The crackdown is being carried out even though the Afghan Public Protection Force failed to meet any of the six benchmarks that were set out for it when President Hamid Karzai formally announced a plan to ban private security firms by March 20. An assessment team led by the NATO military coalition, which is heavily involved in the creation of the Afghan force, concluded in the fall that the guard force is far from ready to take over.
Diplomats, development experts and company executives worry that the abolition of private security contractors within three months could endanger Afghans and foreigners supporting NATO and its allies, halt reconstruction projects and open new channels for corruption.
The transition is happening at a critical time in the Afghanistan war. As U.S. and allied troops have begun to draw down, there are concerns about how Afghan troops will manage increased security responsibilities. The United Nations recorded an average of 1,995 attacks during the first 11 months of this year, a 21 percent increase compared with the same period last year