Army commanders should also talk to insurgent leaders with “blood on their hands” in order to hasten the end of the conflict in Afghanistan.
The edicts, which are contained in rewritten counter-insurgency guidelines, will be taught to all new army officers. They mark a strategic rethink after three years in which British and Nato forces have failed to defeat the Taleban. The manual is also a recognition that the Army’s previous doctrine for success against insurgents, which was based on the experience in Northern Ireland, is now out of date.
The new instructions came on the day that Gordon Brown went farther than before in setting out Britain’s exit strategy from Afghanistan. The Prime Minister stated explicitly last night that he wanted troops to begin handing over districts to Afghan authorities during next year — a general election year in Britain.
Major-General Paul Newton said: “The best weapons to counter insurgents don’t shoot. In other words, use bags of gold in the short term to change the security dynamics. But you don’t just chuck gold at them, this has to be done wisely.”
British commanders in Afghanistan and Iraq have complained that their access to money on the battlefield — cash rather than literal gold — compares poorly with their US counterparts.