US Will Finance Afghan Militias

Local security strategy echoes Iraq counterinsurgency strategy
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 23, 2008 11:51 AM CST
Afghan militiamen help police to fight against Taliban in the remote village.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The US will begin funding local militias throughout Afghanistan, an effort to re-create the successful counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq, the Wall Street Journal reports. “Afghanistan historically has been known as a country where local communities took care of themselves,” explained the US ambassador. “The way to counter the Taliban today is to make the communities stronger.”

The move is controversial. Canada’s defense minister called it “counterproductive,” and Afghan President Hamid Karzai vetoed a similar earlier proposal, fearing the militias would fall under local warlords’ control. In a shift from backing Karzai’s beleaguered central government, the US will pay, but not arm, established outfits. “The honest truth,” said one official, “is that these guys don't need us to give them guns.”