How McChrystal Works Ex-Insurgent Reintegration

Created: October 30, 2009 12:18 | Last updated: July 31, 2020 00:00

Sean Naylor at Army Times has an absolutely killer piece that goes into granular detail to explain how Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s team is structuring a program to reintegrate so-called “angry brothers” — those who join the insurgency because they’ve been aggrieved by the behavior of U.S. or allied troops — into peaceful Afghan society. Notice that no one here is talking about high-level divisions within the insurgency, or questions of whether the Quetta Shura Taliban leadership can be cleaved from al-Qaeda. This is a program designed to break the Taliban’s control over its lower-level fighters, along the lines that senior Afghan government officials indicated in February would be productive.

Here’s Naylor’s four-stage breakdown of the program:

• The first is a “strategic framework” that links the “critical stakeholders” from the national down to local levels and that has the flexibility to capitalize on fleeting opportunities to reintegrate insurgents in communities, “or if there are particular individuals that require targeting,” [Col. Chris] Kolenda said.

• The second is “shaping and messaging, [which] deals with both lethal and non-lethal targeting to help set conditions for these initiatives to take place at local levels,” he said.

• “The third piece is community mobilization,” Kolenda said. “All problems in Afghanistan, or at least all social local problems, are solved at the community level. And so enfranchising communities with ownership in local governance, local security, localized development, will help bring communities together and help create the pressure and attraction to bring young men back into peaceful existence.”

• The fourth component is “individual and group demobilization,” which involves creating mechanisms that enable individuals and groups who wish to stop fighting “to be reintegrated and become productive members of society,” he said.

The basic idea, which Fred Ikle would recognize, is to give people dignified ways to stop fighting. It appears to have buy-in from the Afghan government, but it’s a bit hard to tell if the NATO military command is the force pushing the reconciliation effort forward.