What to do with Afghan Private Security Companies

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On Friday, May 28, 2010, ISW's Dr. Kimberly Kagan and analyst Carl Forsberg published Consolidating Private Security Companies in Southern Afghanistan.  As military operations in Kandahar begin in earnest soon, ISAF faces some significant challenges, specifically with capacity building and the restructuring of Afghan private security forces.


Local powerbrokers and Private Security Companies (PSC's) remain a sizeable part of Afghanistan's security framework and their reform will be essential to maintaining a stable security apparatus. A recent press briefing from Afghanistan seems to indicate that ISAF is developing a strategy to regulate PSC's as part of the Kandahar Operations unfolding in summer 2010. ISW's latest backgrounder suggests that these regulations, if not properly structured, may reinforce the existing power structures in Kandahar, strengthen the hand of local powerbrokers such as Ahmed Wali Karzai, and further weaken the ANSF. Furthermore, an initiative underway to consolidate the security companies in southern Afghanistan is likely to exacerbate the problems caused by PSCs, rather than reducing their influence.

With a strong set of recommendations, Dr. Kagan and Mr. Forsberg have made it clear how high the stakes are, and unless concrete steps are taken, the private security system in southern Afghanistan will continue to be unmanageable and weak.
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