Afghan Public Protection
Books on Afghanistan
NOTE: In February 2014 Karzai decided to disband the APPF. As of early summer 2014 the plan for the APPF members was unclear. Rumors circulated that the APPF units would be turned into Highway Police Units and become part of the AUP. The reasoning for the proposed APPF shut down by Karazi was unclear. What is apparent is that the short life of the APPF thus far has been a failure. Some reports indicate that President Ghani re-established the APPF. In mid-2015 the Resolute Support Mission was not advising, training, or assisting the APPF. In December 2017 the government of Afghanistan announced that the APPF would be transferred from the Ministry of Interior to the Ministry of Defense.
Why Shut Down the APPF? Banning the Private Security Companies (PSCs) and replacing them with the APPF provided an opportunity for the Karzai political (and criminal) patronage network to exact profits from the "state-owned enterprise". With the end of the Karzai reign the (Karzai) need for an APPF went away (he would not have access to the money for the lucrative security contracts).
The Afghan Public Protection Force (APPF) is an Afghan state-owned enterprise that fell (initially) under the administrative control of the Ministry of Interior (MoI). In August 2010 Karzai decided that the many private security companies operating in Afghanistan would be phased out and replaced with the Afghan Public Protection Force. (See Presidential Decree 62). In March 2011 a "bridging strategy" was signed which provided an additional year for private security companies (PSCs) to operate while the Afghan government figured out how to implement the APPF. 1.
The MoI will oversaw the administrative functions of the APPF and the training, screening and vetting of APPF recruits. The APPF was expected to perform the mission that the private security companies (PSCs) did in the past. The private security companies are finding it harder to operate effectively in Afghanistan due to tightened rules and interference by the Afghan government. 7. Many private security companies have been forces to shut down. 8. President Karzai has stated that almost all private security companies will be out of business soon. 2.
A Failed Experiment? It appears that the Afghans had great difficulty in making the APPF work. There was just too much corruption and too much poor leadership. The Afghans attempt to provide security to the many international actors (NGOs, ISAF, etc.) failed as well as the APPFs attempts to provide highway security for Route 1.
Misson of the APPF. The APPF is a pay-for-service Afghan government security service provider that protects people, infrastructure, facilities, construction projects, and convoys. It seems that only diplomatic security missions will be the only security functions that are exempt from transfer to the APPF.
Licensing of Risk Management Companies (RMCs) or Security Firms. It appears that the APPF has the authority to issue business licenses to security companies - or Risk Management Companies (RMCs). These companies will no longer operate as private security companies (PSCs) but as a Risk Management Company (RMC). Entities (NGOs, implementing partners, etc) requiring security must use the APPF for its security requirements but can also contract with an RMC (that is licensed to operate in Afghanistan) for security advise and expertise. However, an NGO, foreign business, or implementing partner is not required to obtain RMC services. RMCs can fill a role in providing advise, mentorship, and instruction to the APPF. Employees of Risk Management Companies (RMCs) are called Risk Management Consultants. Licensing procedures for Risk Management Companies in Afghanistan are detailed here on the APPF website.
The first Risk Management Consultancy or Company (RMC) to receive a license was Separ Company (on February 1, 2012). As of February 10, 2012 Separ Company was the only one licensed - and it took two months for that to happen. Edinburgh International is also licensed, the second firm to receive its licence. On February 21, 2012 three more Risk Management Company Licenses were issued to Pilgrims Group, Scimitar and Silk Route. 9. Reportedly, the security companies hope that bribes to APPF officials will speed up the process - many more firms are trying to get licenses and over 75 major development projects are awaiting the security contracts to be signed. Many of the develoment organizations have shut down operations while they wait to see if the APPF can get its act together. 4.
APPF Website. The Afghan Public Protection Force (APPF) has launched its official website. You can view an ISAF press release about the website here or view the Afghan government websites itself at the links below.
