The Afghan government and its international partners are struggling to bolster the country’s security forces, fighting the twin problems of boosting the numbers of the national army and trying to disband illegal armed groups.
Yet, an unmonitored, unregulated and unauthorized force is on the streets, not just under the noses of authorities but also hired and legitimized by those working on building the security sector.
As many as 28,000 armed personnel are hired by private security companies (PSCs), which have been operating as a lucrative business in Afghanistan since the US-led invasion to oust the Taliban in 2001, providing protection to foreigners and elite Afghans, guarding institutions, homes and individuals.
The number of armed contractors is more than half the Afghan National Army, which is estimated at between 35,000 to 50,000, and could be larger if the numbers of “irregular” forces are added to the ranks of legal contractors. [complete article]