Afghanistan — Karzai Approves Plan to Keep Taliban Out of Villages

WASHINGTON, July 14, 2010 — Afghan Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai has approved a pro­gram that will set up local police forces in towns and vil­lages where the Tal­iban are attempt­ing to infil­trate and intim­i­date the pop­u­la­tion.

The local police forces will bridge the gap until ful­ly trained gov­ern­ment forces can step in, Pen­ta­gon Press Sec­re­tary Geoff Mor­rell said at a news con­fer­ence today.

“While we are simul­ta­ne­ous­ly oper­at­ing at a far high­er tem­po and degrad­ing the Tal­iban so they are less of a threat to these local com­mu­ni­ties, we can uti­lize a will­ing, local, armed pop­u­la­tion to do com­mu­ni­ty polic­ing,” Mor­rell said.

The local police forces are not mili­tias, Mor­rell explained. Karzai approved a plan to put up to 10,000 com­mu­ni­ty police in place, to be paid by the gov­ern­ment and to oper­ate under the con­trol of the Afghanistan’s inte­ri­or min­istry.

“This is about putting locals to work, so that they can be on watch in their com­mu­ni­ties for peo­ple who should­n’t be there, and then work with the estab­lished secu­ri­ty orga­ni­za­tions – the [Afghan] army, the police, the coali­tion – to make sure they don’t men­ace their com­mu­ni­ties,” Mor­rell said.

Though the pre­ferred solu­tion in the coun­try is a ful­ly trained police force, a Defense Depart­ment offi­cial speak­ing on back­ground said, “the recent dis­cus­sion and deci­sion is an encour­ag­ing sign of Afghan offi­cials tak­ing seri­ous, detailed inter­est in both their short-term secu­ri­ty needs and the long-term sus­tain­abil­i­ty of secu­ri­ty pro­grams.”

Offi­cials said exam­ples of Afghan vil­lagers band­ing togeth­er to deny the Tal­iban access to their towns have been encour­ag­ing.

“We clear­ly have seen exam­ples of local com­mu­ni­ties repelling attempts by the Tal­iban to infil­trate and intim­i­date their com­mu­ni­ties,” Mor­rell said. “We have also, though, seen exam­ples where there are com­mu­ni­ties that may not have stepped up in that demon­stra­ble a way, but clear­ly want to and are look­ing for help in doing so.”

Since June 1, the Tal­iban have killed 89 per­cent of the civil­ians killed in Afghanistan. Mor­rell point­ed out that if the coali­tion and Afghan gov­ern­ment forces kill civil­ians, it is inad­ver­tent. “By con­trast, we know that the Tal­iban [are] delib­er­ate­ly tar­get­ing civil­ians,” he said. “And they are doing so at an increas­ing­ly high rate.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)