Afghan Public Protection
Program or AP3



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Afghan War News > Security > Afghan Public Protection Program (APPP or AP3)

Afghan Public Protection Program (APPP)

(Last update 20 March 2013)

The Afghan Public Protection Program (APPP) or sometimes called AP3 started as a CJSOTF-A led endeavor to establish local security at the community or village level from a "bottom-up" perspective. The program was funded by the United States but fell under the command of the Ministry of Interior. The members of the AP3 were sometimes referred to as "the Guardians".  Although AP3 was supposed to be a MoI program, in reality the U.S. military designed, funded, and implemented AP3.

History of APPP or AP3

In late 2008 the concept of arming selected tribes in areas where the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP) were not operating was being bantered around military circles. Some military leaders and counterinsurgency gurus pointed to the "Sons of Iraq" and the "Anwar Awakening" as an example of tribal militias securing white space for thinly stretched security forces. In search of a new intiative to halt the spread of the insurgency in the face of a corrupt and ineffective central Afghan government the concept of a locally recruited tribal security force seemed promising. In addition, the formation of the APPP was an attempt to secure areas of Afghanistan that did not have an ANA and ANP presence.  The APPP was seen as a stop-gap temporary measure until adequate numbers of Afghan security forces (ANA and ANP) could be recruited, trained and deployed.

Initial Deployment in Wardak.  After some initial hesitation by the coalition about the program and delays by the Afghan Ministry of Interior the program was finally started in 2009 in the Saydabad District of Wardak Province by U.S. Special Forces. The Wardak Province APPP was to be a small experimental pilot program with up to 1,200 men recruited.  Wardak was selected because the government control was tenuous except in district centers.  Although the Afghan government would prefer to field ANA and ANP to quel the worsening security situation in a province so close to Kabul the trained Afghan forces were just not available.  So the APPP was established to quickly fill the security gap for a short timeframe until the ANA and ANP could establish themselves.  1.

Command and Control. While the salaries were paid by the U.S. the APPP (or AP3) was to be accountable to the Minister of Interior through the district governor and supervised by the local Afghan National Police (ANP) commander.

Mission of APPP.  The initial mission of the APPF was to protect the local population, key government facilities, critical infrastructure, schools, construction projects, establish checkpoints on highways, and disrupt insurgent activities in their local operational area. The hope was that the "Guardians" would be able to perform some lower-risk aspects of  security thereby freeing up the scarce ANA and ANP in Wardak Province to go on the offensive against the insurgents.  In addition, the "Guardians" provided intelligence on roadside IEDs and insurgent activity.

Role of APPP.  The APPP was designed more for public protection and less for law enforcement. The members of the APPP could detain people and turn them over to the ANP or the ANA but they could not arrest people.  2.

Training of APPP.  APPP recruits were trained on a number of skills and subjects to include ethics, use of force, personnel detention, police law, tactics, running checkpoints, weapons handling, and discipline in a three week long course. Training was initially conducted by U.S. Special Forces in February 2009. The training and mentoring of the APPP later transitioned to conventional forces in RC East.

Equipment.  The APPP members were equipped with AK-47s, radios, cell phones, uniforms and some Ranger pickup trucks.

Funding and Pay. Members of AP3 were initially paid about $100 a month with a $24 a month food stipend (some reports say the food stipend was increased to $74). In addition, development projects were promised to communities that accepted the APPF.

Recent Events.  After some time the AP3 was turned over by the CJSOTF-A to Regional Command East for mentoring and oversight. Plans to expand the AP3 to other provinces were stalled; with the Pentagon and ISAF Cdr (McCrystal) expressing displeasure with the costs, resources, and time required for the program.  It appears that the original APPP (or AP3) program is being demobilized (as of Dec 2011); however some elements are being incorporated into a different local defense program called Community Based Security Solutions (CBSS) with eventual absortion into the Afghan Local Police (ALP).  Then again, there is some contradictory information that indicates that the AP3 will continue to exist under a new name - see "A New Life" below.

