These days, the bazaar is thriving. The schoolhouse has reopened. People in the area have become confident enough to report Taliban activity to the village defense force and the police. As a consequence, insurgent attacks have nearly ceased and U.S. soldiers have not hit a single roadside bomb in the area in two months, according to the detachment.
"Everyone feels safer now," said Nasarullah, one of two gray-bearded tribal elders in charge of the village force. "Nobody worries about getting killed anymore."
The rapid and profound changes have generated excitement among top U.S. military officials in Afghanistan, fueling hope that such groups could reverse insurgent gains by providing the population a degree of protection that the police, the Afghan army and even international military forces have been unable to deliver.
But plans to expand the program have been stymied by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who fears the teams could turn into offensive militias, the kind that wreaked havoc on the country in the 1990s and prompted the rise of the Taliban. "This is playing with fire," an Afghan government official said. "These groups may bring us security today, but what happens tomorrow?"
Citing Karzai's objections, Karl W. Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, has blocked the release of money needed to broaden the initiative. He also has instructed State Department personnel in the country not to assist the effort until the Afghan government endorses it." Chandrasekaran
The "big army" still hates the Green Berets. Given a chance, this kind of strategy, backed by a smallish number of conventional troops as a mobile reserve could neuter the true Taliban, the irreducible hard core of that movement. The rest of the fighters now sloppily lumped in with the true Taliban could either be won over or made to see that continuing to fight is useless. But, no, the conventional generals would rather play COIN with a hundred thousands troops than let SF carry the day. There is something about Special Forces soldiers (Green Berets, not Delta counter-terrorist commandos) that is deeply threatening to the brass hats.
Eickenberry sides with Karzai? What a surprise! He is yet another conventional brass hat.
Karzai fears a countryside filled with villages armed and ready to fight to defend themselves against predatory Taliban or government. What a surprise that is as well.
Someone will argue that this technique did not work in VN. Observations: there are no NVA in Afghanistan, nor is there a Taliban "lobby" in the States. pl