One Tribe at a Time
in. Some of these lashkars have as many 14,000 members in the FATA (Federally Administrated Tribal Areas) of Pakistan.” (DeYoung, Will Give Arms To Tribal Militias) Kalashnikov and Laptop, Giustozzi, p. 39.) e enemy thinks he can wait us out. Howeve , we can turn time into an ally if we engage and partner with the tribes and, most importantly, demonstrate our commitment to them. My Tribal Engagement Strategy can beat the Taliban at its own game. “In its simplicity and eec- tiveness, the insurgents’ reliance on small teams to inltrate villages and weed-out pro-Kabul ele- ments was to prove one of the strongest aspects of the Taliban strategy. It pitted Taliban strength (abundance of commitment, ideologically indoctri- nated young ghters able to achieve basic tasks even without supervision from eld commanders) against government/Coalition Forces weaknesses (shortage of manpower, little or no presence in the villages, inability to patrol extensively away from the main roads, and a lack of eective intelligence networks in most areas).” (Koran, Kalashnikov and Laptop, Gius- tozzi, p. 102) One tribal leader was recently quoted as saying, “I don’t need tanks. I don’t need planes. I don’t even need a single bullet. I will use sticks and I will use the guns my people have to defend themselves.” (Sappeneld, To Fight Taliban) Is that clear enough? Tribalism versus Talibanism My team and I clearly proved it can be done. Malik Noorafzhal and his people loved us. ey enjoyed our stories and our culture. We were able to disprove many of their preconceived notions about “us” (outsiders, Americans, indels or whatever).
When we left there, I promise you that the tribe in Mangwel thought very highly of Americans and what we represented, how we acted, and how we treated them. is is not just of tactical importance to under- stand, but strategic importance as well.
e enemy thinks he can wait us out. However,
we can turn time into an ally if we engage and partner with the tribes and, most importantly, demonstrate our commitment to them. Once they believe that we share the same objectives and are not leaving, they will support us and ght alongside us.
“e Taliban is exploiting our major strategic . . . and tactical weakness: an inability to connect with the population (the tribes). Ocials working in Pakistan and Afghanistan support this view, claiming that the youth ‘oppose the current tribal system because they know it is not harnessing its potential.’” (Koran,
We must help the tribes protect themselves by
ghting alongside them. Will we make mistakes?
Yes. But the risk is well worth the gain.
B : For the Afghan people, the real war is one of Tribalism vs. Talibanism. If we do not move now to support the tribes in this ght for their lives, it will produce a number of consequences, all of them bad: Taliban operations will expand over larger areas, killing more tribesmen and sweeping in more recruits as they go.
e one system in Afghanistan that has been
reliable for centuries will continue to crumble, result- ing in more disaected tribal members drifting into terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism. us we will give up on the most critical element of Afghan society that can ultimately defeat the Taliban—the tribes. We simply cannot let this happen.
My Tribal Engagement Strategy can beat the Taliban at its own game.