One Tribe at a Time
probleMS, chAllengeS, QueStionS
T HE FOLLOWING ARE ISSUES BEYOND the scope of this paper that would have to be addressed and dealt with to accomplish the goals set forth in these pages. I cite them in this space, up front, so that the reader understands that I am aware of them and of their importance and dif- culty. I will not attempt to address these issues in this paper. e time and research required are simply beyond my pay grade. By themselves these issues demand papers or even books.
Beyond the strategy itself, what has to happen for a Tribal Engagement Strategy (TES) to work?
1. A strategy of tribal engagement will require a complete paradigm shift at the highest levels of our military organization—and the ability to push these changes down to group/brigade and battalion com- manders. I believe Secretary Gates, Gen. Petraeus and Gen. McChrystal are exible and forceful enough to embrace a strategy of this type. My fear is that the farther down the “food-chain” it travels, the more it might be resisted by ground commanders.
What specic tactical changes need to happen?
Command and Control of the Tribal Engagement Teams (TET) would have to be streamlined dra- matically. “One radio call could get an answer.”
e CONOP approval process (used to get mis- sions approved from higher headquarters) has to be streamlined. Some missions might have to be con- ducted with no approval, due to the time-sensitive nature of the opportunity. e TETs would need special “trust and approval.”
e risk-averse nature of our current method of operating would have to change. American soldiers would die. Some of them alone, with no support. Some may simply disappear. Everyone has to understand that from the outset.
TETs must be allowed to be on their own, grow
beards, wear local garb, and interact with the tribes-
men at all levels. ey must be allowed to be what they are: “American tribesmen.”
Use of OPFUND (money) needs to be stream- lined. e TETs will need special trust to do what is needed with money allocated to help the tribe. Money and guns equal the ultimate power.
Rules of Engagement (ROE) must change. Using the TETs will become a very intense, personal ght. If they need to drop bombs or pursue an enemy, they must be able to do so. e teams will always
ght alongside Tribal Security Forces (TSFs), and no missions will be conducted unilaterally. ere will always be an Afghan face on any mission.
2. Identifying, attracting and training American per- sonnel who could perform this type of mission would be a daunting task.
3. e strategic challenge of Pakistan as a sanctuary, recruiting base and source of funding and military expertise would have to be addressed. e United States cannot aord to destabilize Pakistan any more than it already is. However, a TES (Tribal Engage- ment Strategy) could positively inuence this situa- tion. Most Taliban funding, recruitment and training takes place in Pakistan. Not to mention the safe haven it provides.
4. e lack of a viable judicial system. e current government-led judicial system is corrupt, slow and there are too few judges deemed legitimate by the populace to properly impose any rule of law in the vast and largely rural areas of Afghanistan. e Tal- iban has moved into many of these areas and gained footholds by dispensing justice, adjudicating disputes and acting as judges. It will take decades to improve this situation.
5. e warlord issue in Afghanistan. Do we ght them? Pay them? Co-opt them? Use them as sur- rogates? Advise, assist, and train them like we would do with the tribes? e warlords can denitely be