WASHINGTON, Oct. 29 (UPI) -- A defense appropriations bill signed by U.S. President Barack Obama includes funding for an Afghan paramilitary force modeled after the Sons of Iraq.
The $680 billion defense bill authorizes the U.S. Department of Defense to use $1.3 billion to fund "reintegration" programs in Afghanistan meant to court individuals "who have renounced violence against the government of Afghanistan."
The language in the bill strikes a similar tone to provisions that helped establish the Sons of Iraq, notes The Christian Science Monitor. U.S. military commanders credit the Iraq program as a vital component of the counterinsurgency campaign launched in 2007 when Iraq was on the verge of civil war.
U.S. military commanders in Iraq financed Sunni tribal groups to turn against al-Qaida forces who had gained control throughout much of Anbar province. Many of those forces have since incorporated into national security and police units in Iraq.
The so-called Sons of Afghanistan is a program lauded by many key lawmakers involved in the debate on the war strategy for Afghanistan.
U.S. Sen. Levin, D-Mich., in a speech before members of the RAND policy center said developing an Iraq-style paramilitary force in Afghanistan is an urgent need.
"Offering these fighters jobs and amnesty for past acts could sharply reduce the size of the insurgency, just as the 'Sons of Iraq' effort did in Iraq," said Levin. "A plan to reintegrate the reconcilable Taliban in Afghanistan is long overdue."