View Full Version : RAND's commentary "Afghanistan's Local Insurgency"

02-03-2007, 07:15 PM

02-03-2007, 07:59 PM
The lesson for the United States and NATO is stark. They will win or lose Afghanistan in the rural villages and districts of the country, not in the capital city of Kabul. And if they are to win, they must begin by understanding the local nature of the insurgency.

Thanks for the Link Kaur !

I have now rotated six times with our HDO missions, and can say this is indeed reality there. Our units meshed well and we even had a sauna party with the locals - worked extremely well. If the locals give, the rest will follow suit.

Regards, Stan

03-12-2007, 09:06 AM
Here is link to Rand's publication.


After little bit more than 5 years of action in Afganistan the Pakistan question is still unsolved :(

Here is map of Pushtu tribes to illustrate the situation.

This Pakistan question reminds me question from Rumsfeld's letter form 2003.

"Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?"


03-12-2007, 02:00 PM
Re: opium production and involvement of clerics/mosques/schools in delegitimizing production.

This presupposes dimished demands for the product. The analogy is our own inner city dealers and their mules. One good afternoon on the street corner pays more than 6 months of working full time at McDonalds. I wonder how a small buy-out program would work instead? How much does the opium farmer actually make? We pay our own farmers not to produce, so in principle couldn't their opium be bought at fair market value then later burned? (the troops staying upwind during the burning phase of the operation of course) I don't have the answer, I'm just throwing out an idea here.

03-12-2007, 03:09 PM
Having seen the dope trade intimately during my upbringing, I will attest to the fact that most street level dealers do not make much money. It is very much a boom-bust business at the street level. A good afternoon can make $300-500, but far more often are the $25-80 days, where the takings have to be split among an entire shift crew. Of course this seems like great money when you are 12-14, but things change as one ages.

The real money is always made at the mid and upper levels.

03-12-2007, 04:01 PM
Hey Goesh,
I like your idea, and coming from a family with farmers in PA I even somewhat understand the related scenario. But if we per se bought it all tomorrow and subsequently created a market crash :confused: , would we end up eventually with even more around as 'suppliers' spooled up ?

Much like Tequila, I spent my youth in DC and Suitland, MD (as a snow-white boy) watching the drug trade in the staircases at school and on the streets in the evenings. The little man in the food chain made what amounts to jack and was all to often the one caught.

Let's take the problem out at the roots...I prefer napalm :D

John T. Fishel
03-12-2007, 04:17 PM
While I have a lot of sympathy for the notion of paying not to produce opium, we have a great deal of experience with similar programs for coca leaf in Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru. The problem is that farmers take the money, destroy the crop in the fields, and grow another crop in fields that were not covered by the agreement. The reason is, that demand for the product remains high enough to make it worthwhile to circumvent the intent of the program.
Conceptually, what works is to identify the current "center of gravity" and attack it. In Bolivia in 1986, this was the drug lab where coca paste was converted to base or cocaine. Attacking the labs caused demand to drop temporarily and the farmers were then receptive to the idea of planting alternative crops.
A lack of political will in both the USG and the Bolivian government caused the attack on the labs to subside and incorrect analysis changed the focus so that demand rose again. In addition, the center of gravity shifted away from the centraized drug lab. Still, the lessons of Operation Blast Furnace should be/have been learned.

03-12-2007, 04:28 PM
I would like to suggest that the only realistic way out of this problem is the legalization of drugs.

We turn ourselves inside out trying to stop the importation and consumption of drugs which, I believe, is impossible. It is in human nature to want to make things better in an easy way, drugs do that, at least in the short term. A substantial portion of our people don't see anything wrong with drug use and their minds probably can't be changed. From an economic standpoint, the object of stopping drug use is to retain the full economic potential of drug users. From personal observation, I don't think drug users have much to contribute economically anyway.

The situation now provides a lot of money to people who would do us harm and gets a lot of people killed (Columbian policemen etc.) who don't really have much to do with our problem. If we legalized drugs, we would deprive terrorists and criminals of money they use to hurt us and our allies.

The details of which drugs and how much and when; questions like that are to be left for later. I am interested in what you guys think.

Let the condemnation begin.

03-12-2007, 07:13 PM
Hi Carl !

I always thought that our drug laws were designed to be a deterent from using drugs. Something like fear of getting into trouble with the law would constitute a reason not to use drugs.

Jeez, that sounds kinda stupid already :cool:

On the other hand, I've seen first hand the effects on countries with lax drug
laws and/or enforcement. Increases in drug addiction and related crime. Geneva, Switzerland in 2002 comes to mind. Sounds like a strange place for drug problems, until you see it with your own eyes while downing a baguette and caffe latte in the AM.

Lastly, unless all 'psycho' and addictive drugs in all strengths were made available to everybody and in unlimited quantity, a black market would still exist. Would we ever be free of the problem ?

I think I'm still drawn to the use of napalm :eek:

03-12-2007, 10:57 PM
carl,do you want to legalize drugs here in the US or Afghanistan?

03-13-2007, 08:42 AM
I should have made clear that I mean legalize drug use in the US. Personally, I would legalize everything. If they want to fry themselves; let them. You would have to have laws on when use is permitted, much like alchohol, but if they want to do it on your own time, go ahead buddy.

I don't know that much about Switzerland but it seems that aside from the visible assault on sensibilties that Stan describes, the country seems to be doing pretty well.

