July 21, 2017
In 2010, U.S. special operations forces (SOF) in Afghanistan began a new and innovative program to fight the Taliban insurgency using the movement's structure and strategy against it. The Village Stability Operations/Afghan Local Police initiative consisted of U.S. Army Special Forces and U.S. Navy SEAL teams embedding with villagers to fight the Taliban holistically.
By enlisting Afghans in their own defense, organizing the local populace, and addressing their grievances with the Afghan government, SOF was able to defeat the Taliban’s military as well as its political arm. Combining the traditions of U.S. Army Special Forces with the lessons learned in the broader SOF community from years of counterinsurgency work in Iraq and Afghanistan, this new approach fundamentally changed the terms of the conflict with the Taliban. However, little has been written about this initiative outside of the special operations community until now.
In this first-hand account of how the Village Stability Operations program functioned, Daniel R. Green provides a long-term perspective on how SOF stabilized the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan, the site of the Pashtun uprising against the Taliban in 2001 led by Hamid Karzai, future president of Afghanistan. IN THE WARLORDS' SHADOW offers a comprehensive overview of how SOF adapted to the unique demands of the local insurgency and is a rare, inside look at how special operations confronted the Taliban by fighting a “better war” and in so doing fundamentally changed the course of the war in Afghanistan.
DANIEL R. GREEN is a Defense Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy in Washington, D.C. He is a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve, has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and received his PhD. in political science from George Washington University in 2012.