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Call in the Cavalry! - Patrick Devenny, Foreign Policy.
As American troops in Afghanistan seek to rebuild a flagging campaign, they might do well to read up on the lessons of another troubled Afghan project, the Anglo-Afghan Wars -- and specifically, the lessons of one Captain Charles Trower, a British cavalry officer who deployed to India in the 1830s. His 1845 memoir, Hints on Irregular Cavalry, says pretty much all there is to say about one of the most complicated problems in Afghanistan today: the training and oversight of local defense forces.
Last October, the Los Angeles Times reported that Pentagon leaders had authorized American commanders in Afghanistan to aggressively mobilize and mentor village-based self-defense forces. Made up largely of Pashtun tribesmen and recruited through tribal leaders, such units are expected to provide security in areas where Afghan government forces have failed to stem Taliban encroachment. This shift in strategy is not surprising given the success of similar initiatives in Iraq and the growth of the insurgency across southern Afghanistan. Results of the late 2008 decision are now seeping into the press: American reporters recently covered the graduation and deployment of 80 members of the Afghan Public Protection force, otherwise known as "Guardians." But the fielding of these units entails great risks: lack of government oversight and empowerment of warlords, just to state the obvious...
Much more at Foreign Policy.