According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, thousands have deserted amid increasing Taliban attacks and poor leadership.
The WSJ stated that a confidential interior ministry report to aid donors shows that more than 36,000 police officers left the force last year – the first year that the Afghan security forces have been solely responsible for security following the December 2014 draw down of foreign troops.
As reported by the WSJ, Afghanistan’s police are often on the frontline of the battlefield in the war against the Taliban and other insurgent groups. They are also used to secure roads nationally and man checkpoints in the provinces and in cities.
According to interior ministry statistics, 200 police were killed in January – a casualty toll that has raised concerns among donors, read the news report.
Reports emerged recently that the Taliban reportedly controls or influences an estimated third of the country.
However, the Wall Street Journal stated that the interior ministry did not comment on the figures but did say that the desertion of police had caused the death toll of members to rise.
Sediq Sediqqi, MoI spokesman said: “There are currently numerous plans in place to further enhance the capability of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.”
He went on to tell the Wall Street Journal: “Massive reinforcements in areas of conflict have taken place in the past months, new measures are already in place.”
The newspaper stated that this comes amid Interior Minister Noorulhaq Olomi’s sudden departure. The Presidential Palace said on Thursday he had been appointed as Afghanistan’s ambassador to the Netherlands.
But the Wall Street Journal stated he quit and published a letter accusing government of deliberately ignoring proposals for reforms and failing to approve appointments within the ministry in a timely manner. “This lack of attention… increased the level of casualties of the police and civilians,” Olomi said.
“Of late, I am realizing that there actually exists little interest in meeting my suggestions.”
The newspaper stated that U.S-led Resolute Support in Afghanistan declined to comment on police force losses, but said it is working on a system that will be rolled out at the interior ministry in June. This new system will reportedly make it easier to monitor attrition and identify the areas that are worst hit.
The current system makes it difficult to “look at trends across the army of police force to see if the problem is in a unit or region because the data is entered manually,” said Colonel Robert McVay, who is in charge of the program.
Meanwhile a number of MPs have said that the main reason for desertion among police is weak leadership. According to Tolo News.
One MP, Amanullah Paiman said: “After the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan, attacks by insurgents intensified against our security forces and on the other hand, leadership within the security forces is weak.
Senator Abdullah Qarlog meanwhile said that “from (former president) Hamid Karzai’s time until today we have not had strong leadership to secure Afghanistan.”