The Ministry of Defense (MoD) on Sunday said based on a presidential decree, the Afghan territorial army will soon be mobilized to help maintain security in insecure areas across the country.
Establishing a territorial army was first suggested by the Pentagon. The plan is for local residents in insecure areas to be included in this force in order to increase security.
The MoD said on Sunday that President Ashraf Ghani has given orders for the force to be mobilized.
According to the defense ministry, 5,000 soldiers have been recruited in the first phase of establishing the force. These soldiers are currently being trained, the MoD said.
The first group has been recruited from Herat, Kandahar, Laghman and Kapisa provinces.
“In Laghman, Kapisa and Kandahar, 75 percent of the work has been done while in Herat 100 percent has been done. Recruiting soldiers for the territorial army is continuing,” MoD spokesman Mohmmad Radmanish said.
According to the defense ministry, the territorial army soldiers will be recruited on a provincial level and they will be residents in the areas. They will wear an Afghan National Army (ANA) uniform, will receive up to 70 percent of an ANA soldiers’ salary and will be between 20 and 40 years old.
This new force is similar to the Afghan Local Police, which was established in 2010 and falls under the interior ministry.
A number of parliament members however said the formation of the territorial army was a good idea, but some had concerns over the management of the force.
“In provinces the territorial army is needed and will have good results. Because they are familiar with the area and can work very well,” MP Farida Hamidi said.
“In some provinces the territorial army will have good results while in some others it may create more problems,” MP Abdul Hai Akhundzada said.
With the formation of the new force, the total number of Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) will increase to 390,000 officers, officials said.
The territorial army will be comprised of former soldiers from the defense ministry, but they will be led by active commanders in the military.
The main mission of the army is to maintain security of roads and government departments in insecure areas.
The number of territorial army soldiers will eventually total 36,000.