They are a secret tribal militia, the controversial creation of US commanders in Afghanistan eager to buttress local opposition to the Taliban. So clandestine are the units formed to protect villages in a critical valley in southern Afghanistan that US officials and special forces commanders in Kabul refuse to discuss them.
But the Guardian has learned that in one important regard, the Local Defence Initiative forces are not so secretive after all. As they patrol villages close to the key southern city of Kandahar, the fighters are being forced to wear bright yellow reflector belts so that their special forces mentors do not mistake them for Taliban.
Alternatively, you could paint a target on their chests and get them to carry a sign saying "We are working for the Americans".