LIEBL_DeconstructingReconstructionInAfghanistan by xiaopangnv

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									     Cultural Assault by Flush Toilet and Childhood Vaccines:
          Deconstructing Reconstruction in Afghanistan?



                                 By Vern Liebl

                              Booz Allen Hamilton

                                 2 October 2008

                                       For

                     31st Annual Global Studies Conference




All opinions and views in this paper are from the author and do not reflect any
views or opinions of Booz Allen Hamilton, its officers or its clients.




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       Reconstruction, to just say the word conjures visions of building homes or

roads, construction of clinics and schools, hard physical things cast in a positive

light. Yet much of the reconstruction required in Afghanistan is not physical but

otherwise. However, the scope of this paper is not to discuss the overwhelming

cases of psychiatric damage, the smashed or unraveled traditional leadership

skeins or the damaged or harmful ad hoc leadership and support mechanisms

now in place. Suffice it to say, nearly thirty years of war, oppression, natural

disaster, grave agricultural misuse of the land and misguided or thoughtless

“humanitarian” support or assistance has left more than just the physical side of

reconstruction to be looked at.

       An examination of some of the news, literature and ongoing

reconstruction projects is to review a litany of “reconstruction” of land

ownership records1 or of how the World Bank believes that small government

should be rebuilt.2 It is of USAID efforts to establish a circuit of stability

conferences around Afghanistan, placing them all in largely Pushtun areas or

Pushtun pockets, primarily in the north or west.3 Similarly, there are the UN

reports on the “Situation in Afghanistan” and the Karzai government’s efforts

via the “Charter on National Reconciliation” or programs such as the Program

Takhim-e Sohl (PTS or “Strengthening Peace”).

1 “Community-State Administration of Private Property Records in Rural Afghanistan”, Terra
Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison and RLAP (Rural Land Administration Project) of the
Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, Kabul Afghanistan, 2008.
2 “Service Delivery and Governance at the Sub-National Level in Afghanistan”, World Bank,

Wash DC, Jul 2007.
3 “Stability Conference Concept: The Way Forward”, USAID/Afghanistan & ARD, Aug 2008.




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          Yet, from a personal perspective, all these “big picture” aspects hinge on,

are critically reliant on, the personal interaction between an Afghan and a

foreigner. That Afghan is often ill-educated or uneducated and is usually, by

comparison to some non-Afghan standard, desperately poor and may or may not

be sympathetic to Taliban or some other insurgent group, whose current primary

recruitment tool is xenophobia. Sarah Cheyes put it in a power perspective, but

it also serves equally well as an example of the importance of interpersonal vice

institutional communication. She said, “In Afghanistan, the exercise of power

remains personal. There are no institutions; there are only powerful men.”4 It is

the powerful men who make up what institutions do exist in Afghanistan, be it

in Kabul or in a village in Uruzgan.

          The foreigner is often a civilian but sometimes in the military, who may

often be fearful yet determinedly idealistic, hopeful yet often frustrated and

usually ignorant of the very people they are trying to work with. They (the

foreigners, both military and civilian) normally come with all the baggage of a

liberal arts education (in no way adequate for understanding the cultural and

ethnographic mosaic of Afghanistan, much less the catastrophic changes

wrought upon it by conflict) oriented primarily on Euro-centric topics.

Alternatively, a significant portion are “professional humanitarians”, whose

livelihood is based on reallocating resources from the rich “West” to the “poor




4   Grono, “Success in Afghanistan”, Apr 2008.


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Third World”, often with little thought given to the consequences of the impact

of such aid.

       So, all too frequently these two individuals can sit or stand face to face,

talking or pantomiming in apparent concurrence yet never really understanding

why each are doing what they do nor what each yearns for. Thus, they will too

often take refuge in stereotypes, complain bitterly that the other one isn’t trying

to understand or is too alien, seek familiarity in condescension or religion,

satisfaction in the physical act “building” (which is a measurable “metric” of

accomplishment) or refusal to provide aid and assistance because the “situation”

is “too hard”. Too many “examinations”, “surveys” and “reports” explore

“processes” or “things” but not people. The recent fad of “cultural terrain” and

“human terrain systems” appears to be addressing the shortfall but do they

really do anything more than check a block for the U.S. Department of Defense in

its effort to “rework” its counterinsurgency efforts to meet political requirements

with the U.S. legislative branch vice to achieve real victory. Anthropological

expertise is vital and should be an integral part of the military intelligence and

operational processes as well as diplomatic efforts, but ad hoc efforts viewed by

“established” military organizations only guarantee short attention spans and

organizational demise of those ad hoc anthropological entities (such as the US




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Army TRADOC “Human Terrain System – Human Terrain Teams” or the US

Marine Corps’ TECOM “Center of Advanced Operational Cultural Learning”5).



        So, what are real Afghans like? Are they the “magnificent, resilient

Afghan people” described in one paragraph of Barry McCaffery’s recent after-

action report, or are they living “in misery, 68% of the population having never

known peace”, also in the same report.6 Completely apart from how we view

“them”, what do “they” want and how do “they” view “us”? How far apart are

our respective cultural views, expectations and fears? How can we ease the

cultural interactions to assist “us” in efforts to aid “them”? I cannot claim to

have anything other than a partial understanding, despite much research,

reading and personal experience and interaction. For the purposes of this paper,

I will use examples obtained either by personal experience or observation in

Afghanistan (reinforced with some lessons drawn from observations/personal

experiences in other locations in the Middle East or the Horn of Africa, usually

5 I have observed, as well as met, many of the people involved with or working to recruit people
for these two entities, and it is apparent that rampant cronyism and self-justification for funding
are the primary themes vice actually accomplishing any mission. Recruitment alone is
troublesome, as I have personally witnessed many very qualified political scientists and
anthropologists be refused employment, in preference to less qualified individuals with little or
no knowledge of the region and people. The normal “disqualifier” is that the individual
“couldn’t get a Secret clearance”, which is ludicrous. Secret clearances can be granted by the
“hiring” command/government employer based on the applicant successfully passing an FBI
criminal records check, a local criminal records check, a financial records check and a medical
records check. Process takes about a week and is fairly inexpensive, yet I can only surmise that
the hiring corporations or the military command Contract Officers are using it as a means to hire
only those they want vice those who are truly qualified to assist in mission accomplishment.
Mismanagement, cronyism and corruption appear rife, at least to me, which does not help at all
in reconstruction efforts, much less pacification. Personal opinion, of course.
6 “After Action Report – General Barry McCaffrey Visit to NATO SHAPE Headquarters and

Afghanistan – 21-26 July 2008”, McCaffrey, West Point USMA, 30 July 2008.


