What About Those Afghan Militias?
Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) echoed Afghan human rights official Nader Nadery: What prevents the Community Defense Initiative, in which the U.S. backs local paramilitaries, from becoming new and entrenched militias or otherwise contributing to destabilization?
“It’s very important,” Gen. David Petraeus said, “making sure the warlords won’t come back.” Time ran out to answer the question this round, but Petraeus said the Community Defense Initiative “won’t be something akin to the Anbar Awakening in Iraq,” which Nadery and others have worried is too much of a template for much different conditions in Afghanistan. “But what we can do is help. It’s a village-by-village, valley-by-valley effort. And we’re using some of our best Special Forces teams to experiment with this.” That, I think, is the first time we’ve gotten clarification that this is a Joint Special Operations Command program, which raises questions about Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s ability to control the program, since he does not command JSOC forces. But I could have missed something.