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Old 11-27-2008   #1
Entropy
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Default The Pashtun factor (catch all)

Moderator's Note

I have today merged four threads here. The thread was named Assessment of Pashtun insurgencyand has been re-named The Pashtun factor (catch all) (ends)


Ran across this over at Ghosts of Alexander and it seems like it is something the COIN center in Kabul or any deployer would want to read. Maybe we can get a PDF copy here.

Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-26-2014 at 02:01 PM. Reason: typos. Add Mod's Note
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Old 11-09-2009   #2
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Default Is McChrystal Going To Loose.

He will according to this Article from the new Military Review! he dose not have the right Strategy to win according to this article.

http://usacac.army.mil/CAC2/Military...231_art004.pdf

Is there any merit to this article?

(Added by moderator)Post 6 posed a question about the article and so earlier posts on another thread have been copied here.

From Yadernye:
Quote:
I am curious to hear other opinions about the analysis of the Af/Pak insurgency published by Thomas H. Johnson and M. Chris Mason in the Nov/Dec edition of Military Review.

Last edited by davidbfpo; 11-14-2009 at 09:08 PM. Reason: Moderator added comments as this post did not start the thread discussion, it's complicated. Read on!
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Old 11-10-2009   #3
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Slap:

Johnson and Mason are not far off where my lines are crossing, but coming around it from the civilian side.

So many folks in Iraq were preaching "Democracy" out of a very naive school book version. In Maryland alone, there are 23 counties and the city of Baltimore, and hundreds of individual "towns" and community associations with varying authority. Interwoven into that are hundreds of independent and interagency bodies with special authority, from local school boards to regional transit authorities. It is indeed a complex and locally engaged web of legitimate governing relationships that actually make the tribal, valley-by-valley thing look simplistic.

Sure, OK, there is a supposedly strong national government, but aside from some often-contested "must do's" (the Consititution), most actions from the top down are driven by carrots and sticks of payola and buy-offs. Else the idea fails to stick.

In Iraq, for a lot of immutable reasons, the power and rational of national ministries was inherent in the system---the DNA that operated in the background no matter what the US tried to do for reconstruction under a new "provincial" governance model.

By contrast, Afghanistan is two inherently conflicting fields of public---urban vs. rural, and the rural is tribal/district/sub-district.

Military and foreign service, on one year assignments, are not going to be able to grasp and engage these rural areas' leaders and formal and informal structures. Instead, any PRT cadre assigned to these areas (more like CORDS than PRTs) need to be something different than, for example, the PRTs deployed in Iraq.

I never understood the mishmash of Subject Matter Experts assigned down to PRTs in Iraq. Instead, the handful of Senior SMEs, in my opinion, should have been circuit riders to better support less top-heavy, younger, and more aggressively deployed PRTs (more like on an EPRT model as far as flexibility and local reach).

It would be far easier for me, for example, as a Senior Planning SME, to mini-train and coordinate programs and resources down to an engaged DRT System than to waste mine and their time and resources doing so for a few small villages.

What I took away from Johnson and Mason, as an organizational matter, is that a cadre of minimally cross-trained, but highly supported, DRTs, probably military for some time to come, would provide the best penetration/connections to the Pashtun (and other) rural villages---all as the necessary backstop to prevent Taliban encirclement of those urbanites.

Somewhere in the middle, you try to bridge gaps, whether by diplomacy or other means.

Is that about right?

Steve
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Old 11-10-2009   #4
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Default Johnson and Mason article

I'll leave aside the accuracy of their recollections of Vietnam. They point out the near-FUBAR state of the political effort in Astan. Their DRT concept seems a level too high. If Vietnam is any lesson, it is that security and political action must be solid at the village level. There are roughly 40,000 villages in Astan. That is the magnitude of the political action problem. No solution within our capabilities has been presented by anyone I've read.
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Old 11-10-2009   #5
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Default Actually I take a different lesson from 'Nam

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Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
I'll leave aside the accuracy of their recollections of Vietnam. They point out the near-FUBAR state of the political effort in Astan. Their DRT concept seems a level too high. If Vietnam is any lesson, it is that security and political action must be solid at the village level. There are roughly 40,000 villages in Astan. That is the magnitude of the political action problem. No solution within our capabilities has been presented by anyone I've read.
The lesson I take is that when a couple of outside actors waging a much larger competition use the populace of some smaller state to wage their contest in a form of pawn warfare don't be so blinded by your own ends that you are oblivious to those of the populace involved.

