Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 25, 2015

U.S. Military: Local Militia Are Bad Unless We Create Them

The U.S. military and the New York Times now rally against local militias in Afghanistan:

Afghans Form Militias and Call on Warlords to Fight Taliban

Facing a fierce Taliban offensive across a corridor of northern Afghanistan, the government in Kabul is turning to a strategy fraught with risk: forming local militias and beseeching old warlords for military assistance, according to Afghan and Western officials.

The effort is expected to eventually mobilize several thousand Afghans from the north to fight against the Taliban in areas where the Afghan military and police forces are losing ground or have had little presence.
Gen. John F. Campbell, the American commander in Afghanistan, said he was skeptical of any plan that involved paying warlords to deploy their men. “I think if they’re looking for people that have volunteered to protect their villages, you know, that’s one thing,” he said. But if the government’s plan involved “going to a warlord and saying, ‘I need to take you, and pay you and move you, and go do something here,’ that’s a completely different thing,” he told reporters on Saturday. “We would not be supportive of that.”

Not one word in the NYT piece mentions that this same tactic, setting up local militia, has been tried and fiercely defended five years ago by the then American commander in Afghanistan:

Petraeus’ First Big Afghanistan Gamble: Militias Local Cops

General David Petraeus has persuaded Karzai to set up a new force to supplement Afghan soldiers and police. It’s not really Anbar Awakening 2.0, since it doesn’t involve insurgents switching sides. And don’t use the M-word, Pentagon officials say. “They would not be militias,” Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told reporters Wednesday. “These would be government-formed, government-paid, government- uniformed local police units.” Specifically, the new units will be paid by the Interior Ministry — or, rather, the foreign money that bankrolls the Afghanistan government will be disbursed to these new units through the ministry.

Stenographed the NYT at that time:

“Our position has been to develop a solution that bridges between having nothing and having Afghan National Police, and this program does that,” said the senior NATO official. “So it’s a good development and especially so since it has consensus within the Afghan government and the ownership that come with that,” he said.

The Afghan local police units the U.S. created in 2010 turned out to be unreliable local warlords who preyed on the civilian population. The new local forces the Afghan government now wants to create will turn out to be likewise but they are currently the only chance to keep the Taliban somewhat away from ruling over bigger chunks of the country.

Today's fierce resistance by the U.S. general against such forces has a certain "not invented by me" feeling. The total amnesia in today's NYT piece of the Petraeus program five years ago underlines that impression. It is like nothing can ever be good or useful unless the U.S. military invents and supports it.

Posted by b on May 25, 2015 at 7:48 UTC | Permalink


For a brief period of time I was embedded within the Afghan government, more or less incognito, as a development consultant. We traveled all over around Kanda Har and out into the provinces doing development surveys and meeting local leaders in a sort of moveable loyal jirga.

After reporting to the Karzai gang who came down to collect rents, at last we climbed into a bullet proofed Toyota for the long high speed ride up the highway of death to Kabul.

Two memories stood out. Leaving Kandahar, an elderly man saw the government vehicle, stood in the road until we stopped, then feebly hacked at the car hood with his brush hook. The guards laughed and guided him gently to the side of the road with a stern look, then we were off at 180kph.

Long long mesmerizing drive, we got to the outskirts of Kabul at dusk, and an Afghan Police roadblock waved us over. We tensed and then the six police raised their kalishnakovs and ordered everyone out of the car. Our driver took off running, but our Soviet War gunner leveled a mean automatic at the police and the shouting began. These were Afghan Police who go rogue after dark and kidnap businessmen and politicians for ransom. They would have killed me.

Fortunately, the government folks had provided a military rear guard, which roared up just at that moment, floodlights blazing, heavy machine gun and two RPGS over the top of the cab.

The AfgHan police dropped their weapons, then we took off, and the driver and guard, and guards behind, were all laughing! They were all in the Soviet War together, rival villages, rival brigades, they thought it was just a big hoot!

