Small Wars Journal

Gates Orders Services To Adopt McChrystal's COIN Standards

Gates Orders Services To Adopt McChrystal's COIN Standards - John T. Bennett, Defense News.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has directed the U.S. military services to adopt a set of counterinsurgency tools modeled after ones instituted in Afghanistan by Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, said a senior Pentagon official. Gates on May 24 signed a directive ordering the services to "take McChrystal's COIN training and proficiency standards ... and adapt those for the whole force," Garry Reid, deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations and combat terrorism, told Defense News May 25.

The idea is to take the kinds of COIN training and "proficiency" standards that McChrystal, the top American general in Afghanistan, implemented there with his "AfPak Hands" program...

More at Defense News.



Tue, 06/22/2010 - 10:27am

Like MAJ K, I'm also an AfPak Hand, and I'd just like to offer my 2 cents after doing this thing for a few months now.

I think we're totally missing the point with the AfPak Hands. The guys that should be getting the shake-and-bake language training (i.e. 1/1 proficiency) are company level officers. That's where the difference is really being made on a daily basis in terms of relationship building that is in support of a larger purpose. The low-level-proficiency instruction that we received would be suitable for their daily needs. Rank-wise, we (field grade officers) are the guys that the leadership wants to advise higher level Afghan counterparts, but we don't have the level of language proficiency needed for those jobs. There simply isn't enough time to train it.

But what is the purpose of AfPak Hands? The task that has been beaten into our heads is "build relationships" - but why? For the sake of building relationships? They make a big point in the Foreign Area Officer community of saying, "Language is but one tool in your tool box." So you speak the language - so what? It's just the means to an end, and I don't think that "end" has been clearly defined. They focused so much on language that I don't think anyone bothered to think about how we should be used.


Thu, 05/27/2010 - 6:29am

<i>"Just curious: How is this going to work for AFRICOM when they don't have any apportioned forces?"</i>

Or since the fact that AFRICOM's AOR is even more culturally, religiously, and linguistically diverse than even Afghanistan?

But those are just annoying details. The fact is that PC-COIN can solve all problems, to hell with vital national interests. ;o)

Brett Patron

Wed, 05/26/2010 - 4:04pm

Just curious: How is this going to work for AFRICOM when they don't have any apportioned forces?


Wed, 05/26/2010 - 2:38pm

Well, as an Afghan Hand in the last week of my immersion with the ANA before my real job starts, I've yet to see any COIN or Afghan Hand metrics.

Does this mean TRADOC is going to implement a 1/1 language requirement for all soldiers in their respective COCOMs? Because that's the only requirement we've had so far. Not that it mattered that much anyway - whatever the DLI results were, there was still a bunk waiting for us downrange.

From this end, its hard to see how anything in the AFPAK program is going to be metricized. How can you quantify trust? Partnering? Being an 'expert' in the local situation? Being a positive force in the community? Shape the environment? (note: these are all 'requirements' taken from the COIN guidance memo). We're not really sure what's expected of us or what our mission is.

That fact that these COIN 'metrics' are sliding into the GPF as a model for standardization smells like other critical warfighter training will be getting the short shrift. But I guess this is what our infatuation with pop-centric COIN requires....a continued and reinforced notion that our nation's Army should be doing exactly what its doing and focusing on exactly what its focusing on.

I'm positive we already have all the metrics necessary to win this war. It's called our specific MOSs: CA types need to do effective CA work; IO types need to do effective IO work; engineers, etc, etc. Its not a matter of not having the right skill set or metric for our tactics, its a matter of strategy, unity of command, and unity of effort. Those are the things we need; not a focus on making friends with the locals.

Finally, when the next major theater war rolls around, and we're all experts in sociology, well-digging, micro-financing, tribal drama, and anthropology, I seriously doubt culture and language will mean two sh*ts.


Wed, 05/26/2010 - 10:34am

Wait a minute.

The headline says, <em>"Adopt McChrystal's COIN Standards."</em>

The body of the article says, <em>"a language and cultural immersion effort."</em>

Which is it?