1st Edition

Militia Order in Afghanistan Guardians or Gangsters?

By Matthew P. Dearing Copyright 2021
    192 Pages
    by Routledge

    192 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book offers a new insight into when and why paramilitary groups in Afghanistan engage in protective or predatory behavior against the civilians they purportedly defend.

    In Afghanistan’s counterinsurgency environment, America leaned on militias to provide order and stabilize communities cut off from weak central government institutions. However, the lucrative market of protection challenged militia loyalty, as many engaged in banditry, vendettas, and predation. This book examines the varying militia experiments in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 and their outcomes through three sub-national case studies. It argues that successful militia experiments in Afghanistan involved inclusion of local orders, where communities had well-established social structures and accountability mechanisms in place, and state patrons relied upon those structures as a restraint against militia behavior. Complementary management ensured patrons leaned on communities for strong accountability systems. But such environments were far from the norm. When patrons ignored community controls, militias preyed on civilians as they monopolized the market of protection. This book adds to the rich literature on the U.S. experience in Afghanistan, but differs by focusing on the interplay between states, communities, and militias.

    This book will be of much interest to students of military and strategic studies, Asian politics, security studies and International Relations.

    Foreword by Hassan Abbas

    1. Introduction

    2. Embedded Militias in Afghanistan

    3. Gangland in Northern Afghanistan

    4. Vigilante Uprisings in Ghazni

    5. Guardians of Paktika

    6. From Guardians to Territorial Force


    Matthew P. Dearing is an Associate Professor of Regional and Analytical Studies at the College of International Security Affairs, National Defense University.

    'Dearing has done an outstanding job of weaving together a wide range of critical themes relevant to militias and state institution building that offer very valuable insights to both policy and academic worlds. .. The lessons of history are evident as Dearing’s excellent scholarship makes clear: no success or progress is possible if the legitimate interests and security concerns of at-risk communities are not kept in view.'--from the Foreword by Hassan Abbas, National Defense University, Washington DC, USA