"APPF".  The Afghan Public Protection Program (APPP) was sometimes called AP3 for short.  In addition, the members of the APPP were sometimes referred to as the Afghan Public Protection Force or APPF.

A New Life for "APPF".  The APPF (at least the name) was granted a reprieve in 2011 when it was determined by the Afghan government that a separate police organization was needed to provide security to facilities, infrastructure, and personnel. The APPF is projected to perform the mission of the many private security companies working throughout Afghanistan.  Almost all private security companies will be disbanded by March 2012 (this date will surely slip to the right).  How much of the original APPF was disbanded or absorbed by the CBSS or ALP and how much became a part of the "new" APPF is difficult to figure out.  3.

The "New" APPF.  This new variation of the Afghan Public Protection Force is, once again, a small pilot program.  About 8,000 members will be trained initially and deployed to about 40 or the 365 Afghan districts.  Read more about the Afghan Public Protection Force (APPF).

News Articles about the Afghan Public Protection Program (AP3)

October 10, 2010. "2010 Elections 23: The Wardak election in AP3's shadow". AAN.

September 13, 2009. "Local Afghan patrols invested in peace". USA Today.

September 2009. "Afghan Village Militia: A People-Centric Strategy to Win".  Dr. Ronald L. Holt, Small Wars Journal.

June 3, 2009.  "Finding 'Sons of Afghanistan' Ain't Easy". Danger Room.

June 3, 2009. "Locals Wary of U.S. - Afghan Patrol Program". NPR.

June 2, 2009. "U.S. Helps Afghans Assume Control of Local Security".  NPR.

May 21, 2009.  "New Afghan Force Joins Fight Against Taliban".  NPR.

May 14, 2009. "Afghan leaders, U.S. Soldiers initiate new security program to empower local residents".

May 13, 2009. "Afghan Leaders, U.S. Soldiers Initiate Public Protection Program". American Forces Press Service.

March 25, 2009. "The Afghan Public Protection Force pilot program is underway". The Long War Journal.

March 12, 2009. "Afghan Public Protection Program success paves the way for development in Jalrez".  U.S. Forces Afghanistan.

February 26, 2009.  "Afghan Defense Minister Explains Auxiliary Security Force".  The Washington Independent.

February 17, 2009.  "Afghan militia gears up to fight the Taliban".  The Globe and Mail.

February 12, 2009. "US, NATO Forces in Advanced Plans to Create Citizen Militias in Afghanistan: Reveals Leaked Email". The Huffington Post.

February 1, 2009. "New Afghan Security Unit to Police Dangerous Areas". VOA News.

January 23, 2009. "Disputes cloud Afghan 'public guards' plan".  By Laura King, Los Angeles Times.

January 8, 2009. "Afghans wary of anti-Taliban 'militia' plan". Google News.

January 6, 2009. "Costs of war: No to tribal militias".  By Shaun Waterman, ISN Security Watch.

December 16, 2008.  "U.S. Will Arm Militias in Afghanistan".  By Noah Shachtman, Danger Room.

December 16, 2008.  "U.S. Military to Launch Pilot Program to Recruit New Local Afghan Militias".  By Anna Mulrine, U.S. News and World Report.

December 11, 2008. "Proceed with Caution on Afghan Tribal Strategy". Council on Foreign Relations.

November 7, 2008. "A Tribal Strategy for Afghanistan". By Greg Bruno, Council on Foreign Relations.

November 6, 2008.  "Petraeus: Afghan tribes could fight militants".  Army Times.

November 19, 2007.  "Arming the Tribes".  By Joshua Foust,



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1.  C.J. Radin, "The Afghan Public Protection Force pilot program is underway", The Long War Journal, March 25, 2009.  Radin provides a very good initial look at the formation of the APPF.

2. Institute for the Study of War, "Establishing a Police Force for Afghanistan",  no date - accessed on ISW website on December 29, 2011.

3.  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



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