Community Defense Initiative (CDI)



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Afghan War News > Security > Community Defense Initiative (CDI)

Community Defense Initiative (CDI)

(Last update November 2, 2012).

The Community Defense Initiative or CDI was a short-lived CJSOTF-A program to develop community level self-defense forces in rural and remote locations in Afghanistan.  U.S. and Afghan officials agreed to funnel money (foreign aid) to villages that stand up 'neighborhood watch' security forces. Villages that participated in the program were to receive assistance in the form of improved roads, health clinics, and schools.

The emergence of anti-Taliban militias acting on their own to protect their communities has been seen as something to capitalize on.  Afghan and coalition officials identified some of these anti-Taliban militias and provided aid in the form of food, ammunition and money to help them with their fight.  This assistance to the home-grown militias grew into the CDI.

By late 2009 CDI locations had been established across Afghanistan in Herat, Kandahar, Nangahar, Helmand, and Paktia provinces.

The goal of the CDI was to support existing militias that oppose the Taliban and to encourage other communities to do the same. The hope was that CDI would create pockets of resistance to the Taliban.  The Community Defense Initiative met with resistance within the coalition, U.S. State Department, and some Afghan officials. It was strongly supported by former ISAF commander General McChrystal.

CDI was subsequently replaced (or renamed) with the Local Defense Initiative or LDI.  LDI was in turn replaced with (or evolved into) the Afghan Local Police.


News Articles about the Community Defense Initiative (CDI)

March 11, 2010. "Afghan Tribal Rivalries Bedevil a U.S. Plan". The New York Times.

February 11, 2010. "Tribe and prejudice: America's 'new hope' in Afghanistan". The National Conversation.

January 22, 2010. "Afghan 'Community Initiative' Reigned In?". The Washington Independent.

January 17, 2010. "Jim Gant, the Green Beret who could win the war in Afghanistan". The Washington Post.

January 8, 2010. "Exploiting Afghan Tribal Militias for an Optimal Counterinsurgency Campaign".   By Khalil Nouri, Veterans Today.

December 9, 2009. "What About Those Afghan Militias?" The Washington Independent.

December 1, 2009. "Afghan Human Rights Official Criticizes McChrystal 'Tribes' Initiative". The Washington Independent.

November 22, 2009. "As Afghans Resist Taliban, U.S. Spurs Rise of Militias".  By Dexter Filkins, The Gadsden Times.

November 22, 2009.  "US pours millions into anti-Taliban militias in Afghanistan". The Guardian.

November 21, 2009. "Afghan Militias Battle Taliban With Aid of U.S.". The New York Times.

November 21, 2010. "U.S. helping some militias in Afghanistan".

November 13, 2009.  "U.S. to Afghan Militias: Don't Throw Away Your Guns". Danger Room.

November 12, 2009.  "Security plan looks to Afghan villages in fight against Taliban".  By Jim Michaels, USA Today.



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Joe Quinn and Mario A. Fumerton, "Counterinsurgency from Below: The Afghan Local Police in Theoretical and Comparative Perspective", November 2010, page 18.  This paper provides background on many of the local defense initiatives attempted in Afghanistan.  (Adobe Acrobat PDF file accessed on Decmber 29, 2011 at .


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