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Ten Steps to Victory in Afghanistan: If You Can't Beat Them, Let Them Join

Author: Linda Robinson, Senior International Policy Analyst, RAND Corporation
October 3, 2009
New York Times

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If You Can't Beat Them, Let Them Join

Within a year, we must persuade large numbers of insurgents to lay down their arms or switch to the government's side. Afghanistan's doughty warriors have a tradition of changing alliances, but success will require both military operations focused on the insurgent leadership and, even more important, incentives for fighters at the local level.

Mid-level insurgents and their followers should be offered a chance to join a revised version of the Afghan Public Protection Force. These local self-defense forces should be expanded and tied to legitimate local governing structures — both official and tribal. The majority of development funds should be funneled to leaders to strengthen local governance and development and pay the militias' salaries.

Local self-defense forces in Colombia, Peru, South Vietnam and, most recently, Iraq, have proved very successful. The creation of a viable force like this is the single most important benchmark for the counterinsurgency effort in Afghanistan.

- Linda Robinson, the author of "Tell Me How This Ends: Gen. David Petraeus and the Search for a Way Out of Iraq"

This article appears in full on CFR.org by permission of its original publisher. It was originally available here.

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