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One Tribe at a Time

  • e Taliban . . . 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 play that the villagers

cannot get from a remote and corrupt national government.

play that the villagers cannot get from a remote and corrupt national government.

“On a national scale, we are not going to win hearts or change minds. is must be done on the ground, person-to-person, by gaining respect and trust with each tribe. In other words, we need to employ a Tactical Engagement Strategy, one tribe at a time. Study and gain a detailed appreciation of Pashtunwali, the honor code of the Pashtuns, in order to communicate eectively, whether kinetic or non-kinetic, within the target audience’s cultural frame of reference.” (William McCallister, Operations in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas)

Speaking of Iraq, Carter Malkasian and Jerry Meyerle state, “Another way to reduce government misrule could be . . . to empower traditional tribal structures that may be more representative and have greater authority on the ground.

“In Afghanistan, tribes are even more important. Most Pashtuns identify themselves rst and forever with their tribe, sub-tribe, or clan. Competing politi- cal institutions and gures are much weaker and most of the population lives in rural areas, far from govern- ment institutions.” (Malkasian and Meyerle, How is Afghanistan dierent from al-Anbar?)

Another major COIN tenet is to separate the insurgent from the population. e presence of the Tribal Engagement Teams would facilitate this very quickly. Once the TETs were on the ground with the tribal leadership, insurgent elements would either be killed or have to leave the area. e presence of the TETs would also make it dicult for the local Taliban supporters to be mobilized when the Taliban wanted to surge in certain areas.

Local Taliban ghters would be much more inclined to re-integrate into the tribe once the TSFs (Arbakai) start to be implemented. Which low-level Taliban members could re-integrate would, of course, be up to the tribal leadership.

Good governance is the follow-on to reliable security. Tribal Security Forces can facilitate both. “Unless you are condent in the ability of your gov- ernment to enforce its peace, then the man with a gun at your door at midnight is your master.” (Kelly, How to win in Afghanistan, Quadrant on-line, p. 5)

How a Tribal Engagement Strategy interdicts external support for insurgents

  • e safe-haven issue in the eastern and southern

portion of Afghanistan is a huge factor that could potentially cause the failure of the entire campaign. From my own experience, the location and demo- graphics of the village of Mangwel and members of the tribe located there make this a situation where we could and did acquire much more intelligence to make more informed decisions in that region.

Given enough time, eort and resources, a Tribal Engagement Strategy could be expanded to the entire border region, not only policing the inltration routes from Pakistan (which the tribesmen know as inti- mately as we know the streets of our own hometown), but providing actionable intelligence about who has crossed over, where they are, and what potential danger they represent.

“Unless you are confident in the ability of your government to enforce its peace, then the man with a gun at your door at midnight is your maste .”

  • Justin Kelly, How to win in Afghanistan


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