Back to the Future: U.S. to Arm Afghan Militias
Posted on Dec 23, 2008
Because it worked out so well the last time, the U.S. plans to arm Afghan militias in an effort to police the country. The Pentagon is presenting this plan—and the media are reporting it—as a spinoff of a successful strategy from Iraq, not a revival of the secret war that gave rise to Osama bin Laden and the Taliban.
New York Times:
The formation of Afghan militias comes on the heels of a similar undertaking in Iraq, where 100,000 Sunni gunmen, many of them former insurgents, have been placed on the government payroll. The Awakening Councils, as they are known, are credited by American officials as one of the main catalysts behind the steep reduction in violence there.
But the plan is causing deep unease among many Afghans, who fear that Pashtun-dominated militias could get out of control, terrorize local populations and turn against the government. The Afghan government, aided by the Americans, has carried out several ambitious campaigns since 2001 to disarm militants and gather up their guns. A proposal to field local militias was defeated in the Afghan Senate in the fall.
Then-U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson of “Charlie Wilson’s War” helped raise billions to put weapons in the hands of the mujahedeen, an experiment that didn’t work out so well for his homeland.