One thing I don't think people realize is how much the "drug war" detracts from other parts of policing in the US. In the agency I worked for there was always a lot of money available if you could use the word "drugs" in the request. But if you needed resources for something like burglary, a crime with a victim who complains, good luck.

One other thing also is, despite popular perception, some of these drugs can be used quite regularly without leading to a destroyed life; even heroin, Robert Downey being a case in point. He does great work and his life would be uneventful if his favorite drug wasn't illegal.

Please let me make it clear that I don't advocate drug use, it is a great weakness. But it can't be stopped and the price we pay as a nation is greater than the benefit derived. Especially now when the money made, because of the illegality of drugs, can be so easily used against us.

Tom Odom
03-13-2007, 12:39 PM
Personally I agree with Carl.

The current "war on drugs" is prohibition redux.

I would rather see the billiions of dollars spent on this used for rehab and education with drug production licensed and supervised by the government.

And yes the immediate results would not be pretty. Then again the results right now are quite ugly, extremely expensive, and offer no real hope for improvement. You cannot win a war without addressing demand.



03-16-2007, 02:01 PM
Narcotics is one motivation to resist NATO troops. For too many people this is best way to get income (from farmers to warlords). The other motivation is ideolgogical and stems from Pakistan. During the past years there has been little success to deal with madrassas and different preachers. Pakistani troops don't control Federally Administered Tribal Areas and coalition can't enter in large scale. What do you think, how long will this sitation continue ... or we will see this seasonal rural guerilla warfare fighting cycle year after year?

03-23-2007, 07:47 AM
Article about Taliban in Pakistan to illustarate the rear of Afganistan's insurgency.


Pakistan's thinks that 1 solution to problem would be expulsion of 2,4 million Afgan refugees.


03-23-2007, 03:08 PM
This story seems to get more confusing as the days go on…

Al Qaeda Uzbeks, Pakistani tribesmen clash

30 die in militant clash in Pakistan
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070320/ap_on_re_as/pakistan_militant_fighting_1;_ylt=Anp3R.RDcrQ4XxUu 85c0YcTzPukA

Two students die in clash between militants

42 Uzbeks among 58 dead: Fierce clashes in S. Waziristan

Death toll hits 70 in Pakistan clashes
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070321/ap_on_re_as/pakistan_militant_fighting;_ylt=Agl1vaAQ4r7RwO6upf .vJqqs0NUE

100 killed in Pakistan militant battles
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070321/wl_sthasia_afp/pakistanafghanistanuzbekistanqaedaunrest_070321115 620;_ylt=AqbeDSKPQOE2sB6h7jIZAlrzPukA

There is still too much confussion to say exactly what is going on. I guess we have to wait for some days until a clear picture is emerging… Seems to me it is case of some extreme power struggle there.

03-27-2007, 07:39 AM
After Action Report from Afganistan. Feb 26, 2007


03-27-2007, 01:47 PM
IISS's magazine Survival - Vol 49, No 1 - Spring 2007 has article "Pakistan's Dangerous Game" by Seth G. Jones which says:

The rising level of violence in Afghanistan has triggered widespread calls to increase NATO’s presence. But there is growing evidence that a critical part of the solution lies not in Afghanistan, but across the Khyber Pass in Pakistan. Increasing the number of foreign troops or improving the competence of Afghan forces are no longer sufficient. Success requires a difficult political and diplomatic feat: convincing the government of Pakistan to undermine the insurgent sanctuary on its soil. It is time to fundamentally alter America’s and Europe’s approach toward Pakistan. Policymakers should focus on a much tougher policy that pressures Pakistan to curb public recruitment campaigns for the Taliban, close training camps and arrest key Taliban leaders in Pakistan.

I should go to library ...

03-29-2007, 06:36 AM
Jamestown, March 27 "Uzbek Fighters in Pakistan Reportedly Return to Afghanistan"


04-02-2007, 06:48 AM
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty "Central Asia: Has IMU Reached The End Of The Line?"


04-09-2007, 01:09 PM
"Economist" writes about Pakistani education system.

Pakistan's real educational battlefield, however, is less in its madrassas than in its rotten mainstream schools and universities. In the absence of a decent education, points out Javed Ashraf Qazi, the education minister, “illiterate masses become ready recruits for all sorts of unhealthy activities.” Perhaps recognising this, America has not wasted a dime on madrassa reform. But it has pledged $256m for mainstream education between 2002 and 2007.

Officially, 53% of Pakistanis are literate. Others say the figure is nearer 30%. Literacy, often defined as no more than the ability to write one's name, is as low as 3% among women in some rural areas. Pakistan has a rapidly ballooning population of 160m with over 85m people below the age of 19. The education system, left to atrophy for 30 years, is crippled by every possible ill: crumbling classrooms, poor teaching materials, untrained and truant teachers and endemic corruption.

But the good news ends there. Poorer provinces have been unable to cash in. Baluchistan, blighted by a low-level separatist insurgency, has been able to increase spending by only 20-30%. Across Pakistan as a whole, only 52% of primary-school-age pupils attend school. Of those, nearly one-third will drop out. Only 22% of girls above the age of ten complete primary schooling, compared with 47% of boys.

Some 3,500 schools do not have a building; of those that do, 4,000 are classed as “dangerous”; 29,000 schools have no electricity; 14,000 have no drinking water; 22,000 do not have a toilet; 4,000 consist of a single classroom; and fewer than 100 secondary schools have science labs. The quality of education is still poor, and the government is far off its target of providing universal primary education by 2015.


04-17-2007, 07:06 AM
"Economist" writes "Taliban all over."