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Strategic Advising: Should it be Transactional or Transformative?

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Strategic Advising: Should it be Transactional or Transformative?

 

John M. Gillette

 

The purpose of this paper is to offer some thoughts and, hopefully, stimulate debate about the Department of Defense’s collective advising efforts over the last fifty plus years; of which I have been a witness from Vietnam to Afghanistan.  I was spurred to write this paper after reading SIGAR report 19-03-AR/MOD and MOI Advising and comparing its findings to my long-standing thinking about our efforts.  To that end, in 2010 I wrote an article that closed with this question “Why did they think that would work?”[i]  I still wonder.

 

The ideas herein are my own and not necessarily based in current US doctrine.  However, I feel strongly the reason for much of the failure reported by SIGAR is the result of a basic misunderstanding of what form strategic or ministerial level advising should take.   The primary point I hope to convey is relatively simple in concept yet seemingly difficult to execute for a variety of reasons; not the least of which is the U.S. and the partner nation’s (PN) differing internal desires and objectives and, typically, the failure of US advisors to recognize these root issues then reconcile them as opposed to simply driving one-sided solutions.

 

What is My Point? - The Difference Between Transactional and Transformational Advising.

 

Toward that end I offer thoughts on the two as I see them, and specifically how they apply to capacity building at the strategic/ministerial level.  Further, I believe compelling counterparts to change is far less effective than inspiring in them the will to change yet we have focused collectively largely on the former vice the latter.

 

Transactional Advising is simply a response in kind (positive or negative); if you do X I will reward you by providing you Y. Conversely; If you fail to do X I will not provide you Y (or take it away). It’s this simple; if you adopt specific processes/procedures I will reward you; if you do not, I will punish you.  However, quite frequently this seemingly simple transaction becomes very complex as the PN employs the Action-Reaction-Counteraction model.  For example; Do X and I will give you Y often results in them only doing a portion of X but wanting all of Y, which is then rationalized as ‘enough’ in the following argument “You don’t want us to fail do you”?

 

I can think of no better example of transactional advising than Resolute Support’s (Afghanistan) use of the Commitment Letter.  Commitment letters were introduced several years ago to provide the coalition leverage over the Afghan National Defense Security Forces (ANSDF).  Under them financial penalties are applied to organizations which fail to meet specific goals set forth in the letters.  Many will argue that the Afghans agreed to those letters and, as evidence, point out Afghan authorities signed them.  I will leave it to the reader to determine just how agreeably the Afghans entered into those terms because, either way, this is a clear example of transactional advising.

 

Use of forcing agents (threats).  Some ask, why not forced change?  Consider the following quote from an article by a former senior advisor to the Afghan Minister of Defense,  “The view that the coalition “holds all the cards,” particularly with regard to resourcing, makes it possible for the coalition to threaten to punish the Minister for not complying with a coalition request, typically by denying one of more resources which the Minister needs to be successful. It appears such an approach almost universally works in the short-term but brings long-term negative consequences that often outweigh the gain. Even if completely effective, a threat delivered by a senior advisor will almost always taint the relationship with the Minister in a manner that is difficult if not impossible to repair. As a rule, the senior advisor should stay far away from threats to the minister in an attempt to influence his behavior. If a threat simply must be delivered, it is best to allow another coalition leader to deliver it.”[ii] With that in mind return to the aforementioned commitment letters.  Commitment letters are a perfect example of what McLamb cautions against.  I do not argue there is no place for adverse actions toward a PN if they fail to progress.  What I will argue is the time and place to state compliance actions is in the original planning rather than as an afterthought, of equal importance, the compliance terms must be: (1) carefully considered and realistic in nature and then, (2) enforced, lest the advisors become enablers of failure.

 

So, how does Transformational Advising differ?  It is the resourceful application of a host of advising skills whose result becomes apparent when the PN counterpart(s) conclude that change is necessary.  I maintain that rather than leveraging rewards or punishments a strategic advisor’s role is to transform PN perceptions; otherwise it is simply foolish to believe you are building ministerial capacity.

 

But here is the rub; people fear change for a variety of reasons; not the least of which is the uncertainty that will accompany it.  Moreover, fear of change is not limited to the individual; it can span institutions, even a nation.  Fear can crush change at any point in the process, yet change is essential for capacity building.  Finally, while increased capacity results from change, and requires consensus it must also be generated internally.  Advisor partners can, and must, influence thinking about change.  Real capacity building occurs with those rare advisors who forge powerful relationships and then engage in deep, contextual, meaningful discussions wherein new ideas are discussed, analyzed, synthesized.  Only then will the net result be that the counterpart adopts and implements the idea of change.  The critical point is: only counterparts, not advisors, can be agents for change within the Foreign Security Force (FSF).  To think otherwise will undoubtedly lead to failure.

