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  1. #1
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Default Training for Afghanistan

    Moderator's Note

    This new thread is a collection of now historical posts on various aspects of pre-deployment training: COIN, language, people and more. Part of SWJ's mission is to record lessons learnt for the future. Due to the posts being old they will appear before this post (ends).

    Post relevant to intelligence have been added to an old thread 'Company Level Int Led Operations', although they also apply to working in a larger command:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=3797

    I still think as a non-military "armchair" intelligence officer that is one of the threads that remains of value today.



    Hi Folks,

    Here are the original terms of reference - just for the record

    ********
    As a brigade we are spending the next 18 months getting to grips with COIN; a better understanding of and working in different cultures and then getting to know and understand Afghanistan.

    These are in 3 main areas: COIN theory and practice, cultural awareness and flexibility. Lastly Afghanistan, acknowledging that the situation now is going to be very different from the situation in two years when we deploy again.

    Army officers mostly like to be spoon-fed stuff, while acknowledging that there is an element of spoon-feeding required we have issued a fairly extensive reading list with training aids and expect then to feed themselves, but what we want to encourage and develop is the ability for our people to think more deeply and critically about the issues concerned and ask 'why': 'Why are we doing this?' 'Why are they doing that?' 'What should we be doing?’

    To do this we are looking for speakers to engage with us, but also to challenge us. Speakers from non-military and non-western backgrounds can be particularly effective at this.
    **********

    Personally, I'm looking forward to this. I think we can do an excellent job and put together a really great program and set of resources.

    Cheers,

    Marc
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-14-2015 at 07:55 PM. Reason: Add Note
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
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    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  2. #2
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Initial thoughts

    Attached is a list of suggestions for speakers and a variety of points - mainly on training, put together by Marc T, with some help from non-SWJ members and I.


    davidbfpo
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-14-2015 at 06:59 PM.

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    Council Member Red Rat's Avatar
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    Great to have everyone on board!

    By close of play today I will post on this forum the planned study day schedule for the brigade, cultural training plan and anything else that I think may be useful.

    The brigade has considerable Iraq experience (last deployment 2008) but limited Afghanistan experience. Increasingly there is limited N. Ireland experience as well, and what there is is confined to Majors plus for officers and Command Sergeant Majors plus for ORs.

    I think that our primary areas of weakness are:

    COIN theoretical knowledge
    Cultural knowledge and awareness - AFG specific
    HQ procedures - specifically integration of and working with Host Nation Forces, OGD, IOs & NGOs
    The whole Influence thing..........

    End State: A bde well versed in COIN and trained to conduct operations amongst the people (and not around them).

    More to follow.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-14-2015 at 07:00 PM.

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    Council Member mhusband's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    Hi Folks,

    These are in 3 main areas: COIN theory and practice, cultural awareness and flexibility. Lastly Afghanistan, acknowledging that the situation now is going to be very different from the situation in two years when we deploy again.
    Marc,

    I am very glad that these are your 3 main areas. From working at the regional, provincial and district levels in Kandahar I can tell you from firsthand experience that knowing culture/people is vital in COIN. All too many times do we have service members that want play "cowboy" when at the end of the day our efforts should be about the Afghan people.

    The US COL John Cuddy, I served with in '08 could be a very good reference source for you, if interested. He was the Regional Police Advisory Command (RPAC) Commanding Officer and had a lot of positive support from the Afghan National Police (almost legendary).

    Mike

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    Council Member Red Rat's Avatar
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    Mike,

    US COL John Cuddy sounds like an excellent Point of Contact. As MarcT said, one of the things we want to do is establish is the DB of contacts. The UK is very good at identifying best practice, very bad at disseminating it in a timely and relevant fashion... I see the DB as much like the bde reading list, less of a reading list and more of a reading guide to what is good, not so good, relevant, pertinent and sometimes just plain fun!

    We are very clear in the bde that we first need to understand COIN - the type of operations we are in, and then understand AFPAK, the context in which it is happening. The latter is going to be much more difficult then the former, especially from a distance.


    RR
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-14-2015 at 07:00 PM.

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Gentlemen,

    Thank you for including me in this PTP. My requirements might lend themselves best to working the seams and margins, and providing insight or tools where applicable, but I readiy admit that my degree of contribution will be limited by my day job as an executive officer and all the babysitting that that sometimes requires.

    Some truth in advertising:

    -I have been to Iraq three times...'03 for the invasion, '04-'05 in Al Anbar and Fallujah v.2.0, and '08-'09, where we started off in Anbar, but shortly wound up in the north near Mosul, where the situation was vastly different from the south and it took us a long time to get past the drama of the intel report and start seeing things for what they really were, then do something about it.

