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Brig. Gen. Roger Turner, the commanding general for Task Force Southwest, greets British Army Maj. Gen. Charles Herbert, the Resolute Support senior advisor to the Minister of Interior, at Bastian Airfield, Afghanistan, Sept. 11, 2017. The purpose of the visit for the Afghan Minister of Interior was an introduction to the leadership of 505th Zone National Police and an opportunity to meet some of the MOI forces at Bost Airfield. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Lucas Hopkins)

Photo by Sgt. Lucas Hopkins

Money and Power: Counter-Corruption tactics are intensified in Helmand Province

19 Sep 2017 | Sgt. Justin Updegraff II Marine Expeditionary Force

“A former U.S. Army commander was talking with a minister, and the minister frankly told him, ‘If you come out to Helmand for six months, you’ll be set for life,’” said a law enforcement advisor with Task Force Southwest. “I mean that says it right there. When people who are in power stay here for six months and can be financially stable for the rest of their lives, corruption is intolerable.”

The Minister of Interior for Afghanistan, Wais Ahmad Barmak, and the Resolute Support senior advisor to the MOI, British Army Maj. Gen. Charles Herbert, visited Bost Airfield, Afghanistan, Sept. 11, 2017. They discussed improvements to various supply processes as well as what can be done to combat the high level of corruption in Helmand Province with Afghan National Defense and Security Force key leaders.

“There are a lot of people engaged in corruption, from the lower level of the [Afghan National Defense and Security Forces], a private, all the way up to a General,” said Brig. Gen. Daud Ghulam Tarakhel, the commanding general of the 505th Zone National Police. “The privates are getting encouraged by their senior commanders to take the money from the drivers and from the different groups, as well as even the local population.”

Due to the high level of corruption, it causes a ripple effect of trust issues amongst the government and the local populace.

“If government officials, or soldiers within ANDSF, are conducting corrupt activities, the people will not trust them,” said Tarakhel. “For example, we retook the Nawa District but [some of] the people won’t return or go to the district due to corruption.”

Some personnel have been caught and prosecuted for their crimes of corruption. These crimes vary from drug trafficking, bribes and the selling of government equipment or supplies for personal gain.

“We’re looking at a situation right now where one guy is a highly placed police “manager” who is influenced by drug money,” said the law enforcement advisor. “He passes some of that money off to a person who is a representative in the national government, and if he gets in trouble, he just goes to the person in the national government and he gets him out of trouble for a slice of the pie.”

According to the law enforcement advisor, there is a movement on the part of coalition forces to correct some of the deficiencies created by the corruption that being seen nowadays, and more investigators are being brought in.

“We receive reports of corruption and funnel it up to these investigators who are tasked with putting as much of the story as they can together,” said the law enforcement advisor. “That information is turned over to MOI major crimes investigators and they come out and complete investigations, turn the suspects, suspect information and evidence over to a prosecutor and are tried on a national basis.”

Tarakhel says that the government’s vision against corruption is clear. They have a counter-corruption court to fight against corruption. As for the 505th Zone, they are trying to introduce the corrupt individuals to the court by uncovering the individuals and beginning an investigation on them.

“Corruption is the same anywhere you go. The public will not trust you if they know you’re corrupt,” said a counter-corruption advisor with Task Force Southwest. “That’s why it’s so important to implement the rule of law concept, where you have one enforcing body that enforces the rules or laws, and its equally enforced to everybody, whether you’re the president of Afghanistan or a private in the Army. If you just do the right thing and enforce the law equally, you’ll get that trust and you’ll get the people on your side.”

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