In this latest AAN report, Mathieu Lefèvre unpacks the myths about local defense initiatives in Afghanistan. His analysis of three local defense initiatives shows the contradictions in the claimed successes and points at possible long-term security challenges posed by these initiatives.
In this report, Mathieu Lefèvre analyses three local defense initiatives in Afghanistan: The Afghanistan National Auxiliary Police (ANAP), the Afghan Public Protection Program (AP3) and the Local Defense Initiative (LDI). The aim of the ANAP, launched by the Ministry of Interior (MoI) with international support in 2006, was to provide a ‘community policing’ function. The ANAP force was locally recruited and trained and the initiative was concentrated to the south and south-east of Afghanistan. Some of the challenges that faced the ANAP were inadequate logistical support, inadequate vetting, unclear command-in-control and issues of loyalty. According to Lefèvre lessons were not learnt from the shortcomings – and failures – of the ANAP, and consequently they have been reproduced in the AP3 and the LDI programs.
Lefèvre concludes that the three initiatives reproduce the same challenges: The relationship between the local defense initiatives and the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) is problematic, it has been difficult not to ‘pick sides’ when working with local militias, experimental in nature the programs lack proper accountability mechanisms and the programs run the risk of creating perverse incentives through rewarding criminal commanders rather than peaceful members of the community. Lefèvre also cautions against viewing these initiatives as a possible part of reintegration efforts.