EU agrees to expand Afghan police training mission

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union ministers agreed on Monday to boost the size of the bloc’s police training mission in Afghanistan as part of efforts to improve security and reconstruction, officials said.

Under the agreement, the bloc will set itself a long-term objective of doubling the size of its current mission to around 400 trainers, according to a statement agreed at a meeting of EU and defense ministers in Brussels.

“Such an increase in the mission size would provide an important additional capacity on the key police reform issues,” a draft of the agreed statement said.

Afghan government officials accept that corruption among security forces is hampering efforts to tackle the huge opium trade, spread the rule of law and rebuild after years of war.

The EU involvement dates back from when Germany took over the training task almost from scratch, starting in August 2002 with three-year courses for officers at the newly reopened Kabul Police Academy.

But its approach has been criticized — particularly in the United States — as being too slow in bringing law and order to a country faced with endemic corruption and Taliban insurgency.

While the EU mission targets high-end training and mentoring, mostly for senior law-enforcement officials, the United States is leading a separate, 1,000-strong training effort covering the national Afghan police and army.

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