Afghan Militias Bolstered, But Officials Unclear Who’s in Charge

Local Militias Are Guns for Hire to the Highest Bidder

As Taliban offensives spread across northern Afghanistan, the Afghan government and some in the NATO occupation leadership are turning to the age-old strategy of propping up local militia forces in important towns, in the hopes that they will be allies against the Taliban.

Much of the country is set up this way already, with the Afghan Local Police neither police nor in many cases particularly local, but just US-funded militias which run the shots in towns and villages across the country. The problem is, when the Taliban isn’t in the immediate vicinity, they are guns for hire to the highest bidders.

Even when they’re in the employ of the government and its allies, such militias do things their own way, which usually means wholesale human rights violations. That’s the best case, too, since often the groups decide to go into business for themselves with even bigger atrocities.

Some US commanders are expressing growing concern about this trend, with no idea what the end-game strategy is on the militia. They may be convenient now, but with no one really in charge of these groups, they could wind up being another huge problem, above and beyond the endless insurgency.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.