We propped up a series of three different ass-hats in Nam because we didn't want the Soviets to go "+1" in the global pawn warfare game that defined much of the Cold War; while the Soviets backed the side seeking freedom from the widely hated scourge of Western Colonialism.

Today there are a large number of populaces across the Middle East also seeking to get out from under the remnants of Western Colonialism and the governments imposed by the West during the Cold War to assure "friendly" relations and the flow of oil...

Once again, I believe we have picked the wrong side, and that is a hard hand to play. This is why I strongly recommned that we co-opt the majority of the AQ message and ussurp them as the champions of the populaces of the Middle East in their quest for better governance. Such a move would sweep AQ's feet out from under them and bring the U.S. into line with our national principles.

But one'll never see this with their nose pressed against Afghanistan; or with their brain obsessed with rhetoric of the ideology AQ employs. Afghanistan is just one of many states in play, and ideologies are like socks, you need them, but you can change them too. Step back and the picture gets clearer.
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Old 11-10-2009   #6
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Default Hi Bob,

My comment re: lesson learned in Vietnam applied to the tactical level - and a very basic level, that of the villages and their hamlets.

Your comment pertains to the strategic level, which is fine since that is what you do for a living. Your comment goes beyond one nation (Astan) and looks to the region (basically Indian Ocean littorals and continental land masses, from say Egypt to Indonesia to include most of the Muslim World).

Going back 40-50 years, we (US) were looking at containment of two Communist powers (SovComs and ChiComs) in the region of Southeast Asia. The result there was a "win" from our standpoint - Indochina became Communist; but the remainder remained non-Communist - though not a US proxy (ASEAN, etc.). The key was Indonesia which found its third way, not without a great deal of bloodshed.

Whether that "model" has any application to the Muslim World is another question. Your "friends" in the Kingdom certainly employ much of AQ's message - in truth, AQ has co-opted much of the Kingdom's message and added enhancements to it. Unless I've misunderstood much of what you have written, the Kingdom does not fall within your definition of "good governance".

What would this Muslim World "Third Way" message look like ? You know me, I like concrete examples.

Regards

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Old 11-14-2009   #7
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Arrow Assessment of Pashtun insurgency

I am curious to hear other opinions about the analysis of the Af/Pak insurgency published by Thomas H. Johnson and M. Chris Mason in the Nov/Dec edition of Military Review:

The point they made that leaped out at me was this:

Quote:
Insurrections are hardly new phenomena in Afghanistan.10 Previous Afghan leaders have had varying degrees of success in subduing rural religious insurrection. The degree of that success depended on how much of the population viewed the regime as legitimate and how much it stayed out of the daily lives of the people. And Afghan history demonstrates conclusively that legitimacy of governance comes exclusively from two immutable sources: dynastic (monarchies and tribal patriarchies) and religious, or sometimes both.11 These equate to the traditional and religious sources cited by noted sociologist Max Weber.12

Unfortunately, the Karzai government owes its only claim to legitimacy to Weber’s third source, the legal one (e.g., western-style elections and the rule of law). This has no historical precedent as a basis for legitimizing Afghan rule at all, however, and the notion that the West can apply it to Afghan society like a coat of paint is simply wishful thinking. In essence, the Karzai government is illegitimate because it is elected.13

