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One Tribe at a Time

given enough time to train a Tribal Security Force (TSF) and the ability to call for US air support and aerial re-supply and a US Quick Reaction Force in an emergency—could conduct the “hold and build” por- tion of this strategy with a very limited footprint.

systems are in place and the Tribal Security Forces (Arbakai) are well-trained and we have gained their trust. Trust in the tribe I worked with in Mangwel was worth everything.

How A Tribal Engagement Strategy promotes good governance We are talking about the tribes providing security for themselves, with the assistance of US Tribal Engagement Teams. e natural governance of Afghanistan is tribal. rough its councils, jirgas and shuras, tribal members have been dispensing justice and providing the means of conict resolution for centuries. However, such traditional tribal mechanisms have been weakened by brutal and deliberate campaigns of assassination, intimidation and co-optation—rst by the Soviets, then the warlords, now by the Taliban. Security at the local (tribal) level is the key to security and support at the national level. No politi- cal change will ever take place without true security at the tribal level. A Tribal Engagement Strategy can help do that. “We should consider how our counterinsurgency strategies and policies might include non-state groups in a civilian policing role. Scholars and analysts have observed that ‘third forces’— militias, private military companies, and even criminal organizations—can some- times be opted to play useful counterinsurgency roles. ese irregular forces might be induced to provide police- like protection to the civilian population.” (Rosenau, Low Cost Trigger Pullers, p. 22) “No one is currently doing the job of actual polic- ing and enforcing the rule of law, keeping the population safe from all comers—includ- ing friendly re and coalition operations, providing justice and dispute resolution, and civil and criminal law enforce- ment. (Interesting Times, November 14, 2008, Kilcul- len, email Q & A session). e natural governance of Afghanistan is tribal. rough its councils, jirgas and shuras, tribal members have been dispensing justice and providing the means of conflict resolution for centuries. Tribal Security Forces could do this through the tribal jirga system, beneath the authority of a tribal council and backed up by a Tribal Engagement Team to bring US resources, leadership and training to bear. Together with the tribal elders, they can act as peace- makers and brokers, bringing the important actors to negotiate. “If it is accepted that a major problem of the coun- terinsurgency in Afghanistan is the ability to control the villages, a logical conclu- sion would be that the formation of village militias is necessary.” (Koran, Kalashniko , and Laptop, Gius- tozzi, p. 173) Tribal militias also would inhibit the Taliban’s ability to attack tribal members (the TSFs/Arbakai). With our Tribal Engagement Team (TET) support, the tribes could retaliate in strength against the Taliban. ese traditional institutions can facilitate justice and legitimacy through a local approach to resolving conicts.

Training and building relationships with the lead- ers of the tribe will be permanent xes in large areas of rural Afghanistan. We will be able to stay there for the long haul with very little support once the

  • e Taliban know this, even if we don’t. ey have

been working in the villages for years to establish “shadow governments” of Sharia law courts and other indigenous institutions, providing the justice and fair


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