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Sunni Awakening, Afghan Version

It's often said that you can't hope to apply Iraq strategy to Afghanistan because the two countries/conflicts are so different. But Stanley McChrystal seems not to agree:

In Iraq, the U.S.-funded Sons of Iraq program got as many as 100,000 Sunni insurgents to stop fighting the U.S., or even take up arms against the group Al Qaeda in Iraq, by forming paramilitary groups. Efforts are underway to move them into state security forces or provide other jobs. U.S. military officers deployed in Afghanistan's south, the Taliban heartland, say they are being encouraged to test similar ideas in the field.

Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, head of U.S. and Western forces in Afghanistan, personally wooed a key architect of the Iraq program out of planned retirement to help craft the drive, which is to be aimed initially at low-level Taliban fighters.

British Lt. Gen. Graeme Lamb, who arrived in Afghanistan at the end of August to help develop the plan,
said a crucial element would be acknowledging that many insurgents believe that the West plans an open-ended occupation of Afghanistan.

Other fighters, he said, are acting on personal grievances related to powerful clan and tribal loyalties, such as a home destroyed or a relative killed, rather than subscribing to the overarching ideological agenda of Taliban leaders.

"We have an opportunity to reset the conditions," Lamb, former deputy commander of the Multi-National Force in Iraq, said in an interview at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization force headquarters. The vast majority of Taliban foot soldiers, he said, are "misguided -- they have fought well for a bad cause."

(Emphasis mine.) Of course a plan like this--turning the locals against the insurgents--doesn't work if people think you will fight with limited force and will be leaving soon.