08 October, 2006

Afghanistan Militia

The Times reports that the British army is doing a deal under which the locals in Helmand will take more responsibity for their security. British soldiers, whose static platoon houses have been offering a tempting target for the Taliban, will be withdrawn. Instead,

The districts will be guarded by new auxiliary police made up of local militiamen. They will initially receive $70 (£37) a month, although it is hoped that this will rise to $120 to compete with the $5 per fighting day believed to be paid by the Taliban. “These are the same people who two weeks ago would have been vulnerable to be recruited as Taliban fighters,” said [NATO commander, General David] Richards.
Being on the winning side seems to be the major factor in attracting recruits. The Taliban have been taking heavy losses so have abandoned frontal assaults in favour of their traditional hit and run attacks. General Richards thinks this NATO victory offers an opportunity which must be exploited. NATO now has
" ... a six-month window during which the international community must make visible changes for the people of southern Afghanistan or risk losing everything. Fighting alone is not the solution,” he warned. “We’ve got to win over the 70% of people in southern Afghanistan who are good peasant stock and basically want security and the means to feed their families. If it’s only fighting they see ahead of them for the next five years, chances are that they will say well, we’d rather have the Taliban and all that comes with it."

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