    -I am the lead for working the Lines of Operation, in whatever capacity they might be by the time we get over, which will be in less that a year.

    -I hope to glean the following from this forum:

    -An understanding of the economics of Helmand and points south (i.e. current USMC territory.
    -An understanding of the current state of LOOs (Economics, Governance, Security, Rule of Law, Agriculture, Essential Services), and what makes the Afghan mind tick in relation to them. For example, is it uncommon to care whether the streets are being kept clean and young men kept at work?
    -An understanding of successful development projects that have taken root and provided alternatives to being on the take for the Taliban, providing comfort, aid, and sanctuary for the Taliban, or at least generated information to fill intelligence gaps.
    -Successful engagement strategies for key leaders at the village and major urban area-level.
    -An understanding of the common narrative that the Taliban is exploiting (if it is more than simple threats of bodiy harm), and the common narrative used by Pashtuns.

    I need to learn a lot, but I will try to ask intriguing questions .

  7. #7
    Council Member Red Rat's Avatar
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    Default Language Training

    The issue has cropped up about language training. We are putting a considerable amount of effort into language training (despite one senior officer saying it added no value and all one needed was interpreters...).

    We will be operating in Helmand and the majority of language training is focused on Pashtu. However some elements will be working with the ANA for which Dari may be more appropriate and some may be working with the ANP (a new experience for us). What language is most relevant for the ANP? Dari or Pashtu?

    My experience of Afghanistan was in the north and I focused on learning Dari. Dari was touted as the 'lingua franca' of Afghanistan. How widely spoken is it in the southern provinces?

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    I can't answer for the breakdown, but my guess would be Pasto would be more important. Ideally, all of your people should have basic survival language skills in both. BTW, "survival" level language skills vary with the complexity of the language: in English, it's about 300 words with little or no grammar.

    You might want to take a look at this and see if it would be useful (I've heard some pretty good things about it). Last I heard, it's about U$1200 per network.
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

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    Council Member mhusband's Avatar
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    A few quick points...

    ANP (at the lower levels) are local to the area so if you’re working with them know Pashto.

    ANA more than likely they will be speaking Dari because they are from all over the country (working in the south is considered a "hardship duty")

    Something that you might find interesting is that the majority of senior officer do have some Russian training which you'll have to take the good with the bad (understanding of maps and tactics but is extremely stove-piped and corrupt).

    A good terp is vital... spend the 300-500 dollars (each) a month to get a good group of them

  10. #10
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mhusband View Post
    A good terp is vital... spend the 300-500 dollars (each) a month to get a good group of them
    Absolutely! You also need to establish a protocol both for the interpreters and for those using their services. One of the key points is that they should translate everything, not just a synopsis, and that it should be recorded. The reasons for this are simple. First, you are dealing with a primarily oral culture group that uses stories both to inform and answer questions. Second, the choice of which story is used may give you clues as to the probable / expected outcome of an event and/or the perceptions of what is actually going on.

    Steve Featherston had an article in Harpers last year that illustrates some of this quite nicely (I just tossed it up at the Rat Pack library).

    Cheers,

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  11. #11
    Council Member Red Rat's Avatar
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    Good stuff, and reinforces what I thought with regards to ANA having a dari capability and local ANP having Pashtu.

    I was aware of the senior officers speaking Russian, I remember an afternoon's conversation (via 'terp, my russian is limited to some sailing terminology) with an Afghan Air Force officer who also happened to have been a cosmonaut...

    We have a lot of experience with 'terps from Iraq and the Balkans. The former tended to be Somalis and the latter tended to be pretty. I am not too sure what the 'terp situation in AFG is like. As an army we have been investing in military interpreter training (as opposed to civilian hirings) for the last 2 years and they are now coming on line in ever increasing numbers. It takes them 6 months in theatre just to get proficient however.

    Interesting point that MarcT made about recording everything, something that certainly does not happen that I am aware of. Presumably best practice at a shura is to sum up at the end and ensure that everybody signs off on the same narrative rather then us walking away thinking we have said/agreed one thing and them walking off thinking something else entirely?
    Last edited by Red Rat; 07-14-2009 at 10:34 PM. Reason: typo

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    My experience is a mixed bag when it comes to linguists. Making one translate everything at a meeting can sometimes totally bog things down, confuse you and your host or vice-versa, and create an unintended result of fatiguing the linguist.

    Depending on the linguist's proficiency and exposure to working with you, the protocol can be made more or less restrictive, but I would not recommend making him attempt to translate everything in a conversation unless he is "collegiate level".

