Welcome to the Kandahar “rising tide” of security. David Zucchino of the Los Angeles Times sits in on a Kandahar city shura and turns in a fantastic piece of reporting. An Army captain expected everyone to talk about governance. Instead, the ten local notables who attended talk about security — which they want, but not “these big operations.”  And can’t anything done about the crooked cops? The elders are here to help, but they have to get advance word of when ISAF is going to go raiding. Welcome to the “rising tide” — a frustrating, painstaking enterprise that depends on building some degree of local trust if it’s going to actually rise.

For instance: That’s a lot to expect of junior officers and their NCOs. How much advance time can you really give someone whose allegiances are unclear before you go about clearing an area? On the other hand, if you don’t provide some advance warning, then you risk tipping their allegiance over to your enemy. And once you invite the guy to a meeting, which he attends at personal risk to himself and his family, to solicit his concerns and you don’t visibly follow through on them, you risk missing your chance for a local partner. These are not decisions I envy anyone making.

Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman