A Kinda-Sorta ‘Sons of Afghanistan’
Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has put a provision into the next year’s defense authorization — which President Obama will sign today — that gives a thumbs-up to creating a pot of money for distribution to Afghan fighters who renounce the insurgency. It’s a reconciliation measure that Levin explicitly likened to an Iraq program:
It would be “just like the sons of Iraq,” he said, referring to the program used in Iraq which military commanders say helped turn around a failing war. “You got 90,000 Iraqis who switched sides, and are involved in protecting their hometowns against attack and violence.”
OK, distinctions time: the Sons of Iraq was a program that created — or, more accurately, recognized — militias. It gave them money, on some occasions weaponry, and stuff to do. This appears to be just a program to hand out cash. Presumably commanders would have leeway to implement it as they see fit. (Which can be a blessing and a curse. A blessing because commanders would have the flexibility to adjust to their local conditions. A curse because it runs the risk of outpacing broader strategies. Proof will come from what happens on the ground.)
Now, there’s already a tribal-auxiliary militia pilot program happening in Wardak Province, but this appears to be unrelated.