Paramilitary: Taming Tribal Militias


May 21, 2006: American advisors have suggested that Iraq might benefit from creating a US-style "National Guard." That is, locally-based troops with a dual provincial/national service liability. This would please the Sunni and Kurdish elements, who fear that full integration of their militias into the national armed forces would not only reduce their influence in the country, but also strip them of any capability of defending themselves. The National Guard is but one of many defining aspects of the federation that is the "United States" of America. Other nations have similar forces, but are usually just military reserve units that are recruited, and stationed, in the same area.

The Iraqi National Guard concept would, initially, see these reserve units on active duty a lot, at least until the Sunni Arab terrorism is eliminated. Thereafter, these regional militias would remain a reserve force. This would give the national government time to train their officers, and educate them to the importance of upholding the constitution and law and order, instead of just being enforcers for some local warlord.

Afghanistan has a similar situation, and may end up borrowing a similar idea from their neighbor, Pakistan. There, the government has long recruited a local security force, the Frontier Corps, which operates in the "Federally Administered Tribal Areas" of the northwest frontier. The Corps, which is heavily engaged against local tribesmen and elements of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, presently numbers 30-40 thousand troops, and is being increased to as many as 80 thousand. In addition, the government has decided to expand the "tribal police," who are recruited from the local people. While the tribal police are often corrupt and even collaborate with the resisting tribes, they offer a conduit into tribal society.

The tribes on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border are Pushtun. But the Pushtun of Afghanistan have long dominated national politics (and still do), while in Pakistan, the Pushtun are a rambunctious minority. But the Pakistani government has long managed to exercise some control with local paramilitary organizations like the Frontier Corps and tribal police.


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