UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Engagement, partnership, or security? clarifying the role of community policing in Afghanistan’s counterinsurgency Claybo, Daniel Bryan


Current counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine in Afghanistan portrays community engagement and ‘winning over’ local villages as the key to COIN success. With the ongoing withdrawal of Coalition troops, strategy has increasingly emphasized the training of local security forces capable of engaging and gaining the support of Afghan communities while protecting them from the insurgent threat. This strategy draws on the principles of community policing but neither articulates them clearly nor implements them in accordance with policing experience. COIN is inherently ‘outcome-driven’ and thus is difficult to reconcile with the ‘process-oriented’ community policing approach. If community policing is to be utilized as an effective COIN engagement strategy, policing lessons must be integrated into COIN doctrine to overcome the challenges and conflicting priorities common to both efforts. I argue that three community policing lessons are particularly relevant to current COIN policy in Afghanistan. The militarization of the Afghan National Police, the ‘localizing’ of community policing arrangements, and the COIN approach to Afghan youth and children should be reconsidered in light of the experiences and research of community policing. I use a comparative case study of the COIN during the Troubles in Northern Ireland to highlight how these policies interfere with community engagement and require a clearer division of labour when pursuing COIN and community policing priorities. Community policing does not offer a solution to the challenges of community engagement during insurgency but integrating the two fields allows strategic expectations to align with the realistic limitations and possibilities of engaging communities through policing.

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