British Army Formally Sets Out ‘Bags of Gold’ Strategy

Urges Troops to Use Money as 'a Substitute for Force'

The British Army’s new counter-insurgency field manual, the guidelines for the 9,000+ British soldiers fighting in Afghanistan, sets sights on a new strategy to fight the Taliban: overt bribery.

The guide advises British troops to buy off Taliban with “bags of gold” instead of fighting them. The commanders are also advised to negotiate with Taliban leaders, including those with “blood on their hands.”

The guide advises that the Taliban pays its employees about $10 a day, a staggering amount compared to what Afghan security forces make. It doesn’t set out exactly how much British forces should bribe them, but says it should be enough that it will dissuade them from working for the Taliban.

With Afghanistan one of the most corrupt nations on the planet, bribery is hardly a foreign concept that needs to be imported. Still, British forces are unlikely to have enough gold to throw at the insurgency to make it simply disappear into Afghanistan’s seedy background.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.