 

Many may argue “that’s not true, as an advisor I’m a change agent.”  I ask you think it through, advisors can advocate and argue for change while only the FSF personnel can make the decision(s) and take the actions to actively drive change.  Let me offer a perfect example of why that’s true:  everyone acknowledges the enormous negative impact corruption has had on capacity building work in Afghanistan.  If the advisors were the real change agents there can be no doubt that negative impact of corruption would have been reduced long ago…but that hasn’t happened.  Need convincing—read this November 2018 article titled “Afghan anti-corruption program is corrupt, US officials say” discussing the Afghan Anti-Corruption Justice Center as well as its top prosecutor which discusses why they have failed to achieve their mandates.

 

The point is this…we can advocate for change and/or use forcing agents to try and compel change but, ultimately, success rests in decisions internal to the FSF. However, for reasons I can’t grasp, fundamental thought is very difficult for many planners and practitioners to grasp/accept.

 

Moreover, we must be brutally realistic in our assessment of success in advising.  Consider this quote discussing a PN, The first level of supposed reform is illustrated by “fine words.” Nothing has actually changed, but the words used suggest it has.[iii] The problem here is because defence academics, quasi- experts, politicians and most senior state officials who have been appointed for political allegiance and loyalty; and not on the basis of their expertise and professional merit, therefore would have no understanding  of the theories and abstract Western concepts that determine democratic defence governance.”[iv]  We too, are very proficient espousing ‘fine words’ but less so achieving results. For example, compare the referenced SIGAR report with the annual, congressionally mandated “Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan” (1225) reports and I challenge you to reconcile the supposed progress claimed versus SIGAR’s assessed outcomes.  I suggest the profound difference is based in our use of ‘fine words’ as opposed to a sustained, systemic focus on achieving real change.

 

We cannot discuss transformation advising without touching on episodic versus full time advising.  Episodic advising is easily grasped if you think in terms of the use of consultants; folks who visit your organization, do some sort of assessment, recommend change(s) and then depart only to return at some future dates to assess your progress relative to achieving their solution.  Episodic advisors (consultants) certainly have a role in the strategic advising environment however, generally speaking, they lack the time to forge the powerful relationships essential to encouraging meaningful change.  Thus, I would argue they are best served in roles complementary to those served by full-time capacity building missions.

 

Furthermore, lacking experienced oversight either form of advising often fails to identify the real problems as opposed to what might be (1) perceived by the US or, (2) initially communicated by the counterparts.  Weeks, months and possibly years can be wasted trying to find and offering solutions that fail to address the real issue which is often an underlying fear of, or resistance to, change.

 

Frankly, a large part of our failure to transform Afghanistan and other PNs results from our inability to understand who they are and that they have very real objectives of their own which may not coincide with our often one-sided perspective of exactly what desired outcomes are appropriate.

 

I often try to describe the tools needed to inspire change, among them the need for empathy coupled with a deep understanding of the cultural/historical/political/avenues of power.  I also speak to what I term “vison-based selling” as the essential tool required to inspire desirable change.  To me that’s a pretty simple equation: ‘sell’ a vision of what could be if change were implemented.  However, after several years of employing that phrase, I now see how difficult it is for many to adopt. In the absence of quick progress most advisors invariably fall back to the doctrine, systems and processes they know so well - but which are all too often inappropriate to the PN cultural identity.

 

The challenge for stakeholders such as the U.S. is that achieving genuine reform of defense institutions requires a multi-year commitment in-country by trained advisers who have the cultural understanding to know what they see, the wisdom and experience to be able to provide multiple solutions, the communication skills coupled with the confidence and gravitas to successfully address governmental challenges, and the skills and patience to deal effectively with low level officials as they work to promote sustainable change.

 

In closing, let me offer this final observation; recently someone I hold in high regard asked, “Can you show me the doctrine that encourages the use of ‘transformational advising or vision based selling’?  My answer to that is twofold: (1)  No, but just because it’s not doctrinal today doesn’t mean it’s wrong and, (2) doctrine is derived from proposals,  thoughtful discussion and validation---maybe it is time to examine and discuss transactional versus transformational advising practices and work to achieve the latter in light of the failures resulting from the former.  That’s the ‘proposal’ behind this paper.