...This problem of illegitimacy is especially acute at the village level of rural Pashtun society, where dynastic and religious authority has been unquestioned for over a thousand years.14 The widespread perception among Afghans that the Karzai government is illegitimate—because it lacks any traditional or religious legitimacy—predates Karzai’s August disgrace by five years.
This explains a lot, in my opinion, and does not bode well. What I would like to know is how accurate his analysis is. Anthropology and sociology are not my specialties. Johnson is Director of the Program for Culture & Conflict Studies at the Naval Postgraduate School and did not pull this assessment out of thin air. There is a page on NPS linking to a long line of his publications that show the evolution of his analysis of the Pashtun insurgency, which is the most sophisticated that I have yet seen. I specifically recommend "No Sign until the Burst of Fire: Understanding the Pakistan - Afghanistan Frontier" and "The Taliban Insurgency and an Analysis of Shabnamah (Night Letters)."

Cheers,

Yadernye
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Old 11-14-2009   #8
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Default Military Review article has been touched upon

Yadernye,

The Military Review article appeared a few days ago on the current thread on the Afghan campaign: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...t=7128&page=27 With comments at Posts 530-540.

It was a short discussion, have a peek. If there is a lot you want to contribute you can go to that thread; if the discussion "takes off" a new thread can be created to keep the focus on the article's view of the Pashtun insurgency. Updated: earlier posts on other thread copied here.

Welcome aboard.
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Old 11-14-2009   #9
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Yaderyne,

Welcome Aboard, and thanks for the link. I enjoyed the article. Here's my take based off my current thoughts on small wars.

1. Similarities of differing insurgencies. The description provided by the authors was the strongest point of the article. The simple answer that they did not highlight was that both groups were conducting a version of Mao's Protracted War. IMO, it's THE playbook for a people's rebellion, social movement, or gang warfare. In each case, you take Mao broadly and apply it for METT-TC (Mission, Enemy, Time, Troops, Terrain, Civilians) in a given situation.

2. The Sine Qua Non of Counterinsurgency: Legitimacy. I disagree with this assertion, and IMO, it is something that we get fundamentally wrong when trying to understand small wars. Instead, the sine qua non of small wars is control. Legitimacy is merely a subset. For instance, does a farmer out in the boondocks care if Karzai is legitimate? No. He cares about his farm and his family. In terms of control, he wants to know who to go to IOT get fair settlements when he has disagreements with his neighbor.

Mike
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Old 11-14-2009   #10
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Default Mike, another perspective on "legitimacy" and "control"

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Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
Yaderyne,

Welcome Aboard, and thanks for the link. I enjoyed the article. Here's my take based off my current thoughts on small wars.

1. Similarities of differing insurgencies. The description provided by the authors was the strongest point of the article. The simple answer that they did not highlight was that both groups were conducting a version of Mao's Protracted War. IMO, it's THE playbook for a people's rebellion, social movement, or gang warfare. In each case, you take Mao broadly and apply it for METT-TC (Mission, Enemy, Time, Troops, Terrain, Civilians) in a given situation.

2. The Sine Qua Non of Counterinsurgency: Legitimacy. I disagree with this assertion, and IMO, it is something that we get fundamentally wrong when trying to understand small wars. Instead, the sine qua non of small wars is control. Legitimacy is merely a subset. For instance, does a farmer out in the boondocks care if Karzai is legitimate? No. He cares about his farm and his family. In terms of control, he wants to know who to go to IOT get fair settlements when he has disagreements with his neighbor.

Mike
I think it is probably more useful to consider any and all governments as "legitimate." I realize that flies in the face of traditional logic, but traditional logic also creates tremendous obstacles to effectively dealing with governments who's legitimacy WE disapprove of; and also causes us to overlook problems with the nature of the legitimacy of a government that WE do approve of. Bottom line on legitimacy is that what is important is that the populace served by any particular government recognizes its source of legitimacy.

The U.S. gets into a lot of trouble in meddling efforts to manipulate who gets into, gets removed from, or sustain in government over the populaces of others. We value OUR approval of such governments over how well the populaces of those same states approve. This is what, in my opinion, causes a manipulating outside state to become the target of a nationalist insurgency movement when the people act out to attempt to get a government whose legitimacy they recognize.

