WASHINGTON — The local security forces approved Wednesday in Afghanistan to fight the Taliban are a "temporary solution" because there is not enough police in the country, said a Pentagon spokesman.
"This is a temporary solution to a very real, near-term problem," said Geoff Morrell.
"This would just be a stop-gap measure because we do not have enough police forces to provide security in a lot of populated areas while we are growing the ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) on target," he added.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai's office said Wednesday it approved the establishment of a grass-roots security forces, called the Local Police Force, akin to controversial village militias, that will come under the direct control of the interior ministry.
US special forces in Afghanistan have already been assisting villagers organize for their own protection against the Taliban, the top US general in southern Afghanistan, Ben Hodges, told AFP.
Morrell said the local defense program supported by US General David Petraeus, commander of all foreign forces in Afghanistan, "would be local community policing units, they would not be militias," unlike Iraq's Sahwas (Anbar awakening) militias.
Established in September 2006, the Sahwas are made up of former Sunni insurgents retrained to fight Al-Qaeda. They have been crucial for the allied counter-insurgency campaign and have contributed to a gradual decrease in violence in Iraq.
Morrell said however that the Afghan local forces "would be government formed, government paid, government uniformed local police units who would keep an eye out for bad guys in their neighborhoods."
Media reports have said that Karzai had opposed the local forces plan because of its potential to weaken his government.
Afghanistan's communist government of the 1980s poured money into tribal forces because its own security structures were unable to defeat an Afghan uprising against the 1979 Soviet invasion.
Some of these factions grew into powerful forces that later battled each other for control of the government in a devastating civil war that ended only with the Taliban's seizure of power in 1996.
Overthrown by a post-9/11, US-led invasion in 2001, the Taliban have intensified their insurgency over the past two years, spreading to nearly all corners of Afghanistan despite the presence of 142,000 international troops.
US President Barack Obama has said he wants to begin drawing down troops in the middle of next year, creating a timetable for the Afghan security forces to be able to take responsibility from the foreign forces.
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »