Afghanistan: May 5, 2004

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The government is establishing a special force composed of specially selected gunmen working for warlords. This outfit, 2,000 men strong and called the National Guard, will operate in the south, along the Pakistan border. Americans will train these troops, and go along as advisors. The pay for these troops will probably be above average. It is understood that the National Guard is a temporary organization and its members are not considered professional soldiers.

The new American tactics of stationing small units of troops in remote villages, and bringing in more civil affairs troops (aid projects for the remote villages) has worked. Villagers, in thanks for the aid and protection (from anti-government tribesmen and Taliban gangs) are increasingly passing on useful information (where roadside bombs are hidden, or weapons are stashed, or secret trails through the hills that the bad guys might use.)

Taliban operations try to take advantage of local customs. For example, many tribes still oppose education for girls, and three young girls recently had their food poisoned to warn them off attending school. Local Taliban supporters have burned down several schools and threatened the families that want to send their daughters to school. Conservative Afghans out in the countryside have seen what happens when girls become literate, and eventually go to college, and they don't like it. Many of these men consider it troublesome for women to read, because they tend to get new ideas about their way of life and how they are treated. Rural Afghanistan is a very macho society, and very conservative. The conservative families that will not let their daughters attend school often band together to try and force all local families to do the same. These disputes sometimes result in gunfire as well. 

 

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