Security Conferences & Seminars

Security Firms by State

Security Firms

Locksmith Resources



Law Enforcement

Security Information

Security Equipment

Personal Security

Travel Security

Homeland Defense


How To Volunteer



Afghanistan War
Village Security, Local Defense, Local Police, and Tribal Strategy in Afghan War

Info Net

Home > Afghanistan War News > Village Security and Local Defense

Found on this web page are a number of news articles and publications about village security and local defense initiatives that have been started in Afghanistan in an effort to provide security to rural and remote areas of Afghanistan.  These programs include the Afghanistan National Auxiliary Police (ANAP), Community Outreach, Afghan Public Protection Program (AP3), Community Defense Initiative (CDI), Local Defense Initiative (LDI), Village Stability Operations (VSO), Afghan Local Police (ALP), and others. 

The programs came about due to frustration with the slow progress of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) at the national level, logistical problems within the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior, corruption of national, provincial, and district leaders, bureaucratic infighting, and the changing strategy of counterinsurgency over the past few years.  These programs hope to leverage the concept of arbakai - which is a tribal based community policing system - that is found in areas of Afghanistan.

Some programs are no longer in effect (I.e. Community Defense Initiative, Local Defense Initiative, etc.) due to politics within the United States military and diplomatic community, opposition of some entities of the Afghan government, lack of funding, divergent views on the use of 'militias', or because the programs simply did not work well.  Some programs were developed as pilot projects and then transitioned into a new program.

The long-term success of these local bottom-up approaches depend on a number of things going right in Afghanistan.  One important factor is the ability of the Department of State to field personnel as a part of the "civilian surge" that will work in the District Support Teams in conjunction with the U.S. military.  The District Support Teams can assist in the Village Stability Program efforts tying the district headquarters into the rural villages so that services such as justice, law, order, security, and development are provided.

Info on Specific Programs Detailed on This Page

Afghanistan National Auxiliary Police (ANAP)
Afghan Public Protection Program (AP3)
Community Defense Initiative (CDI)
Local Defense Initiative (LDI)
Village Stability Operations (VSO)
Afghan Local Police (ALP)

Footnotes and References
Publications and Documents on Village Security

News Articles about Village Security and Local Defense

October 27, 2011.  "Afghan Local Police: when the solution becomes the problem". The AFPAK Channel, Foreign Policy.

October 23, 2011.  "Special Forces training Afghan police".  The Examiner.

October 19, 2011.  "Bad Guys vs. Worse Guys in Afghanistan".  by Luke Mogelson, The New York Times.  Article on Afghan Local Police (ALP).

February 25, 2011.  "Is U.S. Legitimizing Warlords and Criminals in Afghanistan".  AllGov.

February 19, 2011.  "Turning the Tide".  DVIDS - CJSOTF-A Media Operations Center.

January 4, 2011.  "Reintegrated Taliban fighters allowed to join local police units".  Stars and Stripes.

December 15, 2010.  "Taliban Extend Reach to North, Where Armed Groups Reign".  The New York Times.

December 8, 2010.  "NMCB 3's DET 4 Strengthens Afghanistan Partnership".  Navy.mil.

December 7, 2010.  "Pakistani anti-Taliban militias offer lessons for U.S. in Afghanistan". The Washington Post.

December 1, 2010.  "COIN Leadership Course Students Gain Insight about VSO".  NTM-A Blog.

November 23, 2010.  "Into Talbian Territory: The Beginnings of the Tarbuz Guzar Militia".  Radio Free Europe.

November 19, 2010.  "Quick fixes won't aid Afghan civilians".  Politico.

November 7, 2010.  "Second Afghan Local Police course graduates in Paktiya".  DVIDS.

October 27, 2010.  "ANA Special Forces Team incredible".  Outside the Wire.

October 27, 2010.  "Neighborhood watch gaining foothold in Marjah".  Stars and Stripes.

October 24, 2010.  "A Comprehensive Approach to Local Engagement in Afghanistan".  Furey, Small Wars Journal.

October 19, 2010.  "U.S. seeks a larger village police force in Afghanistan".  Los Angeles Times.