APPF News Releases
APPF Advisory Group. In September 2011 the APPF Advisory Group (AAG), a part of ISAF, was established to oversee the APPF effort. The AAG worked with the MoI to increase the capability of the APPF with the initial goal of developing the capacity to provide services by March 2012, and provide full security by March 2013. It was hoped that ISAF fixed site and construction security would transition from private security companies to the APPF by March 20, 2013. The APPF Advisory Group had its own website that provides additional information about its mission. See the website here.
Organization and Size of the APPF. The Afghan Public Protection Force started out small but got larger in time. About 8,000 members were trained initially and deployed to about 40 of the 365 Afghan districts. For more info see APPF on "Who is who in Afghanistan".
Vetting of APPF Recruits. Current procedures for vetting recruits for the APPF is a seven-step process. This includes: (see 3.)
1) Valid Tazkera (Afghan
APPF Training. The APPF training takes place at the APPF Training Center (ATC) in Kabul Province. There are three Programs of Instruction (POI) - basic static guard, convoy, and personal security detail. The basic APPF guard course is three weeks long (as of Feb 2012). The guard course POI includes self-defense, arrest procedures, body searches, handling baton, handcuffs, radio, and weapons, and more. More detailed APPF training information is available on the APPF website.
Guard Employment Contract. The APPF guards sign an employment contract with the APPF. The contract stipulates employment criteria, salary, length of probationary period, what the APPF may deduct from pay, working hours and work location, leave periods, holidays, sickness or urgent leave, retirement benefits, medical treatment, equipment and life support, grievance and disciplinary procedures, health and safety information, and other provisions. 10. The APPF employment contract can be viewed here.
Cost of Security with APPF vs. PSCs. Many NGOs and implementing partners working development and other projects in Afghanistan had their concerns about the cost of security under the APPF security umbrella. Instead of PSCs competing against each other they are now faced with the prospect of an Afghan government agency setting the price for security. It appears that the Afghan government will take a 20% profit off the top of all security contracts. 6. It remains to be seen how much the Afghan government will try and gouge the international community out of even more money than it already gets now that it has a monopoly on the security business in Afghanistan. And of course, there is always the ever present dilemna of corruption in Afghanistan. As of March 2012 preliminary observations by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) indicated that there are major problems with the APPF program to include increased cost of security (46% increase), some USAID programs may be curtailed or stalled because the APPF is not fully-functioning, and some private security companies are still not licensed to operate in Afghanistan. 11.
Contracting for Security with the APPF. The APPF website provides information for customers on contracting procedures with the APPF and the costs of those services. Many U.S. firms that are under contract with the U.S. government require security services. The contract that these U.S. firms sign with the APPF may be in violation with the terms that the U.S. government has in their contract - putting the U.S. firms at risk for violating federal vetting and training requirements.
Quality of Security Provided by APPF. Many critics of the APPF program are worried about the quality of security provided. Guards provided by PSCs will many times include Third Country Nationals (TCNs) who are considered more reliable than Afghan guards and who have extensive military or police backgrounds. However TCNs are not allowed to join the APPF. The loyalty of the APPF members is questioned; especially in light of the many attacks by members of the Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) against US and other coalition military members. Some believe a move to the APPF providing security is not in the coalitions best interests. Also a concern is whether the Afghan government will pull APPF guards off an NGO or implementating partner site to protect Afghan facilities in during emergency situations; something that is unlikely to happen with PSC guards. In addition many members of the US Congress and the U.S. public at large is not in favor of U.S. bases in Afghanistan being protected by the APPF. 5.
Current Inventory of PSC Weapons. There exists a number of weapons that have been bought by the many PSCs currently operating in Afghanistan. These were either bought in Afghanistan or imported from other countries. The transition procedures require the PSCs to provide an inventory listing of their weapons to the APPF during this transition process. It would appear that weapons that the PSCs own will have to be transferred to the APPF if the weapons are on a "Bridging Tashkil". Those weapons not on the "Bridging Tashkil" can be freely given up by the PSCs to the APPF (no charge). The PSCs have the option of exporting the weapons out of the country - although there is bound to be red tape, bureaucratic wrangling, delays, and movement of funds (bribary) to make that happen. The weapons inventory template (in English) can be download off the APPF website here.
