One Tribe at a Time
Putting US soldiers (TETs) on the ground with the tribes will say more about our commitment than anything else we can do.
“US military operations most succeeded when leaders at the small-unit level had enough leeway, specialized assets, and repower to engage the popu- lation and develop their own intelligence. Indeed, US military doctrine needs to establish far looser and more broadly distributed networks that have a high degree of independence and survivability. (Jones, Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan, p. 98)
e RAND study also points out four more reasons
to depend on indigenous actors to ght the war:
1. Most insurgencies have taken between 11 to 14 years to win. erefore, the indigenous forces eventually will have to win the war on their own, and they must develop the capacity to do so.
Indigenous forces usually know the population and terrain better than external actors and are better able to gain intelligence.
A lead US role can be interpreted by the popula- tion as occupation (especially in Afghanistan).
4. A lead indigenous role can provide a focus for national aspirations and show the population that they control their own destiny.
Integrating Tribal Security Forces into the national security apparatus
ese Tribal Security Forcess should be used to
assist—not replace—the national and local police.
e bond here between the tribal leaders and
councils and their US counterparts on the Tribal Engagement Teams is crucial. Remember, tribal honor codes mandate adherence to treaties and con- tracts, particularly between warriors who have fought side-by-side and risked their lives together.
A vast majority of the tribes just want to be left alone. Years and years of broken promises have severely damaged our ability to deal with the tribes.
e Tribal Engagement Teams would show a commit-
ment to the tribes and the tribal leadership that we will be unable to replicate in any other way. Putting US soldiers (TETs) on the ground with the tribes will say more about our commitment than anything else we can do. It will be a great “honor” and show them trust and respect by truly joining forces with them.
For some of our missions we dressed in Afghan garb, especially when we didn’t want the Taliban to know our teams were operating in certain areas. Here I’m in the local garb with AK-47 ready to go. This is my favorite personal photo from Afghanistan.
B : e GIRoA (Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan) must nd a way to incorporate the historical tribal structures into the national political system. It will not look like anything we can envision at this point, and may vary from province to province or even from tribe to tribe. But it can be done. Tribal Engagement Teams can help facilitate this.