Professionalization of the Security Sector

In 2014, security responsibility was handed over from international forces to Afghan forces. International forces assumed a limited role to train, advise and assist Afghan forces, who took a lead on battlefield operations across the country. In order to respond to the demand for increased capacity and capability, reforming the security sector was a top priority for the National Unity Government, starting with the Ministry of Defense (MoD).
Corruption in procurement and appointments and lack of coordination had led to a security sector weakened by corruption and lacking professionalism, with Afghan soldiers on the front lines bearing the burden. The Four-Year Security plan was put in place by MoD leadership to guide the reforms, and aims to increase capability and capacity of the security forces, chart a path to self-sufficiency, and ensure forces are well-equipped. The end goal is to ensure the security forces are better equipped, better trained, and have better leadership in order to increase battlefield performance.
The reforms agenda put in place since 2014 to professionalize the security sector has produced results in reducing corruption, instituting merit-based promotions and appointments, and improving the chain of command and the provision of essentials logistics to equip Afghan forces. US forces in Afghanistan reported to SIGAR that the Afghan National Army performed better in 2016 than in 2015. UNAMA’s 2017 annual report documented significant improvements in the way the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces are fighting on the battlefield.

Achieved (3/6): 50.0 Achieved (3/6): 50.0 %Partially achieved and ongoing (3/6): 50.0 %Partially achieved and ongoing (3/6): 50.0 %Partially achieved and ongoing (3/6)Percentage: 50.0

– Introduce civilian systems of procurement, human resources management, and financial transparency and accountability into the security ministries’ normal operating procedures.

 PROGRESS: – Partially achieved and on-going. A civilianization process is underway across all parts of the Ministry of Defense.
  • A full internal HR review: Completed and a full civilianization process is being carried out.
  • Civilianization: In 2014, the US and Afghan governments signed the U.S.-Afghan Bilateral Civilianization Agreement to commit to civilianization reforms in the security forces. So far, eighteen general officer and 442 other officer-level positions have been converted into civilian positions. Out of these, approximately 250 of these positions have been filled through a competitive process via the Independent Administrative Reforms and Civil Service Commission (IARCSC). There are 5,164 civilian positions available in Grade 7 & 8, equivalent to all enlisted ranks in the 1397 Tashkil (human resources authorization document).
  • Dismissals and prosecutions: The MoD has dismissed 1,400 staff members (including 946 officers, 230 financial personnel, 209 procurement officials) on the basis of corruption or nonperformance. Investigations are underway into 55 cases of illegal ammunition and weapons sales, in which 109 people were involved. 578 cases are being investigated for other crimes. Under these reforms, a major fuel theft case in the 205th Corps successfully made its way through the Afghan court system, which resulted in jail time for the offending leadership.
  • Retirements: The Inherent Law came into being to shape the force to match the Tashkil authorizations via the mandatory retirements of certain general officers and colonels, mainly by lowering the retirement age of military officers from 65 to 55 years. This allows for a younger, more qualified generation of officers to progress through the Officer Corps. The Inherent Law is being implemented in three phases. Phase I started in January 2018 when 656 officers were subjected to immediate mandatory retirement. Phase II began in July 2018, where 651 additional officers were subjected to retirement. Phase III will commence in January 2019, as 633 officers will be subject to retirement. To fill the personnel gaps caused by Inherent Law, the MoD has replaced the senior leadership through merit-based appointments, who are vetted for corruption, including in the corps leadership across the country.
  • Career development: The Four-Year Security plan includes a leadership development program to provide further education and training to security sector personnel, particularly in intelligence.
  • Women in ANDSF: MoD is working to increase the number of women in uniform by 800 per year for the next four years. There are currently approximately 1,300 women in Afghan National Army, including a female pilot. There has been some progress toward better integration of female soldiers into ANA but there are significant cultural, social, and structural barriers that collectively impede progress against United Nations Security Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 and the Afghanistan National Action Plan.
  • A Child Protection Policy was signed in December 2017 to shield children from the effects of armed conflict.
  • In September 2016, the MoD signed the Common Policy Agreement with US partners to commit to the improving internal procedures at MoF to professionalize Afghan force and improve Afghan battlefield performance.
  • Further efforts have been made to formalize investigative procedures in the security sector and increase legal education. More policies are being reviewed and modified to further improve and professionalize the ANDSF.

– Appoint a High Oversight Board to provide guidelines and audits of senior security-related appointments and promotions

 PROGRESS: – Achieved.
  • Established in January 2018 and headed by four star General Abdul Khaleq Sarouri. The board is tasked with monitoring and evaluating the appointments of the leadership of the National Security Council, Defense Ministry, Military Courts and the Office of the Attorney General for the Armed Forces. The board has processed 263 officer appointments as well as the promotion of the 86 officers in the different departments of the Ministries of Interior Affairs and National Defense, as well as of the Office of National Security Council.

