A research report compiled earlier this year by a group of social scientists working for the U.S. Army’s Human Terrain System found that members of the Afghan National Army (ANA) are largely seen by coalition forces as unmotivated, highly dependent and making little to no progress. The report, titled “ANA and CF Partnership in Khost and Paktiya”, is based on interviews and observations made during the Human Terrain Team’s time embedded with a U.S. cavalry squadron from November to December 2011. A survey distributed to three other companies also informs much of the report’s findings, which are intended to analyze “the dynamics that influence partnering between the ANA and [coalition forces] and how they contributed to the ANA’s effectiveness in gaining the Afghan population’s support.” The soldier’s candid responses to the survey provide a great deal of insight into the perceptions of the Afghan National Army among coalition forces.
U.S. Army Human Terrain Team Report: Afghan National Army and Coalition Forces Partnership in Khost and Paktiya
Members of Human Terrain Team AF01 embedded with a U.S. cavalry squadron from November to December 2011. Our goal was to understand the dynamics that influence partnering between the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Coalition Forces (CF) and how those dynamics impacted ANA effectiveness in gaining the Afghan population’s support. We conducted 22 interviews with U.S. Army personnel, including U.S. enlisted Soldiers and officers, U.S. troop commanders, police trainers, and ANA mentors. In addition, we conducted 21 interviews with high- and low-ranking ANA enlisted Soldiers and officers and Afghan police officers. We accompanied U.S. forces on non-kinetic missions to villages throughout Khost and Paktiya to gather perceptions from the Afghan civilian population.
A map depicting the approximate locations, members and national affiliations of every human terrain team operating in Afghanistan as part of the U.S. Army’s Human Terrain System. The information is accurate as of April 3, 2012.
Most US personnel that are serving in Afghanistan have already served a tour in Iraq and are accustomed to doing things “the Iraq way”. Many people are trying to apply the lessons learned in Iraq to Afghanistan, which in many cases is inappropriate. AF2 wants to provide a product to US units to compare and contrast Iraqi tribal structure and Pashtun tribal structure to prevent future missteps by US forces.
This paper is designed to act as a guide for working with local communities in rural Afghanistan at the wuluswali (district) level, primarily in the east and south. Afghan society has always been extremely diverse from district to district, requiring a flexible, multi-faceted approach to governance. This multi-faceted approach blended tribes, Islam and the state. The political upheaval of the past 40 years has disrupted Afghan society and the traditional structures which historically provided governance and social order, not just the Kabul-based government. It is important that the information in this guide is not seen as absolute or universally applicable, but rather as a baseline guide for understanding the complexities of local governance, or the lack thereof, in rural Afghanistan. There is no standard formula for success in Afghanistan due to its diversity; the only constant is the need for flexibility.
Human terrain teams (HTTs) consist of five to nine personnel deployed by the HTS to support field commanders. HTTs fill the socio-cultural knowledge gap in the commander’s operational environment and interpret events in his AO. The team, individuals with social science and operational backgrounds, deploys with military units to bring knowledge about the local population into a coherent analytic framework. The teams also assist in building relationships with the local community in order to provide advice and opportunities to commanders and staffs in the field.
This report consists of two main parts: the first part is an overview of the existing historical and anthropological research on Pashtun “tribes” in Afghanistan, and the second part examines how “tribes” behave in Afghanistan. It is based mostly on academic sources, but it also includes unclassified government information and research performed by HTS Human Terrain Teams, which have been attached to U.S. Army brigades since 2007.
The Human Terrain System is a U.S. Army project intended to provide military decisionmakers in Iraq and Afghanistan with greater understanding of the local population’s cultures and perspectives. HTS deploys Human Terrain Teams (HTTs) of five to nine civilian and military personnel to support brigade, division, and theater-level staffs and commanders with operationally relevant information. The program also provides training for deploying personnel, reachback analysis, and software tools developed by HTS to support socio-cultural analysis. HTS emphasizes the use of tools and approaches commonly associated with the academic disciplines of anthropology and sociology’ in its efforts to collect and analyze data about local populations.
Saffron, referred to by some as “red gold,” has been in demand for centuries. The Latin name for the plant which bears the delicate spice is Crocus sativus L. Saffron growing has been promoted in Afghanistan in recent years in response to a call from the Afghan government to investigate economically viable licit alternatives to poppy. Due to the significant labor costs inherent to saffron production, saffron is the world’s most expensive spice. Not only are saffron profits competitive with opium, in relation to other licit crops, but saffron needs little water during growth, requires minimal refinement, and has a low volume and weight, making it easily transportable.
Afghanistan is in many ways an unlikely home for radical Islamic ideologies. Afghan religious life until the 1950s was, and in many places still is, traditional, conservative, rural, and mystical. Just as Afghanistan was politically and ethnically highly fragmented, religious life has also varied tremendously depending on region, ethno-linguistic group, and degree of urbanization.
Human Terrain Teams (HTTs) are five- to nine-person teams deployed by the Human Terrain System (HTS) to support field commanders by filling their cultural knowledge gap in the current operating environment and providing cultural interpretations of events occurring within their area of operations. The team is composed of individuals with social science and operational ackgrounds that are deployed with tactical and operational military units to assist in bringing knowledge about the local population into a coherent analytic framework and build relationships with the local power-brokers in order to provide advice and opportunities to Commanders and staffs in the field.