Afghanistan's Local War: Building Local Defense Forces
RAND NATIONAL DEFENSE RESEARCH INST SANTA MONICA CA
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Afghan and NATO officials have increasingly focused on protecting the local population as the linchpin of defeating the Taliban and other insurgent groups. Certain steps are important to achieving this objective, such as building competent Afghan national security forces, reintegrating insurgents, countering corruption, and improving governance. This document focuses on a complementary step leveraging local communities, especially the use of traditional policing institutions, such as arbakai, chagha, and chalweshtai, to establish security and help mobilize rural Afghans against the Taliban and other insurgents. Effectively leveraging local communities should significantly improve counterinsurgency prospects. Gaining the support of the population-especially mobilizing locals to fight insurgents, providing information on their locations and movements, and denying insurgent sanctuary in their areas-is the sine qua non of victory in counterinsurgency warfare. By tapping into tribes and other communities where grassroots resistance already exists, local defense forces can help mobilize communities simultaneously across multiple areas. The goal should be to help cause a cascade or tip, in which momentum against the Taliban becomes unstoppable. In 2010, a growing number of communities in Kandahar, Helmand, Paktia, Herat, Paktika, Day Kundi, and other provinces mobilized and fought against insurgents. These cases present significant opportunities for counterinsurgency efforts in Afghanistan.
- Unconventional Warfare