Small Wars Journal

Motivational Interviewing

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Motivational Interviewing:

Improving Combat Advising to Strengthen Partnering with Afghan National Security Forces

by James Cowan, Nengyalai Amalyar and Mohammad Mustafa

Download The Full Article: Motivational Interviewing

Standing up a professional Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) is central to establishing a secure and more stable Afghan nation, and combat advising, as provided by US and coalition forces, is foundational to establishing a strong partnership with our ANSF brethren. Effective partnering, in turn, is critical to developing a capable and enduring ANSF. Given historical and evolving challenges and the contemporary importance of combat advising across US military operations, continuing efforts are necessary for further strengthening and preparing combat advisors to advise, coach, mentor, teach and partner with host nation security forces most recently in Afghanistan.

It is well understood that a strong partnership between combat advisors and their host nation security forces advisee is indispensable to supporting the ANSF's readiness, willingness and ability to ac-complish their security mission. During the U.S. Army Foreign Security Forces (FSF) Combat Advisor Course and through the literature, advisors assigned to Afghanistan are told anecdotally that establishing an effective partnership depends on a number of essential elements such as developing rapport and respect, building trust, sharpening skills of persuasion, exercising patience, effecting empowerment, learning some Dari or Pashtu, and employing cultural awareness and competency while advising, training and conducting operations.

Download The Full Article: Motivational Interviewing

Lt Col James Cowan, United States Air Force, is assigned to the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan/Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan as a Medical and Preventive Medicine Combat Advisor to the Afghan National Police 606th Zone Headquarters and Afghan National Army (ANA) Herat Regional Military Hospital, respectively. In 2005, he served as the Preventive Medicine Advisor to the ANA Office of the Surgeon General, Preventive Medicine Directorate. Lt Col Cowan is a graduate of The University of Tennessee-Knoxville College of Veterinary Medicine with a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine and an Air Force Institute of Technology Scholarship graduate of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health with a Masters of Science in Public Health in Health Behavior and Health Education.

CPT Nengyalai Amalyar, Afghan National Army, is assigned to the Herat Regional Military Hospital and has served for the past two years as Chief, Preventive Medicine Department and as an internal medicine physician. He graduated from Nangarhar Medical School with a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree.

1LT Mohammad Mustafa, Afghan National Army, is assigned to the Herat Regional Military Hospital where he has served as Deputy Chief, Preventive Medicine Department for five years. He is a graduate of the Medical Intermediate Institute, Ministry of National Defense, Democratic Republic of Afghanistan.

About the Author(s)


I love to see the global use of MI. It is so valuable in many areas! Cudos to your for giving MI lovers this view of its application to a great space.

I am trying to explore the ways people best learn MI. Is it a book, an article, a course? Is the course face-to-face or online? Self-study or required?

If you use MI or train it I would love to hear your opinions of what works and what does not work. I love that it is used globally. I would love to hear the setting you use it in and any other thoughts you have on taking MI to the next level. Please visit me at… and leave you comments.
Theresa Williams RN, MBA, MSN, MEd