Critical Infrastruture
Protection Program (CIP)



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Afghan War News > Security > Critical Infrastructure Protection Program (CIP)

Information about the Critical Infrastructure Protection Program (CIP)

(Last updated 29 Feb 2012)

The Critical Infrastructure Protection or CIP is a local program established in Regional Command North to provide security to "critical infrastructure".  Funding is provided through the Commander's Emergency Response Program (CERP). The security elements are supposed to protect and defend critical infrastructure such as roads, bridges, district centers, etc.  The usual pay for a member of a CIP unit is about $140 a month funded through CERP.  Uniforms and weapons are not provided. The irregular security force is a temporary measure designed to provide security in areas where there are not enough Afghan National Army or Afghan National Police.

The numbers in the Critical Infrastructure Protection Project is small - approximately 1,500 men in late 2011.  These security guards are provided short-term jobs patrolling villages and providing protection to structures and facilities. The CIP operate primarily in Kunduz, Jowzjan, Faryab, Saripul, and Laghman Provinces.  Although under the control of coalition forces they only operate where the Afghan provincial governors have requested them in writing. The CIP forces were recently set up by Regional Command North in the past year (2010-2011) with the intent of protecting key infrastructure but also to attempt to control some of the illegal militia groups that are bothersome to the residents.  According to news accounts some of these militia groups were integrated in the CIP. 1

There are a number of unsupervised militia groups in northern Afghanistan.  These armed bands are problematic over the short-term as well as for the future.  Bands of men with guns can freely roam in areas where the coalition, ANA, and ANP do not operate. These militias extort food, money, supplies, and more from the local population. Many times the militia groups are merely crime gangs. Also in the equation is the ethnic diversity in the north - with militias of one ethnic group preying on others - as in Tajiks or Uzbeks intimidating Pashtuns. The Critical Infrastructure Protection project was, at least as one of its desired effects, supposed to employ some of these militia bands - providing them with a paycheck which would decrease the need for them to prey on the population - and at the same time provide a counter against other preying militia groups and insurgents in areas where the ANP and ANA do not have a presence.

At one time (early 2011) there was an attempt by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and ISAF Joint Command (IJC) to provide operational guidelines to the Regional Commands on the irregular security formations such as CIP, ISCI, AP3, and others. This was called the Community Based Security Solution or CBSS (or CBS2). The thought was that CBSS would provide structure, standards in training, and operational command and control of what some critics said were out of control militia bands. Apparently this effort took hold in Regional Command East.  Other regional commands opted to embrace the Afghan Local Police program; bypassing the CBSS structure. RC North stayed away from the CBSS venture deciding to keep CIP as it existed.

 In December 2011 President Karzai stated he did know of the existance of the CIP program (unlikely) and threatened to disband the program or have the CIP units placed under Afghan control. The Karzai regime sees irregular forces set up by coalition units as a threat to his authority and operating outside of the Afghan police structure. It could also be said that they are outside his ability to advance his political agenda and provide more money via corruption to his cronies. The disbanding of irregular formations follow the theme of establishing a strong central government emanating from Kabul and diminishing the independence of areas more remote from the Afghan capital.  This is contrary to historical studies that reveal that Afghanistan has rarely had a strong central government. 2

Publications and Reports on the Critical Infrastructure Program (CIP)

Local Defense in Afghanistan. A critique of local defense initiatives by Mathieu Lefevre of the Afghanistan Analysts Network, May 2010. (Adobe Acrobat )

News Articles about the Critical Infrastructure Protection Program (CIP)

December 27, 2011.  "ISAF remains committed to MOI lead in security programs".  DVIDS.

December 27, 2011.  "Afghanistan tells NATO to disband local force, may open rift".  Reuters.

December 27, 2011.  "Karzai Grabs Local Forces".  Afghan President Forces Coalition to Turn Over Control of Controversial Patrols.  The Wall Street Journal.

December 27, 2011.  "Afghanistan to disband irregular police force set up under NATO".  Stars & Stripes.

December 26, 2011.  "Afghanistan to Disband Irregular Police Force Set Up Under NATO". The New York Times.

December 26, 2011.  "RC North: Critical Infrastructure Protection Force Discontinued?"  Global Perspectives.

December 26, 2011.  "Afghanistan's Militias: The German View".  Global Perspectives.

December 25, 2011.  "Operation by Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) Stopped".  Office of the President Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

December 18, 2011.  "Critical Infrastructure Protection member discovers and turns in IED in Kunduz". DVIDS.

December 5, 2011.  "Laying the Groundwork for Civil War: The District Threatened by Its Protectors".  Der Spiegel.

December 3, 2011.  Photo of Afghan men registering for Critical Infrastructure Protection in Chahar Dara district north of Kunduz City.  Yahoo! News.

November 24, 2011.  "In Afghan North,US-Backed Militias Spur Local Backlash".  Voice of America.

Info Related to Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP)

Visit the Regional Command North website.


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1. Afghanistan to Disband Irregular Police Force Set Up Under NATO, The New York Times, December 26, 2011.

2. Afghan Village Militia: A People-Centric Strategy to Win", Dr. Ronald L. Holt, Small Wars Journal, September 2, 2009


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