Book excerpt: Afghan war vet Daniel Green summarizes the ‘Characteristics of Successful Village Stability Operations’
Some good, if unsurprising, strategic advice.
This (excerpted from Daniel Green’s new book, In the Warlord’s Shadow: Special Operations Forces, the Afghans, and Their Fight Against the Taliban) is good thinking. On the other hand, I suspect that the British political officers on the Afghan frontier a century ago knew this stuff below by their second week on the job. I am not denigrating Green’s conclusions, but I am surprised that they are still news to us:
— Develop the ability to have a sympathetic understanding of the concerns, fears, and hopes of villagers as well as seeing things from their perspective.
— Harness community leaders (for example, tribes, religious, business, civil) to create a network to expand your white space and resist Taliban intimidation.
— Enlist the community in its own defense.
— Build stability through regular meetings between the Afghan National Army, the Afghan National Police, and Afghan local police leaders.
— Think unconventionally; the enemy does and so must you.
— Move beyond your comfort zone.
— Build institutions and processes and think about how things will function after you depart.
— Multitribal situations require robust tribal engagement so no group feels left out.
— Fight the insurgency’s soft-power strategy and use your enablers.
— Live embedded mentoring (working and living alongside your indigenous allies) and actively partner with your Afghan colleagues.
— The Afghan local police are your first layer of defense; treat them as such.
— Do what is required, not what’s comfortable.
— Sometimes the greatest action is inaction.
— It’s about what the population does, not what we do.
— It’s about moving Afghans from a culture of “learned helplessness” to one of “educated empowerment.”
— Think indirect action, not direct action.
— We protect the Afghans, the Taliban controls them.
— Let the Afghans be themselves, be humble about how much and how quickly we can change them.
— Treat others with respect and dignity; this is their country, not ours.
— Relentlessly pressure the enemy on all fronts.
Reprinted, by permission, from Daniel R. Green, In the Warlords’ Shadow: Special Operations Forces, the Afghans, and Their Fight Against the Taliban (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, © 2017).
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