Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Okay - I'll accept the challenge

Though less than tickled with Obama's decision to send another 30K troops to Afghanistan, in part to train Afghan forces, well - I'll view it as a challenge.
How can training Afghan forces best be accomplished?

As you may have guessed, I have a couple of suggestions.

Suggestion #1: Don't focus solely on military training. Drill, weapons training, strategy & tactics: all are necessary, but not sufficient.
Rather, include a rather large dose of history. My guess is that one objective of training Afghan forces is to provide a nucleus for an Afghan national identity. If this be true, then Afghan forces need to have some sense that the country they're being trained to defend is worth defending. I'd feed 'em large doses of Afghan history, focusing on brave stands made by Afghan fighters against enemies, foreign and domestic. Give 'em at least a hint that Afghanistan has a proud history, and a proud military history - a tradition which they are fighting to preserve and extend.

Suggestion #2: Adapt the military training to their strengths. I suspect that both ancient and modern history will suggest that Afghan military strength, both in the past and today, is in the area of guerilla warfare - not standard set-piece battles with complex battlefield evolution of forces. I note that the U.S. military is NOT the best organization to train another in the effective use of non-standard tactics... BUT: if the training does not take into account this reality, I'm not hopeful for success. How can non-standard guerilla tactics be employed by the state to defeat guerilla enemies? Elements of U.S. counter-insurgency doctrine certainly have a bearing on this question... but I'd bet we could also learn a LOT from our Afghan allies!

Me? I'd recommend engaging Afghan officers in the design of ALL training. If we view ourselves as the sole 'experts', there only to impart our precious knowledge to the heathen, we will fail.

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