AFP in Afghanistan

AFP in Afghanistan

Australian Federal Police activities in Afghanistan.


As of November 2010, 28 AFP personnel are deployed in Afghanistan as part of the Australian Federal Police International Deployment Group (IDG). 21 were in Tarin Kowt on training and other duties.

Government sources

News: AFP deploys members to Afghanistan to train police, AFP News, October 15 2010,
AFP Commissioner Tony Negus joined Minister for Home Affairs The Hon Brendan O’Connor at the AFP College in Canberra on 11 October to farewell 16 AFP members deploying to Afghanistan. As part of the two-year, $32.1 million Australian Government initiative, the deploying AFP members will help to develop the core policing abilities among local police officers in Afghanistan. Since 2007, the AFP has trained more than 650 Afghanistan National Police personnel.

Media Release: AFP role in Afghanistan enhanced, Media Release, AFP, April 24 2010,

Since 2009, the AFP has assisted in training over 500 Afghan National Police officers in Oruzgan Province. The additional AFP members will assist in the development of the Provincial Training Centre in Tarin Kowt. As well as police training and mentoring in Oruzgan, the AFP in Afghanistan is also involved in activity designed to contribute to the development of the Afghan National Police capacity and reinforcing the rule of law through placements in Kabul and Kandahar. The AFP has received funding of $32.1 million over two years to undertake this role. As part of the announcement, AFP Commander Paul Osborne has been appointed to the Senior Police Advisor position to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). The UN Senior Police Advisor position will involve the coordination of a range of law enforcement programs and activities on behalf of UNAMA in partnership with the Afghan National Police and coalition law enforcement partners.


Joint approach to stabilise and rebuild Afghanistan, Media Release, Department of Defence, 2 March 2010

Further supporting the security effort, the AFP is engaged in police development activities with Afghan National Police recruits, in accordance with an approved national police training program. To date more than 600 police have graduated from the Provincial Training Centre in Tarin Kowt, with further recruit courses scheduled for 2010.

AFP Union attacks Afghanistan role for Australian Police, Paul Maley, The Australian, 7 December 2009

In Washington last week, Mr Rudd announced Australia would boost its police training effort in Afghanistan and increase aid to the impoverished, violent country. Australia has a total of 22 AFP officers in Afghanistan training the national police force and assisting in the war on drugs. Mr Rudd said on Tuesday that figure would be boosted, although he would not say by how much.

Mr Torr said, “The Prime Minister has obviously decided it’s unpopular to deploy more troops but he might appease his friend Mr Obama by sending more police. We’ve got this seemingly open-ended response of sending the AFP.” But he said the commitment appeared to have been undertaken without any sort of risk assessment. He contrasted Australia’s police deployment to that of Dutch police, who he said do three months of training to align themselves with their military counterparts.

Minister farewells AFP members to Afghanistan, Minister for Home Affairs, 18 August 2009

Australian Federal Police (AFP) members are deploying to Afghanistan to contribute to local police training and capacity building of the local police force. “The Prime Minister announced the $6.9 million funding over three years in April 2009 for an additional AFP commitment of up to ten AFP personnel who will be dedicated to capacity building of the local police force,” The Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O’Connor said. The AFP officers will deliver training activities and advise and mentor the Afghan and international trainers who are assisting to rebuild and retrain the Afghan National Police.“This month’s deployment will raise the total number of AFP members deployed in Afghanistan to 18, with this figure increasing to 22 during the course of the 2009-10 financial year,” Mr O’Connor said.

Annual Report 2007-08, Australian Federal Police, 2008

On 16 October 2007, four senior AFP officers were deployed to Afghanistan in support of international efforts in that country. Two members are located in Kabul working under the auspices of the United States-led Combined Security Transition Authority – Afghanistan (CSTC-A). Two members are located in Jalalabad working under the auspices of the British Embassy Drug Team (BEDT) with the Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan.
All four members have made significant contributions and are playing a leading role in the development of civilian policing initiatives within their areas of expertise. The AFP mission to Afghanistan will be enhanced by the deployment of an additional four members in 2008-09 and a further four members in 2009-10.

The enhanced mission will focus on counter narcotics initiatives as well as police reform and development.

Australian Federal Police (AFP), Portfolio Budget Statement 2007-2008, Attorney-General’s Department, Australia

AFP contribution to Afghanistan: $2.595m.

AFP personnel deploy to Afghanistan, Senator the Hon Chris Ellison, Minister for Justice and Customs, Australia, 31 January 2007

Australian Federal Police (AFP) personnel will support the international effort to assist police in Afghanistan over the next two years, the Minister for Justice & Customs, Senator Chris Ellison announced today.

Current Deployments – Afghanistan, Australian Federal Police

In early 2006 a request was received from the (then) British Foreign Secretary for Australia to contribute police to assist with mentoring for the newly created Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan (CNPA). The Combined Security Transition Command’s (CSTC-A) recent assumption of the U.S. Government’s role in reforming the Afghan National Police provides a historic opportunity to help provide stable rule of law in Afghanistan. CSTC-A works with Germany, the lead nation in Afghan Police reform, and other members of the international community to collectively deliver a professional police force that will enhance the security of the Afghan people. Australia has agreed to provide 2 officers to work with the CNPA in Jalalabad (eastern part of the country) and 2 officers to work in Kabul (the capital) with CSTC-A. Members working in Jalalabad will provide advice and mentor senior CNPA staff in that region involved in counter narcotics detection and investigations.

A member attached to CSTC-A will act as the AFP Contingent Commander in Afghanistan. The Kabul component will also provide mentoring to senior ANP personnel or be directly attached to CSTC-A to provide policing advice and policy development for that organisation.


