Afghan Pro-Government Militias Running Amok

Groups Fuel Local Support for Taliban Resistance

US-subsidized local militias in Afghanistan, dubbed the Afghan Local Police (ALP) even though they by and large have no real connections or oversight from the Afghan or local governments, have been repeatedly touted by NATO and by Afghan leaders as indispensable to the war against the Taliban.

The ALP were praised for being halfway effective fighters, and extremely inexpensive to prop up, but losses in Kunduz are showing what an ill-conceived strategy that has turned out to be, with the forces fueling corruption and propping up local support for the Taliban.

The International Crisis Group dubbed them “cheap but dangerous,” noting that they often act as vigilantes in the best of times, and as guns for hire to the highest bidder in the areas they are expected to “police.” The US special forces monitoring them reported wide-spread bribe-taking and violence against locals.

They’re at least nominally loyal to the US and to provincial-level officials, who are mostly defending the program. The locals they’re abusing and extorting, however, are increasingly supportive of Taliban takeovers of their district if for no other reason than to get rid of the ALP. 14 years into the US occupation, the Taliban is getting more popular in some areas.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.