US Hopes Iraq-Style Militias Can Bring Victory in Afghanistan

Can the US Really Buy Victory With a $24-a-Month Food Allowance?

Hoping to come up with something, anything, that might turn the tide in the ever worsening Afghan war, the US is hoping to import the concept of Awakening Council-style militias to the nation as a way of shoring up the precarious security situation in the nation.

The US is careful to insist this strategy is somewhat different from the one in Iraq, for one thing the mercenaries, called “Guardians” earn less than half what a Awakening Forces member got. But Afghan officials fear it amounts to little more than arming the factions of warlords and setting up future problems for the government.

It’s not hard to see why. Though the US has maintained the Awakening Council was a great success, the group has had a stormy relationship, to say the least, with the Iraqi government and disputes between the two groups have often turned violent.

And while the US insists the Taliban are “nervous” about the strategy, it hints of more than a little desperation by Western forces who have been unable, in eight years, to train the Afghan military into anything remotely capable of taking the insurgency on. If nearly a decade and billions of dollars couldn’t build a meaningful pro-West military in Afghanistan, what do they imagine people with three weeks training working on the promise of a $24-a-month food allowance will be able to accomplish?

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of