So, we ask the wrong question. We ask: "Is this government legitimate by our standards." What we should ask is "Does the relevant populace recognize the legitimacy of this government."

Next, "Control." The majority position that comes up over and over is that a measure of effective governance is its ability to control the populace. This is a slippery slope. Most people don't want to be "controlled," so much as they want the government to control the things that enable them to pursue their lives in relative peace and security. A fine nuance, but the government needs to exert reasonable (as defined by the populace) control over the environment the populace lives within, not over the populace themselves.
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Old 11-14-2009   #11
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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
I think it is probably more useful to consider any and all governments as "legitimate." I realize that flies in the face of traditional logic, but traditional logic also creates tremendous obstacles to effectively dealing with governments who's legitimacy WE disapprove of; and also causes us to overlook problems with the nature of the legitimacy of a government that WE do approve of. Bottom line on legitimacy is that what is important is that the populace served by any particular government recognizes its source of legitimacy.
Does this include 'shadow' governments (i.e. ISI in Iraq, Taliban in AfPak)?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
Next, "Control." The majority position that comes up over and over is that a measure of effective governance is its ability to control the populace. This is a slippery slope. Most people don't want to be "controlled," so much as they want the government to control the things that enable them to pursue their lives in relative peace and security. A fine nuance, but the government needs to exert reasonable (as defined by the populace) control over the environment the populace lives within, not over the populace themselves.
Agreed, but my definition of 'control' has adapted over the last year. Today, it's more towards a 'social contract' defined by laws and LE rather than physical control. For instance, I believe that I can leave my apartment, go to the store, and conduct my business in a safe environment. I trust that the police are patrolling the streets, and our judicial system will take action when someone violates the laws. I feel secure. That's why events like Ft Hood, Colombine, and Va Tech scare folks. They attempt to unravel the social contract and present it as an illusion of control. So, in this sense, control is more of a feeling of security not manipulation by the gov't.

Mike
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Old 11-14-2009   #12
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Default The Crucial Difference

The Johnson-Mason article compares Astan to Vnam; finds similar indigenous governance problems in both; bashes the so-called Big Army "Concept"; etc., etc.; but comes up with a proposed solution, starting here (pp. 6-7):

Quote:
The Critical Difference

There is, however, one critical positive difference between Afghanistan and Vietnam—one which might salvage the war if decision makers grasp it. As we have argued, the central task is establishing legitimacy of governance to deny political control to the Taliban. In Afghanistan, as in South Vietnam, at the national level, this is simply impossible in the time available. It is beyond our power to change an entire society. However, in Afghanistan, this critical legitimacy does not have to be national; it can be local. Governance in the rural areas of Afghanistan has historically been decentralized and tribal, and stability has come from a complex, interlocking web of tribal networks.23 If Western leaders can think outside the box created by the Treaty of Westphalia and embrace non-Western forms of legitimacy, they could possibly reverse the descending trajectory of the war. Instead of focusing energy and resources on building a sand castle at the water’s edge, as we did repeatedly in Saigon after each new coup, we have argued for years that we should focus on rebuilding the traditional local legitimacy of governance in the existing networks of tribal leaders.24 A culturally adept policy would seek to reestablish stability in rural Afghanistan by putting it back the way it was before the Soviets invaded in 1979. This means re-empowering the village elders as contrasted with the current policy of trying to further marginalize them with local elections (and thus more local illegitimacy). Recent research has demonstrated conclusively that the Community Development Councils set up by the United Nations and the U.S. Agency for International Development in parallel to the tribal system increase instability and conflict, rather than reducing it.25 Reestablishing local legitimacy of governance is, in fact, the one remaining chance to pull something resembling our security goals in Afghanistan out of the fatally flawed Bonn Process and the yawning jaws of defeat. The tragedy of Vietnam was that there were no political solutions. The tragedy of Afghanistan is that there is a political solution, but we keep ignoring it in favor of trying to force them to be like us.
Implementation of this "crucial difference" would be via some 200 District Reconstruction Teams (DRTs), whose base areas would like something like so (p.12):