October 19, 2010.  "Enclaves of Optimism".  Afghanistan Analysts Network.

October 19, 2010.  "Officials aim to establish Afghan local police force by March".  Los Angeles Times.

October 18, 2010.  "Karzai says he will back locally based forces".  Marine Corps Times.

October 8, 2010.  "Canada considers militarizing Afghan villagers".  The Globe and Mail.

September 30, 2010.  "The Village Engagement Center".  Small Wars Journal.

August 26, 2010.  "Wardak security improves with AP3".  CJTF-101.

August 23, 2010.  "Afghan police force scrutinized".  UPI.com.

August 18, 2010.  "Afghan Local Police Initiative Approved for Village Protection".  NTM-A CSTC-A.

August 12, 2010.  "Afghanistan's 'Militia' Problem: Can Local Defense Forces Replace Private Security Firms".  The Jamestown Foundation.

July 28, 2010.  "Going Small: The Local Defense Initiative".  Fire Dog Lake.

July 28, 2010.  "Shura Plots Course for Village Security in Panjwa'i District".  ISAF News Release.

July 28, 2010.  "Afghanistan Needs Local Politics, not Local Militias".  World Politics Review.

July 27, 2010.  "Viewpoint: Why Afghans fear village defence forces".  BBC.

July 26, 2010.  "Local Communities in Afghanistan Can Play Crucial Role in Improving Security".  By Seth Jones and Arturo Munoz, RAND Corporation.

July 26, 2010.  "After gains in Gizab, Afghan villagers seek local defense in Uruzgan".  USASOC News Service.

July 22, 2010.  "Community police program a key to Afghanistan security".  The Florida Times-Union.

July 22, 2010.  "Village Stability Leads to Security Gains and Development in Adirah".  ISAF Facebook.

July 21, 2010.  "Afghan Village Force: Moving Forward".  Hekmat Karzai, East West Institute.

July 21, 2010.  "Program has Afghans as first line of defense".  Sean Naylor, Army Times.

July 21, 2010.  "Going old school: U.S. Army Special Forces Return to the Villages".  The AFPAK Channel, Foreign Policy.

July 16, 2010.  "The U.S. Goes Local in Anti-Taliban Fight". Time.

July 15, 2010.  "Afghanistan to get Dad's Army-style defence force".  Telegraph.

July 15, 2010.  "Afghan President Karzai approves plan for local defense forces".  The Washington Post.

July 15, 2010.  "Can Local Militias Save Afghanistan?"  The Atlantic Wire.

July 15, 2010.  "Karzai says he will back locally based forces".  Army Times.

July 14, 2010.  "Karzai Approves Plan to Keep Taliban Out of Villages".  DoD News Release.

July 14, 2010.  "Afghans to Form Local Forces to Fight Taliban".  The New York Times.

July 14, 2010.  "Petraeus Considers Expanding Afghan Village Forces".  NPR.

July 12, 2010.  "U.S. and Afghanistan Debate More Village Forces".  The New York Times.

July 10, 2010.  "Gen. Petraeus runs into resistance from Karzai over village defense forces".  The Washington Post.

July 10, 2010.  "Perspectives: Building a government; Reaching out to Afghan tribal leaders is key to a U.S. victory".  Pasadena Star-News.

July 9, 2010.  "Developing the Ministry of Interior: Path to Success".  NTM-A.

July 6, 2010.  "U.S. Battles to Train Local Forces in Afghanistan".  PBS.

July 1, 2010.  "U.S. Enlists New Afghan Village Forces".  The Wall Street Journal.

June 27, 2010.  "Local Defence in Afghanistan: A Review of Government-backed Initiatives".  Human Security Report Project.

June 24, 2010.  "The revolt of the good guys in Gizab".  Afghanistan Analysts Network.

June 21, 2010.  "U.S. eager to replicate Afghan villager's successful revolt against Taliban".  The Washington Post.

June 17, 2010.  "U.S. Hopes To Win Afghan Trust, Village by Village".  NPR.

June 10, 2010.  "New plan to woo Afghan Taliban could harm villages".  The Christian Science Monitor.

June 9, 2010.  "Special Forces Training Afghan Villagers".  Military.com.