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concerning humanitarian aid workers and the associated manipulation of them

by local individuals, syndicates and/or organizations). Thus the frequent use of

the word “I”.



#1 -    I was walking around downtown Kabul, just off the river, taking in the

scenes and looking for a place to eat lunch away from the ISAF7 compound. I

was not in uniform, as my duties necessitated that I not wear one, nor did I

openly carry any weapons (I did keep a 9mm pistol tucked in the small of my

back under the jacket), letting my translator8 carry the M-4 instead. Also unusual

in comparison to my peers, I never wore body armor, just a jacket (it was

November) and a pakool. My presence, as usual, attracted attention, soon

personified by local children, who crowded around, curious about us and what

we were doing, a few undoubtedly “collecting” on me and my group.9 In this

instance, I was rather expertly “frisked” by a boy of about 10,10 who thought he

was being unobtrusive as he asked for candy or money. He seemed shocked to

find out that I had no body armor on, which he quickly communicated to the

7 International Security Assistance Force.
8 A rather dignified middle aged Kabuli Tajik who spoke fluent Pushtu as well as Dari and Urdu;
he was a military classmate of Ismail Khan (of Herat) and had fled Afghanistan in 1980, via
Pakistan, before becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen in the early 1990s. Leaving as a Lieutenant,
he self-promoted himself to Major based on Ismail Khan doing the same, even though he was no
longer in the Afghan military, subsequently placing it in his CV and on his business cards.
9 We weren’t too far from a known Hizb-e Islami Gulbaddin (HIG) neighborhood, as well as the

normal information acquisitiveness prevalent in Afghanistan. As I always told new Americans
arriving in theater, “eyes are everywhere”. See Reuel Marc Gerecht’s July/August 2001 Atlantic
article titled “Peshawar”, in which he describes the worst sensation a CIA case officer can have,
that of “eyes following one everywhere”. I know that exact feeling.
10 I was surprised at how many young Kabuli boys spoke surprisingly good English, as well as

some of the young girls; they apparently practiced on us as often as they could.


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group of boys and young men around us. Curiosity plainly manifest on many

faces, I was immediately asked why I had no armor on, unlike all other

Americans.

       Understanding the value of “face”, I replied that I did not fear the

Afghans as I knew they were a kind and hospitable people. A pause and then

another young man, probably around 14 or so, stepped forward and asked why

the rest of the Americans didn’t feel the same, why were they so afraid? He

stated that when the Russians were in Afghanistan (clearly before his time) no

Russian soldier wore weapons in the city (of Kabul), only the police were

allowed to carry them. I pointed out that to do so they had leveled a large part of

the outer city, driven much of the populace out and established numerous

military bases surrounding Kabul. He agreed but reiterated that nobody was

allowed to carry weapons in the city in those times and that Kabul was

considered safe, that few feared for their personal safety.

       He then stated, returning to the present, that the few Americans who did

go into the city now were all heavily armed and armored. He asked me if

Americans really were gangsters and cowboys as “everybody” said, which is

why they always carried guns; or were they just afraid? It was clear that he felt

that most Americans were afraid, and thus were without honor. He then asked

why I was different? I tried to explain that in America, to be heavily armed and

armored in Afghanistan was to be prepared, to which he just scoffed and said it




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just showed fear, which is why America would soon leave Afghanistan and why

most Afghan men would be glad when they left.

        This young Afghan man, living in Kabul and not in some distant province,

perceived that nearly all Americans were cowards and thus without honor. Even

the Russians, in his opinion, had physical courage when compare to the

Americans, if despised for their atheism. The American perception of being well

prepared for any contingency just elicited contempt as a manifestation of

cowardice. The American proclivity to not allow its troops out into the merchant

communities to spend money and measurably assist local economies screaming

for such input reinforces this feeling,11 along with a confusion as to how America

can be so powerful yet so fearful.12 Does this perception receive reinforcement

when NGOs and foreign government aid organizations refuse to go into areas

they consider unsafe? Does this strengthen the hold of Taliban and other

xenophobic based insurgent entities?



11 The Bagram Base Commander allowed a bazaar once a week in the security area of the
entrance, where local merchants could set up kiosks and U.S. and Coalition troops could shop for
trinkets, rugs and other items. When, after several months of this trade, which clearly benefited
both sides (income for Afghans, keepsakes and memories for the other, the beginnings of cultural
exploration for both), a rocket attack on the base launched by a small insurgent group based
outside of the Parwan and Kapisa provinces occurred. The immediate response by the base
commander was to halt the weekly bazaar. It was not reinstituted for at least a year, which
punished the local merchants for the actions of outsiders, and increased local discontent with the
presence of foreigners at Bagram, whereas before the attack there was growing mutual tolerance
and acceptance. If the base commander had gone to the local elders and asked for a security
guarantee so he could reinstitute the bazaar, it would have very likely been agreed to and local
security would have been provided by the surrounding local villages, which would have
measurably assisted in Coalition directed reconstruction funding and building.
12 I was also asked this in Djibouti, why the Americans seemed to be too afraid to leave their

bases. The local merchants were eager to deal with Americans, they all had visions of prosperity
dancing in their eyes, which is often the best of security measures.


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#2 -   I had the opportunity to observe the “intake” procedure at the Bagram

detention facility, when new “prisoners” were in-processed into the facility and

officially made “detainees”. I worked on occasion with some of the Americans in

the facility and had toured the facility and visited numerous times, but it was my

first view of this particular process, which I believe was (and is) the most

important phase of being a detainee there. How a detainee is handled during the

“intake” process sets the tone for how the detainee views the staff as well as

reacts to them.

       An elderly gentleman, about 5’ 4”, slight build and around 50ish (elderly

in the countryside outside of the cities), was brought in, bound hand and foot

with chains (he was “in irons”). The two escorting MPs, one to each arm, handed

him off to two facility MPs who dragged him (literally, they didn’t guide him,

they just pulled him along) into a room and placed him inside a box

approximately 3 feet by 3 feet, designated by tape on the floor. Immediately the

detainee was confronted by a young Army NCO who thrust his face into the

detainees face, commencing to scream at him. Recoiling, the detainee was thrust

back into the taped box by the MPs, with the NCO pointing at the tape and

screaming that the man needed to stay inside the box. All the screaming was

done in English.