– Publish an unconditional defense strategy, a detailed defense budget, and an anti-corruption action plan for the security sector

 PROGRESS: – Achieved.
  • Within the annual Afghan Strategic Defense Planning System, a planning process and system has been established in which various documents are elaborated to deliver strategic-level guidance, goals and tasks which then guides the ministerial-level planning towards shaping military plans and creating a sustainable force structure.
  • The MoD has completed and published its unconditional defense strategy, available at this link.
  • The government’s national budget for the year 1397 (March 2018 through February 2019) has been published in detailed form, which also includes the defense budget.
  • A security sector anti-corruption strategy was approved on February 22, 2016. The anti-corruption action plan for implementing the strategy is also final and available publicly at this link.
  • The Major Crimes Task Force (MCTF) and the Anti-Corruption Justice Center (ACJC) are established. The MCTF is an elite unit within Ministry of Interior and through the MCTF, the MoI and MoD have submitted several corruption cases for prosecution. The ACJC focuses on high-level corruption and has successfully prosecuted several cases leading to the conviction of approximately 300 individuals for corruption. The court process is open, public and transparent and presents the government with a credible justice system for high level offenders.

– Include civil society inputs in the development of new governance or anti-corruption legislation and policies.

 PROGRESS: – Partially achieved and on-going. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the government and civil society was approved and signed in 2016. Revisions of the overall anti-corruption legislation and policies, which also concern the security sector, had input from civil society groups, as well as the Second Vice President’s Office, Ministry of Justice, Islamic scholars’ council, and media. 150 press releases were published through the MoI website and police radio, and 15 press conferences on security issues and the role of the police were published, as well as 200 posts to social media.
– Address ‘ghost’ soldiers and police by developing a verification plan detailing personnel and payroll procedures, developing daily attendance sign-in procedures using identification numbers, ensuring use of fully operational electronic systems to track payroll data, and training for internal audit and investigative powers.

 PROGRESS: – Partially achieved and on-going.
On November 6, 2017, a committee was established to address corruption and deal with the issue of ghost soldiers. There are currently four existing biometric payment systems operating in the security sector to ensure that all active military personnel are accounted for and paid electronically. Those systems include the Afghan Human Resources Information Management System (AHRIMS), the Afghan Personnel Pay System (APPS), the Afghan Automated Biometric Identification System (AABIS), and the ANDSF Identification Card System (ID). Efforts to integrate all of these systems is currently on-going.
The Human Resource Management System (HRMS) was implemented at MoD, with around 159,078 military personnel and civil servants registered in the system. Currently, the MoD is transferring from the HRMS to the Afghan Personnel Pay System (APPS) with the goal of being fully operational by end of July 2018 In order to receive pay, every individual has to be slotted in the system and has to meet critical attributes, including the biometric number, name, father & grandfathers name, ID Card number, Date of birth and actual rank. This will significantly reduce the number of “ghost soldiers”. Using the personnel information from the system, the MoD conducted technical investigations of approximately 50,000 Afghan National Army officials, and as a result nearly 300 individuals were identified as perpetrating ghost soldier corruption schemes, and referred to the justice sector for prosecution.

– Ensure oversight on confidential procurement by publishing current oversight mechanisms for confidential procurement, and providing parliament with detailed audit reports related to defense and security sectors

 PROGRESS: – Achieved. The government established an oversight mechanism for confidential security sector procurement that helps ensures the interests of citizens while keeping security agencies accountable. For more information, visit this link. Though the National Security Council has not provided Parliament directly with detailed audit reports of defense and security sector confidential procurement, these sectors are audited via the standard government auditing procedure and made available to Parliament via this process. The standard auditing procedure is as follows: the Supreme Audit Office conducts annual audits of all government entities, including defense and security institutions, shares the resulting audit reports with Parliament, and makes them publicly available online. According to the National Security Advisor, the Supreme Audit Office should finalize its 1396 report “during the next few months.
  • Continue with implementing the Inherent Law to allow young and better trained officers to get into key positions.
  • Continuing implementing the civilianization plan. In the 1397 Tashkil, there are still 358 military positions identified for conversion to civilian in the future
  • Fully implement APPS as the basic payment system for ANDSF, therefore reducing the possibility of corruption and fraud.
  • To increase the number of female soldiers in ANA, the recruiting initiatives include an undergraduate scholarship program that is currently being reorganized to include several universities throughout Kabul and the rest of Afghanistan, the Gender Occupational Opportunity Development (GOOD) program and a number of emerging overseas training programs. The next step for the MoD is to create a force development plan, by identifying positions in selected specializations, where women can promote based on merit. From that, a specific training requirement and recruitment plan can be developed, thus ensuring that women are employed effectively in the organization.