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One Tribe at a Time

chApter ii

we Are loSing the wAr in AfghAniStAn

T HE FORMER MILITARY COMMANDER in charge of Afghanistan, General David McKier- nan, said in March 2009, “e coalition is not winning the war against the resurgent Taliban in cer- tain parts of the country.” (Cowell, US General Says)

Afghanistan has never had a strong central gov- ernment and never will. at is a fact that we need to accept, sooner rather than later.

Time and US popular support is the strategic center of gravity (COG) for US forces.

Time and the population of not only Afghanistan but Pakistan is the strategic COG for the Taliban.

Using the old “nd out what is important to your enemy and destroy it, and know what is important to you and protect it” won’t work in the current ght in Afghanistan. Make no mistake, the people (or politicians) of the US will get tired of the war and will eventually make the US military pull out.

Time is not on our side considering the current level of blood and treasure that we are expending. A war of exhaustion is unacceptable and a war of anni- hilation is not feasible. We do not have the patience or the resources to stay on our current course.

  • e sophistication of Taliban attacks in Afghani-

stan has risen in the last two years to a point where we can clearly see that they will continue to adapt to our strategies and tactics.

  • e US also is losing the information battle. We

do not get our message out as eectively as the Taliban does. Our “tactical PSYOP” is not responsive enough to make the impact we need at the small unit level.

Recruitment for the Taliban is not waning; it is in fact increasing. e US has killed tens of thousands of “insurgents” in Afghanistan, but we are no closer to victory today than we were in 2002.

Pakistan, and in particular, the Federally Admin- istered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the Northwest Frontier Provinces (NWFP) will play a major role in the success or failure of the US counterinsurgency (COIN) eort in Afghanistan, as well as the overall stability of the region. ese “ungoverned areas” in Pakistan are among the few areas where al-Qaeda needs to maintain some amount of physical control so they can train and plan in safety. Why is this impor- tant? Because these areas are tribal in nature. As I will describe later in the paper, many of the tribes in eastern Afghanistan straddle these borders regions. If we can inuence the entire tribe on both sides of the border, the US can have greater inuence in the entire region.

I like using analogies. If the war in Afghanistan is a boxing match, here’s what’s happening: e US has won every round but has not been able to knock them (Taliban) out. e ght has no limit on the number of rounds that can be fought. We will continue to punish them, but never win the ght. It will go on indenitely, or until we (the US) grow tired and quit.

  • e only existing structure that oers governance

and security for the Afghan people is at the tribal level. We should leverage this and use it to our advan- tage—before it is too late.

B-: We are losing the war in Afghani- stan, because, simply put, we are not “winning.” All the Taliban has to do is not lose.

We’ve got the watches, but they’ve got the time.

  • Army saying in Afghanistan


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