Steven Pressfield

Pakistan, continued

By Steven Pressfield |

SP: Chief Zazai, last week we were talking about Pakistan and you said there were in fact four Pakistans: the bureaucrats who are always in power, the current elected government, the army, and finally what you called the “Shadowy government” of ex-ISI and army officers who exert tremendous unseen influence. This week let’s get local and focus on your home district, the Zazi Valley in Paktia province in Afghanistan, where you are the paramount chief of eleven Pashtun tribes. You have said in previous interviews that within your valley, well-known to all residents, are a number of agents and officials…

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Pakistan

By Steven Pressfield |

SP: Chief Zazai, I’d like to talk to you today on the subject of Pakistan. More than any other aspect of the Afghan conflict, I think, the subject of Pakistani involvement is confusing to Americans. Even extremely well-versed observers ask, “Whose side is Pakistan on?” You, more than anyone I know, are in a position to really “tell it like it is.” So let me ask you first, what do you think is the Pakistani agenda in the current Afghan conflict? What does the government of Pakistan want?

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A Report from embedded journalist Andrew Lubin

By Steven Pressfield |

[We’ll be hearing again from Maj. Jim Gant in three weeks, but for this Monday and the next, I’m very pleased and honored to feature a “report from the trenches” from independent foreign correspondent Andrew Lubin, who has just returned from six weeks in Afghanistan where he was embedded with Army and Marine troops. Mr. Lubin’s son Phil is a Marine artilleryman; Andy loves the troops; nothing gives him greater pleasure than to get out there in the tall cane with young Marines and soldiers and come back with the straight, unfiltered scoop. This recent trip is his 10th to Iraq,…

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Thoughts on Corruption

By Steven Pressfield |

SP: Chief Zazai, I’d love to get your take today on the subject of corruption, because so much has been written about it recently in the American press–that cleaning up the Karzai government has become a major priority of the new Obama plan, that benchmarks will now be enforced and so on. The Western media have reported that corruption is simply a part of Afghan life, that it can never be eradicated. What do you say to this? Is it true? Is there a tribal component to corruption?

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My Back Pages

By Steven Pressfield |

[Some of the smartest and most interesting input we’ve received on this blog has come from the Comments section. Alas, such contributions often go unnoticed, buried as they are in the “back pages.” In an attempt to rectify this, I’d like to present here on the front page a very insightful response to Maj. Jim Gant’s paper, “One Tribe At A Time,” from former infantry platoon leader and Brigade Intelligence Officer Jim Gourley–along with a reply-in-depth from Maj. Gant. This is long, but worth it. I’ve edited the piece lightly for acronyms and so forth.]

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Is Time Running Out?

By Steven Pressfield |

[The blog is taking Thanksgiving off; we’ll repost last week’s interview below. [On this day of gratitude, though, I want to offer a major thank-you to our weekly series contributors, Chief Ajmal Khan Zazai and Maj. Jim Gant; thanks to everyone who has logged onto the blog, circulated it and linked to it; and special thanks to all who have contributed to the Comments section. Many of the comments have been so insightful and so brilliantly-articulated (we’ve had input from troopers in the field, from veterans of all theaters and every war back to WWII; we’ve heard from officers who…

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E-mails from the Troops

By Steven Pressfield |

[This is going to be a long post. What follows are just some of hundreds of e-mails received by Maj. Gant in response to his paper, “One Tribe At a Time.”  The first is from Luke Murray, who lost his leg in an IED strike near Sarkhani, Afghanistan on 18 July 2003 as a member of Maj. Gant’s ODA 316. He gave permission to post his e-mail to the blog.] Jim,

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Size Matters, continued

By Steven Pressfield |

If a Tribal Engagement Strategy (TES) were to be tried in Afghanistan, how exactly would it work? Last week, in the first part of this “Size Matters” post, we spoke with Maj. Jim Gant about the optimal size for a single U.S. Tribal Engagement Team (TET)—that is, the tactical unit that would be attached to a single Afghan tribe. Maj. Gant strongly advocated the position that smaller is better. Six to twelve men, no more.

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Size Matters

By Steven Pressfield |

[Today we have a special follow-up interview with Maj. Jim Gant, on the subject of how big (or small) a Tribal Engagement Team should be—and what kind of large-scale support it would need. But first I want to say thanks to the many, many readers who have responded to Maj. Gant’s paper “One Tribe At A Time” and to all the members of the military, policy and journalism communities who have helped to circulate it. Special thanks to James Dao of the N.Y. Times (“Going Tribal in Afghanistan”), James Meek of the N.Y. Daily News (“Memo to Obama: Talk to Jim…

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It Was Easier Fighting the Taliban

By Steven Pressfield |

SP: You’ve been in Kabul the last couple of weeks, Chief Zazai. What were you doing there? Chief Zazai: I was meeting with British and American commanders, trying to get support for the Tribal Police Force program in my home valley.

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