US Geneeral Robert Cone has come out against a plan by British officials to arm local militias in an atempt to defeat the Taliban. he charged that “anything that distracts from a professional well-led police force is not the answer.” Prime Minister Gordon Brown has spoken of his desire to support “community defence initiatives, where local volunteers are recruited to defend homes and families modeled on traditional Afghan arbakai.” The arbakai system entailed arming untraianed Afghan men who agree to help defend their villages. British officials believe local engagement in the defense of their villages is the best way to ward off the growth of al-Qaeda and the Taliban, but American military leaders fear such a policy would result in the growth in power of local warlords. General Cone is attempting to remodel the Afghan police force into an honest and well equipped group that can maintain law and order.
There is no question the British government is interested in exploring alternative strategies to deal with fighting in Afghanistan while American military leaders believe the policies they have been pursuing for the past six years eventually will work. US and NATO forces are confronting a non-professional opposition which lacks formal military training, but still has the capacity to inflict defeat upon formal military forces. Perhaps, it is time to fight fire with fire and empower Afghans to assume responsibility for dealing with insurgents in any manner that might work.