Home > War Journalism > How an Afghan Police Commander Beat the U.S. Army

How an Afghan Police Commander Beat the U.S. Army


By: Joseph Kassabian

Note: All people, Places, times, and route names have been changed to protect operational security and to protect the people in the story from any liability.

Kandahar, Afghanistan. There’s a little saying for operations in Afghanistan, that you have to work ‘by, with, or through’ the Afghan security forces, mainly the Police, and when you say that you almost always mean ‘though’. In one of my earlier articles I talked about a corrupt Afghan National Police (ANP) station commander named Azizullah. This has to do with how he single handedly got an Army Task Force to bend to his will in the name of ‘partnership’.

It was no secret that second platoon’s platoon leader ‘Six’ and Azizullah hated each other within days of meeting one another, but being a soldier Six drove on, and kept trying to work with the maddening ANP commander, though soon we all saw the working relationship was one sided, and we were seriously being used. To put a ‘Afghan face’ on patrolling we always go out patrol with ANP, but at the time the ANP we lived with fell under the command of a different sub district (like a township or county) , therefore were not allowed to patrol our area, we had to ask Azizullah for some of his men to come out with us since we patrolled the district he was in command of. If the ANP ever arrived, they would be so late going on mission was no longer possible, they would arrive high, or without gear they needed for patrolling, and Azizullah knew this. So being civilized people we tried to talk this out with him.

‘Six’, ‘Two’, ‘Alpha’, and myself all sat down in a meeting with the ANP commander, his Hitler-style comb over, baby face, constant shit eating grin, and nose burning body stench made all of us day dream about throwing a grenade into his office. We tried to work out a deal so his men would show up to work, and we could go on patrol like we needed too and were being commanded too from our higher ups. First Azizullah smiled a smile that looked like he tilled his land with his teeth, and insisted he needed fuel. Six said, like before, he would get fuel, he would just need to go on patrol with us first. Azizullah danced around this issue for a few more minutes until he saw there was no way even he could make it sound like he needed fuel for a walking patrol. He then insisted his men needed something like seventy five pairs of boots, a pretty tall order for a platoon in a remote part of the Kandahar country side. Six, still keeping his cool, said he would put the request in with our Task Force, he was even making notes on paper so he didn’t forget, Six hated this man, rightfully so he was a corrupt, cruel, obstacle in the way of us completing our mission on a daily basis, but Six still had a job to do. No matter what we did, we just couldn’t get Azizullah to budge on anything, and we left pissed off and empty handed.

At this point I should explain a little bit about Azizullah, a now declared ‘Martyr of Afghanistan’ complete with a huge colorful, decretive sign over the gate where he use to work and live, before he got shot in the back of the head by one of his own men. He was the Cousin of the Provincial Police Commander, giving him a command job with zero experience, and making him untouchable. The years of American commanders being able to can useless Afghan leaders is long past, now we end up having to deal with them until they eventually get killed, like Azizullah. Azizullah’s station was ran like a fiefdom rather than a police station. His men would go out and rob people, and arrest those who wanted to talk to people about it. He employed a ANP we called ‘Mongo’, easily the biggest Afghan I’ve ever seen, whose sole job it was to beat people with a metal rod, Mongo was used on locals and ANPs alike, anyone who got in the way of Azizullah’s unquestioned rule of his tiny kingdom. A few months before his death Azizullah even ordered his men to draw down weapons on a U.S. convoy who had captured a high valued target, creating a Mexican Stand-Off in the middle of Kandahar, the U.S. kept the target. A soldier in my unit later found a ‘trip wire’ IED an hour after Azizullah claimed to have cleared a road, the IED was powerful enough to have killed most of the members of his patrol.

This also brings me to how he bent an entire Task Force to his will. After about a month of Six telling him he had to work to get any favors from us, Azizullah threatening our lives on multiple occasions, and then none of his ANP ever showing up for work. Azizullah picked up his cell phone and called our ‘Land Owner’ Captain ‘Radio’ and complained to him. Apparently, the word of a corrupt ANP commander is more trustworthy then the word of a respected U.S. Army commissioned officer, because Radio cleaned house. Moving my entire patrol out of his area of control, switching it out with another, just so Azizullah could get his way, letting him effectively tell the U.S. military what to do.

This has been happening all over Afghanistan, in an attempt to legitimize the Afghan security apparatus ISAF has been letting ANP, ANA, ANCOP, and NDS run wild to show that they are operating on their own, even leaving them in charge of whole cities in a attempt to make the pull out date laid out by President Obama. This countries security forces are less in shape to handle the load of control then Iraq’s were, and less than a week after pulling out of that country it’s all falling apart already. The goal of a 2014 pullout is not just insane, it’s impossible, and unless we fix the Azizullah’s of Afghanistan, everything we have worked for will fall apart all over again.

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  1. Alberto
    December 30, 2011 at 1:11 am

    This sounds just like Bagram police station. Worthless, corrupt jackasses.

  2. asian sensation
    December 30, 2011 at 2:02 am

    fuck this place. this is where hypocrisy is born and hope comes to die

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