 

End Notes

 

[i] Confusing Deference With Agreement.  John M. Gillette, Small Wars Journal.  2011.

[ii] Senior Advisor to the Minister of Defense, Colonel Joe McLamb.  April 3, 2015

[iii] Thomas-Durell Young, Anatomy of Post-Communist European Defence Institutions. The Mirage of Military Modernity (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017)

[iv] Identifying the Challenges to Defence Reform in Central and Eastern Europe: Observations from the field.  Glen Grant and Vladimir Milenski

About the Author(s)

John Gillette is a former infantry officer and private sector business owner with ‘on the ground’ experience from Viet Nam to Afghanistan.  He recently completed a two year tour as a member of the first team deployed under the Minister of Defense Advisors (MODA) program.   In Afghanistan he served as the senior advisor to an Afghan Major General with whom he traveled extensively within the country.  His length and breadth of experience across more than forty years offers candid, passionate insights of the pitfalls to success he has seen repeated again and again, the actual state of our mission today and what we must do in order to be successful in the future.

Comments

There is, I suggest, important reasons to consider the similarities of such things as "revolutionary war" and "revolutionary change;" this, re: "strategic advising" and other such matters.

(This, given that, for example, in both such instances, moving along, shall we say, exceptionally slow-moving "evolutionary" lines; this -- for one reason or another -- has been formally rejected by leadership.) 

In instances such as these, to wit: when leadership has determined that a "revolutionary" (more-rapid, wrenching, more-immediate) approach to dealing with current problems is what is called for; in those such instances:  

a.  Those tasked with implementing these such -- often desperately necessary -- violent, wrenching and immediate changes (in certain cases, this will be the exceptionally hard-pressed "strategic advisor?"); these such folks, I suggest,

b.  May benefit from considering such things as the (amazingly similar!) guidance -- re: "revolutionary change" -- in the two items which I provided previously below: 

First, from the article "Unconventional Warfare:  American and Soviet Approaches," by COL Slavko N. Bjelajac:

Excerpt (see page 79): 

"It must be understood that the success of the revolutionaries is not due to the application of new principles of warfare, or psychological warfare, or to the technical efficiency of the revolutionary forces and their tactics, or to the terrain, in spite of their importance. These factors, no matter how favorable, would not be sufficient for success. The number of warriors armed with rifles and hand grenades also is not the decisive factor. The decisive factor is more in the nature of power. And the success of the revolutionaries, in this regard, can primarily be attributed to two extraordinary factors, namely, their closeness and appeal to the populations -- that is their ability to win over the populations -- and their ideological conviction."

http://www.jstor.org/stable/1034145?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Next, from the U.S. Marine Corps Manual (FMFRP 12-18?) entitled: "Mao on Guerrilla Warfare:"

Guerrilla war is not dependent for success on the efficient operation of complex mechanical devices, highly organized logistical systems, or the accuracy of electronic computers. It can be conducted in any terrain, in any climate, in any weather; in swamps, in mountains, in farmed fields. Its basic element is man, and man is more complex than any of his machines. He is endowed with intelligence, emotions, and will. Guerrilla warfare is therefore suffused with, and reflects, man's admirable qualities as well as his less pleasant ones. While it is not always humane, it is human, which is more than can be said for the strategy of extinction.  In the United States, we go to considerable trouble to keep soldiers out of politics, and even more to keep politics out of soldiers. Guerrillas do exactly the opposite. They go to great lengths to make sure that their men are politically educated and thoroughly aware of the issues at stake. A trained and disciplined guerrilla is much more than a patriotic peasant, workman, or student armed with an antiquated fowling-piece and a home-made bomb. His indoctrination begins even before he is taught to shoot accurately, and it is unceasing. The end product is an intensely loyal and politically alert fighting man. Guerrilla leaders spend a great deal more time in organization, instruction, agitation, and propaganda work than they do fighting, for their most important job is to win over the people. "We must patiently explain," says Mao Tse-tung. "Explain," "persuade," "discuss," "convince"—these words recur with monotonous regularity in many of the early Chinese essays on guerrilla war." 

https://www.marines.mil/Portals/59/Publications/FMFRP%2012-18%20%20Mao%20Tse-tung%20on%20Guerrilla%20Warfare.pdf

Bottom Line Thought -- Based on the Above:

Throughout history, certain individuals have determined -- and/or have been tasked -- to achieve "revolutionary change."  This, obviously, includes certain "strategic advisors."  Herein, re: this "revolutionary change" requirements, the necessity to achieve the "by in" -- of those that they are advising -- this would seem to be crucial.  In this regard, the above guidance -- as to how to achieve "by in" -- this would seem to be of exceptional value.  