May/June 2010.  "It Takes the Villages".  Dr. Seth Jones, Foreign Affairs.

May 27, 2010.  "Local Defence in Afghanistan: A Review of Government-backed Initiatives".  Afghanistan Analyst Network.

May 18, 2010.  "A Sunni Awakening: Not So Easy in Afghanistan".  Time.com.

May 2, 2010.  "US forces training Afghan villagers to watch for Taliban".  Boston.com.

April 27, 2010.  "U.S. training Afghan villagers to fight the Taliban".  The Washington Post.

March 27, 2010.  "Local v. National Control".  Registan.net.

March 14, 2010.  "Winning the war, 'one tribe at a time'".  Fredericksburg.com.

March 13, 2010.  "Future unclear for widely-praised Afghan militias".  Stars and Stripes.

March 12, 2010.  "Afghan Public Protection Program success paves the way for development in Jalrez".  Embassy of the United States - Afghanistan.

March 11, 2010.  "Afghan Tribal Rivalries Bedevil a U.S. Plan".  The New York Times.

March 8, 2010.  "US keeps secret anti-Taliban militia on a bright leash".  Article in the Guardian about the Local Defense Initiative militias.

February 23, 2010.  "Locals Complete Afghan Public Protection Program".  ISAF News Release.

February 11, 2010.  "Tribe and prejudice: America's 'new hope' in Afghanistan".  The National Conversation.

January 27, 2010.  "Afghan Tribe, Vowing to Fight Taliban, to Get U.S. Aid in Return".  The New York Times.

January 22, 2010.  "Afghan 'Community Initiative' Reigned In?".  The Washington Independent.

January 22, 2010.  "U.S. Ambassador puts brakes on plan to utilize Afghan militias against Taliban".  The Washington Post.

January 22, 2010.  "U.S. Delays Setting Up More Anti-Taliban Militias".  The New York Times.

January 17, 2010.  "Jim Gant, the Green Beret who could win the war in Afghanistan".  The Washington Post.

January 8, 2010.  "Exploiting Afghan Tribal Militias for an Optimal Counterinsurgency Campaign".  Veterans Today.

December 9, 2009.  "What About Those Afghan Militias?"  The Washington Independent.

December 1, 2009.  "Afghan Human Rights Official Criticizes McChrystal 'Tribes' Initiative".  The Washington Independent.

November 23, 2009.  "British to train local Afghan militias in new hearts and minds push".  Times Online.

November 22, 2009.  "As Afghans Resist Taliban, U.S. Spurs Rise of Militias".  The Gadsden Times.

November 21, 2009.  "Afghan Militias Battle Taliban With Aid of U.S.".  The New York Times.

November 21, 2010.  "U.S. helping some militias in Afghanistan".  UPI.com.

November 5, 2009.  "Memo to Obama: Listen to Jim Gant or Risk Losing Afghan War".  New York Daily News.

November 4, 2009.  "Going Tribal in Afghanistan".  The New York Times.

October 26, 2009. "One Tribe at a Time".  Dave Maxwell, Small Wars Journal.

October 19, 2009.  "The 'How' of Tribal Engagement".  Steven Pressfield Online.

September 28, 2009.  "One Tribe at a Time".  By Jim Gant, posted on Steven Pressfield Online.

September 26, 2009.  "Living among the Afghans: Special Forces troops move into town, build ties with locals".  SF Examiner.

September 13, 2009.  "Local Afghan patrols invested in peace".  USA Today.

September 2009.  "Afghan Village Militia: A People-Centric Strategy to Win".  Small Wars Journal.

August 27, 2009.  "Tribal guards add little".  The Washington Times.

May 14, 2009.  "Afghan leaders, U.S. Soldiers initiate new security program to empower local residents".  www.army.mil.

May 13, 2009.  "Afghan Leaders, U.S. Soldiers Initiate Public Protection Program".  American Forces Press Service.

March 25, 2009.  "The Afghan Public Protection Force pilot program is underway".  The Long War Journal.

February 12, 2009.  "US, NATO Forces in Advanced Plans to Create Citizen Militias in Afghanistan: Reveals Leaked Email".  The Huffington Post.