Quote:
At the district level, there must be a very obvious Afghan face on the mission. The international element of security, some 70 or 80 American men and women, should be discreetly at the center of concentric rings of security, with police “security” in the outer ring outside the FOB, and the Afghan National Army in the middle ring inside the FOB providing the visible security. The locals will know the Americans are there, able to call in fire support for the Afghan army (and the local base) if necessary, but serving as the hidden “big stick” of the local forces while they, the local forces, have the confidence to conduct security operations in support of the local tribal leaders.
Curious that the article dumps on the Big Army "Concept", but retains the FOB focus point. In any event, the proposal is far different from the Marine CAPs pilot program, and its much bigger brother the Vietnamese Pacifcation program (of which, CORDS was only a part) - where both operated on the village-hamlet level sans FOBs.

Beyond summarizing what seems the meat of the proposal, I'll pass on a military evaluation. I would be interested in what Phil Ritterhof thinks of the proposal as compared to the Marine CAPs and associated Vnam programs.

As to the political situation in Astan, I've stated elsewhere that it is near-FUBAR (so the OP comment that it "does not bode well" is if anything charitable). Politically, I'd rate Astan lower on the scale than 1967-1972 Vietnam.

Best to all

Mike

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Old 11-15-2009   #13
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In most wars (all wars?) one side has to win for the other to lose. One would imagine that if the US and its allies are about to lose, somebody must be about to win. Who would that be? It can be more than one group. But it must be SOMEONE. I would like to submit that the US can still "win" in afghanistan because the taliban are NOT the Vietnamese communists. Left to themselves, a purely Afghan Taliban could indeed win an insurgency (though not necessarily all of Afghanistan). But they are not all alone. Just like the US and its allies are capable of mucking up local afghan forces that COULD have held most of Afghanistan with some help from their friends, the taliban have become ever more enmeshed with groups of jihadis that are so insane, they can snatch defeat from the jaws of any victory. I have to run, but I will expand on this idea soon inshallah. ....it aint over till the fat lady sings.
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Old 11-15-2009   #14
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Thanks for the welcome, folks.

To me, the interesting thing about Johnson's arguments is that he provides an explanation for the Pashtun insurgency that isn't focused on the Taliban/AQ relationship. He argues that the problem driving the insurgency is the breakdown of traditional tribal structures based on Pashtunwali self-government. This breakdown began with efforts in the 1970s by the Pakistani government to impose conservative Islam on the Pashtuns to quell any incipient nationalism. The Islamization of the Pashtuns accelerated during the Soviet occupation, which the Pakistanis exploited with their support for the Taliban in the 90s.

As McChrystal's ISAF evaluation points out, the Taliban are now only one of several Pashtun insurgent groups, loosely affiliated through their opposition to both the Afghan and Pakistani governments. Johnson argues that the way to quell this insurgency is to reconstruct the traditional balance between tribal elders, mullahs and central governments that existed before the early 1970s, and to restore the primacy of Pashtunwali-based Pashtun self-government.

If Johnson's argument is correct, than any COIN CONOP that involves pushing the authority of a central government upon Pashtun tribes who have never submitted to such an arrangement is akin to pouring gasoline on a fire. But...the focus of current U.S. strategy is to strengthen the Afghan government and security forces, thereby allowing U.S. military forces to depart.
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Old 11-16-2009   #15
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Quote:
If Johnson's argument is correct, than any COIN CONOP that involves pushing the authority of a central government upon Pashtun tribes who have never submitted to such an arrangement is akin to pouring gasoline on a fire. But...the focus of current U.S. strategy is to strengthen the Afghan government and security forces, thereby allowing U.S. military forces to depart.
Since we are tied into that plan pretty deeply by now, and desire to have a government that can be relied on to live up to its part of the bargain (minimal corruption, more efficiency, etc., etc.), do we need to modify the approach and shape that government into a body that can be less a dose of gasoline and more like a pan lid that can quell the fire somewhat?

