Part of the National Directorate of Security's (NDS) elite special forces group, who have been trained in sophisticated counterterrorism and counterinsurgency techniques, have recently been assigned to guard detail for a number of current and former government officials, a move that has garnered heavy criticism from military experts.
For many analysts, the idea of allocating the most limited and valuable of human resources the Afghan security forces have to protect members of the political elite is an egregious and wasteful decision. As the country continues to be embroiled in conflict with the Taliban and other terrorist groups, many argue that not utilizing the best and brightest the Afghan forces have to offer is irresponsible and self-defeating.
"It's the duty of the police, not the NDS, because these are Special Forces and they must prevent attacks, not guard individuals, officials or MPs," military expert General Atiqullah Amarkhail told TOLOnews Thursday.
The NDS, meanwhile, has defended the placement of the special forces soldiers. A spokesman for the Directorate said the decision was based on recent intelligence and orders from national unity government leaders.
"Maintaining the security of high ranking government officials is the duty of the security institutions, especially the Ministry of Interior," NDS spokesman Hassib Sediqi said. "But the NDS is temporarily providing guards or training for personnel to some people who are facing threats."
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) has also defended the move, similarly pointing to what were said to be specific threats the government was aware of thanks to intelligence it had gathered. "Considering the threats that we have identified, we have provided two to four guards and some facilities for political elites and officials," MoI spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said.
According to the officials, at the moment, NDS Special Forces units are providing protection for a number of sitting MPs, as well as former officials, such as Zia-ul-Haq Amarkhail, the former Independent Election Commission (IEC) Secretariat Chief who resigned amid accusations of fraud during the 2014 presidential election.
The NDS Special Forces are considered some of the most highly trained troops in the Afghan security forces, and were developed at high costs to the Afghan government and international donors.