Professionalization of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) is the key to setting the conditions for transition of security responsibility to the Afghans. Professionalism can only be created through the development of capable leaders, and it is a vital foundation for future Afghan security and prosperity. Capable leaders are essential for long term sustainability in increased retention, decreased attrition and quality development. For these reasons, leader development has been the #1 priority of NATO Training Mission -- Afghanistan since activation late last year.
In our effort to establish and strengthen this foundation, we are working with the Ministries of Defense, Interior, and Education to develop a system based on education, training, and experience to ensure enduring leadership solutions throughout the ANSF. This system will serve as the cornerstone of professional training and education for future security in Afghanistan and the region.
This system is designed to break down barriers between the Afghan National Army, Air Force, Police, National Directorate of Security, and their respective civil services. Where friction now exists between the different security institutions, we will seek to build understanding and cooperation. Our initiative includes government input from outside of the security sector drawing on expertise within the Afghan Ministry of Education to standardize programs of instruction and increase the effectiveness of the training and education system.
Our greatest challenge is the development of mid-level leadership, non-commissioned and commissioned, which takes significant time and commitment--a process that requires time and resolve. To immediately address this issue, we have developed a 1-Uniform course, which produces direct-entry non-commissioned officers in twelve weeks, along with an Officer Candidate School that develops officers from civilians and non-commissioned officers in twenty weeks. If we want capable leaders tomorrow, we must build a leadership development foundation today.
Graduates of courses under this system will have the opportunity to learn from and work with their counterparts from throughout the security sector. We have seen in our own professional military education system how valuable interaction is between military, civilian, and international students. The U.S. Army Command and General Staff College is an example of this principle where integrating leaders from the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, foreign countries, and the interagency in every course reaps great benefits. The relationships students gain in each course foster respect, cohesion, and enduring friendship. Students in the Afghan training and education system will benefit in a similar fashion.
Successful professionalization of the ANSF begins with leader development. We must integrate the disparate areas of the government of Afghanistan's leadership and help bring leaders together in cooperation to secure and govern this nation. Our work must be done from the bottom-up in order to cooperatively break down cultural and organizational barriers through an integrated training and education system.
What steps do you think we should take to develop leaders in the Afghan National Security Force? What would be the best way for us to support breaking down the barriers between security institutions?
Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell, IV is Commander of NATO Training Mission Afghanistan and Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan. You can access LTG Caldwell's NTM-A / CSTC-A speeches, interviews, videos, and blog entries here.