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The Case for Joint Professional Security Education for the Afghan National Security Forces

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The Case for Joint Professional Security Education for the Afghan National Security Forces

by Warren K. Vaneman

U.S. military history, during the 50 years prior to the passage of the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986, is filled with examples of operational problems, often caused by different doctrine of the services, lack of compatibility of communications and weapons systems, and in some cases inter-service rivalries. To address these deficiencies, Senator Barry Goldwater (D-AZ) and Rep. William Flynt Nichols (D-AL) proposed wide sweeping reforms to the Department of Defense (DoD). These changes were designed to: centralize the military advice to the President of the United State through the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs; defined new roles of the services, and enhanced the roles of the combatant commanders; specified the sharing of new technologies among the services to gain efficiencies through shared procurements; and changed the personnel management of military officers.

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CAPT Warren Vaneman, USN, is currently assigned to the NATO Training Mission Afghanistan/Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (NTM-A/CSTC-A), as a Senior Military Analysts for the Deputy to the Commanding General. The views expressed in this article are his alone and do not reflect those of NTM-A/CSTC-A.

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Sat, 04/23/2011 - 4:01am

You hit the nail squarly on the head and this is the most critical reason for NOT pursuing A US Military-modelled "JPSE"...

<i>"what this proposal recommends is police and army "jointness"- not armed services "jointness". There are a lot of reasons to keep the police and army separate in developing countries."</i>

What ISAF and CSTC-A have done in this country is blur the lines between the civilian police and the uniformed military to the point that there is almost no operational difference. The result is that Rule of Law in Afghanistan has suffered catastophically. The ANP is a paramilitarized force that is currently seriously lacking in the basics of being able to provide rule of law services. And this is specifically because they are trained to go to war, with the ANA or ISAF, and fight a kinetic counterinsurgency. Heavy weapons, combat patrols, and checkpoint manning are not the job of the ANP. Training them to be more 'joint' so they can do this more seamlessly with the ANA is counterproductive to counterinsurgency. Creating a joint education system to blur the lines even further, from pre-commissioning onwards would set this country back even further. Police need to be police, not a militarized support arm for the ANA in either doctrine, vocabulary, training, or culture.

A JPSE for the ANA and AAF is one thing. Including the NDS even makes sense. But the ANP has been bastardized away from its critical functions to the extent that the current COIN campaign is suffering because of it. A JPSE to include the ANP would only exacerbate this already US-fomented mistake.

The ANP should in no way shape or form be further rolled up into a joint military education system or model. We don't do it in the US for the same exact reason. Police have a different mission, a necessarily different set of doctrines, training, and vocabulary, and, most critically, a mandatorily different culture. In bridging the gap from war to peace, Afghanistan needs police who will do police work. We've screwed the pooch on that so far; JPSE to include the ANP will only further militarize them and that will not guarantee national security in this country just as it doesn't in any other.

Finally, I've sat in the meetings where this was first broached from CSTC-A to the Afghans. It was obviously apparent that the MoI representatives were visibly uncomfortable with aligning an American idea of joint training under the MoD's lead. And as well they should be. The fact that an ex-MoD general is in the lead of MoI is bad enough; a stable Afghanistan with a modicum of Rule of Law necessitates the separation of ANA and ANP. The democratization of this country requires civilian leadership of civilian institutions but an idea of JPSE corrodes that from within.

MAJ Kotkin

APH, if the whimps at headquarters are accusing you of going native, rest assured that you are doing the right thing. Of course I don't recommend asking asking me for career advise if you're an officer, but if you want advise on how to do FID correctly I can help.

The ones that accused you of going native are same ones that will go home and leave nothing in play after they depart. They will have accomplished nothing more than holding their finger in the leak while they are present. When you go home the Afghans will have a legacy to continue because it is their legacy appropriate for their culture (and everything associated with it). You will have helped, while your peers in IJC are actually hindering progress. I am firmly convinced the big Army will never do effective SFA in developing nations based on our culture and lack of emphathy. They may be able to develop effective fighting forces in developed nations (creating mirror image organizations), but we would all be better off if they disengaged from this business in the third world. They'll never get to what "they" think is right, so they'll resort to doing it themselves and not do it was well as they think they are. Turn the advise and assist mission over to SF and contractors, and then use the Army for what it was designed for which is to fight and provide security. We would all be more effective in the long run.

To add to your point, I always smile sadly when I go to a location and get a brief by an officer who is explaining "his" Secret/No Foreign FID/COIN plan to me, and then stares at me wondering why I don't get it. To make matters worse, they'll mention their biggest shortfall is that they need "more" more U.S. only command and control stuff (for you non-military types read as blue force trackers, secret computers, radios, etc.), so they can execute more effective C2 of their forces better (read micromanage, and why are they attempting to C2 advisors like maneuver units in the first place?) If we weren't sending kids home in coffins and with missing limbs this would be a great comedy, but it isn't a comedy, it's real and it's sad.

APH (not verified)

Thu, 04/21/2011 - 12:07am

I also agree with Grant that this is definitely not an Afghan idea. I work with the Operations Department for the MOI, and while they have a long way to go, imposing CGSC on them isn't the answer. The majority of the problems we continue to face have more to do with the Russian centralization of command model, not a lack of understanding at this level at least of how to write plans. ISAF and IJC are often frustrated by the Afghan plans, but I'd argue that's because our Opeational and Strategic headquarters have gotten way too deep into the tactical weeds and way to dependent on incredibly precise planning. I can say in 10 months I've never had the subject of Staff College come up with any of my counterparts.