So corrupt even Karzai tried to warn US, too corrupt to ever pacify, much less train, so US murdered all the village elders, all the mullahs, strongmen, seed men, irrigation men, destroyed the entire fabric of Afghan society.

"You have destroyed my land, my home and my family. You have taken my livelihood and my dignity. Tell me what it is that you want!?"

Nobody ever answered the old man

Posted by: Chipnik | May 25 2015 8:54 utc | 1

Poverty and despair (or simply meager economic opportunities) foster the conditions wherein it is easy to hire as many mercenaries as are required for any given task. ISIS and the US Military stand as stark examples.

The hypocrisy of US Leaders is readily apparent. Mercenaries are OK only when US hires them - even as recent history reveals the tremendous clusterfuck created thus.

Yinon Plan - most logical explanation for everything MENA.

Posted by: fast freddy | May 25 2015 13:22 utc | 2

Todays NYTs had a small blurb;US and Turkey to protect Syrian rebels with air power.The jig is up.

Posted by: dahoit | May 25 2015 13:23 utc | 3

@3 'Cavusoglu did not go into details...'

Posted by: dh | May 25 2015 14:44 utc | 4

Posted by: dh | May 25, 2015 10:44:14 AM | 4

Thanks for the link. Turks obviously have a good grasp of irony/ graveyard humour.
When US-Occupied Turkey has to dash over to US-Occupied Sth Korea to announce the next exceptionally stupid thing the US wants it to do, someone's getting desperate.
Russia won't just stand idly by if Friends of Obama bomb the SAA.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | May 25 2015 15:55 utc | 5

re 3-4. Sounds like a big move, if it's true. Not that easy to put in action.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 25 2015 15:56 utc | 6

from the yahoo link:

Cavusoglu reiterated that while fighting Islamic State is prioritised, the "regime must also be stopped".

Posted by: okie farmer | May 25 2015 17:49 utc | 7

Saudi F16 shot down in Yemen. Iranian source -

Posted by: Alberto | May 25 2015 18:14 utc | 8
There have been fierce clashes in southern Yemen, reportedly leaving dozens of people dead and wounded.

In the city of Dhalea, militiamen allied to the exiled government have retaken positions from Houthi rebels.

But in Taiz, to the west, the rebels are reported to have pushed back their opponents in heavy street fighting.

Earlier, Yemeni officials said UN-sponsored peace talks that were due to start in Geneva later this week had been postponed indefinitely.

No reason was given, but the government had demanded that the rebels recognise its authority and withdraw from cities they held, before being allowed to participate.

The Security Council resolution calls on the rebels to disarm and withdraw from all areas they have seized. It also demands they resume negotiations on the democratic transition begun in 2011 when the former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, was forced to hand over power following mass protests.

The Houthis are willing to participate in the talks, but they rejected the resolution.

Posted by: okie farmer | May 25 2015 19:12 utc | 10

re 9. The normal British description is Daily Fail. I knew the editor Paul Dacre, when I was a kid. He has become extreme right-wing. It is surprising that he has agreed to publish these photos showing Saudi in a negative light.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 25 2015 19:21 utc | 11

I guess when you got a warlord as Afghnistan vice president in the mass murdering Dostum which the US regeime handpicked, then all pretense of not being a habitual liars left the building years ago.

Posted by: tom | May 25 2015 20:20 utc | 12

Veterans Today writer Gordon Duff*

"Syrian commandos, coming off a series of successful raids against Al Nusra commands, killing and capturing Saudi, Turkish and Qatari officers in the process, had received unimaginably valuable intelligence from a prisoner taken in a raid near Idlib, between Aleppo and the Turkish border. They were told that an American retired general, US Army, had been employed by a UK based CIA contractor as operational commander for the Islamic State military."

source -

*Caveat Gordon Duff has stated in the past that 70% of what he writes is fiction i.i. nog true.

Posted by: Alberto | May 25 2015 20:46 utc | 13

fat fingers today. previous post last line should read ...

70% of what he writes is fiction i.e. not true.

