“A small price to pay for good relations”

June 10, 2009

Population-centric approaches to counterinsurgency warfare emphasise the importance of protecting the local people rather than killing the enemy.

When war takes place among the people, using military force is problematic so the priority is to win the support of the local population by providing security and services and building relationships with village elders. 

That’s (a very simplified version, that doesn’t really do justice to) the theory. But here’s what it might mean in practice courtesy of Afghanistan Shrugged:

"The purpose for us coming here is a shura an afghan term for gathering or meeting.  This shura is [in] honor of opening two schools in the area...

"Just in our operational area we’ve built four schools, numerous wells, water retention walls and various other projects.  We’ve also treated over 700 cases in 9 months…

"The group talks for a long while, drinking chai and then we adjourn to another room for lunch.  As I come into the room, I’m hit with dread.  It’s covered in flies as is the food.  One of my no shit rules is that I NEVER refuse any food or drink given to me by an Afghan.  It’s insulting to them.  So, I’m going to have to eat.

"I do and pay for it two days later with violent vomiting and diarrhea that makes a claymore mine seem like a fire cracker.  10 lbs and 6 bags of IV fluid later I’ll be fine and my relationship with the elders is intact.  A small price to pay for good relations."