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One Tribe at a Time

chApter vi

Six probleMS with current coin StrAtegy And itS ApplicAtion in AfghAniStAn

R AND RECENTLY PUBLISHED A detailed and informative book, Counterinsurgency in A f g h a n i s t a n , b y S e t h J o n e s . I t i n c l u d e s a n analysis of 90 insurgencies since 1945. e study identies three major variables correlated with the success and failure of counterinsurgency eorts.

  • Capability of indigenous security forces, especially


  • Local governance

  • External support for insurgents, including


David Kilcullen has echoed this in a White House brieng in 2008. e Taliban, he declared, has out- fought and out-thought us on all three critical fronts: “We have failed to secure the Afghan people. We have failed to deal with the sanctuary in Pakistan. e Afghan government does not deliver legitimate, good governance to Afghans at the local level.” (Interesting Times, November 14, 2008, Kilcullen, email Q & A session)

What we’re doing now

Counterinsurgency strategy is rightly predicated on this primary objective: to “secure the population where they sleep.” But how?

Right now, this eort has come entirely from the Kabul government, either through US forces or through the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP)

poorly funded mess,” says Anthony Cordesman, analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (Obama’s Vietnam, Newsweek, Moreau, Yousafzai, p. 33).

Current policy is to pour more time, money and resources into the ANA and ANP. We have been doing this for eight years now and what do we have? e ANA and ANP are symbols of the central government, which at present is not trusted by the tribes.

Yet we continue to stake the success of our mis- sion on their development. We should continue to develop the will and capacity of the ANA and ANP, while simultaneously preparing the tribes to defend themselves.

As Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently said, “My worry is that the Afghans come to see us as part of the problem, rather than part of the solution. And then we are lost.” (Obama’s Vietnam, Newsweek, Moreau, Yousafzai, p. 32.)

  • e current program to train Afghan police is

under-staed, under-resourced and full of corruption. Most importantly, the tribes’ reluctance to accept any outside inuence automatically qualies them as one of the few viable options available to protect the population. Why continue to work against the tribal structures and traditions already in place? Not only let the tribes protect themselves, but encourage it.

How a Tribal Engagement Strategy (TES) provides security

“e development of Afghan Security Forces has been a badly managed, grossly understaed and

Following the “Clear - Hold - Build” model, a small number of US TETs (Tribal Engagement Teams)—

“A man with a gun rules a hundred without one.

  • Vladimir Lenin


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