The FBI style forensic academy is scheduled to be handed over to Afghan control by the end of 2013.
Afghan officers are being trained in methods such as DNA profiling and fingerprint analysis which are staples of British or American detective work and crime shows, but alien to Afghanistan's rough and ready policing.
The race to train Afghans in techniques which could catch Taliban bombers as well as other criminals comes as the Nato coalition has begun withdrawing tens of thousands of soldiers from the country.
The coalition has around 200 of its own forensic experts in seven military laboratories, gathering evidence from insurgent suspects, homemade bombs and mobile phones found on the battlefield.
When these laboratories scale back, the Afghans will be left with virtually no ability to gather or interpret forensic evidence themselves.
Lt Col Syed Rahmatullah Qureshi, the Afghan police's chief forensic expert, estimated only 40 of his officers had ever received any training. Much of that was learned more than 20 years ago from Soviet advisers and was now outdated, or forgotten."We have seen many wars, all the laboratories have lost all their equipment," said Lt Col Qureshi, who is a fingerprint expert himself.
The American solution is the Afghan Criminal Techniques Academy, a plain-looking $1.3 million (£830,000) single storey block beside the sprawling Bagram airfield north of Kabul.
Inside the academy, experts from laboratories, police departments and sheriffs' offices across America are trying to train up Afghan technicians who can then go on to train their colleagues.
Classes include ballistics, to compare bullets and weapons, DNA evidence gathering, crime-scene photography, fingerprinting and how to extract data from mobile phones and computers.
"We are using the same type of equipment and the same techniques we would use ourselves," said Paula Clifton, who has 23 years' experience working in US DNA labs.
Those picked to receive training first are largely science graduates of Afghan universities who have been reassigned from other police departments.
The Afghan police at present have little reputation for detective work. More than 85 per cent of patrolmen are estimated to be illiterate and corruption remains a widespread problem.
Their ranks have grown quickly as a paramilitary force to support the army against the Taliban and guard government positions, rather than catch criminals. More than five policemen a day are currently killed in insurgency violence.
Within minutes of major terrorist attacks ending, policemen can usually be seen swarming over the scene hunting for souvenirs and posing for victory pictures, rather than preserving the crime scene.
The American commanders behind the academy admit the scale of their job.
"We're not trying to give them the FBI all at once," said Rear Admiral James Crawford, who has led the coalition's efforts to bolster the Afghan justice system.
The academy is alongside the court where suspected insurgents held at Bagram face trial. An American prosecution adviser said around half of those cases included forensic evidence, usually fingerprints or traces of explosives. The fingerprints of one bomb maker were found on more than 20 different devices.
Outside the heavily US-mentored Bagram court however, Afghan judges and prosecutors rarely make use of forensic evidence. Most cases are settled by confessions, which defendants often say are forced.
The forensic academy is scheduled to be handed over to Afghan control by the end of 2013.
Asian Defence News