For Afghan Villagers, US-Created Militias Scarier Than Taliban

Armed Factions Effectively Rule Villages Through Force

With the Afghan National Army and police mostly confined to the big cities, the US decided to try to copy the Iraq Awakening Forces model in the countryside, creating small, but well-funded and heavily-armed militias.

It went just as badly as you’d expect, with villagers in several places around the country complaining to a recent UN inquiry that the militias are far more terrifying than the Taliban were.

Small villages would rarely see the Taliban, and their calls for allegiance were largely theoretical. The US-backed militias, by contrast, are small and designed to stay in single villages 24-7.

While they were only supposed to be a makeshift security mechanism, the large amounts of weaponry they have has in many cases made them de facto rulers over villages, able to enforce their will through beatings and rape as the situation suits, and get away with it.

The Afghan Local Police program was the biggest effort at creating such forces, and has been rife with complaints. Even smaller programs for smaller villages, however, have gone far beyond even the ALP atrocities, and routinely carry out interrogations and summary executions.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of