Incidentally, regarding the whole embedding concept, we're pretty close to that in the MOI and MOD operations and plans department. We don't exactly work for the Afghans, but we work far more closely with them than we do with our IJC counterparts, and have been accused of going native more than once for trying to get coalition staff officers to understand the Afghan thought process.

Bill M. said:
"When conducting FID we should embrace simplicity, sustainability and above all else as Grant stated above support the HN with "their" plans, not push our systems (which arguably don't function that well) on them. This is one reason the GPF will never do FID well."

I agree with Bill, Peter, and Grant. Why do we (USF) insist on forcing the Afghans (or Iraqis) to operate as we do? This is especially annoying given that we routinely give lip-service to the SFA mantra of "avoid creating host-nation security forces (HNSF) in our image". But because we refuse to move out of our comfort zones and think beyond what we grew up with in our respective services, branches, etc.. .. we seem incapable of accepting that HNSF may be able to function effectively without doing it "our way" .
In order to get a better idea of how Afghan forces/ leaders think, manage, plan, and execute, perhaps we ought to immerse ourselves in their organizational culture VS forcing them to adjust to ours. The recent post about the CAAT embedding USF directly into Afghan units seems like a good model to follow. By embedding our officers into Afghan units, offices, directorates, headquarters, etc....we can look at the functioning of Afghan elements from the inside, as members of their staffs, and develop (with the Afghans) potential solutions to problems they are facing.
While it has been 3 years since my tour in Kabul, I suspect ANSF hasn't developed too far beyond where they were then. Before ANSF starts looking at JPME and joint operations, maybe they ought to look at basics like learning to read, or demonstrating initiative (like calling their next higher headquarters IOT ask about the supply request submitted 6 months ago). The latter would be a great area for embedded (truly embedded, as in assigned to the ANSF element and reporting there for duty everyday) USF to demonstrate how to work through a problem VS sending them to another USF course replete with PPT explanations about the USF way to do it.
I suspect ANSF is still far from ready for anything akin to joint operations. Bill's comment about "simplicity, sustainability, and supporting their plans" are what we ought to focus on for the next few decades. Growing joint capabilities doesn't happen over a one-year tour and, in a culture like that found in Afghanistan, will likely take a generation to even begin to take hold, probably grudgingly given the propensity for distrust among ANSF elements. Leave the USF GFI fairly at home for now. Let's hear what he Afghans want to might make sense.

Here we go again trying to create mirror images of our bloated DoD processes and staffs that will be unsustainable and non-functional for any developing nation; especially Afghanistan. Why the heck did we create an Afghan Air Force in the first place? Their air wing should be part of the ANA period, then it is simply combined arms instead of joint. They have no need for a separate air service at this time.

Everyone talks about complexity, but much of the reality of why things are becoming more complex are due to "self imposed" bureaucratic systems that tend to keep growing. We are now to the point where it is harder to map and understand ourselves than it is to map and understand enemy. When conducting FID we should embrace simplicity, sustainability and above all else as Grant stated above support the HN with "their" plans, not push our systems (which arguably don't function that well) on them. This is one reason the GPF will never do FID well.

G Martin

Wed, 04/20/2011 - 1:48pm

I think there are a few things we should think about prior to going forward with any jointness- education or otherwise:

1) Many would argue the U.S.'s efforts towards jointness hasn't resulted in what we wanted: joint capability and greater coordination during wartime.
and, 2) what this proposal recommends is police and army "jointness"- not armed services "jointness". There are a lot of reasons to keep the police and army separate in developing countries.

Expounding on #s 1 & 2:
1: The U.S. ran several conflicts where the level of coordination between services was abysmal: Panama, Desert One, Grenada- to name a few. G-N attempted to fix this, but probably- as with most bureaucratic efforts- went a little too far. Forcing folks to have a "joint" job wherein working at an HQ that is joint in name only doesn't seem to fix much. Likewise, the continued lack of joint training means that we continuously have to "re-learn" the lessons of joint ops: Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan shouldn't have happened if our "jointness" was sucessful, and yet it did.

The real solution IMO is to require all training at a certain level (battalion?) to be "joint", base army/navy/marines/AF on the same bases, and ensure HQs are really joint instead of just in name. A true joint PME would not have Army schools and Navy schools, etc.- but would have schools wherein the population would be truly a diverse mix.

2: In many countries the military plays a counter-balance to the police and vice versa: keeping one force from becoming too powerful and influential. This is especially important in a country that has shaky institutions- to include the government- like what currently exists in Afghanistan.

Although it is important in many instances that the MoI and MoD forces act together during operations- I personally think this won't be solved by instituting joint PME, but rather on close relationships when required (for short time frames) for operations. In other words, close relationships at the operational level in certain areas, but nothing that would be permanent.

There is a greater issue with this idea, however- and that greater issue is that, much like the security strategies mentioned in the paper- this is a "Coalition idea" and not, as I suspect, an "Afghan idea". The Afghans take our ideas and nod at them, even implementing some at the ministerial levels, but they are not likely to continue past our involvement and money giving or effect change at lower levels.

Instead, I'd first ask the Afghans if they see a problem- get them to define it- and then ask them to help craft solutions that we can then help support (ensuring they understand we will support the solution they come up with- not that we will only support the solution that is more "like us"). Even though we think we know better- I'd submit we don't know as much as they do about what will remain after we draw-down/leave.


Wed, 04/20/2011 - 11:46am

This seems to me like putting the cart way, way ahead of the horse. What is the general level of educational attainment of the officer and SNCO corps? What is their level of professionalism and proficiency at the basics of their job? What value do the officers and SNCOs assign to such education? When are we going to stop trying to press everyone in the world into a mold made for our very different circumstances? How much money and effort are we misplacing on this?