I am not advocating
that we adopt an imperial stance, or even that everything the British did was
right or even moral. But I do think we can learn from them, which is why I am
dwelling this week on Roe's fine
book on the British experience in Waziristan.
For example, in 1947, the new
Pakistani government invited the former British governor of the North-West
Frontier, Sir George Cunningham, to come out of retirement and administer the
province, because he was seen as an honest broker. That might be the end-game
we should aim for in Iraq, where the American officials eventually subordinate
themselves to the Baghdad government and even are seconded to work for it.
That's my lesson, not Roe's. Here
are some of his. You'll find more on almost every page:
- Be prepared to conduct a
"constant mapping of political, economic and social information to gain a
temporal insight into the views, motivation, and differences among the tribes
- Don't underestimate your enemy.
"To take on the tribesman and defeat him in his own hils is a game demanding a
lifetime of specialized study."
Tribesman will study your
tactics and punish lapses or even simple repetitions. "This is one read on why
an advance is seldom disputed with vigour, whereas the withdrawal is
Political officers must counter
the tendency of military commanders to rely on their "instinct and their own
values and standards, which often will be mistaken, unsuitable or
inappropriate." (Tom: I saw this tendency a lot in Iraq in 2003-06.)
shortfalls and inconsistencies must be central to any sustainable policy."
(Tom: Hmm, sounds like FM 3-24.)
Don't fight the tribal structure.
"Employing and, where necessary, reinforcing the existing tribal framework and
structures offers the best opportunity for success."
Be prepared to pay off the
Local forces should be the heart of your effort, not regular Army