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        A translator was also present, who, getting into the spirit of the thing,

himself screamed the translations at the elderly man.13 All the while the young

American NCO was screaming, telling the man to strip off his clothes, to submit

to a bodily search for hidden weapons or documents, then to stand still while a

medical doctor gave him a brief but thorough physical exam. Here is where the

doctor checked for obvious physical deformities or damage, broken bones, dental

condition, presence of lice or fleas, open wounds, an ENT check, heart and pulse

rates, and a brief proctological14 examination. Passed through all this and

accepted into the facility, the NCO continued his screaming, having the detainee

dress in simple facility garb and pose for a picture.15 Simple questions were




13 Most of the translators were uncomfortable with the screaming and generally tried to speak
clearly but quietly, which often forced the American NCO to ease up on his aggressiveness. A
few translators refused to be part of the process, a few actively sought it as they enjoyed it.
14 This is the main source of the “sexual assaults” freed detainees claim happened to them. A

majority of detainees understand the purpose of such examines (one instance lead to the early
release of one known insurgent as he was in the advanced stages of prostate cancer; the CJTF
leadership felt that it was more humane to let him have what remaining time he had with his
family vice letting him die in confinement. He died several months later, grateful to be with his
family, which he expressed to us. However, nobody has ever made use of this from an IO
perspective) yet when released have been advised, as part of an ongoing IO campaign, to claim
the sexual abuse. What makes it so effective is that “our” cultural ignorance and narcissism
predisposes us to believe these “ignorant” insurgents, who “couldn’t possibly” dream up
anything so sophisticated. Thus, our own cultural predispositions are used against us by a canny
opponent.
15 Here is where some trouble ensued, as often the soldier taking the picture was a female, who

was carefully kept away from the intake until the detainee was dressed. Upon release, the freed
detainees claimed that the Americans forced them to undress and then had American women
take their pictures, thus humiliating them in a most personal and profound way. Cleverly parsing
language, it was not acknowledged that the women were not present when the detainees were
undressed nor that the pictures were taken once they were dressed again, that at no time were no
women present unless the detainees were fully dressed. Thus, American assumptions of Afghan
ignorance and simplicity led to the belief, back in America, that Americans truly were engaged in
such horrible and humiliating activity. After all, why would “ignorant, uneducated and
unsophisticated” “victims” (mostly Taliban, which was carefully omitted) lie. As for regional
consumption, it played upon local ignorance of Americans and the assumption that Americans


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screamed, such as what was his name, where he came from, what his political

affiliation was, etc. In this instance, few response were provided, which elicited

further screaming and verbal abuse but did not material hinder the intake

process. Soon, in a state of sullen bewilderment, the elderly detainee was

escorted out of the intake area to be placed in detention in the facility proper. I

will state that detainees were never physically abused and were only touched by

the doctor or when assistance was required to properly put on the clothing or to

pose for the picture (and then that assistance was not rough but neither was it

gentle).

        In this instance I actually knew something about the detainee prior to his

arrival at the facility, as I had examined numerous documents confiscated from

his home in Paktiya province (he had been in temporary confinement at an ODA

FOB until there was room at Bagram). The man was, as stated earlier,

approximately 50 and was a noted religious scholar in the area but not a Mullah

(he was likely a Sufi Pir and assuredly a local spingiri but interrogation would

have had to establish that fact, but did not as he was asked only tactical

information of potential military use). He also was fluent in Pushtu, Dari, Urdu,

Russian and English, with a working knowledge of Farsi, Hindi and Uzbek. He

was a local notable, yet we treated him with contempt and thus he responded in

kind.



are all sex-obsessed, just look at their movies and TV shows. It also played upon the sense of
victim-hood that Islam has adopted, ably abetted by Western apologists.


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        The young Army NCO had volunteered for the position, based on his

zealous desire to “avenge” the Twin Towers destruction in New York City.

Every person brought into the “intake” was treated the same by him, with

screaming hostility and humiliation.16 There was no thought that maybe a

different approach might benefit future interrogation efforts; the young NCO,

and by default, his chain of command up to the facility commander, were

engaged in “getting some back” in the only way they felt they legally could.

Thus, in this example, the fairly intellectual and intelligent “old man” was

treated as an assumed illiterate hostile, amply abetted by the fact that his

clothing was of local manufacture, dirty and somewhat torn by his capture and

rough transport. Therefore, he responded in kind, becoming a hostile and

illiterate old man. We never did get much of use from him, from an intelligence

perspective, and he was eventually released due to a lack of evidence, a hostile

counteragent to “reconstruction” if it was associated with the Americans, the

Coalition and the Afghan forces of the government.

        I advocated a different approach, based on my previous experience

working in a U.S. prison as well as with established DoD directives on handling

of POWs,17 that instead of open hostility and contempt, that all prisoners be



16I asked him.
17The DoD norm is based on the “5 S’s”, depicted as “Search, Silence, Segregate, Safeguard and
Speed to the Rear”. All POWs are to be kept silent, in order to prevent sharing of stories and
arrangement of cover stories, segregated in order to break up the chain of command, to protect
them from harm and then to speed them to interrogations in order to gain as much useful
information as quickly as possible. Somehow, this simple procedure had been corrupted by the
need to gain some measure of revenge, even if it required the adoption of a mindset that all


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inducted with cold silent professionalism, no emotion to be shown in any way.18

As this was before the Abu Ghraib disaster, there was no change. However, after

Abu Ghraib and with the passing of time, I can only hope that more

professionalism has been introduced into the process. However, for my

purposes, it is the cultural predispositions and resulting lack of communication

that is important. I have no expectation that such cultural misperceptions have

corrected themselves.



#3 -     I had ample opportunity to examine numerous caches of captured or

confiscated documents. In one instance, a fairly sizable batch of documents came

in from a location in Paktika province, much of which turned out to be personal

medical records and/or billing records for medical services or transportation

costs associated with those services. The assumption by most “Westerners” is

that the vast majority of Afghans outside of the cities (and most within the cities

as well) are fairly unsophisticated in respect to modern medicine, that most have

little understanding of such concepts as cancer and treatments for it, whatever

the cancer is. Right or wrong, this is a prevalent assumption.




detainees were guilty, despite any proof to the contrary. Not the best way to run a
counterinsurgency, much less set up future reconstruction efforts for success.
18 This would take advantage of a reaction similar to one experienced by victims in the wake of

accidents, namely that the individual ardently desires to talk about the incident. Forcing the
detainees to remain silent but treating them professionally, sets them up to verbally “burst” to
the first person who treats them with any compassion or attention, who ideally should be the
interrogator. It would also largely prevent future hostility as the experience would not be viewed
as a uniformly hostile experience but one more nuanced. My opinion, of course.