    Recording conversations is great for documenting and recapping sometimes long engagement events. It is, in fact, one thing that we did not do well our last time out, but I will make a point to ensure it gets done this next time.

  13. #13
    Council Member Red Rat's Avatar
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    Default The Plan So Far

    Apologies (MarcT ) for the tardiness!

    Background

    The UK army training system is based around the Formation Operational Readiness Cycle (FORM Cycle). This sees formations undergoing a cycle of (6 months on each stage):

    Special to Arm Training up to sub-unit level
    All arms training sub-unit to unit level
    High Readiness (blurring into)
    Mission Specific Training
    Operational deployment

    Non-mission specific training was focused on maintaining 'conventional' major combat operations (MCO) capabilities with the ethos that we could 'ramp down' to COIN but could not ramp up from COIN to MCO. Fighting in Helmand and Basra indicated that we needed to be able to maintain our MCO capabilities. This training cycle did not however build in any sort of Influence training and failed to take into account that the structures and processes used in both Iraq and Afghanistan were moving away from those adopted and used in generic training.

    The good news is that we have moved away from that system to one focused much more tightly on the current campaign and COIN.

    As a brigade we will conduct our unit level training in mid-2010, with mission specific training commencing late 2010. Rather then 'carry on normal jogging' we are trying to take all the elements that we can from the new system (accepting that we will not have the resources in most cases) and super-impose them on the old cycle. That means for the most part a great deal of conceptual training and re-writing all our exercises to make them more relevant.

    For conceptual training we have come up with a series of Study Days to be held in Germany. Outline details are attached. We have also developed a reading list for which funding has come through and it looks like it is going to go army wide. That is fine for the broadbrush detail, but now we are looking at the nitty gritty:

    Exercise Design
    Inculcating Influence Awareness and Practice at all levels
    Cultural Awareness at all levels (acknowledging that exercises will not be set (or resourced to be) in Afghanistan under the current system).

    there is a large amount of churn underway at the moment and a great deal of time is spent sorting wheat from chaff at my level!!! The move to the new system has generated a great deal of turmoil and we appear to sit astride all the cracks! That said we are already developing a reputation as the brigade with best practice - no small part due to this forum.

    I will upload shortly detailed training objectives for some of the study days as well as a declassified version of our cultural and language training plan.
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-14-2015 at 07:07 PM.

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    Council Member mhusband's Avatar
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    Good stuff.. Just read through the Test Plan outline...

    One quick point... I would deffinately make it a priority to understand the culture specific to Afghanistan.

    From experience while working with the ANP there seemed to be a negative undertone toward the UK service members. I think this might have to do with the history more so than what is going on today, but it still should be understood.

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    Council Member Red Rat's Avatar
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    I think for key commanders and staff we will have to. There are 2 problems:

    1) We do not want to confuse soldiers with multiple scenarios. Once they start focusing on Afghanistan then they start almost 'total immersion'.

    2) For key commanders and staff the sooner the process of building knowledge on AFPAK society and culture the better. Problem is we have a very very high turnover of key staff before we deploy.

    RR

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    Council Member mhusband's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rat View Post
    Problem is we have a very very high turnover of key staff before we deploy.

    RR
    Are the new guys at least going to get there for the training?

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi Guys,

    RR, overall, I think it looks pretty good, although I have a few reservations.

    1. the overall culture first aim point is good, but there is a lot of validity to specific aim point. I would suggest that, in the overall cultural awareness training, you concentrate mainly on the cluster of semi-nomads: segmented kinship lineage, strong honour systems, warrior cultures, strict gender divisions, strong oral culture, etc. Normally in Anth, that would mean pastoralists, but there is a segment that is horticultural (e.g. the old Goths ~ 400 ce, Scots borderers, etc.) that parallels the Afghans of Helmand. That type of concentration (nomads and semi-nomads) should cover most of the areas that you are liekly to deploy to over the next 20 years or so.

    2. I notice that you are going to have Captains training the troops. Are the Sgt Maj's going to be at that training as well? You're going to need your SNCO's and/or WO's to "translate" a fair chunk of the material.

    3. Are you going to build in something in the ISTAR training on how to talk with the Yanks? They're the ones with most of the air power and a fair bit of the artillery, and I fully expect them to still be operating in Helmand in 2010-11. Indeed, in the last 6 months pre-deployment, you should know which US units will be operating in the area, so it would be worthwhile to try and set up either liasons or some type of "joint" exercise.

