Dozens of gardai tempted by €50,000 for Afghan tour
Published 14/02/2010 | 05:00
Dozens of gardai have responded to a request to swap the mean streets of Dublin for one of the most dangerous jobs in the world -- training police in Afghanistan.
A request for "expressions of interest" in the job was circulated throughout the Garda three weeks ago and has received a surprisingly positive response -- even though the potential dangers of working in Afghanistan are well-documented. The request for gardai to serve in the country comes after the US, which is sending a further 30,000 troops to the country, criticised Europe for not contributing enough personnel to improve the security situation in Afghanistan.
The EU has over 300 policemen trying to train a force of 15,000 Afghan police officers.The training force is known as EUPOL and, since 2007, it has struggled to attract volunteers. It has also been largely based inside the fortified 'Green Zone' in the capital, Kabul. However, the present head of the EUPOL, Commissioner Kai Vittrup, wants to extend training to areas outside the capital. He says one of its current priorities is to train police to identify potential suicide bombers.
The Afghan police force has been beset by massive problems including long periods of delayed pay. This has led to the unpaid officers robbing civilians for food and money, further decreasing the popularity of the force in certain areas. The Afghan police are also a constant target for the Taliban, and hundreds have so far been killed.
In November last year an Afghan National Police member shot dead five British soldiers who were training and "mentoring" new police members in Helmand Province.
However, none of the EU police trainers has been killed in the three years since the mission has started, mainly because training has been restricted to safe areas.
The gardai have undertaken only one armed mission in the past -- in Kosovo, where handguns are carried for personal protection. All other gadai-UN roles were unarmed. One of the attractions is the salary, which is likely to be around €250, or higher, a day than usual. There are also generous allowances which could help officers take home up to €50,000 for a six-month tour.
They would also continue to receive their garda salary.
One source said that money is not the only attraction and some gardai were seeking an opportunity to get away from jobs where they are unhappy with either management or conditions.Most showing interest are single with no children. Applicants must have eight years service.