Quote of the Day

by Joshua Foust on 1/31/2011 · 2 comments

The life of the people in Paktika province is a tribal life like the rest of the Pashtun tribes, characterized by religiousness, hospitality, patience, forbearance, respect for their chiefs and honor for scholars.

—No, that’s not the U.S. Army or some instant pundit suddenly developing a nuanced picture of rural life in Afghanistan. That is the Taliban, implicitly explaining why it’s winning and we’re not.

In case it weren’t obvious what I’m talking about, let’s just say the U.S. government has very different ideas of what constitutes “tribal life” in rural Afghanistan.

Fun times, too, is this bit: “Because of his inability to destroy the Jihadist movement in the region, the cowardly enemy has resorted to base methods in targeting the people; destroying their houses and raiding their homes at night in order to take their revenge against the Mujahideen.” Not that we have a plan for this or anything.

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– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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Realist Writer January 31, 2011 at 3:52 pm

It’s not nuanced as much as it is overtly idealized to a fault. But it still implicitly explains the Taliban’s strength: the best way to get a “tribe” onto your side is to continually praise it and view it as an genuinely good actor.

anan January 31, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Neither Sirajuddin Haqqani, 2-203 ANA, Paktika AUP or ISAF is winning in Paktika.

This suggests that “NONE OF THE ABOVE” have figured out how to work with Paktika tribes. 😉

For what it is worth, one of the surprises in Afghanistan is the significant improvement in the quality, self initiative and high operational tempo of the Paktika provincial AUP . . . who are executing “partnered embedding” “combined partnership” with ISAF remarkably well. Siraj and company have taken heavy losses since Luong came to theatre [subsequently Luong handed Paktika over to another task force.] Many places that Siraj was “holding” and “building” have shifted back to “contested” or GIRoA/ANSF/ISAF hold. ANSF/ISAF have a much stronger and more assertive presence in many “contested” parts of the province.

Continued challenges remain in coordination/cooperation between 2-203 ANA and ISAF/AUP. Don’t understand the full details for why. [possible differences in prefered strategy and tactics?]

And well, it is impossible to discuss Paktika without discussing the “East” 🙂

There has been a recent surge in 203 ANA AWOL rates. Not sure how much of that relates to 2-203 bde in Paktika. And I don’t have a good breakdown regarding what AWOL means. For example it could be:
-wounded/dead ANA kept on the roles to feed their families
-soldiers taking longer to return from leave [something that might be tolerated by officers if they are told about it in advance]
-soldiers who have left for a better paying job
-soldiers who have left because of intimidation against their families

In case the below interests anyone:

As of 12.31.2010, 203 ANA Corps AWOL rate was 22%, the highest for any part of the ANA. By contrast the correctly much maligned 201 ANA Corps [10 North East provinces] only has a 15% AWOL rate. [Northern nine provinces] 209th ANA Corps and 111 ANA Division [Kabul and Kapisha] had 13% AWOL rates. SOF Division [9 commando combat bns + 1 commando bde HQs + forming ANA Special Forces brigade group] had 12% AWOL.

Realist Writer, all the parties in the conflict in Paktika seem to be trying to take your advise about continually praising the tribes. None of the parties seem to have had great success with the tribes. Why do you think this is?

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