Future Implications of APPF. Many observers believe that security for international assistance projects will degrade in the future. The APPF will likely open the door for increased corruption within the Ministry of Interior (MoI) and increased security costs for those helping in the international effort or trying to development business ventures in Afghanistan.
Foschini, Fabrizio. Changing of the Guards: Is
the APPF program coming to an end?, Afghanistan Analysts Network
(AAN), March 8, 2014. The APPF might well be rolled into the Afghan
National Police (ANP). An extensive article on the history and performance
of the APPF.
SIGAR, Afghanistan Public Protection Force:
Concers Remain about Force's Capabilities and Costs, SIGAR Audit
13-15, July 2013. The report says the APPF is inept, ineffective, costly,
corrupt, and provides less security than private security firms did in the
News releases about the APPF from NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan (NTM-A) can be read here at NTM-A APPF News.
May 30, 2014. "Danger increases for coalition's Afghan truck drivers". Stars and Stripes. With the transfer of APPF duties to the ANP massive confusion reigns. The MoI has no clear way ahead to provide safe and secure highways for Afghan truck convoys.
April 24, 2014. "Afghan hospital guard kills 3 American doctors". The Washington Post. A member of the APPF assigned to protect members of CURE International Hospital kills three of its doctors.
January 31, 2014. "Analyst gets top honors for work in Afghanistan". Robins Air Force Base News Release. A member of the Civilian Expeditionary Workforce provided advice to the Business and Finance Directorate of the APPF.
August 27, 2013. "Karzai's security force 'risks collapse due to corruption". The Times.
July 30, 2013. "Report: Replacement force for private security contractors ineffective". Stars and Stripes. The Afghan government run security force is inept and costly.
July 30, 2013. "Report: Afghan security force ineffective, expensive for U.S. projects". The Washington Times. SIGAR report cites massive problems with APPF.
April 16, 2013. "Official says insurgents ambush Afghan government convoy, kill 5 guards". The Washington Post. Convoy guarded by APPF ambushed.
December 23, 2012. "Afghan Public Protection Force gains momentum in southern Afghanistan". DVIDS.
June 29, 2012. "Afghan Phaseout of Security Firms Draws Concerns". The Wall Street Journal.
April 4, 2012. "Consensus On Afghanistan: Transitioning to the Afghan Public Protection Force Will Cost More". Afghanistan Study Group.
April 3, 2012. "Afghanistan's Endless Private-Security War". Harper's Magazine.
March 30, 2012. "But That Is Another Story". The Blog, Huffington Post.
March 30, 2012. "Giving Karzai Aid and a 20 Percent Profit". PJ Media.
March 30, 2012. "APPF signs more contracts to secure development projects". NTM-A.
March 29, 2012. "US lawmakers offended by spike in Afghan guards' cost". Reuters.com.
March 29, 2012. "PSC: New Security Paradigm in Afghanistan Could Jeopardize USAID Projects". Professional Services Council.
March 28, 2012. "U.S. to pay more for Afghan security guards, auditor says". The Washington Post.
March 27, 2012. "APPF Trains the Trainer". NTM-A.
March 22, 2012. "Afghanistan Inches Toward Private Security Firms' Closure". Voice of America.
March 19, 2012. "Afghanistan security firm ban stirs Western fears". BBC News Asia.
March 18, 2012. "Afghan government gives private security firms more time before ban". The Washington Times.
March 15, 2012. "APPF assumes security responsibility for Tarakhil Power Plant". ISAF News Release.
March 11, 2013. "Afghan Public Protection Force signs eighth contract". NTM-A.
March 10, 2012. "Security Fears Lead Groups to Rethink Work in Afghanistan". The New York Times.
March 9, 2012. "Afghan Public Protection Force signs sixth, seventh contracts". NTM-A.
March 9, 2012. "U.S. aid agency prepares switch to Afghan security". Reuters.
March 9, 2012. "Afghan Public Protection Force Signs Its First Security Contracts With International NGO". International Relief & Development News Release.
March 9, 2012. "ANHAM Annouces the Use of APPF Security in the Country of Afghanistan". Yahoo! News.