Posted by: Alberto | May 25 2015 21:03 utc | 14

Posted by: guest77 | May 25 2015 23:08 utc | 15


Taxi to the Dark Side

To believe everything is better now, and America is the Exceptional Light on the Hill, can only be considered the mass hallucination of those who claim We Did Not Know.

Posted by: Chipnik | May 26 2015 12:10 utc | 16

@[email protected]

That taxi entered the dark side long ago, and I would bet only a very small percentage of the US ignorant masses know it's been riding the "highway of death" non-stop ever since. Now the empire is ready for Phase 2 of their recent Syraq offensive, a no-fly zone to exercise their R2P taqfiris in Syria, and help protect the territorial gains of their rat hordes. Russia, China and Iran will not allow a no-fly zone over Syria, which may put them in a direct confrontation with Turkey, the US management agent for the taqfiri project, and it may jeopardize the Turkey Stream already in the works. Russia has a vested interest in not allowing a taqfiri victory in Syraq that would endanger their soft belly in the Kavkaz. If the empire's next move is a no-fly zone, let's see what is the reaction from the Axis of Resistance and their allies. S-300?

Posted by: Lone Wolf | May 26 2015 13:46 utc | 17

Now the empire is ready for Phase 2 of their recent Syraq offensive, a no-fly zone to exercise their R2P taqfiris in Syria,

no they're not

They've already established "bombing Syrian Infrastructure" in Western and NW Syria, as the New-Norm, so they don't need no stinkin "No-Fly Zone".

They'll just keep taunting the Syrian Air Force and Air-Defence systems into a reaction so's they can gin up a pretext for "reacting" to Syria "aggression"

Posted by: BoogieKnights | May 26 2015 14:36 utc | 18


sorry, almost forgot!

addendum to 18

    ya gobshyte


all done

Posted by: BoogieKnights | May 26 2015 15:04 utc | 19

@[email protected]

They've already established "bombing Syrian Infrastructure" in Western and NW Syria, as the New-Norm, so they don't need no stinkin "No-Fly Zone".

FYI, the US has been stopped not just once for imposing a no-fly zone over Syria, the Turks this time seem to be hell-bent on an escalation to something akin to a no-fly zone, with the US agreeing "on principle," which means they are mulling about the obstacles, i.e. Russia, not the "principles" (which ones?)

Turkey and US 'agree in principle' to provide air support for Syrian rebels

(...)The US has also refused a Turkish proposal for enforcing a safe area and a no-fly zone in Syria, prompting questions on how trained rebels would be protected when they entered the country.(...)

Posted by: Lone Wolf | May 26 2015 15:43 utc | 20

Day-o, day-ay-ay-o
Defeat come and we wan' cut n run
Day, we say day, we say day, we say day, we say day, we say day-ay-ay-o
Defeat come and we wan' cut n run

Occupy all decade for a Bush's son
(Defeat come and we wan' cut n run)
Whack civilians till kingdom come
(Defeat come and we wan' cut n run)

Come, Mr. Taliban, tally me a ceasefire
(Defeat come and we wan' cut n run)
Come, Mr. Taliban, tally me a ceasefire
(Defeat come and we wan' cut n run)

Day-o ...

Posted by: Some Guy | May 26 2015 19:16 utc | 21

Posted by: Lone Wolf | May 26, 2015 11:43:36 AM | 20

NATO member Turkey isn't going to attack Syria for a very good reason. Doing so would oblige NATO to respond to any retaliatory blowback on Turkey, from Syria. But Syria won't retaliate against any external attack on it - Russia will.

NATO, like the US, is severely handicapped, in the 'courageous' stakes, by its (undeserved) INVINCIBLE myth. Russia can, and would, destroy any NATO asset deployed against Syria. US/NATO simply can't afford to put its reputation at risk for a cause as inconsequential as getting rid of Amerikkka's falsely-accused boogeyman, Assad.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | May 27 2015 5:39 utc | 22


stop it

you're using logic

he won't like it.

Posted by: BK | May 27 2015 6:49 utc | 23

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