In military and rescue applications of mobile ad hoc networks, all the nodes belong to the same authority; therefore, they are motivated to cooperate in order to support the basic functions of the network. In this paper, we consider the case when each node is its own authority and tries to maximize the benefits it gets from the network. More precisely, we assume that the nodes are not willing to forward packets for the benefit of other nodes. This problem may arise in civilian applications of mobile ad hoc networks. In order to stimulate the nodes for packet forwarding, we propose a simple mechanism based on a counter in each node. We study the behavior of the proposed mechanism analytically and by means of simulations, and detail the way in which it could be protected against misuse.