In Nerkh, as in the rugged northeastern reaches of Kunar and Nuristan and the arid plains of northeast Ghazni, Hezb-i-Islami is walking a precarious tightrope, declaring opposition to the Taliban where it has worn out its welcome, ambivalence to an Afghan government with tentative public support, and public hostility but private détente with coalition forces. If they can bring along those Afghans loyal to Hezb-i-Islami through thirty years of association with their tamim, this might just be the beginning of a turning tide in the decade long war in Afghanistan.
Pat Proctor has been deployed to eastern Afghanistan with the US 1st Infantry Division since April 2012. Before he left, he agreed to write a series of articles for Armchair General magazine. You can see other articles in this series here.