 

This is better than your guerilla warfare analogy, which completely missed the point.  Advising is not guerilla warfare.  You do bring up the useful difference in that some advising is done from the "inside" -- the advisors are brought into an active role within the system, such as von Steuben, or Marine officers and NCOs tasked with reforming military forces in small Caribbean nations in the 20s and 30s, or British officers and NCOs who were seconded to colonial armies -- and some from the "outside", such as most of what we do now -- place a trusted agent within an partner's organization who has power to influence a principle, but not directly command change...more of a business advising model.  The former do have the power to make revolutionary changes, but face the challenge of building a system that will outlast their tenure.  The latter have the challenge of molding more incremental, but more lasting changes.  One isn't necessarily better than the other -- as you say, it's situation-dependent.

Bill C.

Tue, 12/18/2018 - 12:25pm

So let me rebut my own argument immediately below, to wit: that "revolutionary change is the only game in (strategic advising) town."

My such argument, I suggest, simply does not cut it/simply does not pass muster. 

Why?

Because it fails to address:

a.  Instances in which revolutionary change is not necessary/is not required and/or

b.  Instances in which revolutionary change would be counter-productive, etc. 

For example:

Re: my "a" above, instances in which our partner nations have already embraced and already implemented many/most of the "changes" that we desire; and have, shall we say, already achieved a significant portion of these such changes.  Obviously, in cases such as these, "revolutionary change" -- and the requirements of same -- these would not be appropriate. (This, given that everything is, shall we say, already proceeding according to plan.) 

Re: my "b" above, instances in which forcing rapid, radical and/or wrenching change could -- and/or surely would -- be make things decidedly worse.  For example, by -- in one way or another -- causing the overthrow of our friendly, partner-nation government -- and/or by driving the government, and/or population, into our enemies' hand.)

Based on my such rebuttal of my own argument below, should we understand:

a.  "Strategic advising"

b.  In some much more sophisticated(?) way or manner; one which:

c.  Specifically rejects "one-size-fits all"/"cookie-cutter" approaches such as I offer below?  And which, accordingly,

1.  Accepts that arguments relating to the requirements of "strategic advising;" these,

2.  Must be addressed from a "case-by-case" perspective?

Such things as "evolutionary (and/or) revolutionary change," "transactional (and/or) transformational advising, the perceived need to "get lots of stuff done now versus incrementally and later" thus -- ALL of these such arguments to be forced to stand before the "no case is exactly alike"/"case-by-case" analysis and test?

(How to proceed, which philosophy, logic, tools, etc., to apply, ONLY THEN, to be determined?)

(Thus, when Major Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, during the American Revolutionary War, is confronted with the case this case he is required to handle, then, given [a] the urgency of the situation, [b] the lack of time available and [c] the exceptionally poor condition of his/our troops, he might do "strategic advising" in a significantly different way or manner; this, than he would do in some other, completely different, set of circumstances and requirements?)

Let us consider that -- re: "strategic advising" -- the concept of "evolutionary change;" this, for the reasons I outline below, is really of no use or value to us; this, given that: 

a.  "Evolutionary change" -- consistently/routinely -- takes hundreds, thousand and/or even millions of years to achieve "strategic success" and that:

b.  The strategic objectives of the U.S./the West -- and/or those of any other political entity; these -- consistently and routinely -- simply cannot, and will not, wait that long to be achieved.

Thus, from this perspective, let me suggest that: 

a.  The concept of "revolutionary change" (rapid, often violent, wrenching "change" -- and for the "obviously cannot wait reasons" noted at my "b" above); this really is: 

b.  The only game in "strategic advising" town.    

With regard to this such "only viable option" concept (rapid, often violent, wrenching "revolutionary change" is the only game in strategic advising town), let's look at this item on "revolutionary and guerrilla warfare" -- which seems to tell us just how such "revolutionary change" is to be achieved:

