>TAKING a page from the successful experiment in Iraq, American commanders and Afghan leaders are preparing to arm local militias to help in the fight against a resurgent Taliban. But along with hope, the move is raising fears here that the new armed groups could push the country into a deeper bloodletting. DEXTER FILKINS writes in the New York Times.
The militias will be deployed to help American and Afghan security forces, which are stretched far and wide across this mountainous country. The first of the local defense forces are scheduled to begin operating early next year in Wardak Province, an area just outside the capital where the Taliban have overrun most government authority.
If the experiment proves successful, similar militias will be set up rapidly across the country, senior American and Afghan officials said.
The formation of Afghan militias comes on the heels of a similar undertaking in Iraq, where 100,000 Sunni gunmen, many of them former insurgents, have been placed on the government payroll. The Awakening Councils, as they are known, are credited by American officials as one of the main catalysts behind the steep reduction in violence there.