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       In this instance, it was clear that these documents, from a household in a

remote area in Paktika but near the Pakistan/Afghan frontier, showed a series of

visits to medical authorities, mainly in Pakistan, but initially and thereafter

occasionally in Afghanistan. The cancer victim was the daughter of the man our

forces were looking for (he had escaped apprehension at the time we raided his

home). His own records showed that he had taken his daughter to Kabul when

she was 6 years old because she had some unusual health problems. Diagnosis

indicated further and more sophisticated examination and treatment, so he took

her to Miram Shah in Pakistan. Ultimately he took her to several facilities in

Karachi, spending much time, effort and money in an effort to diagnosis and

save his daughter. She died at the age of 8 after several surgeries, all efforts

having failed.

       This suspected insurgent lived in a remote area, had no special education

but from sad experience was able to discuss knowledgably on the subject of brain

tumors, associated medical terminology and related medical and technological

issues. He had carefully kept all the diagnoses, ex-rays, ultra-sounds as well as

having created a timeline of events (probably as a way of keeping the memory of

his daughter with him). He also had some Pushtu poetry and Sufi prayers, all in

reference to pleas to save the life of his daughter.

       Here was a man from an area we would consider profoundly misogynistic

and in sore need of even basic education, yet who made every effort to save the

life of his little girl. He took advantage of every effort to try, even joining the


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local Taliban specifically in order to ease travel and passage of the

Afghan/Pakistan frontier, and his records indicated that he pauperized himself

in the effort. An apparent by-product of his loss was an effort to increase the

general level of health in his own sub-district, where he had asked the Taliban

provincial authorities for funds to put in a well to obtain clean water for his

village. Once the Taliban had fled from Afghanistan, this man remained for

several years as the local sub-district leader but refrained from exercising anti-

Coalition activity. Yet the current military and Afghan government authorities

considered this man to be an insurgent, based primarily on his past association

with the Taliban government as a sub-district official. The truth was much more

nuanced but who was to be bothered spending the time to find out? A more

likely candidate for working in reconstruction with a PRT and/or the Karzai

government would be hard to find, his past notwithstanding.19



#4 -      A high ranking government official in Kabul was arrested based on

suspicions that he was a member of HIG (Hezb-e Islami Gulbaddin). A search of

his home and confiscation of documents revealed that he had in his possession

an identity card issued by HIG, thus he apparently really was a member of HIG

and his arrest was justified. As the arrest had been a joint U.S./Afghan

government effort,20 the documents were brought to me. After thorough



19   He fled to Pakistan, whereabouts currently unknown.
20   Afghan Ministry of Justice and the U.S. FBI.


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examination, he not only had an identification card from HIG but also had some

administrative messages relating to travel on HIG letterhead documents.

However, he also had an identification card from the Taliban, an identification

card from the communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA)

government of Najibullah,21 and a more recent identification card from the

Karzai government. He had extensive documentation on letterhead from the

Taliban, primarily work related as he had worked as a mid-level bureaucrat in a

ministry during their tenure in Kabul.

       Looking at his family and lifestyle, here was a man, a Kabuli, who had

nine children and a modest home in Kabul. Several pictures showed him on

vacation, playing in a mountain stream with his children, laughing. His oldest

daughter was apparently his favorite, as he had spent significant sums on her

covert education during the Taliban time. She had artistic talent, exemplified by

a lovely colored pencil drawing of camels in a caravan being led by a young

woman. He had several books in French and English, the French ones well

thumbed through. He wrote poetry (not well, in my opinion), most of which was

spiritual or in reference to his love for his family. There were extensive files and

even scraps of paper indicating the numerous efforts he made over the course of

several decades of changing and tumultuous times to make enough to support

his family, to include now deceased parents.



21He also had retained his DRA Army pay booklet and Party booklet, as he had been drafted at
the age of 20.


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        Clearly, the documentary evidence showed a man trying to raise a family

in extraordinary times exemplified by political change, military assault, physical

destruction, material uncertainty and social/cultural upheaval. In such

circumstances it is perfectly plausible that an Afghan would try and play to all

possible potentialities.22 Investigation into the events which led to his arrest

showed that it was suspicions by a U.S. FBI agent based on information provided

by an unknown informant that prompted the arrest. In subsequent discussions

with several FBI agents then located in Afghanistan with me, and explanation of

the background, they indicated that mere possession of a Taliban or, in this

instance, a HIG ID card was enough to presume guilt. The agents agreed that the

arrested man was likely innocent but he was now in the custody of the Afghan

government and incarcerated in Pol-e Charki prison, so it was out of their

hands.23

        Experience has shown that too many Americans in Afghanistan assume

that if an Afghan has anything in their possession indicating association with

22 From an intelligence perspective, there was an individual I met in Kandahar province, who was
then providing information to the U.S. This man had originally been recruited by the KGB,
trained by them and then turned over to Khad when the Soviets withdrew. Upon the fall of the
Najibullah government in 1992, he “recruited” himself into service with the ISI as well as
whichever local warlord ran Kandahar province (at least his part of it). Eventually he became an
agent for Taliban, seconded from ISI control (yet still providing information to them as well).
Later, with the overthrow of Taliban he returned to ISI control but applied for and was accepted
by the new Afghan NDS. Simultaneously, he was recruited by the U.S. and France, so that when I
met him he was sending information to intelligence agencies of 4 different countries and one
insurgent organization, each of which provided him with funding. It was how he made his living
and he was a survivor, whatever his true feelings were or may have once been.
23 The detainee himself always claimed his innocence, that he was a loyal Afghan and had no

desire to live under the Taliban. He repeated, every time he was interrogated, that he was just
trying to make a living and protect his family. Ultimately he was released, though he lost his job
and was forced to work at jobs which paid much less, thereby further impoverishing his family.
Another agent of reconstruction lost.


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insurgent or proscribed terrorist organizations, or alternatively, with the past

communist regime, that they are de facto insurgents, terrorists or communists.

There is no account taken of the turbulent recent past in Afghanistan, that most

Afghans struggled daily to just survive and to do so were required to make

compromises with people and organizations that they likely would rather not

have had anything to do with. It is the rare American who understands this and

wonders what they themselves would have done to survive in a similar situation.

       Such attitudes materially inhibit reconstruction efforts.



#5 -   I was invited to participate in some sensitive discussions between a U.S.

