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Afghan ‘Community Defense Initiative’ Reigned In?

After last month’s marathon Afghanistan-Pakistan Congressional hearings with Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, I noted an unanswered question:

**What will stop the Community Defense Initiative from yielding militias and warlords? **McChrystal professed, a lot, to awareness of the hazards of partnering with local militias outside the bounds of the Afghan army and police. But he didn’t explain how he’d mitigate those risks.

According to the Washington Post, the risks can be mitigated primarily by bringing the program more firmly under the control of the central government:

U.S. Embassy and Afghan officials are working to modify the program, called Local Defense Initiatives, to ensure that the Afghan government plays a more central role in how it is run. “We are committed to doing this right, and that means taking the time for the Afghan government and people to decide on whether and how to move ahead,” said Philip Kosnett, the U.S. Embassy’s political-military counselor in Kabul. …

“Our level of intelligence is so lacking,” said an adviser to the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan. “We could be supporting people whose interests are not what we think they are.” Eikenberry has argued that without Afghan government support, the program could be quickly disbanded if one of the village security forces is turned by the Taliban or gets into a dispute with government security forces.

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