AFP aids Afghan hit squads, Rafael Epstein. Age, December 27, 2010

The Pentagon has confirmed that Australian Federal Police officers are ”assigned to work with” a joint police taskforce in Kabul that produces files later used by military commanders to ”shape the battlefield” – a term often used to describe the capture-or-kill raids mounted by elite troops in Afghanistan. While Australian police are officially not allowed to contribute intelligence for military purposes, in reality they have little control over who uses the information they help compile once it is shared with the Afghan government and other forces.

The last AFP officer stopped working directly with the Threat Finance Cell in April, but officers still work with the broader police effort called the Counter Narcotics Joint Inter-Agency Task Force, and their intelligence is shared with Afghan police and other agencies. There has been a rise in capture-or-kill missions aimed at insurgents, with as many as 17 raids each night across Afghanistan by special forces teams from the US, Britain, Australia and other countries.

In response to questions from The Age, the AFP said its officers were assisting the Afghan police in identifying drug traffickers and encouraging their prosecution through the local justice system. But because the Afghan justice system is corrupt and crippled by a lack of resources, the international effort is increasingly relying on the military’s capture-or-kill missions, Australian officials have told The Age. An AFP statement concedes the Afghan suspects it helps to identify ”may coincidentally include Taliban leaders”. The statement also says the AFP cannot comment on ”the dissemination … and the processing of military data … [or] the activities of other agencies” involved in the Threat Finance Cell.


Training Afghan police for deadly task, Jeremy Kelly, Australian, 2010-11-22

When Afghan police guarding an Australian-built bridge in Tarin Kowt felt cold last winter they decided to take over an adjacent house.  The evicted owner took revenge, joined the Taliban and started to plant roadside bombs. The incident illustrates the mammoth task the Australian Federal Police and their US military counterparts have in improving the notoriously corrupt, lazy and uneducated members of the Afghan National Police. The Australian was given exclusive access to the joint AFP-US military police training program, joining the police and their US mentors on patrol in Oruzgan. The program is the main focus for the 28 AFP officers in Afghanistan, 21 of whom are in Tarin Kowt. They oversee the training of Afghan police in accordance with a curriculum set down by the Afghan Ministry of the Interior. So far, more than 800 officers have come through the six- to eight-week basic patrolman’s course, where they are taught about the country’s constitution and penal code and educated about gender and human rights. The primary responsibility for the AFP, who do not venture outside the main military base in Tarin Kowt, is what is known as “blue-issues basic policing”, including handcuffing, riot and baton control, and open-hand combat techniques.

AFP team to help train Afghans, Brendan Nicholson, The Age, 12 March 2009

An Australian  Federal Police training team is due to leave for Afghanistan within days to help the stricken country build a new national police force. The Age has been told the 10-man “police mentoring team” from the AFP’s Operational Deployment Group will be based at Tarin Kowt in Oruzgan province, where most of Australia’s 1090 military personnel are based. The police will be protected by Australian troops and will be part of a gradual build-up of civilian personnel who will help rebuild Afghanistan’s infrastructure and establish governance and justice systems. It is understood that Australian soldiers will give the Afghan police military training. There are eight AFP officers in Afghanistan now, but they are involved in counter-narcotics operations.

Federal Officers to Assist Afghan Police, Tom Hyland, The Age, 24 February 2008

“The Federal Government is considering expanding the AFP’s role in Afghanistan – currently restricted to just four officers – as part of its plan to widen Australia’s effort in the war-torn country. The army and police needed to grow to “hold our military gains and enforce the rule of law”, Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon told Parliament. The AFP’ has about 500 of its 6400 officers already serving overseas.”

Australian help sought for drug fight, Mark Dodd, The Australian, 20 February 2007

“Afghanistan has warned it could unravel into a terrorist-backed narco-state unless Australia and the rest of the international community send specialist police to combat the heroin trafficking which is funding the Taliban insurgency.

“The war-battered nation’s ambassador to Canberra, Mohammed Anwar Anwarzai, said yesterday Australia’s military deployment had helped build local trust, but a dangerous vacuum existed in the wake of their withdrawal last year. ‘Unfortunately, we are now on the verge of becoming a narco-state. I can confess to that,’ Mr Anwarzai told The Australian.

“In its first acknowledgement of the extent of the problem, Canberra is planning to send four AFP agents to Afghanistan to help with police training and monitoring of illicit opium exports. Two armed AFP agents will be based in the opium heartland of Jalalabad to gather intelligence on opium smuggling.”

Armed guards to protect Federal Police,, 8 February 2007

“Private, armed security guards will protect four Australian Federal Police officers being sent to Afghanistan to help try to curb the amount of heroin being produced in the country.”

Tigers and Teargas: Postcard from Pakistan , Federal Agent Andew Wharton, Platypus Magazine, Edition 91, June 2006.

“The AFP’s Islamabad office was established in May 1984 and is currently staffed by a senior liaison officer and two locally engaged staff, with a further AFP position to be established later this year. Our first-tier country is Pakistan where the current primary focus is counter-terrorism and migration issues. The priority two countries are Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. Responsibility for Sri Lanka will soon transfer to a newly-established AFP post in India. The Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan comprise the level three countries. Our area of operation is bordered by Iran, China and Russia. Working in these countries provides a unique opportunity to witness new law enforcement practices and share knowledge and information with our international policing partners. Pakistan continues to produce counter-terrorism operations relevant to Australia, with people smuggling also a major source of work.”


See also

Project coordinator: Richard Tanter
Updated: 28 December 2010