Army Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) and an elder selected to speak on behalf of the

entire Nuristani peoples (by them, not by the Coalition). Initial discussions took

place in a heavily guarded compound in central Kabul, warded and mediated by

several Danish and Canadian ISAF officers and NCOs. The ISAF officers had

passed it off to the Americans because, although they had been approached

initially, they had no authority granted them by their home countries to negotiate

what the Nuristanis apparently wanted. Basically, the Nuristanis wanted to be

left alone in their province (the traditional autonomy remoteness from the power

centers conferred) except for the provision of a medical clinic, a school and a

road in (the route to be discussed later). In return, they were willing to

acknowledge the legitimacy of the Karzai government as well as provide a




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militia force24 to secure approximately 150-180 kilometers of the

Afghan/Pakistan frontier (Nuristan and upper Kunar province in Afghanistan,

Chitral and Dir on the Pakistani side). We proposed provision of military

assistance, they stated that if a four man Special Forces team (not the term they

actually used) lived with them to provide training and communications with

Coalition airpower, the Nuristanis would assure the health and protection of the

team. No other military assistance was needed, even when we offered several

hundred AK-47s from government stocks. They had enough of their own but

ammunition would of course be gratefully received.

        So, basically, initial soundings established that a remote but increasingly

critical section of the frontier could be largely “controlled” by the Kabul

government as well as that region acknowledge the authority (extremely loosely

exercised) of the Kabul government. Further negotiations were needed, so that a

majority of the Nuristani elders could meet with the Army LTC in a jirga, to

further discuss and then decide if this was what they truly wanted. We asked if

the next meeting could be held in Asadabad, as it was firmly held by the U.S.

Marines and in adjacent Kunar. This met with a firm and immediate rejection,

with a question of “Do you want our enemies to kill us?”. We then asked where

an acceptable location would be, for their convenience, to which they stated

Jalalabad would be fine, it was far enough away from their enemies.


24In the tradition of such units as Hobson’s Horse and the Corps of Guides, I wanted to name the
unit the Nuristani Rangers. It would have consisted of roughly 500 young men, rotated on an
elder established schedule from “volunteers” raised/levied from the numerous sub-tribes.


                                                                                              19
       With that the meeting was concluded, the thread to be resumed the

following week. Yet, the meeting had almost failed due to the actions of a JTF-

121 officer, who in the midst of the delicate political feeling out of positions,

stood up and asked about trails, could the Nuristani elder identify trails on

which insurgents traveled. He then began a rapid sequence of tactical questions,

trusting to our interpreter to translate. The rest of us, American, Canadian, Dane

and Nuristani, were aghast, as he was threatening to shatter the very trust each

side was carefully trying to build. Fortunately, each side realized that this officer

was well intentioned but completely ignorant of the diplomatic requirements,

focused as he was on immediate tactical priorities (for him) and he was thus

“hustled” out of the room to speak to a fairly junior Nuristani, who “could help

answer” his questions.

       The major problem for the Nuristanis was the militancy of the local

Pushtun tribes in northern and central Kunar, who had essentially been engaged

in jihad against the Nuristanis for the last 150 years. These Pushtuns were also

supporters of HIG and even a few of Jalaluddin Haqqani or the Taliban. Many

were inextricably linked with related tribes and khels (and thus issues) on the

Pakistani side of the frontier. Into this already volatile mix was introduction not

only of the Taliban doctrine of intolerance (thus a ready justification for further

attacks against the Nuristanis) but an increasing infiltration of Ahl-e Hadithi-

linked Lashkar-e Tayibba, primarily known for their assaults into the Indian




                                                                                      20
portion of Kashmir.25 Additionally, the Nuristanis vowed that if they could, they

would kill or capture that “fat Arab”26 who kept traversing their lands, as they

really hated the “Arabs”, meaning Al Qaida. The Nuristanis were seeking some

allies in what for them was already a generations long war for survival. We were

receiving our education into the local realities on the ground, which were hard to

see from outside the country or even from Kabul.

        The PRTs in Parwan and Kapisa were ready to augment the Kunar PRT, in

order to establish a new PRT in Nuristan (this was prior to the later actual

establishment of a PRT in Nuristan). The CJSOTF command in Bagram was

ready to provide volunteer 4 man teams, six months at a stint, almost

immediately. The Nuristani elders were ready to accept the responsibilities of

securing the frontier and were looking for the most accessible site for a clinic and

school. It was assumed on all sides that a road would eventually be built in from

Kunar, thus tying Nuristan closer into the polity and economy of Afghanistan.

Only the decision of the CJTF commanding general was needed to make this all

happen.

        That permission was denied, as the CJTF commander stated that he felt it

was a political decision he was not qualified to make, and his Political Advisor

(PA, an official from the U.S. State Department serving as an advisor to the


25 Also known as Indian-Held Kashmir or Indian-Occupied Kashmir, depending on your
perspective.
26 We asked who they meant, and after showing some pictures, it turned out they meant Ayman

al-Zawahiri, second in charge of Al Qaida. He apparently had trouble traversing the steep slopes,
moving slowly and always with a walking stick. He always traveled with a heavy guard.


                                                                                              21
military commander) concurred. No provision was made to officially forward

the proposal on to the Karzai government nor was there an effort to officially

forward the proposal to higher command (CENTCOM). Even more critical, the

CJTF commander did not feel it was important for him to meet with the

Nuristanis in order to explain, face to face, why the entire “deal” would not be

approved.

       The immediate result was that the Nuristani elders felt utterly betrayed

and would not speak with us again. Security along that part of the frontier

continued to deteriorate and it took over a year to again put ourselves in a

position to put a PRT in Nuristan with reliable security. Feelings still haven’t

been mollified from the initial insult unintentionally offered by the CJTF

commander’s refusal to implement a thoroughly worked out agreement in which

the Nuristanis had placed a great deal of import (“face” aka honor).

       So, a huge opportunity at reconstruction and security was lost based on an

American bureaucratic proclivity to put off a decision on apparently transient

opportunities. In this instance there had been a sincere effort by junior and mid-

level U.S. military personnel to understand the cultural background of the

Afghan “players” and craft, by those same innovative and pragmatic American

officers, an agreement which would do nothing but benefit the Karzai

government as well as assure reasonable security of a substantial fraction of

Afghanistan along the “frontier”. Fear of “potential” political ramifications in




                                                                                   22
the chain of command vice actual events materially hindered early efforts at

reconstruction in this instance.



