So, now the U.S. has a new scheme to battle the Taliban:
“Afghanistan and the United States are mulling the creation of unarmed community guards to help defend against insurgents as troops cannot be deployed in every village, the US ambassador said Tuesday…The forces — which Wood called “community guards” — would be given training, clothing and other supplies, as well as international back-up, so they could respond “with confidence” to insurgents.”
Ah…that will strike fear in the hearts of the Taliban. Unarmed guards. Yes, I’d certainly have confidence facing down some insurgents with a nice uniform and some MREs.
Of course, that line was a couple of weeks ago. The party line now is:
“Mr Wood was adamant the US would not provide any weapons, and would restrict its involvement to supplying uniforms, training and other equipment…But one senior official in the Ministry of the Interior said his department would be in charge of finding suitable weapons, possibly by repairing “old and broken” guns.
At the same time Mohammad Masom Stanekzai, a vice-chairman of Afghanistan’s disarmament organization, said members of the guard forces would be encouraged to supply first their own weapons, which would allow the government to increase the number of weapons that have been officially registered.”
So, you see the U.S. won’t provide guns but perhaps the Ministry of Interior will find a way around that. But fear not:
“He said the defense forces would be under a clear “command and control mechanism” and would be “owned by” the village shuras, or traditional representative councils, which will help to recruit men. “This is not the rearming of militias, because we won’t be handing all the funding to individual militia leaders – that just leads the men to be loyal to the militia leader, not the government.”
Oh, ok. It’s nice to see that someone with some cash and ambition wouldn’t be able to buy off a shura or leap frog over them and buy the loyalty of the militia directly (perhaps through the handing out of weapons?). So we basically rearm militias (Wait for it…you can almost hear the ‘No one could have forseen this.’ nonsense that will spew from the talking heads.) who may or may not fight the insurgents but, in either case, you’re not exactly building institutions of a central government.
Yet another indicator that the U.S. strategy has devolved to a panicked ‘Oh my God! Throw something, something, quick!’
Apparently I’m not the only one with misgivings, however:
“But the Canadian defence minister, Peter MacKay, said: “The tribal militia idea that has been around for some time now is controversial; we are not onboard with that. Our preference is to continue with this more formal training process that leads to a more reliable, more professional soldier and Afghan national security force.” MacKay said the issue had been debated at a meeting of Nato troop contributors in Afghanistan in November and that there was “no agreement around the table on it”. He added: “Not all of the tactics and not all of the decisions made in Iraq are applicable in Afghanistan.”
For a much (much) more informed view on this check out Peter’s blog here, here and here.