Tribal Alliances: Ways, Means, and ends to Successful Strategy

Richard L. Taylor Mr.


In a military area of operations, particularly in countries in the Middle East that are lacking adequate traditional state based public administrative organizations or institutions, US national military policy must recognize the value that tribes can bring to the spectrum of military operations. The following conclusions and recommendations are offered to further facilitate national military policy success. Four conclusions, linked to the essential elements of analysis and the thesis at large were found to be of value. First, tribes are not explicitly considered in the National Security Strategy or the National Military Strategy of the United States as a tool of military power. Some implicit linkages can be assumed. Second, tribes offer value in all bands of the spectrum of military operations—from pre-crisis access to conventional warfare. Third, when considering tribal alliances as a tool for success, recognize and evaluate thoroughly the advantages and disadvantages of utilizing tribal resources. Finally, throughout history, both past and present, tribes have delivered functional capability (intelligence, security, combat arms, etc.) to successful military operations. In light of the conclusions offered, three recommendations are provided. First, make tribal partnerships an explicit tool of national security policy. The example of the Northern Alliance during Operation Enduring Freedom provides a historical example of success. Second, use tribes across the full spectrum of military operations. The successes tribes have shown in various bands of the spectrum of military operation indicate further potential for tribes as a force multiplier. Finally, use tribes across the continuum of military campaign phases, from Phase I (Deter and Engage) to Phase IV (Transition). Tendencies are to use tribes in one phase of military campaigns.