One of the bigger problems in the Stan is continuity. The Military come and go with a frequency that is mind numbing.
They also have the YS (sp?) tasking group. They come in one of the following categories:
1. SMs not wanted at their command
2. ROAD Scholars
3. Guys who volunteered
Category 1 are usually shitheads. They either don’t want to do anything and don’t care about the mission or they truly suck and are incapable of doing anything but damage.
We just had a guy of the second sort get the heave ho from our area. He tried poorly to do everything and I mean everything but accomplished nothing. We had just been getting the Afghans to take responsibility for themselves and to actually DO things on their own. It all ended within a month of his arrival as he let them do what they do well. They suckered him into doing their work so that they could sit back and relax. This Captain thought that it made him popular with the Afghans. Alas, they all saw him for what he was and couldn’t stand him. He also had an issue with Black people. I couldn’t pin it down but the guy had problems with any Black person who did not outrank him.
Category 2 are usually lazy and are just riding out the year. Some of them can be motivated to act. Some of them can be tricked into acting. Others couldn’t be dislodged from their complacency and F’hobbitian methods by Odin himself if he ordered Thor to smack them on the ass with Mjolnir.
Category 3 are usually guys who are motivated and will help get things done. Most of these folks will listen to those who have been here a minute. They have military imperatives that they must, at least, attempt to accomplish and that a guy like me must understand and, if possible, assist him in accomplishing.
Cat 3 guys usually do some good. Especially if they listen well and/or have taken some time to learn about Afghan culture and the history of the ANDSF.
Unfortunately, Cat 3s are about One in 10,000.
Some Special Units rotate in for 90 days a pop. These guys are hard chargers who want to go to war and kill something. Some of them do well and do good. Others…well, not so much.
Last but not least, the Commanders. We get guys who go with the flow. We get guys who think they are making GREAT CHANGES that are mere reinventions of wheels tried in’ 07 or ’13. You get Commanders who land on the ground with a Squadron of Good Idea Fairies with unworkable nonsense. And you get some good Commanders who try to take what is working and improve it, discard foolishness and try to rework seemingly insoluble problems.
Back to continuity.
Individuals pop in and out of Afghanistan on 90 day to 9 Month tours. The YS tasker guys may stay a full year or may not. We’ve had quite a few of these guys get Pink Slips and head home 3 to 6 months early.
Some Contractors do a year and roll out.
However, you also have Contractors who stay for years at a time and know the lay of the land.
By and large, the Contractor is ignored…as long as he’s doing something. The Contractor doesn’t have to accomplish anything as long as it looks like it is delivering on the DELIVERABLEs.
Deliverables may or may not be vague as hell.
You’ve got some Contractors who do some really great things AND you’ve got some who sit around and do as little as possible. Skaters who do just enough to seem relevant and not be descoped.
There are contractors over here who are hot shit and WANT desperately to accomplish something…anything. BUT, for the most part, if a Contractor makes a suggestion, the suggestion is all but ignored.
It’s not an atmosphere conducive to accomplishing much.
Contracts in the Stan are horribly written and are, oft times, inflexible.
Another huge problem is the low pay of the interpreters. The interpreter/translator is key. You get what you pay for. When I worked with Dyncorp, I was able to draw in the best around the country because we paid them better than anyone else.
Other contracts throw interpreter/translators into the verbiage as if an afterthought. “Oh yeah, we need some of those local talky fuckers.” That makes for some wretched hiring practices. You get guys who can barely speak English and can’t translate to save their lives.
These are some of the issues.
With SM high turnover, no one really cares. They’re here to do their year and roll out. You get a few who do care but not many.
We have one Major who thinks that it is his job to make the Afghans fail.
We have Generals who tell us that the Afghans cannot fail.
There are zero consequences for failure, corruption, incompetence, outright criminality, etc within the Afghan Army.
The ANSSF conduct something like 80% of the operations against the enemy even though they make up less than 15% of the force. The regular ANDSF who make up 80 to 85% of the force can’t fight their way out of their own FOBs.
It’s a seriously and incredibly strange endeavor in the Stan.
Personally, I think we’ve done about all we can do. UNLESS we have a serious leadership paradigm change.
And maybe we’ve got that with Trump/Mattis. Somehow, I doubt it.
Oh yeah…don’t get me started on the ISAF folks. The turks are worthless. The Spaniards can’t do anything. The Italians drink wine. The Brits look hard but do very little except create rules that adds red tape to everything that they touch.
I went over to RS HQ once. You need a letter signed by a Colonel in triplicate just to get a room for the night. Everything else is correspondingly difficult to accomplish there.
The RS (ISAF) Badge is a great example of the cohesion of the effort here.
US bases won’t accept the ISAF badge for much, if anything.
In order to get onto HKIA, one must have an ISAF badge or one must be escorted. Even if one has a CAC.
It is quite possibly the dumbest thing in the world.
All of this is before anyone even thinks of going outside of the wire which doesn’t happen for about 99% of the US and Coalition Forces. Thanks to Dan Bolger, the whole of the US and Coalition Forces are F’hobbitized. Stuck on some base somewhere and can’t find there way to a local NAN shop much less a Taliban stronghold even though most any Afghan knows exactly where the talibs or insurgents or bandits are holed up at any given moment.
Hell, I used to be able to ride around Kabul and tell you exactly where the insurgents were hiding. I could point out bandit houses.
Now, though, I doubt that there are more than 20 American SMs who know jackshit about the Afghan countryside or where and who a local insurgent, bandit or bad guy might be.