Agora

Return to “One Tribe at A Time”

By Steven Pressfield | 1 Comment

It has been a few weeks since we’ve run a post in the “One Tribe At A Time” Series, with Maj. Jim Gant. We want to share an update with you, about a photo gallery in the Washington Post, featuring narration from Maj. Gant.

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

By Steven Pressfield | 7 Comments

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

By Steven Pressfield | 14 Comments

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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Guest Blog by Andrew Lubin: Let the Afghan Army Fight

By Steven Pressfield | 9 Comments

[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

By Steven Pressfield | 5 Comments

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 | 10 Comments

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 | 14 Comments

[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 | 9 Comments

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 | 8 Comments

[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 | 7 Comments

[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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