British forces should buy off potential Taliban recruits with "bags of gold", according to a new army field manual published yesterday.
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 Taliban. 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Army’s previous doctrine for success against insurgents, which was based on the experience in Northern Ireland, is now out of date.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.
Addressing the issue of paying off the locals, the new manual states that army commanders should give away enough money to dissuade them from joining the enemy. The Taliban is known to pay about $10 a day to recruit local fighters.
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."