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30 April 2010

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Colonel -

To be fair, there were three other concerns raised contra this village militia initiative:

- the militias will feed the return of warlordism and feed tribal rivalries other regional powers, e.g. Pakistan ISI and Iran, etc. will respond
by funding rival tribes

- the US will have to keep paying them indefinitely, since the Afghan Government lacks its own resources; these groups, left unpaid, are likely to return to banditry/drug trade

- the local militias will hinder long term plans to have the Afghan National Army have the monopoly of force

Afghans have bad memories of these sorts of lashkars, since the Soviets used the same strategy and it basically turbo-charged tribal and ethnic conflicts. This sort of strategy was how the British held the frontier in the days of Gunga Din - hard to believe we are replicating that again now.

Let's say we run with this short-sighted approach and develop some solid local groups loyal to their US paymasters. Who wants to bet, once US troops draw down, these folks will not be left holding the bag? Chances are we end up with new Montagnards who in 5-6 years time will need resettling in Wisconsin.

I hate to sound pessimistic. But I think State Department has the right approach if you want to have a government of some kind in Kabul. If that doesn't work, these lashkars aren't going to fill the void.

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