March 8, 2012. "Afghan Public Protection Force signs first contracts". ISAF News.
February 29, 2012. "Pilgrims Group Awarded RMC Status in Afghanistan to Help Security Force Handover". Pilgrams Group.
February 28, 2012. "Afghan Public Protection Force launches official website". NTM-A.
February 27, 2012. "McKeon bill would block contractors from securing US bases in Afghanistan". The Hill.
February 23, 2012. "Contractors see risks in getting security from Afghans". Federal Times.
February 21, 2012. "Afghan Public Protection Force Recruiting". Video posted on NTM-A website.
February 21, 2012. "Afghan Public Protection Force issues three more RMC licenses", NTM-A.
February 17, 2012. "Afghan Public Protection Leadership Engaging with Private Security Guards". ISAF News.
February 10, 2012. "Afghan private security handover looking messy". Boston.com.
February 2, 2012. "APPF Open for Business". NTM-A.
January 6, 2012. "Canadian contractors' arrest an Afghan power play: Experts". Winnipeg Sun.
January 5, 2012. "British security contractors accused of arms smuggling in Afghanistan". The Telegraph.
January 4, 2012. "Britons arrested carrying AK-47s in Kabul". The Telegraph.
December 29, 2011. "Afghanistan cracks down on contractors". The Washington Post.
December 27, 2011. "ISAF remains committed to MOI lead in security programs". DVIDS.
December 14, 2011. "Afghanistan secured?" TheYorker.
December 12, 2011. "Afghanistan on track on closing security companies". MSNBC.com.
December 11, 2011. "Afghanistan's Karzai extends private security closure". Reuters.
November 23, 2011. "Afghan Public Protection Force adds new members to its ranks". ISAF News Release.
November 1, 2011. "Obstacles Hinder Formation of Afghan Security Force, Report Says". The New York Times.
March 16, 2011. "Afghanistan Plans Departure of Security Firms". The New York Times.
1. Institute for the Study of War, "Establishing a Police Force for Afghanistan", no date - accessed on ISW website on December 29, 2011.
2. Mark Checchia, "Private Security Companies Give Way to the Afghan Public Protection Force", Civil-Military Fusion Centre, October 2011. The report outlines the Afghan government's plan to supplant the private security companies with the new APPF. (An Adobe Acrobat PDF file accessed on web on December 29, 2011 at https://ronna-afghan.harmonieweb.org/CTCA/Shared%20Documents/CFC_Afg_PSCs-and-APPF_Oct11.pdf).
3. Statement on Use of Afghan Nationals to Provide Security to U.S. Forces. Presented to the House Armed Services Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, January 31, 2012. Accessed here on February 2, 2012.
4. See APPF Open for Business. NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, February 2, 2012. Accessed here on February 5, 2012.
5. For more information about congressional opposition to the APPF guarding U.S. bases in Afghanistan see McKeon bill would block contactors from securing US bases in Afghanistan, The Hill Blog, February 27, 2012. Accessed here February 2012. See also "McKeon announces new bill to protect U.S. in Afghanistan", The Signal.com, February 24, 2012. Accessed here February 2012.
6. See Contractors see risks in getting security from Afghans, Federal Times, February 23, 2012. Accessed here February 2012.
7. See Britons arrested carrying AK-47s in Kabul, The Telegraph, January 4, 2012. Accessed here February 2012.
8. See Afghanistan cracks down on contractors, The Washington Post, December 29, 2011. Accessed here February 2012. As of December 2011 the Afghan government had disbanded 57 security companies while seizing millions of dollars in weapons and equipment.
9. See Afghan Public Protection Force issues three more RMC licenses, NTM-A, February 21, 2012. Accessed here February 2012.
10. For information on Afghan guard benefits provided by the APPF see Afghan Public Protection Force finalizes guard employment contract, NTM-A News, February 19, 2012. Accessed here February 2012.
11. Read the SIGAR report on USAID use of APPF here in Preliminary Observations and Suggested Actions before Transition of Security Services to Afghan Public Protection Force, SIGAR, March 9, 2012. Accessed here on March 29, 2012.
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