Skip to comments.Arm Afghan Tribes, Experts Say
Posted on 11/08/2009 9:19:43 PM PST by ErnstStavroBlofeld
A number of experts think the U.S. should abandon its top down strategy of building an Afghan national army and should switch to arming and paying local tribes to fight the Taliban.
Former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, appearing Thursday at a Capitol Hill conference sponsored by RAND, said he closely examined former Soviet counterinsurgencies in Poland and the Ukraine. In both cases, the Soviets successfully levered small, locally recruited militia forces to successfully battle numerically superior anti-regime insurgents. He warned of the perils of trying to police xenophobic Tajiks, Uzbeks and Pahstuns with an Afghan national army. A better approach is to create and support local militia groups built from countrys various tribes.
RANDs Arturo Munoz, a former CIA officer stationed in Afghanistan, also backed a bottom up counterinsurgency approach that pays and arms the tribes and enlists them to fight alongside U.S. and NATO troops. The Taliban shadow government at the village level is expanding, he warned, the tribes themselves are best suited to beat back that expansion, not foreign troops. The tribes must see tangible benefits, though, in other words, they want money. If we cant get the Afghan tribes to fight on our side we shouldnt be there.
Brian Jenkins, a former Green Beret who served in Vietnam, now a RAND analyst, is also a big fan of arming the tribes. Ultimately, a large deployment of foreign troops in Afghanistan will be counterproductive and is not sustainable; better to pay and build-up tribal irregular forces, he said. We can learn from our experience in Vietnam where 2,000 Americans (Special Forces and CIA paramilitary) recruited and managed a force of 50,000 fighters, drawn mostly from thfighting e mountain tribes, many of whom were former Viet Cong guerrillas.
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Never trust anyone whose first name begins with Z.
US Army Spec For did just that for the forst 2 years of
the war. Thats how Karzai came to power.
Karzai may not like that idea.
But if properly done, with US Army Spec For, it might work, but theproblem is once the larger war is won, you are likely to have a civil war on your hands.
It seems that RAND corporation seems to like the idea. If they are sending Brian Jenkins out to sell the idea, it seems to have their stamp of approval.
I think this is eminently doable. The tribes, however, have to have assurance of something more important that money. They have to know that, unlike Vietnam, we have the political will to commit to Afghanistan in the long term and not simply abandon them after we declare victory and leave. Without that, all the money in the world will not be enough to win long-term loyalty.
Our weapons would get turned against us more likely than not.
The exzmples they hae are not encouraging.
Seems like deja vu all over again.
Money can buy temporary compliance but not fundamental loyalty. The former might be enough if the timing is right, or it might be enough if tribal compliance could be made to evolve into something approaching loyalty. Tribalism is fundamentally at odds every Western ideal that an enlightened administration would want to impose on Afghanistan. I frankly do not know what a Marxist administration or the would want to do about exploiting, curbing, or even encouraging tribalism in Afghanistan.
Consider the tribalism of the Plains Indians at the time of Sitting Bull and Custer. The cultural intimacy of the tribe has extraordinary pull on the individual and it is not easily surrendered for the plastic salvation of Western civilization. Or better yet, consider the Crips and Bloods.
Divide the moderate fighters from the extremists, pay to fight, and scrap the rest with a surge... this is what unfortunately happened to Iraq. It was not a plan, but strangely US and the Sunni nationalists Sons of Iraq somehow got together and defeated Al Qaida at the end. I hate the concept, and hate accepting even the moderate Taliban for a compromise, but it does make fuss within the enemy and results on red-on-red battles with some of the remaining switching sides. We are watching the same strategy being applied, unfortunately again.
That’s how we got here in the first place. It was probably Brezinski who helped implement the plan. What a douche.
There may be something to it, but if Zbigniew thinks it’s a good idea, it probably isn’t.
My point is that when one seeks to undermine the very foundation of the tribe, such as violating the cultural commandant for hospitality by betraying bin Laden, the money motivation probably will not work. But if the motivation is in alignment or at least not inconsistent with perceived tribal integrity, I think it can buy compliance for a while. As I said, if the timing is right, this could be enough.
In effect, this is how Clive conquered India with only 900 men. He divided and bribed.
“I think this is eminently doable.”
It worked against the Russian occupation in the 1980’s, and the help air and artillery support, U.S armed Uzbek tribesmen chased the Taliban into Kabul and back out the other side in 2001-2002.
Why not keep doing what has worked before instead of trying to imitate the ill-fated Russian army?
“They have to know that, unlike Vietnam, we have the political will to commit to Afghanistan in the long term”
The treachery of our Dem Congress in pulling the rug out from under the South Vietnamese in the 70’s has been Al Qaida’s and the Taliban’s best recruiting theme. The Democrats motive was to divert military and space program tax money to fund their new welfare state. I hope this isn’t deja vu all over again.