Over on the Pak side of the Durand Line, the tribes are restless. Over on the ISAF side, attention may finally be paid to getting Pashtun irregulars into the fight against the Taliban. This could work. The Taliban themselves are Pashtun irregulars. Students of American military history are aware of the use of indigenous scouts, but up until recently the weakness and illegitimacy of Karzai’s regime made any paramilitary forces organized along local, district, provincial or tribal lines unacceptable. Finally, after almost seven years, propping up the regime we installed in Kabul after deposing the Taliban may not be the first priority.
The Pashtuns are not a tribe, but an ethnic and linguistic community of tribes, khels, clans, and Mafia families. Some of these people in RC East still retain traditions like respected maliks, or chiefs, discussion of issues by jirgas or tribal councils, enforcement of jirga decisions by arbakai, or tribal police, and applying muscle against interlopers with warrior bands of Kalashnikov-waving lashkars.
We haven’t really tried to make use of these tribal irregulars because the Amriki still don’t have enough fluent Pashto-speaking, snake-eating, scalp-taking, ear-collecting 18A Dog Soldiers to spare from DA hunting HVT’s. My perception has been managed to think that our potential Tony Poe’s are too dependent upon what terps, academics and Karzai’s guys tell them. Or maybe our military and intelligence communities no longer appreciate unconventional, loose-cannon characters who actually could thrive outside the wire.
We don’t need a surge. We need to make better use of everybody on the headcount we have now. We need a great culling of the fobbits. Tell everybody who is so caveated that Force Protection is their only mission thanks for coming have a safe trip home. We need a hard core group of stayers, who aren’t putting X’s on the Maxim calendars in their hooches for every day down, guys committed to multiple-year tours and/or contracts, promoted/paid appropriately for that level of committment and sacrifice. We need the stayers drinking chai with the elders, speaking Pashto, taking off the battle rattle, walking around like they aren’t afraid of anybody, gaining respect, developing informers, telling wedding parties from gangs of Taliban, knocking on doors instead of kicking them down, going native. But they’d be our natives, vetted, trustworthy, cleared professional soldiers, law enforcement officers, and intelligence agents, each a one-man Human Terrain Team. The British called them Political Officers. Honest Indian Agents could win us the war, or at least tamp things down enough for us to Afghanize the war, achieve Peace With Honor, and leave on our own terms instead of being run out .
See also: Losing the psy-war in Afghanistan
Sons of Dir Awakening
We will also work to increase the involvement of Afghan tribes.
Afghan tribes will not fit into a modern framework
“Any U.S. plan to combat Islamist extremism that relies on effective ground action from the Pakistani Army, the FC, or the Khasadars will fail.”
Pashtun Irregulars Disbanded
Seconded to the Afghan Constabulary
No Sons of Afghanistan Need Apply
UPDATE: via SWJ, Future Face of Conflict: Human Terrain Teams. A lot of GI’s have become amateur anthropologists when they stay overseas long enough. They used to call it “going Asiatic.” Going South West Asiatic is much tougher, because the South West Asians keep their sleeping dictionary cultural advisors locked away.