February 1, 2009.  "New Afghan Security Unit to Police Dangerous Areas".  VOA News.

January 23, 2009.  "Disputes cloud Afghan 'public guards' plan".  Los Angeles Times.

January 8, 2009.  "Afghans wary of anti-Taliban 'militia' plan".  Google News.

January 6, 2009.  "Costs of war: No to tribal militias".  ISN Security Watch.

December 16, 2008.  "U.S. Military to Launch Pilot Program to Recruit New Local Afghan Militias".  U.S. News and World Report.

December 11, 2008.  "Proceed with Caution on Afghan Tribal Strategy".  Council on Foreign Relations.

November 7, 2008.  "A Tribal Strategy for Afghanistan".  Council on Foreign Relations.

October 10, 2008.  "U.S. plans to train Afghan militias".  Los Angeles Times.

February 28, 2008.  "Tribal leaders still in charge of Afghanistan".  The Sunday Times.

October 19, 2007.  "Beyond Warlordism: The Local Security Architecture in Afghanistan".  Afghanistan Conflict Monitor.

July 30, 2007.  "Cops or Robbers? The Struggle to Reform the Afghan National Police".  Afghanistan Conflict Monitor.

Return to Top of Page

Afghanistan National Auxiliary Police (ANAP)

The Afghanistan National Auxiliary Police (ANAP) program was launched in late 2006 by the Afghan Ministry of Interior with international support (mostly from CSTC-A).  The program was supposed to provide a community policing force recruited from the local population.  The ANAP faced many challenges which included " . . . inadequate logistical support, inadequate vetting, unclear command-in-control . . . " (4).  There were at one time close to 10,000 recruits trained and in the field.  Recruits were supposed to come from the local area and be vetted by the community.  Once selected they would receive about 80 hours of training (DynCorps International had a contract for the training).  The recruits were provided with uniforms, weapons, and a monthly salary.  The program, a formal government program, lasted about two years and faded away in May 2008.

Return to Top of Page

Afghan Public Protection Program (AP3)

The Ministry of Interior worked with the U.S. military to establish a program called the Afghan Public Protection Program or known as AP3.  This was another community level security program.  It was first implemented in Wardak in March 2009.  This Wardak force has been successful - recruiting more than 1,200 men to the force (6).  Part of its success is attributed to a strong leader and ex-Taliban leader called Ghulam Mohammed Hotak (5)

Return to Top of Page

Community Defense Initiative (CDI)

The Community Defense Initiative (CDI) started in July 2009 and lived a short life.  The effort, endorsed by General McChrystal, did not get the full support of the U.S. Embassy (1).  CDI was meant to encourage local defense forces to organize in their communities at the local level to act against the Taliban.  The scope of CDI is primarily to protect villages and manning checkpoints.  The support provided by U.S. forces included ammunition, communications equipment, food, and training but no weapons.  CDI was discontinued and replaced by the Local Defense Initiative (LDI).

Return to Top of Page

Local Defense Initiative (LDI)

Local Defense Initiative (LDI) replaced CDI (described above).  Under LDI villages and communities are identified that appear to be willing and able to start up a local defense force.  The force is not provided weapons and pay - however receives receive training and support from U.S. forces as well as development work for their villages and communities. (2)  The overall aim of the LDI program is to secure local communities with the villagers who live in the area in a defensive posture.  This program is funded by the U.S. military.  (Program is now discontinued).

Return to Top of Page

Village Stability Operations (VSO)

The Village Stability Operations (VSO) is an initiative to provide stability and security to the Afghan population in rural areas that are considered key by the coalition forces.  There are many civilian and military leaders that believe the solution in Afghanistan is a local, bottom up effort - establishing security, governance, and development at the community and village level.  It is apparent to many that the Afghan government is having difficulty in doing this with a top-down approach.  Some are advocating this "bottom-up approach" (3) along with the efforts to build up the government forces at the national level.  Many recognize that Afghanistan is not a functioning nation-state; but is a geographic area composed of many ethnic groups and tribes.  Village Stability Operations is being conducted by Special Forces through their Village Stability Platforms (VSPs) and is now on-going in various parts of the country.  VSO is comprised of three components - security , governance and development.  The primary element of security for the Special Forces units is the Afghan Local Police (ALP) - see below for more on the ALP. An early start to VSO was in Day Kundi province in August 2009 (10).  However, it lacked the full support of many elements of the United States community -  to include some brigade commanders and U.S. Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry - and the Karzai regime.

