I was sad to see I overlooked the publication a couple of weeks ago of James Traub’s New York Times Magazine feature on the attempts by U.S. Army soldiers, operating under Canadian command, to get the whole counterinsurgency thing working in Arghandab, not far from Kandahar City. I ran into Traub and some of his subjects — Lt. Col Guy Jones, Hajji Jabbar, and the guy Jones referred to as “State Department Chris” — when I visited the Arghandab District Centre briefly in April.
Traub goes into fascinating detail about Jones’s attempt to make himself and his troops subordinate to, and supportive of, the local face of the (knock on wood) legitimate, elected, effective Afghan government: Hajji Abdul Jabbar. The whole idea is to get the population to stop dithering between support for the Afghan government and support for, or acquiescence to, the Taliban. The whole idea is to get people comfortable with the thought of allied troops going home because they feel growing confidence that Hajji Jabbar and his peers and higher-ups have the task of government increasingly well in hand.
A postscript to Traub’s piece points out that, days before the article was published, an insurgent bomb killed Hajji Abdul Jabbar.