    More later...
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-14-2015 at 07:06 PM.
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  18. #18
    Council Member Red Rat's Avatar
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    Staff turnover - most captains and majors rotate every 2 years in August. Of the current bde staff we are expecting just over half the majors to move on next year and just under half the captains. In the units it is the same for battalion staff and company commanders. Accordingly we want to build up a robust knowledge within the brigade and get the mindset, processes and procedures at HQ level established as much as possible. The incoming staff will arrive shortly before the mission specific training starts and key commanders should be in place from now until the end of the tour.

    For MarcT's points:

    1) I like it. I will get the unit to try and look cross-cultural but at the areas you suggest.

    2) Much depends on venue capacity and availability. Having company level staff upwards is the plan and we will try and bring in the sergeant-majors. The British Army has a long and distinguished history of not teaching it's SNCOs to think....... we are trying to change this.

    3) We are hoping to rope in the Americans as much as possible. Likewise the Dutch and possibly the Germans (the local German bde deploys to N. Afghanistan shortly after we do). We have embedded US staff at our Div HQ whom we are courting shamelessly!

    RR
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-14-2015 at 07:06 PM.

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Default LOO team training

    The term "LOO Team" is locally used by me to describe the group of folks within our battalion who are tasked with non-kinetic targeting and work along the Lines Of Operation of Internal Security, Governance, Essential Services, Rule of Lay, Economics, and Agriculture. In a perfect world, it meets regularly to engage in a review of actions past, current, and planned, in order to develop non-kinetic targets that can be addressed with a variety of options, ranging from info ops, key leader engagement between chaplains and mullahs, and CERP projects.

    Team participation is expected to come from myself (Bn XO), the Bn Informations Officer, Staff Judge Advocate, Intel, Psyop, Operations, Civil Affairs, and a few other reps.

    In practice during our last deployment, the LOO team did not fair well for a number of reasons, namely because our mission in northern Iraq meant that reconstruction and development was nowhere near the priority that it was in Anbar, and that we were constrained from project work because we expected to have a short-duration mission requirement.

    I think we also did poorly because the focus of the unit's PTP was on the "tough math" of kinetic efforts, and therefore the components of the team never came together for any training, education, etc., prior to the deploy. We ended up doing a lot of exploratory learning that went only slightly farther than understanding the principles of money as a weapons system, and knocking out a couple of projects that, while doing some good, didn't get us to our commander's goal of using non-kinetic effects to glean information for kinetic targeting.

    So...with all that out of the way, I have a chance to make things right this time and pull many of the team members together prior to the deployment so that we are more effective. Based on the description of our future task, I am seeking input on texts, training (in the way of courses/PME) and training methodology, etc., I could use in the pursuit of getting our LOO team organized and aimed in the right direction.

    The first task for all hands will be a read and discussion of White Paper of the Interagency Policy Group's Report on U.S. Policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan, which has essentially become the US administration's policy for action in the region.

    That will be followed by a discussion of the Peters' book Seeds of Terror.

    I think the next focus will be on leader engagement/shura participation strategies and perhaps some role-play, but beyond that I am starting to draw a few blanks and hence my quest.

    Outside of a command of 30-50 Pashtu and Dari control words required by all hands, we are not (due to time constraints) learning the language. We are also limited (due to our primary billets) of only meeting perhaps twice a month between now and next Spring.

  20. #20
    Council Member Red Rat's Avatar
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    Jon,

    Having looked at our bde TTPs I know we do it (LOO team), I am just not sure how...

    Key to the LOO capability (apologies of teaching to suck eggs, but in all 3 areas my HQ is currently deficient) is:

    • Subject area expertise of respective staff
    • In depth knowledge of relevant operational area/culture
    • Tried and tested HQ procedures to integrate the LOO with all bn ops


    On the last point the emphasis in the campaign seems to be shifting away from the kinetic; you may find yourself main effort and not necessarily an enabler for kinetic ops!

    What types of HQ training do you have planned before you deploy? If we have an idea of the type of training you will be doing I may be able to give some pointers on what could be incoporated. For example my HQ has a considerable series of non-mission specific synthetic and field training exercises planned where we are going to develop and refine our TTPs.

    One thing we are doing is organising some informal get togethers with non-military people who have extensive COIN and/or Afghan experience to get their perspective on how we (the military) do business. IOs and NGOs have come forward, they are very wilco but like things kept very low key and off the record (I bribe them with the promise of good food, fine wine and my scintillating company!). We are hoping to get a different perspective on how we do business as well as access to some in-depth cultural knowledge.

    MarcT has made the point that the narrative continuity is very important. As soon as possible you want to understand the plan of the unit you are replacing and the actions they are taking. Depending how good your links to theatre are (ours are very bad!) you may want to start shadowing what they do. When your team meets up you will have concrete scenarios and actions to discuss.

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