The VSO program was started unilaterally by the U.S. military (for the most part by Special Forces) in the spring of 2010.  The program was a refinement of CDI and LDI.  Early attempts to expand the ALP program (considered a component of VSO by SOF) were unsuccessful and ran into opposition from Karzai.

“We have to make sure that we don’t develop militias or any other kinds of forces that might undermine the government and become another kind of instability,” said the president’s spokesman, Waheed Omar.

Among Mr. Karzai’s demands are that any local force be under the control of the local Afghan police commander, wear uniforms, be paid through the Ministry of Interior, and be under the ministry’s command, Mr. Omar said. (7)

Eventually about 12 village stability program sites were established by Special Forces ODA's with plans for expansion in the future.  However, this got put on hold until the Karzai government and senior Coalition leadership could come to terms on the future of the ALP initiative.

A series of meetings were held in July 2010 to come to an agreement of the specifics and scope of the program.  Eventually the Afghan government agreed to the local village defense plan but it stipulated that "the forces would be under the supervision of the Afghan Interior Ministry, which will also be their paymaster".  They would be the equivalent of armed local police forces that are paid and wear uniforms.  (8).  The program that has evolved was called the "Afghan Local Police".

Village Stability Operations expanded through 2011 into 2012 however the SOF teams were soon exceeding their capacity.  The SOF teams were augmented with conventional infantrymen, Civil affairs, MISO, MWDs, CSTs, AfPak Hands, and other enablers.  Learn more about Village Stability Operations (VSO) at Afghan War News.

Return to Top of Page

Afghan Local Police (ALP)

The Afghan Local Police (ALP) Initiative was endorsed by Karzai in July 2010 after negotiations with General Petraeus.  The final implementation plan was approved by Karzai in mid-August 2010.  The Afghan Local Police Initiative was an adaptation of previous village defense and security programs attempted by United States Special Forces.  The Afghan Local Police force would be uniformed, paid, armed, and report to the Ministry of Interior (MOI) through local district headquarters.  The MOI would provide vehicles, radios, and light weapons.  It would, in most cases - at least initially - be advised and trained by USSF detachments living and working in the villages or communities.  Unlike the Afghan National Police (ANP) they will not have the ability to arrest people and their pay will be less than the ANP.  The local police will be vetted by local village elders and be representative of the local population. (11). The concept of the ALP approved by Karzai is, unfortunately, not quite what U.S. Special Forces had in mind.  The various local security initiatives started by U.S. Special Forces were founded on concepts of independence from the central government and a local bottom up approach - and for good reason.  These programs, proposed by USSF,  were to be free of the Afghan central governments interference in equipment and salary issues.  Past programs headed by the MOI and assisted by the "big Army" bureaucracy (U.S.) have mostly proven to be ineffective and riddled with incompetent leaders, inefficient systems and corruption.  The ALP may prove to be one more failure because the mid- and upper-leadership will be chosen by the MOI - therefore corrupt and incompetent; equipment shortages of weapons, ammunition, radios, radio batteries, vehicles and fuel will be a limiting factor; and pay will be skimmed off by corrupt MOI and mid-level bureaucrats.

For the moment, the Afghan Local Police (ALP) initiative appears to be growing.  It is initially being funded through CERP funds until the Ministry of Interior (MoI) can figure out how to put into use the funds that the U.S. is providing the MoI for the ALP - this might take some time.

The ALP is just one component of the Village Stabilization Operations (VSO) program.  The ALP provides the mechanism for local security and defense.  The various PRTs and district government centers are supposed to tie into the local villages and communities to establish the development and governance piece.

View the following link for detailed information on the Afghan Local Police (ALP) and read recent news articles about the ALP.