       Westerners bring their own prejudices, sometimes unconsciously,

sometimes quite overtly. As stated earlier, “professional humanitarians” often

are less concerned with the actual impact of their jobs vice the amount of money

they are making by being where they are balanced with their personal security.

This is a broad brush and obviously there are many who should not be painted

by it but are anyway. Some of the finest people I have ever known have put

everything they have in service to help other human beings they believe are less

fortunate. Which is the crux, that being how they feel and believe. What the

reality is, or how that person feels about their own situation, or how it equates in

the reality of a social and cultural context, may be completely different.

       I personally know people who have established an NGO in order to “feel

good” about themselves, to obtain “approval” as a “good person” in their social

milieu (one I knew did it for a better grade at his university), or to gain

significantly higher wages with the opportunity to save large amounts of money

via tax breaks. None of this obviates any good they have done or might do but it

certainly influences their outlook and relationships with Afghans who they are

seeking to “help”. In some instances, cleaned up for current politically correct

thought, I have heard a translation of the traditional assumption of the “white

man’s burden”, disguised as something like “we are helping them because they


                                                                                   23
can’t help themselves” or the like. In other instances, religious ministries

undertake extensive humanitarian aid in order to proselytize, either overtly or

subtly, efforts not looked upon favorably by those of the Muslim faith.27 Some

aid organizations are engaged in purely criminal activity, laundering money

through humanitarian activities. In some instances, aid organizations are driven

by purely political goals, which can destroy the very projects they are intent on

pushing through so remorselessly. And nearly all NGOs have troubled relations

with the military, be it U.S., Afghan or other Coalition forces.28

        Often these conflicting motivations adversely impact the effectiveness of

reconstruction. Wells have been drilled which draw upon unclean water. Foot

bridges are built to the convenience of the builders vice the needs of the locals.

Roads are graded, built and paved with an inadequate surfacing, thus breaking

up under use within a year of construction.29 Or nothing is done as agreement

on security, ego or some other conflict point precludes reconstruction.

        Humanitarian activities and reconstruction projects are also open to

extraordinary corruption or criminal intent. In one case, U.S. contract employees

27 The most egregious example I encounter was in Ethiopia, when the secular government there
sponsored a group of Swedish Lutheran missionaries to hold a series of revivals in the ethnic
Somali portion of southeastern Ethiopia (2005). The Swedes had to be protected by soldiers, the
crowds of sullen Muslims were rounded up at gun point and the fact that the Swedes conducted
medical clinics did not obviate the real hatred felt by the Muslims towards them and the
Ethiopian soldiers, all Amharic or Tigrayan Christians.
28 Winslow, “Strange Bedfellows: NGOs and the Military in Humanitarian Crises” provides some

wonderful examples from earlier interventions in other countries.
29 The Ring Road section connecting Kandahar to Kabul, was built in some sections with only a

single layer of paving, when multiple layers were called for. This was done in order to complete
quickly a prestige project upon which political requirements at home determined the pace and
material for the project, not the actual on-hand engineering requirements. Hopefully the
degraded sections have been fixed or are under repair.


                                                                                             24
working to improve facilities aboard Bagram were taking kickback pay-offs from

the providers of gravel, for every three trucks delivering gravel four truck loads

were paid for. The cumulative difference for hundreds of truckloads was

significant. Unfortunately, neither the U.S. contractors nor the base CID knew

that the gravel suppliers were partially funded by ISI, which used the

reconstruction contracts to insert intelligence “agents” aboard the U.S. base,

some working directly on or adjacent to both the new command facility and the

Detention facility. Subsequent investigation (only after a long delay) stopped not

only the improvement of facilities aboard Bagram but led to a nearly one year

stoppage of gravel supply for reconstruction, which temporarily severely

impaired PRT reconstruction efforts in Parwan and Kapisa, and by association,

numerous NGO reconstruction efforts.

        In Wardak province, a private NGO approved by the Afghan government

and working extensively with U.S. PRTs and other engineers, built a series of

schools to service hundreds of children at the elementary education level.

Unfortunately, the schools were a laundering front into which drug money was

funneled. An FBI raid and confiscation of documents clearly indicated this

activity but because the private NGO was affiliated with an expatriate Afghan

family split between Wardak province and California, the Department of Justice

directed the FBI agents to return the documents30 only days later, as well as then



30I did review and scanned the documents into an intelligence database, retaining the evidence;
however, as DoD was then not interested in counter-drug activity, it was ignored.


                                                                                              25
recalling the FBI agents home. The Afghan expatriate wing of the family had

immediately contacted a U.S. Congressman and complained of unjust

harassment. The Congressman, looking at a healthy contribution, immediately

communicated his displeasure to the Justice Department, which then

communicated that to the FBI agents in Afghanistan.31 Significantly,

reconstruction efforts in that province slowed appreciably when it was realized

by the NGOs that their efforts were linked with the opium culture.

        Finally, the Afghans themselves have several prisms in which they view

outsiders, in addition to local ethnic prejudices. The constant Taliban appeal to

the endemic xenophobia present in nearly all Pushtuns and to a lesser degree in

most Afghans, makes it very difficult to ascertain exactly what local needs and

feelings are. A tradition of deception and misdirection based on survival

instincts (for example, the introduced village elder may not actually be the real

local leader but an expendable decoy, such a ploy is fairly normal and ensures

leadership survival in a harsh political environment) makes getting real

information difficult at best. Likewise, the presentation of false fronts in order to

not reveal perceived self weaknesses or to appear stronger than they are, is a

common stratagem, especially when approached by foreigners who seem to be

offering something for free if only information is provided in return. Trust

comes very hard, often never. Through hard experience, most Afghans seek to

31The FBI agents, very dedicated individuals, were very angry as they had assumed, based on the
brief they had been given to aggressively seek to diminish drug flow from Afghanistan, that their
actions were both correct and permissible, especially since several of the private NGOers-cum-
drug launderers were American citizens of Afghan heritage or birth.


                                                                                              26
gain as much as they can while risking as little as possible. Information itself has

value, and is thus subject to distortion or outright denial and misdirection. None

of this assists reconstruction efforts and leads to extreme frustration with what is

termed “corruption”.



