It’s been a year since NATO launched the Afghan Peace and Reintegration Program, hoping to win over Taliban fighters in much the same way it won over Sunni fighters in Iraq. But so far, it ain’t going so well. Fewer than 800 insurgents have signed up—which is less than 3% of the estimated 30,000 Taliban militants—and most of them are “low-level, community-defense forces,” British Maj. Gen. Phil Jones, the officer overseeing the program, tells Wired.
Most of those militants who have signed up come from the north and west, not the Taliban strongholds of the south and east, and very few have completed the 90-day “demobilization” process—in one province, the Taliban assassinated dozens before they got the chance to start it. That's a big problem, because protection from the Taliban is one of defectors' main demands, and there's what Jones calls a "huge deficit of trust" in the government to provide it. “This program has got risks all over the place," Jones admits. (Read more Afghanistan stories.)