Small Wars Journal

SIGAR: ‘NCIS’ as a Training Guide: Report Finds Fault in 15-year Afghan Assistance Mission

‘NCIS’ as a Training Guide: Report Finds Fault in 15-year Afghan Assistance Mission by Phillip Wellman - Stars & Stripes

TV shows used as training guides and “cut-and-paste activities” were among the flaws found by a U.S. government watchdog report as it examined why Afghanistan’s forces are unable to secure the country after 15 years of international assistance.

The Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction’s latest report on Afghanistan’s security forces described a U.S. effort that for too many years either had the wrong mix of advisers or implemented strategies from other nations that didn’t fit Afghanistan.

SIGAR particularly criticized community-policing training for 100,000 Afghan police officers, which was performed by U.S. Army advisers, infantry officers and, in at least one case, an Army helicopter pilot. This militarized the force and resulted in an ongoing “identity crisis” within the Afghan National Police, SIGAR said.

“One U.S. officer watched TV shows like ‘Cops’ and ‘NCIS’ to learn what he should teach,” SIGAR director John F. Sopko said, while speaking at a gathering in Washington on Thursday.

The report said the U.S. training effort was ill-prepared from the outset, failing “to understand the complexities of the mission,” and highlighted early U.S. partnerships with independent militias and politically constrained deadlines by Washington as undermining factors…

Read on.


-‘NCIS’ as a Training Guide: Report Finds Fault in 15-year Afghan Assistance Mission-

My initial response to this: No frakin' sh*t. Really. It's taken this long for someone at the higher levels to say something about this?

This was going on in Afghanistan & Iraq back in 2005. I had to do this in Kandahar in 2008, though I had an excuse....I was originally part of a ETT working with the ANA. That said, the police mentor team I inherited had no real preparation to train police. In fact, the training at Camp Funston for those of us heading to Afghanistan was crap. The trainers there routinely mistook us as Iraq-bound teams &, when we corrected them, told us that the Iraq training was the same for I don't recall any of the teams getting police-focused preparation.

I saw the same thing when serving as an advisor in Iraq. Thankfully, we had a National Guard MP unit with us....great folks to have around when advising & assisting host-nation police forces as most of them are real police officers in the US.

I know folks have some issues with the Army's new SFABs (are they necessary? the US Army focused on the right thing?....etc, etc...). I do hope that the SFABs are able to prepare their advisors to work with local police forces, or at least be able to incorporate real cops into their formations to do that. Leaving police advisory efforts to military members doesn't help the host-nation cops develop policing skills...only para-military skills.