Friday, October 29, 2010

Neighborhood Watch in Marjah, Afghanistan - Afghan Local Police Initiative

"ARLINGTON, Va. — Neighborhood watch programs, typically the domain of riled-up, would-be crime stoppers in community associations across America, are apparently catching on in the Marjah district of Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

The top U.S. commander there told the Pentagon press corps Tuesday that Marines are seeing increasing interest among residents in organizing formal groups to keep an eye on villages.

Some are unarmed and mostly provide information about insurgency activity to local forces. Others are designated and paid by the district police chief, carry weapons and set themselves apart with arm bands, said Brig. Gen. Joseph Osterman, head of Task Force Leatherneck.

The latter are part of the newly sanctioned Afghan Local Police initiative that got its start last month. They’re a sort of Afghan National Police light. Defensive only, with limited powers, they are “essentially neighborhood watch programs,” Osterman said. He’s quick to point out that they are not local militias roaming with impunity (for the trouble that can cause, see: Iraq). Osterman said they are ensuring the neighborhood groups are under government control." 
Read the rest of the article in "Neighborhood watch gaining foothold in Marjah", The Stars and Stripes, October 27, 2010.

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