One Tribe At A Time

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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