Steven Pressfield Blog

Shame and Honor, not Hearts and Minds: an interview with William S. “MAC” McCallister, #2

Download “COIN and Irregular Warfare in a Tribal Society” to your computer, or view it right now. [COIN and Irregular Warfare in a Tribal Society, by William S. “MAC” McCallister, was first featured on Small Wars Journal in 2007. This paper remains an important read today, as do the many other papers and discussions posted to Small Wars Journal and the Small Wars Journal Blog. If you aren’t familiar with the site, please add it to your “must-read” list. Check out some of Mac’s other papers there, too.]

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COIN in a Tribal Society: an interview with William S. “Mac” McCallister

William S. “Mac” McCallister is a retired military officer, a U.S. Army major, who served in numerous special operations assignments specializing in civil-military, psychological and information operations, with focuses in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. I was introduced to Mac a few weeks ago, when he forwarded to Maj. Jim Gant his paper “COIN and Irregular Warfare in a Tribal Society,” which he’d written in 2007, and which focuses on Iraq. Mac was in Iraq around the same time Maj. Gant was in Afghanistan. Both were working with tribes, attempting to figure out what works in the real world…

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Happy Christmas/Hannukah/New Year!

My wish is that our readers are taking this season off, just like I am.  I do want to take this moment, though, to say special thanks to the friends and partners who helped get this blog off the ground six months ago and whose hard work has kept it aloft ever since.

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Sticking Points

Have you ever hit the wall? I have. Over and over. On any project–I don’t care how dazzlingly it starts out–inevitably the truck runs into a lake of goo. Here’s what I’ve learned about sticking points.

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Guest Blog by Andrew Lubin: Let the Afghan Army Fight

[Again, we’re pleased to have this fresh post from independent correspondent Andrew Lubin, who has just returned from six weeks in Afghanistan, where he was embedded with Army and Marine troops and spent time with their Afghan National Army counterparts. Here’s Part Two of Prof. Lubin’s report.]

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Pakistan, continued

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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Giving It Away

I know Giving It Away is supposed to work as a web marketing strategy, bringing in new customers. (Like when rock bands offer free downloads of their songs and the new listeners then go out and buy the group’s CDs or attend their concerts.) I’ve tried this. I must confess that so far the only part I’ve mastered is giving it away. But there’s one gentleman who really knows how to do this crazy new thing and actually make it work.

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Pakistan

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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Having A Practice

Last Wednesday I wrote a post called “Self-Doubt.” It shared a rough patch I was going through on the book I’m working on now. I put it out there because I wanted other writers and artists (who know this already but perhaps needed a little reminder, as I do) to remember that they aren’t alone when they themselves struggle with this demon. People wrote in. I want to say thanks to all of them, to those friends and trench-mates who said thanks and who offered me encouragement. I appreciate it. It meant a lot to me.

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A Report from embedded journalist Andrew Lubin

[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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