Put another way, can we ever facilitate central government power over Pashtun areas in a way that compliments their daily way of life, as opposed to being two pieces of sand paper rubbing against each other? If the honest answer is no, then we have some serious decisions within decisions that have to be made. Why we would have elements of a overall strategy that work at cross purposes is depressing at times.

In better news, there were 9 military servicemember deaths in Iraq last month, by CNN's tally. Only 2 of them were due to hostile action. The preceding few months are similar. Sectarianism aside, Iraqis at least had a tradition of a strong central base they had lived under, perhaps making it easier to return to central government control.
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Old 11-16-2009   #16
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Default The Pashtun Problem

Focus on the "the breakdown of traditional tribal structures based on Pashtunwali self-government" is nothing new. Kilcullen spends quite a bit of time on it in The Accidental Guerrilla. And, any thinking person knows that it is a combined Pstan and Astan problem because the Pashtuns are on both sides of the artificial border.

The question is how to solve the "Pashtun Problem". One solution is the top down approach of the Coalition in Astan to enhance the central Karzai government; which has its counterpart in the Pakistani efforts against the Taliban and associated groups in its own Pashtunistan.

Neither takes into account local governance in any real sense (compare the Taliban approach, which does provide governance down to the village level, no matter how flawed we think that "shadow governance" is).

Johnson-Mason would attempt to get back to the pre-SovCom Invasion structure of a weak central government and strong local tribal structures by moving reconstruction teams down to the district level. How this would differ from a top down (essentially a rule by law, nor rule of law) approach is not readily apparent to me.

From our (US and ISAF) standpoint, the lack of a non-Taliban center of gravity (or centers of gravity) among the Pashtuns is a real hurdle. Correct me if I am wrong, but I have not read of any large Pashtun group that could be co-opted, either as an ally of the Karzai government, or as a solid regional group that would be willing to take our side (even if not loving of Mr Karzai).

Another, and far more radical, approach is that suggested in Steve Pressfield's series of articles on reaching down to the tribes. There we can link to Jim Gant's One Tribe At A Time, which lays down in as much detail as he could provide the TTP for co-opting one small tribe via one ODA (e.g., p.28).

Quote:
Bottom line: The GIRoA (Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan) must find 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.
A very good read, etc.

Again, MAJ Gant's approach is not new - it goes back to the initial stages of the CIA-SF operations in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. By very local work, the indigenous tribe is assisted to create its own security zone and, as an important incidence of that, its own local governance. As such, it creates a "rule of law" situation (a bubble up from the indigenous villagers), which is far removed from the "rule by law" situation imposed by many versions of population-centric counter-insurgency.

The problem with Jim Gant's solution is that it is in effect a form of revolutionary counter-insurgency. The indigenous villagers come to realize their own value and power, which reinforces their primary loyalty to their own institutions. To the extent they have secondary loyalty, it is to the US SF soldiers who assisted them (and who represent the US in their eyes). All of that is contrary to established US policy in Astan (as it was in Vietnam).

If we were starting this from scratch, I'd vote for MAJ Gant's solution. Given the policies in place, I'm quite certain that is not going to be the solution adopted by the "Powers That Be". I expect to see more of the same.

And, some form of conversation between ISAF officers similar to this between two French officers during the First Indochina War, after their unit (6th Spahis) had spent much of a week clearing a village and adjacent area of Viet Minh (well, not quite completely, as the dialogue suggests). It makes a point as the two officers discuss a five person civic action team, all Vietnamese, who had just joined them and who now had to "hold and build". The conversation is from Bernard Fall, Street Without Joy, pp.154-155):

Quote:
MAJ Derrieu: Funny, they just never seem to succeed in striking the right note with the population. Either they come in and try to apologize for the mess we've just made with our planes and tanks; or they swagger and threaten the farmers as if they were enemy nationals which - let's face it - they are in many cases.

LT Dujardin: That may be so, but I wouldn't care to be in his shoes tonight when we pull out. He's going to stay right here in the house which the Commie commander still occupied yesterday, all by himself with the four other guys of his administrative team, with the nearest [military] post 300 metres away. Hell, I'll bet he won't even sleep here but sleep in the post anyway.