BEGIN QUOTE

A revolutionary war is never confined within the bounds of military action. Because its purpose is to destroy an existing society and its institutions and to replace them with a completely new state structure, any revolutionary war is a unity of which the constituent parts, in varying importance, are military, political, economic, social, and psychological. For this reason, it is endowed with a dynamic quality and a dimension in depth that orthodox wars, whatever their scale, lack. This is particularly true of revolutionary guerrilla war, which is not susceptible to the type of superficial military treatment frequently advocated by antediluvian doctrinaires. It is often said that guerrilla warfare is primitive. This generalization is dangerously misleading and true only in the technological sense. If one considers the picture as a whole, a paradox is immediately apparent, and the primitive form is understood to be in fact more sophisticated than nuclear war or atomic war or war as it was waged by conventional armies, navies, and air forces. Guerrilla war is not dependent for success on the efficient operation of complex mechanical devices, highly organized logistical systems, or the accuracy of electronic computers. It can be conducted in any terrain, in any climate, in any weather; in swamps, in mountains, in farmed fields. Its basic element is man, and man is more complex than any of his machines. He is endowed with intelligence, emotions, and will. Guerrilla warfare is therefore suffused with, and reflects, man's admirable qualities as well as his less pleasant ones. While it is not always humane, it is human, which is more than can be said for the strategy of extinction.  In the United States, we go to considerable trouble to keep soldiers out of politics, and even more to keep politics out of soldiers. Guerrillas do exactly the opposite. They go to great lengths to make sure that their men are politically educated and thoroughly aware of the issues at stake. A trained and disciplined guerrilla is much more than a patriotic peasant, workman, or student armed with an antiquated fowling-piece and a home-made bomb. His indoctrination begins even before he is taught to shoot accurately, and it is unceasing. The end product is an intensely loyal and politically alert fighting man. Guerrilla leaders spend a great deal more time in organization, instruction, agitation, and propaganda work than they do fighting, for their most important job is to win over the people. "We must patiently explain," says Mao Tse-tung. "Explain," "persuade," "discuss," "convince"—these words recur with monotonous regularity in many of the early Chinese essays on guerrilla war." 

END QUOTE 

https://www.marines.mil/Portals/59/Publications/FMFRP%2012-18%20%20Mao%20Tse-tung%20on%20Guerrilla%20Warfare.pdf

Based on my such "revolutionary change is the only game in strategic advising town" suggestions above, what now are our thoughts -- for example from our article above -- on:

a.  Transactional advising?  This, versus:

b.  Transformational advising?

(etc., etc., etc.)

(Note:  Indoctrination, indoctrination, indoctrination and ever more indoctrination; this seems to be a/the critical factor in revolutionary/guerrilla warfare success.  Same/same re: "revolutionary change"/"strategic advising" success?)

From the advisor's seat, it's all evolutionary -- I think it's counterproductive (not to mention rare) for the advisor to be able to simply say, "do this".  If people are doing something simply to make the advisor happy, it won't last through the end of their tour.  The advisor needs to convince the principle (and maybe even underlings) to buy into the change -- how the principle wants to propagate it through their own organization, and what role they want the advisor to play (if any) is up to them.  The best advisors I've seen were shadows -- always available for the principle, but visible to others only when the principle desires.

Bill, really enjoyed reading your comments and it reminded me that long ago I had read something about evolutionary vs revolutionary and on reflection I think it may have been Col Bjelajac's article...but that was long ago so I really appreciate the reminder.   JMG

Much of the discussion, by our author above, reminded me of two items:

First, this article discussing the difference between revolutionary and evolutionary organizational change:

Excerpt:

"Revolutionary vs. evolutionary organizational change

Organizational change can occur quickly or slowly. I’ve found it useful to classify organizational changes into two types–revolutionary and evolutionary–to call attention to two different, valid ways of changing organizational culture. People less familiar with organizational change have a hard time recognizing the validity of both approaches, particularly the evolutionary type. Many frameworks say “you must have senior leadership buy-in,” and people then think the boss should tell everyone and then we’ll do it.

That type of change–a high-pressure mandate from above–is what I call a revolutionary change. Senior leadership says we must do this. Discussion may be tolerated or allowed, but the improvement is going to take place. It could be a day, a week, or a month, but the change will occur. The change occurs because “the boss says so.”

