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Afghans to Debut Community Policing Program, Official Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 24, 2008 – Afghanistan’s government is preparing a pilot program in community policing that’s expected to debut in the near future, a senior Defense Department official said here today.

Afghan authorities are starting to take a look at a community engagement type of program on a small scale, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters.

The program is designed to facilitate information sharing and build trust between Afghan citizens and their local, provincial and central governments, Whitman said.

“This is an Afghan initiative that is supported by the military forces that are there [and] by the U.S. government,” Whitman said.

The pilot program is to be tested in Wardak province, Whitman said. That province, located near the Afghan capital city of Kabul, has experienced increased Taliban activity in recent months.

The pilot is envisioned to be of modest scale, involving just “dozens” of Afghan citizens, Whitman said. Afghan authorities, he said, still are working out details.

The Afghan initiative also could be described as a “community-type policing program,” Whitman said.

Successful application of the initiative offers “prospects that could lead to improved Afghanistan security,” Whitman said.

Whitman also addressed a reporter’s question about the tone of some recent media reports that the reporter said seem to imply that the Pentagon is telling incoming officials of President-elect Barack Obama’s administration that the campaign against terrorists in Afghanistan is not going well.

“That’s not the case at all,” Whitman emphasized. “And, that’s unfortunate. I think that any number of our commanders have said we’re not going to fail, and we’re not failing in Afghanistan.”

Senior U.S. officials have identified the need to send more troops to Afghanistan, said Whitman, who also pointed to the ongoing U.S.-governmentwide review of the strategy employed in Afghanistan.

“One of the primary recipients and benefactors of doing this [Afghanistan] strategy review will be the new team that is coming in,” Whitman said.

Meanwhile, anyone who’d describe the situation in Afghanistan as being “in some kind of dire straits,” Whitman said, would be engaged in “a mischaracterization.”

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