MAJ: He probably will, and he'll immediately lose face with the population and become useless.

LT: And if he doesn't, he'll probably be dead by tomorrow, and just as useless. In any case, there goes the whole psychological effect of the operation and we can start the whole thing all over again three months from now. What a hopeless mess.
And so it goes ....

Regards to all

Mike
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Old 11-16-2009   #17
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Default Hi Jon

Glad you joined the discourse - and provided this astute observation:

Quote:
Put another way, can we ever facilitate central government power over Pashtun areas in a way that compliments their daily way of life, as opposed to being two pieces of sand paper rubbing against each other? If the honest answer is no, then we have some serious decisions within decisions that have to be made. Why we would have elements of a overall strategy that work at cross purposes is depressing at times.
We are both depressed for the same reasons. The answer to your question is, of course, affirmative - if we were willing to spend the decades slowly building Jim Gant's small tribal infrastructures and melding them with a very accommodating central government (add honesty and integrity to the adjectives).

As it stands, our dialog will be that of the two French officers (you can stay the MAJ; I'll play the LT cuz I agree with his bottom line). So, the "decisions within decisions" is probably pre-ordained.

You hit Iraq right on the head. Iraq was ruled by a very centralized, authoritarian police state for decades. In such situations, a rather authoritarian population-centric "COIN" strategy will work because the people are used to it. Of course, it also involves quite a bit of local honey (just as Saddam did) as Mike Few and Niel Smith are waxing fine in another thread.

Best as always

Mike
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Old 11-16-2009   #18
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Kilcullen spends quite a bit of time on it in The Accidental Guerrilla.
I've had that for some time, yet have not cracked it open yet.

Your comments about the Gant piece are what have been nagging at me for a while too. Gan't approach just requires time (strategic time) that we might not have.

EDITED TO ADD: Upon posting, I see that you made specific reference to time as well...
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Old 11-16-2009   #19
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The Accidental Guerrilla is worth cracking - not the Bible, but worth the read; especially as to the destruction of the traditional systems of local tribal governance in Astan and elsewhere. Another one addressing some of the same issues is Seth Jones, In the Graveyard of Empires, which I'm just finishing. Neither gives any pat solutions to the "hopeless mess".

I found MAJ Gant's little piece fascinating. Since there are some 40,000 villages in Astan, the picture of 40K ODAs (or their equivalent) is not what I expect to see. However, it could be the answer if we (US) wanted to get a firm hold on a key strategic piece of geography. Let us say, a base for conducting direct actions against AQ. In that situation, it wouldn't matter if that region had loyalty to the central government - so long as its inhabitants had primary loyalty to themselves and a secondary loyalty to us. E.g., the Montagnards in Vietnam.

In a sense, we would be engaging in the Management of Savagery (Chaos) and taking what seems to be a situation of local instability and turning it to our advantage. Naji thinks that AQ can manage savagery; I think we could do even better if we kept in mind the enlightened self-interests of ourselves and the local indigenous people - adapt, improvise and overcome. In such limited cases, the timeframe might well be acceptable.

And, oui, M. Legrange, I am stealing a bit from your thoughts as I have been digesting them. Colonialement.

Regards

Mike
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Old 11-16-2009   #20
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so long as its inhabitants had primary loyalty to themselves and a secondary loyalty to us.
And from this I wonder if we can gain, from some serious "living among them" effort, a sense of loyalty derived from the Pashtunwali code. If that code could be exploited through IO, engagement, development, etc., in order to allow support for our efforts, and that support was in harmony with faith in Allah, we'd probably be headed along the right track (let's term it the "Gant Path").

The beautiful thing about Gant's proposal is that we don't have to do it in all 40,000 villages in the country. That's why we orient on key terrain at times...all 40K villages are not key, but the need to determine the ones that are is paramount.

I wonder how we'd fair if we could all just grow beards as a first best practice.
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