New ideas for the Afghanistan strategy

In Washington, the debate over Afghanistan seems to center around two broad ideas: counterinsurgency versus counterterrorism. Should the United States add troops for a more population-centric strategy, as Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal advocates? Or should it use a less ground-heavy approach, disrupting Al Qaeda with Special Operation Forces and unmanned drones, as Vice President Joseph Biden argues? There is, of course, no shortage of other ideas. A 45-page paper, “One Tribe at a Time” by Maj. Jim Gant, is gaining more and more attention now. Gant argues that one way to undermine the insurgency is to return, in part, to the strategy that ousted the Taliban to begin with: Embed small, highly skilled and almost completely autonomous units with tribes across Afghanistan. Much like the Green Berets who worked with the Northern Alliance to drive out the Taliban in 2001 and 2002, the units, which Major Gant calls Tribal Engagement Teams, would wear Afghan garb and live in Afghan villages for extended periods, training, equipping and fighting alongside tribal militias.

RUSI has a new article which states that newly uncovered archival evidence suggests the Durand Line was never intended to be an international boundary. This article examines the consequences for Afghanistan/Pakistan policy-makers, concluding that serious attention should be paid to reconceptualising the frontier zone in the current crisis.

RUSI also has an article on the Pakistani Taliban.

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