Afghanistan's Local War

Afghanistan's Local War: Building Local Defense Forces

Seth G. Jones
Arturo Muñoz
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 114
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  • Book Info
    Afghanistan's Local War
    Book Description:

    In Afghanistan, local communities have played a critical role in security, especially in rural areas. Afghan national security forces are important to the top-down strategy, but the Afghan government and NATO forces also need to leverage local communities to gain a complementary bottom-up strategy. This analysis discusses the viability of establishing local security forces in Afghanistan and addresses concerns about the wisdom of such policies.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-5080-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Figures and Table
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Executive Summary
    (pp. ix-xii)
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  7. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  8. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    In 2001, the United States led a successful insurgency against the Taliban government, reaching out to Tajik and Uzbek forces in northern and western Afghanistan, Hazara forces in the center, and Pashtun forces in the east and south. By 2002, however, the Taliban and other groups began to conduct initial offensive operations against NATO forces and the newly established Afghan government. The United States soon found itself in the unenviable position of waging a counterinsurgency. In barely a year, U.S. forces had shifted from operating as insurgents to counterinsurgents. By 2010, the insurgency had deepened. U.S. GEN Stanley McChrystal’s assessment...

  9. CHAPTER TWO The Challenge: Protecting the Population
    (pp. 5-14)

    Successful counterinsurgency requires protecting the local population and gaining its support—or at least acquiescence. Both insurgents and counterinsurgents need the support of the population to win. “The only territory you want to hold,” one study concluded, “is the six inches between the ears of thecampesino.”¹ British General Sir Frank Kitson argued that the population is a critical element in counterinsurgency operations: “[T]his represents the water in which the fish swims.”² Kitson borrowed the reference to the water and fish from one of the 20th century’s most successful insurgents, Chinese leader Mao Tse-Tung. Mao wrote that there is an...

  10. CHAPTER THREE Local Dynamics and Community Policing
    (pp. 15-32)

    While some have argued that the insurgency cuts across multiple ethnic groups in Afghanistan, it is primarily being waged in rural Pashtun areas.¹ The Taliban and other groups have co-opted and coerced some Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazaras, and others. But it is not a coincidence that all the major insurgent groups are Pashtun, from Mullah Mohammad Omar’s Taliban to the Haqqani network and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-i-Islami. This reality makes it important to understand the social, cultural, political, and economic structures in Pashtun society. This chapter begins by examining the local nature of power in Afghanistan (especially in Pashtun areas), then outlines...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR An Analysis of Community Policing
    (pp. 33-54)

    How effective have local defense forces been in Afghanistan and the region? Tribal and other local forces have been used throughout the history of Afghanistan and Pakistan, yet there is little systematic understanding of their effectiveness. In some cases, they have been effective in establishing order, as during the Musahiban dynasty. In other cases, they have contributed to instability, as in the early 1990s. But what factors have contributed to stability and instability? This chapter briefly examines the use of local forces since 1880. We argue that local forces have been most effective in establishing order when the central government...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE Organizing Local Defense Forces
    (pp. 55-72)

    We define alocal defense forceas a traditional, community-based group composed of local civilians who police their own communities against insurgents and criminals. They are small, village-level, defensive, and under the control of local shuras or jirgas. In many cases, these patrols should be organized within the existing tribal system. Where the tribal system has broken down, the Afghan government should work with the legitimate local institutions to establish local defense forces.

    Although a primary function of arbakai and similar institutions is community policing, their members are not generally full-time policemen and do not have the legal powers of...

  13. CHAPTER SIX Mitigating Risks
    (pp. 73-86)

    Effectively leveraging local communities should significantly improve counterinsurgency prospects. First, it can facilitate mobilization of the population against insurgents, as has already occurred in parts of southern Afghanistan through the Village Stability Platform. The support of the population is the sine qua non of victory in counterinsurgency warfare, especially mobilizing locals to fight insurgents, provide information on their location and movement, and deny insurgent sanctuary in their areas.¹ As Stathis Kalyvas concludes in his wide-ranging study of insurgencies, the formation of local self-defense programs “is an essential part of counterinsurgency efforts” to organize communities. While the

    members may be focused...

  14. About the Authors
    (pp. 87-88)
  15. References
    (pp. 89-98)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. None)