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Plan for tribal militias in Afghanistan has a precedent

Regarding the June 13 article, "Karzai taps tribal fighters as police": In considering Afghan President Hamid Karzai's plan to arm tribal militias, the Monitor properly explored the risks of reviving warlordism and brigandry attendant to all remote areas. But there is also a well-understood methodology for making such efforts succeed.

It starts with responsibility and accountability within the traditional tribal structure. The British mastered the process early in this century in neighboring Waziristan in northwest Pakistan (again an Al Qaeda and Taliban battleground), Jordan (augmenting the Arab Legion), and elsewhere.

As to the Pashtun tribal areas of Afghanistan and Waziristan: In the 1939 classic book, "Imperial Policing" (2nd edition), British Maj. Gen. Sir Charles Gwynn outlines a 1937 campaign in Waziristan against "the Fakir of Ipi" using existing irregular tribal militia and "native levies commanded by British officers...."

The asymmetric warfare practiced by the Taliban and Al Qaeda requires native solutions to problems that are both political and cultural. The native militias proposed by Mr. Karzai can succeed if they are properly officered and supervised. As a closing note, this is not at all unlike the US-sponsored RF/PF program in Vietnam that tamed the Viet Cong guerrillas between 1968 and 1973.
Benjamin C. Works
Executive Director, The Strategic Issues Research Institute
Arlington, Va.

Harvesting trees after fire helps forests

Regarding the June 14 article, "With Oregon timber sale, controversy flares": I am continually in shock over the actions of so-called environmentalists in response to timber harvesting efforts attempted within US forests. With no harvesting of the dead tree boles left from fire, the forest in 20 years would look like a jungle, with fallen trees everywhere restricting the movement of animals as well as man.


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