British to train local Afghan militias in new hearts and min

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  1. From The Times
    November 23, 2009
    British to train local Afghan militias in new hearts and minds push
    Richard Beeston in Nad Ali, Helmand province
    British forces in Helmand province will begin training local militias to secure communities against the Taleban. The commander of British Forces in Helmand, Brigadier James Cowan, said that the move was the latest attempt to have Afghans assume responsibility for security and to allow British troops to take a step back from frontline operations.

    “It is exactly what the Americans did in Iraq [with the Sunni awakening]. That is what we need to do here,” Brigadier Cowan told The Times on a visit to Nad Ali, a notorious town in the central Helmand river valley.

    “Nobody wants foreign soldiers here. What they want is to be living in peace with their own people protecting them and that is what we shall seek to achieve.”

    The plan, called the Community Defence Initiative, involves offering young, local men the opportunity to train at the new Helmand Police Training School, due to open on December 5. The British would provide equipment, pay and uniforms. These local officers would then work alongside the British troops and the Afghan Army.

    British soldiers killed by Afghan policeman named
    The move is fraught with problems, however. Unlike Iraq — where the insurgency was controlled by foreign fighters who became alienated from ordinary Iraqis — most of the Taleban are locals. There is also the risk of arming people whose loyalty is in doubt. Early this month a suspected Taleban sympathiser shot dead five British soldiers just outside Nad