Zhari district)
4 Brigade (Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan province)

Afghan National Police (ANP)

As of 2014 there were about 150,000 members of the various agencies of the Afghan National Police. Problems of desertion and recruitment are even more acute in the ANP than in the Army, and are compounded by severe rates of corruption, drug abuse, poor discipline and theft.

The Afghan Uniformed Police (AUP)

The AUP is the main law enforcement agency. It is responsible for regular policing at the provincial and district levels. It is organized into six regional commands, with each regional command further divided into provincial and district commands. Ideally a district contains anywhere from 50 to 200 policemen depending on its size and civilian population, but many districts have little or no effective police presence.

Afghan Border Police (ABP)

The ABP is responsible for providing border security, surveillance, and control, including the prevention of smuggling, drug trafficking, and cross-border movement of insurgents. It is divided into Border Zones that correspond with the Army and Police Regional Commands, then further into Border Companies of about 150 men each.

Afghan National Civil Order Police (ANCOP)

This force was created in 2006 as a higher-trained force designed to keep order in the cities, and to act as a better equipped quick reaction force to support the other police forces. It is organized along distinctly military lines into brigades and battalions (urban type, which are like SWAT units, and rural type which are more mobile and trained for patrolling). Discipline, pay and morale are better than in most ANP units.

Arbakai: Afghan Local Police (ALP), Afghan National Auxiliary Police (ANAP), Afghan Public Protection Force (APPF), Afghan Public Protection Police (AP3), Afghan Social Outreach Program (ASOP), Community Defense Forces (CDF), Community Defense Initiative (CDI)/ Local Defense Initiative (LDI), Interim Security for Critical Infrastructure (ISCI)

Localized armed groups, from tribal armies to private security companies, criminal gangs, and proto-insurgents, have long been the scourge of Afghanistan’s civilian population. The general term for these groups in Pashto is “arbakai”, or militia.

As the Coalition lengthened its stay in Afghanistan after the 2001-02 intervention, and the security situation worsened, it became policy to create more of these forces. Paragraph 3-125 of Section 3 of Chapter 3 of the United States Field Manual FM 3-24 Counterinsurgency says: “If adequate HN [Host Nation] security forces are not available, units should consider hiring and training local paramilitary forces to secure the cleared village or neighborhood. Not only do the members of the paramilitary have a stake in their area’s security, they also receive a wage. Providing jobs stimulates the economy. Having a job improves morale and allows locals to become a potential member of the local governmental process.”

All of the above named organizations were created, maintained, and eventually shut down by either the American command or ISAF, except for the Afghan Local Police which is the latest and so far the largest of these forces. It was created in the summer of 2010 and had a 2014 strength of (very approximately) 30,000. It exhibits the same faults as each of the other organizations that preceded it: its membership is not properly vetted; it is poorly trained, paid and supported; and its members have been found guilty of numerous and systematic human rights abuses and criminal activities (that is, against people who do not have weapons). There is little to distinguish these militiamen from the warlord groups and criminal gangs except a badge and a small regular salary; in fact, many ALP have themselves been members of such groups in the past. The ALP also presents a soft target to the Taliban insurgents, who regularly infiltrate ALP units to steal weapons and equipment. The ALP was also involved in several “green on blue” incidents in 2012, when ALP members turned their weapons on their trainers or fellow members.


About brtrain
This blog is mostly devoted to posts, work and resources on "serious" conflict simulation games.

2 Responses to Struggle for Kandahar: the rest of the story

  1. Pingback: Logistics of Megagames - Hot Blood & Cold Steel

  2. Pingback: Aint’a gonna study “Modern War” no more… | brtrain

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