- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a problem I don’t hear discussed enough in counterinsurgency discussions: You want to protect the people and that is what the police are supposed to do. But what to do when the police are part of the problem, not part of the solution?
In Iraq, American officials generally focused on the National Police as corrupt and sectarian. But in a Reuters news story from Afghanistan’s Helmand Valley, we hear locals say they fear the local police more than they do the Taliban. Rape of boys appears to be a particular issue:
The police would stop people driving on motorcycles, beat them and take their money,” said Mohammad Gul, an elder in the village of Pankela, which British troops have been securing for the past three days after flying in by helicopter.
He pointed to two compounds of neighbors where pre-teen children had been abducted by police to be used for the local practice of “bachabazi,” or sex with pre-pubescent boys.
“If the boys were out in the fields, the police would come and rape them,” he said. “You can go to any police base and you will see these boys. They hold them until they are finished with them and then let the child go.”
What do you do now, lieutenant?
US Army Korea – IMCOM/Flickr