Small Wars Journal

Combat Advising in Afghanistan

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Combat Advising

Three Challenges We Must Overcome to Succeed in Afghanistan

by Christopher Bluesteen

Small Wars Journal

Combat Advising in Afghanistan (Full PDF Article)

Combat advising is central to successful counterinsurgency operations in existing U.S. conflicts around the world. As U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates observed, "The most important component in the War on Terror is not the fighting we do ourselves, but how well we enable and empower our partners to defend and govern their own countries." Similarly, in 2006 the U.S. Army and Marine Corps Field Manual (FM) 3-24, Counterinsurgency, identified the most critical task required to conduct effective counterinsurgency operations as, "...developing an effective host-nation security force." The importance of combat advising is not a new realization. In fact, major U.S. efforts in this area began in the early 1950s when U.S. forces provided training and assistance to Greece, the Philippines, China (Taiwan), Iran, and Japan. Since that time, protracted combat advising operations have occurred in Korea, Vietnam, and El Salvador. Perhaps because U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) have been primarily responsible for the conduct of this mission, the United States has never implemented permanent solutions to enable the general purpose force to execute combat advising operations. However, it is now critical to identify and implement these permanent solutions since the need for combat advisors is likely to exceed the limited capacity of SOF in current and future U.S. conflicts.

Combat Advising in Afghanistan (Full PDF Article)

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Tue, 04/28/2009 - 2:34pm

These are all excellent observations. The assessment of the shortcomings of the current arrangements are spot on. I served with Army and Marine ETTs and a Latvian/U.S. OMLT and I saw how all these issues affected their mission. The quality of the ANA and ANP will continue to be marginal and they will be distrusted by the locals until CSTC-A and ISAF figure out a more workable arrangement. They could start by actually focusing on conducting COIN instead of just trying to field a certain number of low-quality troops.