Risky Afghan mission for six gardai
Six gardai begin training this week for a year-long mission in Afghanistan where they will be part of a European training operation for newly recruited Afghan police.
The gardai, who travel out next month, will receive salary, risk payment and subsistence payments totalling around €50,000 -- but they will be serving in one of the most dangerous policing environments in the world.
So far 100,000 men have been recruited to the new Afghan National Police but there are high rates of illiteracy and most have received only a few days' training.
They also face very serious risk. Two weeks ago, six police were captured by the Taliban and beheaded. An estimated 1,400 Afghan policemen have so far died. On top of these losses, the Taliban has infiltrated police ranks, killing military and civilian trainers.
According to gardai, the six members of the force who volunteered to go to Afghanistan are committed to helping the development of the country, large parts of which remain lawless. In parts where the Taliban impose Sharia law there are also massive human rights abuses, particularly against women.
There have been very serious problems in establishing a national police force despite huge sums of money being spent by the US and Europe. At the end of last year, it was estimated that only a quarter of the 365 police districts had police with any training.
A review of 64 districts showed that only 17 per cent were capable of conducting law enforcement operations by themselves. Half were classified as "present in geographic location", according to Pentagon records.
Figures prepared for the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction revealed that only 12 per cent of police districts were capable of enforcement operations.
There are also widespread reports of drug addiction and corruption.
The gardai going out to Afghanistan in September will receive training in the area of bomb threats alongside their assimilation training. It is understood three gardai are being posted to the capital Kabul, and three to provincial centres.