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Kabul Korrespondence

Fresh, factual, and funky view of Afghanistan and the surrounding Central Asian region

Please dont the same mistake AGAIN!

Monday, February 02, 2009

US-funded program to arm Afghan groups begins
By Rahim Faiez

KABUL, Afghanistan – A U.S.-funded program to train and arm community members in Afghanistan's most dangerous regions as a way to defend against the Taliban has begun, the country's interior minister said Saturday.

The U.S. will provide funds to arm the community force with the same weapons used by Afghan police — Kalashnikov rifles, said Interior Ministry Mohammad Hanif Atmar.

The program has already begun, but Atmar refused to say where, citing security concerns. Other officials have said the program will begin in Wardak, an increasingly dangerous province on the southwest side of Kabul.

"After training they will have the responsibility of protecting the people, providing security for the highways, schools, clinics and other government institutions," Atmar told a news conference.

Afghan and Western officials have struggled to fight the perception that they are creating regional militias, and officials are even sensitive over the name used to describe the program. Atmar said the program is called the Afghan Public Protection Force.

Critics note that the program will put more weapons into Afghan hands, reversing years of government efforts to reduce the number of arms around the country.

The U.S. Embassy had no immediate comment on Saturday.

The tactic of engaging local Afghan communities is endorsed by Gen. David Petraeus — the former top U.S. commander in Iraq whose outreach to Sunni sheiks helped oust al-Qaida-inspired militants from key areas and sharply decreased attacks.
posted by Travis, 9:41 am

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