Afghanistan's Local War: Building Local Defense Forces by Seth G. Jones

By Seth G. Jones

In Afghanistan, neighborhood groups have performed a severe position in defense, in particular in rural parts. Afghan nationwide safety forces are very important to the topdown procedure, however the Afghan executive and NATO forces additionally have to leverage neighborhood groups to achieve a complementary bottomup process. This research discusses the viability of building neighborhood safeguard forces in Afghanistan and addresses issues concerning the knowledge of such guidelines.

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35 Schmeidl and Karokhail, “The Role of Non-State Actors,” p. 324. 36 While each arbakai has a clear leader, they are accountable to the council (jirga or shura) that created the arbakai, as well as to the community. In sum, their loyalty is to their communities, not to an individual leader. 37 The responsibility of any specific arbakai differs from one tribe to another, although they do have common tasks and duties: • Implement the jirga’s decisions. • Maintain law and order. 38 The central government normally cannot convene arbakai because that is the purview of the jirgas.

Most outside forces are unlikely to remain for the duration of any counterinsurgency, at least as a major combatant force. 26 Most domestic populations tire of engaging their forces in struggles overseas, as even the Soviet population did in Afghanistan in the 1980s. In addition, a population may interpret a large foreign presence as an 24 See, for example, ABC, BBC, and ARD, “Afghanistan: Where Things Stand,” poll, January 2010; ABC, BBC, and ARD, “Afghanistan: Where Things Stand,” poll, 2009.

Moreover, it would be a mistake to dismiss the overarching tribal identity—such as a Durrani or Ghilzai—because it remains important for some Pashtuns. There are also a variety of ethnic groups in Afghanistan. Both a tribe and an ethnic group may claim a common ancestry, history, language, and culture. However, ethnic groups—often formed by a past amalgamation of tribes—lack a tribal structure. For instance, ethnic groups usually do not have councils of elders making decisions for the group. Most importantly, the self-identity of an ethnic group is much larger in scope, although ethnic groups have clans and extended families.

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