Thursday, April 26, 2007

US soldiers sit in on local Afghan councils

This article reveals how difficult it is to be an occupying army. The Americans will never really be welcomed there. They do not know the language and apparently in this area have few contacts, "friends" who can introduce them as friends.

By Jason Straziuso
Associated Press

"To get a foothold in the area, the Americans have to talk with the Taliban."
" 'When you roll in here with 800 heavily armed men, it can cause a lot of anxiety. Until you [talk with them] they're real standoffish,' said Mennes, who leads the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment"
"US and NATO soldiers are increasingly holstering their weapons and attending traditional Afghan lunches and tribal meetings known as shuras, embracing local customs in a land where conversation over tea is a national pastime"
"The goal: to gather intelligence, advertise the aid and development that NATO and the Afghan government can bring, and talk transitory Taliban fighters into disarming. The counterinsurgency strategy is based on weeding out what NATO calls 'Tier 2' Taliban -- poor farmers or jobless villagers who are enlisted by hard-core, ideologically minded Taliban."
"But the American-Afghan lunch showed how tricky such get-togethers can be."
"The US paratroopers sat down with Afghan elders and police to a shared lunch ... But ... the Americans made an unnerving discovery: a cache of rocket-propelled grenades , mortars, and a land mine.Soldiers, suspicious that the weapons could belong to militants,removed them from the police storage facility. The pleasant mood fostered over a meal was shattered."

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