Afghanistan: November 19, 2003


American and Afghan troops are mounting a larger number of more aggressive raids along the Pakistan border. The Afghan troops, and continued cultivation of local chiefs and warlords, provides more tips on where the Taliban and al Qaeda are. Just offering rewards doesn't do it, because most of the people with the information you want are out in remote valleys and towns. You've got to get out there with lots of friendly, and heavily armed, Afghans to get the tips. More often, the tips lead to empty camps or weapons caches. The Taliban and al Qaeda groups cannot operate freely and openly if there are any US or Afghan government forces near by. The American communications and transportation capabilities can quickly get troops into the area. American warplanes are quickly on the scene if there is any combat.

Meanwhile, the hundreds of warlord gangs continue to brawl, and sometimes shoot at each other, over real or imagined grievances. Following ancient custom, peace was achieved in late 2001 by giving hundreds of government jobs to warlords large and small. Most of these guys kept their gunmen with them, and engage in whatever legal or, usually, illegal, activities they can to keep their men in food, ammo and spending money. This often leads to conflict with other warlords over scarce resources. 


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