I started a series in 2005 called "Chai Tea", mainly because I was trying to emphasize the way that a counterinsurgency is won. Not by bullets, but handshakes. In some respects, the Democrat party is not wrong when it insists that politics, not the military, will win the day.
On the other hand, they have placed the greater emphasis on "world politics" rather than the type of politics that make a difference. That being the close in contact with everyday people living in the lands of Iraq and Afghanistan.
This report from Centcom, Earning and Maintaining Trust, shows you the close in "chai tea" aspects. In Iraq, everything is done over chai tea and a cigarette.
In the Army, the only constant is change. Soldiers are always moving from one position to another and taking over different duties. But in Iraq, the challenge for new leaders like Tillman is, how do you take over a relationship? Rowan and Muhanned worked successfully together because they had a strong personal bond. Tillman will have to build that trust all over again.
“That’s the challenge of counter-insurgency warfare,” Rowan said.
“It’s difficult,” agreed Tillman. “It’s really just about the individual person’s personality.”
Over tea and cigarettes at Muhanned’s house, Rowan made a big show of introducing Tillman.
“Sir, I look forward to working with you,” Tillman told Muhanned, when Rowan was done.
“I will put my hand in your hand. You will protect me, and I will protect you,” Muhanned replied.
The meeting continued for almost two hours, with conversation bouncing from topic to topic. One minute they were talking about putting trash cans on the street corners, the next minute about a trip Muhanned’s son was planning and the next about security threats in the area. In between, Muhanned’s wife served a huge lunch.
When the meeting was over, Tillman said it had been an eye-opening experience. At his previous unit, the focus had been almost entirely on raids and kinetic operations. Tillman could only remember a few times when he had actually sat in an Iraqi’s house and talked.
“Here, they’re interacting. They’re constantly getting out there and talking to local leaders,” Tillman said. “The mindset is just totally different.”