        In my times in Afghanistan, as well as in discussions with Afghans in

America, be they family members, acquaintances or chance encounters, I have

often expressed that America is seemingly engaged in an armed struggle to bring

flush toilets and childhood vaccinations to the Afghans, who are struggling

mightily against them, preferring to remain with primitive facilities and an

extraordinarily high infant mortality rate.32 America receives no real tangible

benefit from assisting Afghanistan, not even the chimera (in my opinion) of

security from future terrorist attacks, except for the self-induced feeling of

“doing a good thing”. Just for the sake of discussion, might it not be much

cheaper to withdraw totally from Afghanistan and then every few years shoot

missiles in to knock down any identified terrorist facilities. Likewise, might it

not be cheaper in the long run to leave Afghanistan and buy the entire yearly

multi-billion dollar opium crop (for use as expensive land fill somewhere) of

approximately 800 metric tons (variable, depending on weather conditions and




32Another view is that for Afghans (especially Pushtuns), freedom is never free, as it paid for
with the lives of its young and women so that the men can remain “in splendid isolation”. A bit
extreme maybe, but I have heard it several times from Afghan males, so please prove me wrong.


                                                                                             27
conflict), a small ship load of maybe 40 truckloads, instead of spending over $25

billion a year and hundreds of lives.33

        Regardless, the road to hell is paved with good intentions as well as

intentionally evil intent, which the last 30 years of Afghanistan provide proof of.

Cultural misperceptions, clear misunderstandings and occasionally evil intent

have often led aid provider and aid recipients to vastly different destinations,

despite the initial appearance of similar goals. All the lofty sounding aims of

nations, international organizations and humanitarian ventures mean little if the

basic one on one personal interaction is founded on differing views of what

reality is (or should be) and what the desired end result should be (or is

achievable).



#6 -    So, a last example and a question for you the reader. Up in the Pech

valley there was desperate need for a bridge over a particularly steep ravine,

within which ran a swift flowing river. Several villages, close in proximity but

distant by geographic division, would have a much better local economy if a

bridge could be built, as well as improving local governance (i.e., control). An

old bridge had existed in the past, built by a particularly involved provincial


33I personally do not subscribe to this but there really does need to be consideration of truly “out-
of-the-box” thinking. As an example of U.S. and European cultural blinders, in the spectrum of
options, the extreme option of genocide is never considered, nor the options of full scale invasion
and reassertion of full control (i.e., colonialism), but the other extreme at the opposite end is
commonly considered, which is full abandonment and retreat. While clearly not in favor of either
extreme, if they are never considered, than the harder “middle” options will be considered the
“real” extremes and potentially discarded. Full consideration of even unpalatable options should
be examined, not just what is politically correct or desired. My opinion, of course.


                                                                                                  28
government decades before but destroyed in the 1980s, severing easy

communication and trading between the villages. To build a new bridge was

beyond the pooled resources of the villages of the sub-district or even the district,

so until another provincial or central government became interested enough, no

bridge was to be had. Thus, the local economy remained sub-optimal, which

contributed to discontent and sympathy for insurgent (any insurgent) activity

       Finally, in 2006, the Kunar PRT identified the building of a new bridge as

a “good thing” and began consultation with local leadership (village elders) as to

where exactly to built it. As this area was rife with “insurgent activity”, the

building of a bridge was linked as a “reward” to a decrease in such activity,

which would be viewed as a politically desirable “increase in security”. Besides,

the actual surveying and construction direction and supervision would be done

by NGOs (local construction contractors would do the hard labor) and any

potential danger to them was itself a large stumbling block to bridge

construction. So, construction was linked to improved security and amazingly,

security rapidly improved in this part of the Pech valley, to the point that

surveying was begun and material for construction of the abutments was

gathered.

       At this point the PRT was notified by some officers from the CJTF that

several local insurgent leaders (primarily HIG but one a Taliban and all

influenced by Al Qaida) who lived near the valley and used it as a transit route,

had met to discuss the impending bridge construction project (they had learned


                                                                                  29
of it at nearly the same time the topic was broached to local village elders). A

record of several meetings of the insurgent leaders showed that they agreed the

foreigners building the bridge would be a lucrative target but to target them

would likely be a one time deal. However, further discussion showed an

alternative, that construction of the bridge would materially ease (insurgent

force) movement and re-supply, so it might be even better to refrain from any

attacks and allow the bridge to be built. In fact, it might even be best to actively

assist in creating the “desired” security environment so that the builders

wouldn’t be scared away.

       Once built, attacks on Asadabad and other previously difficult to reach

areas would be amply aided by the reconstruction of the bridge. Agreement was

reached by these insurgent leaders to ease up on attacks and transit efforts so

that the bridge could be built, with much amusement that the accursed infidel

kuffars would be building the very transit route they were to be attacked by.

       What would you do?



       So, what are the mechanisms that need to be identified, emplaced and

implemented to correct some of the above noted issues? As noted in the

vignettes, many of the mechanisms are already in place but are either under

utilized, not utilized within the appropriate cultural context or simply not given

time to work.




                                                                                   30
          It needs to be recognized that far too often, what the U.S. and its Coalition

allies do is under a self-imposed time limit, whose validation is not actual

success or failure on the ground in Afghanistan, but the perception of failure

back in their respective home country constituencies. If something doesn’t work

correctly, the first time and then every time, it is said that it won’t work or that

the Afghans won’t do it and some new strategy is needed.34 This is often subject

to political machinations within those countries. It is not the fact that what has

tried has failed, but that it has hardly been tried or allowed to work.35

          Humanitarian NGOs work under a similar time constraint, to deliver the

most effective “reported on” aid in order to obtain continued or additional

funding, which may obviate the actual assistance required by the local situation.

Likewise, many Afghans have become adept (although not as blatant as the

Somalis were in the 1990s) at manipulating both the Coalition and NGOs in

order to obtain desired aid when it may not actually be needed as well as to deny

it to rival tribes, khels or regions.

