Afghanistan Inches Toward Private Security Firms’ Closure

Posted March 22nd, 2012 at 4:55 pm (UTC-5)
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Afghanistan is another step closer to abolishing private security firms operating in the country as the deadline for them to be replaced with the Afghan Interior Ministry's new Afghan Private Protection Force approaches.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has long been opposed to the large number of private security companies in the country, set the end of March as the deadline for the move, although that timeframe has been extended for up to 90 days to facilitate the transition.

Under the plan, more than 50 private security firms will be dissolved and at least 10,000 security guards will be re-assigned or replaced.

A spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force, Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson, said Thursday this is an important milestone in the process of transferring all security responsibilities to Afghan forces before coalition combat troops leave Afghanistan in 2014.

Jacobson said “the APPF is focusing now on taking over security for development projects, convoys and commercial businesses.” He said that by March 2013, all security for ISAF bases and construction sites are scheduled to transition to the Afghan force.

Mr. Karzai has said that private guards undermine his nation's army and police and also expressed concern about the conduct of some private security companies.

Some international organizations and private security companies have privately expressed reservations about whether the Afghan Interior Ministry guards can be trusted to provide the same level of protection and security. There are also concerns about the potential for corruption by ministry officials who will have exclusive control of the industry, as well as how much the service will cost.

Private development companies say that if security concerns do develop or associated costs increase significantly, they will delay or cancel projects which could cost Afghanistan billions in U.S. aid.