Contrast that with an evolutionary change. Evolutionary changes occur very slowly. A change agent helps the organization, often person by person, understand the change. People comment and the approach is built collaboratively. People have to buy in to the change. Senior leadership still needs to be on board, but they are less the driver of the change and more a coach or cheerleader.  The change occurs in small chunks, almost imperceptibly."

http://www.heitmanagement.com/blog/2013/06/revolutionary-vs-evolutionary-organizational-change/

Next, re: "revolutionary change," this from a 1960's article (to which I frequently refer) entitled "Unconventional Warfare:  American and Soviet Approaches" by COL Slavko Bjelajac's:

Excerpt: 

"It must be understood that the success of the revolutionaries is not due to the application of new principles of warfare, or psychological warfare, or to the technical efficiency of the revolutionary forces and their tactics, or to the terrain, in spite of their importance. These factors, no matter how favorable, would not be sufficient for success. The number of warriors armed with rifles and hand grenades also is not the decisive factor. The decisive factor is more in the nature of power. And the success of the revolutionaries, in this regard, can primarily be attributed to two extraordinary factors, namely, their closeness and appeal to the populations -- that is their ability to win over the populations -- and their ideological conviction."

http://www.jstor.org/stable/1034145?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Frankly I agree with you and had I not been trying to remain focused and brief I'd have included similar comments.  No doubt our standard advisor dwell time is a detriment to transformational success.  Key sentence in your comment is noting the need for the relationship to move to "care and respect"...most people miss that entirely while I maintain the single most critical thing a counterpart must believe is that "You care".  Would love to sit and kick this around with you; we're on the same wavelength

 

John,

Great article, but I do have a few counterpoints. Transactional vs Transformational is a tricky comparison because of the varied levels of advising and timelines.  I will reference the proposed JCISFA Governance, Executive, Generating, and Operating Advisor construct (G-EGO) to assist my comparisons.   For most short-term (2-6 month) Operational advisors it is difficult to be an agent of change that is "transformational" due to US imposed constraints. These advisors are tasked, not selected, trained via a basic 5 block PTP model (Ref MCRP 3-03 Advising) and are typically hamstrung by their tour length. They are not afforded ability to hone advisor skills; thus they rely on transactional methods.  Furthermore, they are rarely reassigned once they are trained and experienced.  Again, I am only talking about the Operational advisors working with partners at the tactical level daily.  Training skills, engaging in combat, living the By, Through, With.

As far as the other categories of advisors, the G-EG, I agree that those advisors must be selected, trained, reutilized to stimulate transformation.  We must acknowledge that this will require that they be used for longer periods of time.  It is my opinion that one can influence a counterpart to be a change agent, one can stimulate transformation through the growth and depth of a relationship.  When the relationship moves from mutual trust and respect to actual care and respect that allows the more intimate conversations to take place, then true rapport is built.  From there, one can inject topics and shape conversations that stimulate or drop ideas that will sow the seeds of transformation.  A prime example of this is a pastor who tells a parishioner of the wonders of baptism and coming to the lord.  Is it the words of the pastor, or the decision of the parishioner that eventually stimulate the change to be baptized?  Does it matter? Whether that is me "the advisor" or the counterpart who stimulates the change, to me is irrelevant.  What is relevant is that change occurs. In any case, to know how and when to do that is an art form not spelled out in doctrine.  It comes from a mixture of innate ability (selection), training, experience (use of skills and refinement with other like-minds), and time with a counterpart. 

For me, the most relevant thing is the plan to build a partner.  If we do not know what change to stimulate or the end states we desire, if the path is not laid out before us, we fail.  I too have read many of the studies and reports and fail to see how the advisors can be judged on their success, when the plans to develop our partners have been miserably constructed.  You know I agree that we must strive for transformation, especially in places like AFG, but at the higher levels of influence within the PN.  For USMC Operational advisors, rotating in and out, I think transactional will have to suffice for most, and that a few will be transformational.

Hey, we will continue to tackle it though (planning and the advisors who execute)..... we must because we cannot go it alone anymore, and Security Cooperation is not steady-state. It is a strategic tool, the art of influence to engage, built PNs, allies, gain access and have the ability to pull forces forward when necessary. Something I call Engagement Pull (think Reconnaissance Pull).

Morgan_could not agree with your point more about dwell time for advisors.  I often speak of the 'tyranny of turnover' and its adverse effect on our efforts and as was my intent in the article, it applies wherever we advise not just Afghanistan.  In countries where the sheer size of our effort is smaller there are options and, in some cases within Afghanistan I think there are more suitable options.  Bottom line though your thinking reflects mine.  JMG

Mr. Gillette, excellent paper & outstanding points.  But the "hurry, hurry, hurry" nature of our government as well as the short-duration (6-12 months) of military advisor deployments, will, I suspect, preclude any adoption of what you are advocating.  Should we attempt the adoption of your ideas, it may be best to radically reduce the number of US forces in-country, even the advisors, replace with a limited number of contract advisors at the higher levels (MOD, MOI, MOF, etc...), who often stay for years, & help the Afghans figure out what they want & let them do it their way.