E-mails from the Troops

By Steven Pressfield | 5 Comments

[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 | 8 Comments

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 | 7 Comments

[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 | 4 Comments

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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An Exchange Between Soldiers

By Steven Pressfield | 18 Comments

Maj. Gant, First I want to say Thank you, Thank you and Thank you! I just finished your “One Tribe At A Time” strategy paper and I am speechless!! You have captured and eloquently explained everything we, those of us who were in Afghanistan in the early days, have been beating our heads against the wall about since late 2004, when it all began to spiral downward.

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The Full Document at last!

By Steven Pressfield | 112 Comments

[Because of the extraordinary response to Maj. Jim Gant’s paper, One Tribe At A Time, I’ve decided to leave it up all week in the “Number One Slot.”  My ongoing interview with Chief Ajmal Khan Zazai will pick again next Friday; the Chief has been in Kabul all week, meeting with U.S. and British commanders, and we haven’t had time to speak. So all’s well that ends well!]

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Warlords and Taliban

By Steven Pressfield | 8 Comments

[The blog is “on the road” this week.  Here is a re-run of the most clicked interview so far.  See you next week!] Welcome back, Chief Zazai, after last week’s break in our ongoing, multi-part interview. As you know, we took that space last week to post an open letter to Gens. Jones, Petraeus, McChrystal and Adm. Mullen, alerting them to your formation of a Tribal Police Force in the Zazi Valley and asking for help in aligning that force with the American troops (10th Mountain Division) whose Area of Operations (AO) includes your district. Respect for confidentiality prevents me…

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The “How” of Tribal Engagment

By Steven Pressfield | 46 Comments

[The blog is “on the road” this week, so I’m going to re-run last week’s One Tribe At A Time post.  I actually wanted to do this anyway, just because it produced so many interesting comments and questions.  We’ll have the full free downloadable .pdf of Maj. Jim Gant’s One Tribe At A Time next Monday.  Thanks, friends, for your patience!  Now to business …]

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An Open Letter to Gen. James Jones, National Security Advisor

By Steven Pressfield | 12 Comments

[This week has been a rough one for our troops in Afghanistan–and a contentions one among policymakers here in the States.  I’m going to interrupt our ongoing interview with tribal chief Ajmal Khan Zazai to post this open letter.  The same note was sent by e-mail two days ago to the parties below.]

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Tribal Engagement Teams

By Steven Pressfield | 25 Comments

Last week in our first excerpt from Special Forces Major Jim Gant’s paper, “One Tribe At A Time,” Maj. Gant laid out the concept for a specialized type of American unit–a Tribal Engagement Team. Such teams would be small, highly trained and motivated, and granted broad latitude in the means of pursuing their mission. They would live full-time in the villages with the tribes, “lead, assist, train, supply,” and help organize Tribal Security Forces (TSFs.)

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