US Troops Wooing Taliban Foot Soldiers
What Washington still debates, soldiers are implementing
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2010 8:38 AM CDT
In this Feb. 11, 2010 file photo, Afghan soldiers undergo basic military training following instructions by Turkish officers at the Camp Anadolu military training center in Kabul, Afghanistan.   (AP Photo/Selcan Hacaoglu, file)
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(Newser) – As Washington debates reconciling with Taliban commanders, US Marines on the ground in Afghanistan are already welcoming Taliban foot soldiers back into the fold. Reintegration, a process in which militants swear before their tribal elders to renounce the Taliban, is playing a growing role in American efforts to win over the Afghan population. Officers leading the effort acknowledge that the strategy is as risky as it is necessary, the New York Times reports.

The Times reporter witnesses the process as a young Taliban soldier caught by Marines with a bomb trigger device, ammunition, and opium pledges loyalty to a group of elders, and is released. “Do I know that Juma Khan is not going to turn back around and be the Taliban?" the American captain in charge tells Elisabeth Bumiller. "No." In Khan's case, the US military is counting on the village elders who vouched for him—plus the added incentive of a job in a canal cleanup program—to keep him in check.