Afghanistan’s Pashtun rural population has been the source of manpower, funds, shelter, support, and intelligence for the repeated insurgencies that have plagued that unfortunate county since their monarch, Zahir Shah, was overthrown in 1973. In the general unrest that followed, insurgents opposed Mohammad Daoud’s army until he was overthrown by the communists who served in succession – Taraki, Amin, Karmal, and Najibullah. The communist leadership figures, in turn, were deposed by the anti-communist “Seven Party Alliance” that was soon battling among itself for control of Kabul until the Taliban Movement emerged. The Taliban was also faced with resisting insurgent forces, primarily from the non-Pashtun ethnic groups inhabiting Afghanistan’s northern provinces. Afghanistan’s rural insurgents are generally poorly educated, if literate at all, and succeeding generations of insurgents rely upon story-telling from earlier generations of fighters to gain knowledge of tactics that are applicable to their particular culture and terrain.
Marine Corps Intelligence Activity (MCIA) Afghan Culture Card from April 2010.
(U//FOUO) U.S. Marine Corps 21st‐Century Marine Expeditionary Intelligence Analysis (MEIA‐21) Overview
MEIA‐21 is a formal initiative to structure, standardize, and professionalize tactical intelligence analysis in the Marine Corps. It professionalizes Marine expeditionary intelligence, equipping intelligence analysts with analytically rigorous Structured Models, Approaches, and Techniques (SMATs)—applied tradecraft—to provide commanders with actionable, reliable tactical intelligence in conventional and irregular warfare while also instilling the cognitive and creative skills to create and refine that tradecraft.
21st‐Century Marine Expeditionary Intelligence Analysis (MEIA‐21) is a formal initiative to structure, standardize, and professionalize tactical intelligence analysis in the Marine Corps. It professionalizes Marine expeditionary intelligence, equipping intelligence analysts with analytically rigorous Structured Models, Approaches, and Techniques (SMATs)—applied tradecraft—to provide commanders with actionable, reliable tactical intelligence in conventional and irregular warfare while also instilling the cognitive and creative skills to create and refine that tradecraft.
Understanding the local culture is critical to mission success. This Cultural Intelligence Indicators Guide (CIIG ) will contribute to an initial Intelligence Preparation of the Operational Environment that should be continuously updated by line companies. It is intended to aid Marines in the identification of key cultural observables during security and atmospherics patrols, while at the same time helping tactical unit leaders identify the information needed to understand and influence their local environment. The intent is to anticipate the second and third order effects of our actions in order to shape and influence events to our advantage.
A collection of “cultural intelligence” reports for the Afghanistan region were created by the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity (MCIA). They represent some of the only known public examples of MCIA cultural intelligence reports available on the web. In 2008, a MCIA cultural intelligence report on Iran’s culture was obtained and published by the Center for Public Integrity. The following reports on Afghan culture were produced in 2002, but are still believed to be in use by advisers and soldiers today.
Islam is practiced differently in Afghanistan than in any other part of the world. For operations in Afghanistan, it is significant to know the origins of existing cultural influences come from pre-Islamic Central Asian beliefs. This knowledge is necessary for two key reasons. First, understanding the specific cultural-religious mindset of local Afghans is essential to successful operations within the population. Secondly, Afghan cultural Islam conflicts with the fundamentalist Islamic movements that influence the current insurgency. Knowing and exploiting these differences can be beneficial to counteracting insurgent IO campaigns and to discourage local Afghans from identifying with insurgent groups vying for control of the population.
U.S. Marine Corps Intelligence Activity Micro Mission Guide for Afghanistan published in October 2008.
The purpose of this document is to outline the role of female engagement on the ground and best uses of female engagement initiatives. While existing academic literature on females in Afghanistan is limited mostly to the urban areas, it is evident that the lives of women in rural Helmand are complex and difficult than is generally understood from open source and academic literature. Female engagement encompasses methodical, long-term outreach efforts to the entire population, men, women, and children, which is essential in a counterinsurgency. Such engagement efforts provide opportunities to connect with both men and women, counter negative Taliban IO efforts, and improve civil affairs efforts.
In the asymmetrical threat climate of the 21st century, stability and support operations (SASO) are often conducted from a companylevel firm base (FB). These company and platoon size units need immediate, on-scene intelligence support to deal with an enemy that can recruit, rest, and resupply amongst the population in a predominately urban environment. This requires an intense collection and analysis effort by even the smallest unit. And, because of the noncontiguous nature of SASO, it is unrealistic to expect that higher echelon staffs will consistently be available to support them. Therefore, Marines in small units must establish and maintain a limited, but effective, capability for themselves.
Helmand Province‟s political scene is perhaps unique in Afghanistan due to several atypical tribal dynamics produced by the unintended consequences of Western development activities. Projects, like the Helmand Valley Development Authority, led to an uneven tribal resettlement process that introduced outsider ethnic groups into the central portion of the province where they had never resided previously. Second, the potential wealth of the illegal opium industry associated with the reclaimed land from the development project and tribal desires to control it has also been a factor in the development of conflict.
The Washington Post ran an article this morning entitled, “As food distribution improves, Haitians want U.S to ‘take over’.” The increasingly prominent role of U.S. troops and civilian workers is creating high expectations among Haitians. “I want the Americans to take over the country. The Haitian government can’t do anything for us,” said Jean-Louis Geffrard, a laborer who lives under a tarp. The article contains several quotes that underscore the fact that the average citizen has no confidence in their government, but virtually 100% faith in the United States. Average Haitians are taking quick notice to how U.S. troops have brought order and efficiency to aid distribution.