          So many of the issues might be addressed simply by taking a bit more

time and letting things work themselves out. Afghanistan is a fairly primitive

place in most instances, and a little more time to consider what might be done

won’t hurt. Detainment and certification of individuals needn’t be rushed. As

well, complete consideration of all background information within the historical,



34   Grono, “Success in Afghanistan…”.
35   Ibid.


                                                                                       31
social and cultural context needs to be a part of security evaluation and

interrogations. Simply living in Afghanistan, especially in the urban areas, has

been a fairly difficult task over the last generation. That is a fact that needs to be

recognized by organizations that typically try to deal in “black and white”

security views when most things in Afghanistan are gray.36

        Contributing and exacerbating the self-impose time constraints is the near

instantaneous press coverage, which creates huge pressures for action/response

without allowing for adequate analysis or thoughtful contemplation. It needs to

be borne in mind that Afghanistan is in many ways a successful intervention, as

nearly 2/3 of the country is at relative peace, with schools up and running and

much effective reconstruction on-going. Yet those are the areas which get no

coverage, because peace isn’t news worthy.37 The conflict in the Pushtun areas is

what is reported on, thus the paradox is that to most Afghans (and most of those

serving there) see that the violence is restricted to areas in the east and south

along the Pakistani border, while to TV and Internet intoxicated “Westerners”,


36 I think there is a small minority of “outsiders” who truly do understand the socio-cultural
issues, but they are rarely in positions of power. This is where anthropologically trained
intelligence analysts, intelligence trained anthropologists or operationally trained anthropologists
can be valuable. They should be resident within Afghan government ministries, on the CFC and
CJTF staffs (preferably mainly in the Plans and IO sections) as well as in ISAF and out in the PRT
and BCT HQ staffs. My opinion, of course.
37 Borchgrave, “Losing the Afghan War?”, Washington Times. Borchgrave contends that NATO

and the U.S. have lost the struggle in Afghanistan; likewise, in 2006 he pointed out that the U.S.
had lost the struggle in Iraq and should leave that country as well. For those who claim that
certain people and organizations have a hopelessly rosy, selective and unrealistic view of the
situation in Afghanistan, there are just as many who have a pessimistic, selective and unrealistic
view as well. It is most likely both are largely incorrect and the actual reality lies somewhere in
between. Again, the ugly specter of personal politics pervades this part of the conflict. All of
which is grist for the mill of As-Sahab and other Islamic extremist IO organs. My opinion, of
course.


                                                                                                 32
all of Afghanistan is aflame and in danger of becoming Talibanized.38 As I have

repeatedly stated, from 2003 to today, the very fact that ANP and ANA forces are

being attacked in remote district and provincial areas is a success story in itself,

as government forces of any type have traditionally been absent from those

areas. In fact, viewed in a historical context, the current Karzai government

could be considered one of the most successful governing entities in the history

of Afghanistan since Alexander the Great. Only Alexander imposed direct rule

(personally), however briefly, taking nearly three years to do so (one mechanism

employed being genocide). Yet depicting failure is far more alluring but all the

more destructive as the U.S., Coalition and Afghan forces are trying hard to

create the relatively secure conditions in order to extend reconstruction efforts

into the Pushtun areas of Afghanistan.

        Successes need to be trumpeted, as well as the failures and setbacks, but

the “press” needs to be aware to not be unwitting agents for insurgent or

terrorist entities. For example, a May 2008 article in the Weekly Standard by Ann

Marlowe pointed out some undeniable successes in the districts of Khost

Province.39 Then she practically threw down a gauntlet, claiming that the area


38 This is more of a media issue, not of one academia, military or government, yet still sizably
impacts reconstruction. It is just the nature of media and largely outside the purview of this
paper, unfortunately.
39 Focusing heavily on the creation of platoon-sized Force Protection Facilities (FPFs) at each

district capital, which is similar in concept to the proliferation of “forts” throughout much of the
NWFP and selected portions of the FATA on the Pakistan side of the Durand Line, pioneered by
the British in the late 19th century. Such a tactic depends heavily on either a benign security
environment, clear tactical and firepower superiority or the ability to hold-out long enough to
call on massive supporting fires and rapid response forces. Whether any of these conditions are
fully met in Khost is debatable.


                                                                                                  33
was unimportant to the Taliban and associated ilk, and thus security and

reconstruction was progressing relatively unhindered with the active support of

the local populace.40 Is it any wonder, that Khost suffered several major Taliban

and Haqqani insurgent attacks in July and August, attacks which garnered

world-wide press coverage and the labeling of Khost as an insurgent hotbed,

despite the attacks being severely localized and conducted by external insurgent

forces. It is likely that efforts to create and maintain a secure environment for

reconstruction will continue to be negatively impacted by “thoughtless”

journalism.

          Aggravating the ability to actual divine from the Afghans what is needed

is the disintegration of the traditional leadership structures in Pushtun areas.

The old Khan/Malik leadership has been largely destroyed by a generation of

conflict, much of it resource based struggle. The ascendancy of Islamic

extremists, xenophobic Taliban and similar organizations (HiG and Haqqani),

the centralizing efforts of the Karzai government and the Coalition as well as the

simple proliferation of weaponry has atomized much of what was traditional

and has left many Afghans groping for new community structures to weave their

kinship groups into. To this I have no answer, because I am unsure what the




40   Marlowe, “A Counterinsurgency Grows in Khost”.


                                                                                    34
ultimate goal(s) of “social reconstruction” is, although I am fairly clear on the

Islamic extremist goal.41

        As I stated earlier, most of the needed mechanisms already exist, it is just

time and context that need to be added. The very fact that I can describe the

earlier vignettes is proof that such mechanisms do exist, it is just the analytical

processing that is mainly missing, and that can be corrected by time and

contextual knowledge. Unfortunately, from what I see, both of these will only be

grudgingly granted, if at all, due mainly to domestic political considerations and

postures.




41It is possible to say that what is likely good for the Afghan people, if there is such a unitary
concept, is also good for us. However, we still haven’t even got over the first hurdle of
understanding the culture(s) of Afghanistan.


                                                                                                     35
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Marlowe, Ann, “A Counterinsurgency Grows in Khost”, The Weekly Standard,
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                                                                                36
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                                                                               37
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& ARD, Aug 2008.




                                                                          38
Lexicon

CENTCOM – Central Command (U.S.)
CID - Criminal Investigation Division (U.S. Army Military Police Detectives)
CJSOTF – Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force
CJTF – Combined Joint Task Force
DoD – Department of Defense (U.S.)
DRA – Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (Communist supported government)
ENT – Ear Nose & Throat
FATA – Federally Administered Tribal Areas
FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation (U.S.)
FPF – Force Protection Facility
HIG – Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin
ID – Identification
ISAF – International Security Assistance Force
ISI – Inter-Service Intelligence Directorate (Pakistan, also sometimes called ISID)
JTF – Joint Task Force
LTC – Lieutenant colonel (U.S. Army)
MP – Military Police
NCO – Non-Commissioned Officer
NGO – Non-Government Organization
NWFP – Northwest Frontier Province
POW – Prisoner of War
PRT – Provincial Reconstruction Team
PTS – Program Takhim-e Sohl
TECOM – Training & Education Command (U.S. Marine Corps)
TRADOC – Training and Doctrine Command (U.S. Army)
UN- United Nations
USAID – U.S. Agency for International Development



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