Despite History of Abuse, Afghan Officials See Militias as Key to Taliban Fight

Officials Hope to Add Thousands of New 'Local Police'

Despite their official-sounding name, the Afghan Local Police (ALP) are not proper police and don’t undergo any police training. Rather, they are a loose collection of militias, initially bankrolled by the US, on the notion that non-Taliban forces would help defend more remote areas from the Taliban.

This hasn’t worked well, by and large. ALP groups have been reported to be on the take when the Taliban need to move through areas, and more often than not, the areas dominated by the ALP have seen abuses committed by the ALP itself, extorting locals and violently participating in long-standing family disputes, using their nominal government imprimatur to do so with impunity.

But still, ALP forces have occasionally fought off the Taliban, and even if the successes are few and far between, the increasingly desperate Afghan government seeks to dramatically expand the ALP program, seeing it as their last real hope to stem the latest Taliban offensives.

Complaints about ongoing ALP abuses were dismissed by Afghan officials who present this as a “matter of survival” for the Afghan government, and are talking adding thousands of new members to these various subsidized militias, with little to no vetting.

European NATO nations are expressing concern about the planned expansion too, saying they don’t want to “invest in anything that even remotely resembles the ALP.”  It’s unclear, then, who will be paying for this expansion, though the US is probably the most obvious choice, as they’ve endorsed the program repeatedly and seemed least concerned about the reports of abuses.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.