Return to Top of Page

Footnotes and References

(1) Spencer Ackerman, "Afghan 'Community Defense Initiative' Reigned In?", The Washington Independent, January 22, 2010 and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, "U.S. ambassador puts brakes on plan to utilize Afghan militias against Taliban", The Washington Post, January 22, 2010.

(2) Jon Boone, "US keeps secret anti-Taliban militia on a bright leash," Guardian, March 8, 2010.

(3) Dr. Seth Jones, "It Takes the Villages", Foreign Affairs, May/June 2010.

(4) "Local Defence in Afghanistan: A Review of Government-backed Initiatives", Afghanistan Analysts Network, May 27, 2010.

(5)  "Ex-Taliban Commander Seized in Afghanistan", Military.com, July 19, 2004.

(6)  "In an Afghan Valley of Death, Good News - for Now".  Time.com, June 16, 2010.

(7).  "U.S. and Afghanistan Debate More Village Forces", The New York Times, July 12, 2010.

(8).  "Afghans to Form Local Forces to Fight Taliban".  The New York Times, July 14, 2010.

(9)  "The Afghan Public Protection Force pilot program is underway", The Long War Journal, March 25, 2009.

(10)  "Program has Afghans as first line of defense", Army Times, July 20, 2010.

(11)  "Afghan Local Police Approved for Village Protection", NTM-A, August 18, 2010.

Return to Top of Page

Publications, Reports, and References on Local,
Community, and Village Security

"One Team's Approach to Village Stability Operations".  By Rory Hanlin, Small Wars Journal, September 4, 2011.

"Thai Village Security Lessons for Afghanistan".  By Jeff Moore of the National Defense University Irregular Warfare Department, 3 August 2010.  Posted on Small Wars Journal. Adobe Acrobat Reader icon

"Community Defense in Afghanistan".  By Seth G. Jones, Joint Forces Quarterly - NDU, 2nd Quarter 2010(Adobe Acrobat Adobe Acrobat)

Afghanistan's Local War: Building Local Defense Forces.  By Seth Jones & Arturo Munoz, RAND Corp, 2010.  (Adobe Acrobat Adobe Acrobat)

Local Defense in Afghanistan.  A critique of local defense initiatives by Mathieu Lefevre of the Afghanistan Analysts Network, May 2010.  (Adobe Acrobat pdf)

"One Tribe at a Time".  A Strategy for Success in Afghanistan.  By MAJ Jim Gant, 2nd Edition, 2 Dec 2009, Nine Sisters Publications.  Posted on Steven Pressfield Online.  (Adobe Acrobat pdf)

Disarming Afghanistan's Warlords.  By Jake Sherman, Fletcher Journal of Human Security, Tufts University, Volume XX - 2005.  (Adobe Acrobat pdf)




Related Pages on this Website

Afghanistan Country Profile

Afghanistan War News

Maps of Afghanistan

Afghanistan War Blogs

The Battle of Marjah

The Fight for Kandahar

Soviet Union in Afghanistan

Afghan War News








Greg Mortenson's Blog
Author of Three Cups of Tea
and Stones into Schools

US Government Reports on the War in Afghanistan

Report on Progress toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan
DoD Report
October 2009 ().

Report on the Assessment
of U.S. and Coalition Plans
to Train, Equip, and
Field the Afghan National Security Forces
by US DoD IG
30 Sep 09

A Comprehensive Approach to Local Engagement in Afghanistan
By Eric Furey
Oct 2010 ()
Small Wars Journal

US Plan for Sustaining the Afghan National Security Forces
DoD Report
April 2009 ()

U.S. Government Counterinsurgency Guide
U.S. Dept of State

"Lost in Translation"
A video demonstrating the importance of an interpreter who is trained.

Tribal Security System (Arbakai) in Southeast Afghanistan
Tariq - Crisis States Research Centre
December 2008 ()

NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan Website

Connecting with Kabul
Coburn - AREU
May 2008 ()

Books on Counterinsurgency
by Amazon.com

My Cousin's Enemy is My Friend: A Study of Pashun "Tribes" in Afghanistan
September 2009



wordpress com stats


Return to Top of Page

Home > Afghanistan War News > Village Security and Local Defense