Bear in mind that Azizullah is not a member of the Afghan army. He does not work for the Afghan National Police. He is not, in fact, under the authority of the Afghan government at all. Instead, his militia, which has been supported by the Special Operations Forces, is part of a network of semi-independent rural paramilitary groups that owe their funding, weapons and very existence to America’s war on terror. By backing this network, the United States is fostering an environment of lawlessness and impunity, exacerbating Afghanistan’s longstanding problems, and creating fertile ground for the Taliban insurgency to survive. Using such strongmen seems to run counter to the doctrine laid out in 2006 in a much publicized Army/Marines counterinsurgency manual, which emphasized the need to convince citizens that America’s fighting forces will keep them safe.