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Acknowledging Limits: Police Advisors and Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan

The role of the police is an important but underexamined aspect of contemporary counterinsurgency and stability operations. Academic and policy specialists have studied the role of police in post-conflict environments, but have left largely open the question of how police should be organized, trained, and equipped for counterinsurgency campaigns. Because of the lack of attention to police in existing counterinsurgency research, both academic literature and U.S. military doctrine have even further neglected the subject of mentoring—that is, advising and training—foreign police forces, which has left troops preparing to deploy to Afghanistan for the police mentoring mission with few sources of information and analysis available to them.

This book addresses this gap by examining operations involving American and British police mentors in Afghanistan during the 2007–9 period. The themes highlighted in this study are likely to resonate in the years ahead as Afghans assume greater responsibility for their own security. The ideas explored in this book will also have relevance beyond the context of Afghanistan. Building the capacity of local police—and, in some circumstances, the capacity of irregular, tribal, and informal policing structures—has an obvious role to play in a preventative approach to violent subnational conflict.

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William Rosenau is a senior analyst in the Stability and Development Program, CNA Strategic Studies, Alexandria, VA, and an adjunct professor in the Security Studies Program, Walsh School of Foreign Affairs, Georgetown University.



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