Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry on Monday said that an order by President Ashraf Ghani on the formation of a territorial army has been issued based on which over 36,000 recruits will be hired in three phases.
In response to the move, military experts expressed concerns around the recruitment and management of such a force.
Presently over 190,000 soldiers serve in the structures of the embattled Afghan National Army (ANA) which is tackling insurgents on multiple fronts across the country.
“An order by the president has been issued and is being executed. Work is being done to draw up the structure. A commission has been tasked to work on it,” said defense ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri.
The new force will be similar to the Afghan Local Police (ALP) which was established in 2010 and falls under the Ministry of Interior.
“The concern is what kind of people are going to be hired and recruited, what kind of people are going to be trained, what kind of people are going to be equipped and what kind of jobs skills will they have,” said military expert Mirza Mohammad Yarmand.
“Such a plan will not be in the interests of Afghanistan - that we move towards building militia forces. People who are newly recruited will work in the interests of local lawbreakers, in the interest of politicians and members of parliament and they will consider only their own people,” another expert Mohammad Agul Mujahid said.
Reacting to these concerns, Waziri said that members of the territorial army will be hired from among former soldiers and that the management and leadership issues will be tackled by them.
“An incumbent officer of the national army will be hired as their commander. The defense ministry can keep him as the commander for one month, two months or five months or reshuffle him and replace him with someone else,” added Waziri.
According to the ministry of defense, these forces will be hired at a province level and they will wear Afghan National Army (ANA) uniforms. They will be between the ages of 20 and 40.
With the formation of the new force, the total number of Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) will increase to 390,000 officers, officials said.