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Thread: Training for Afghanistan

  1. #21
    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.

  2. #22
    Council Member mhusband's Avatar
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    Default

    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.

  3. #23
    Council Member Red Rat's Avatar
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    Default

    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

  4. #24
    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?

  5. #25
    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/

  6. #26
    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.

  7. #27
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Backgrounders...

    RR,

    The training plan overview appears to cover the essentials. Sitting in my armchair, while thinking about how socioeconomics might shape security issues in Helmand, I googled a few reports that might be of interest when fleshing out the particulars of the topics listed:





    Sapere Aude

  8. #28
    Council Member Red Rat's Avatar
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    Default Language and Culture Training Plan

    Attached is the extant version of our language and training plan. We were told that it was resourced and good to go, now we are told that there are issues...

    Surferbeetle - thanks for the reports. We will use them to add background detail to our training scenario thereby allowing education through osmosis!
    Attached Files Attached Files

  9. #29
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Language and Culture Training Plan: comment

    RR,

    Training is not my field, but regardless of that and the apparent resourcing issues the plan seems a little "dry". How about some of the options MarcT and I mentioned being aimed at the key receptive personnel in each formation? The UK Army has Muslim Imam's IIRC, how about using them to explain their faith? Are there any minority sects, e.g. Mennonites near Suffield. Or native Indians?

    davidbfpo

  10. #30
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi RR,

    I have to agree with David on his assessment of the training plan - a touch on the "Lite" side. It's actually rather hard to know what is involved in the actual training without looking at the CC training CD's, but I don't know how much good it will do, at the gut level, given how it is spread out.

    I know we have talked about who gets what training, but it might be worthwhile to look for people at any rank who have the same predispositions as Anthropologists - extroverted introverts with high empathy, skills at improvisational acting / performing, and strong skills at pattern recognition. Language skills are a benefit as well . Look for people who schmooze well - you know, the type who can walk into a completely new city / town and end up "chatting" with the locals in a bar.

    Just a quick general note, from what little is in the training plan, it appears that there is a danger that "culture" may be presented as static. This is a real problem given the AO. Some cultural structures (in the Levi-Straussian sense) are fairly static, but most institutions will shift rapidly when under major stress, and 30 years of war is a major stress!

    On a semi-related note, I was watching a documentary called The Taliban Generation on Monday that has some interesting insights into how they are effecting culture change. It may be worth contacting CBC and seeing if you can get a copy of it, since it doesn't seem to be available online yet.
    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. #31
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default The Taliban Generation: closer to home!

    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    (Taken from) On a semi-related note, I was watching a documentary calledThe Taliban Generation on Monday that has some interesting insights into how they are effecting culture change. It may be worth contacting CBC and seeing if you can get a copy of it, since it doesn't seem to be available online yet.
    Team,

    The documentary was broadcast in march 2009 here, on Channel Four, but is no longer on the Despatches website to view: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/d...ban-generation There is a very short clip: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/d...ruitment-drive
    and an interview with the reporter: http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/bl...anas_tali.html

    Found a copy, ignore the adverts: http://www.ninjavideo.net/video/20184 Looking onwards there are other sites with it too.

    For RR the production company is UK-based and has done several other Afghan documentaries: http://www.octoberfilms.co.uk/index.php Might be best to ask them for a copy?

    davidbfpo

  12. #32
    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.

  13. #33
    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.

  14. #34
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi Callum,

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rat View Post
    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.
    That is a really good idea. I'm trying to see if I can get a get-together like that set up for you in Ottawa for when you are over here - if you're interested .

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rat View Post
    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.
    Part of that narrative continuity lies in "naming". So, for example, if Jon's unit uses the term Civil Affairs Officer as the key contact for local micro-development efforts, you should use the same term.

    This brings up another point which has been problematic for me as I look at the effort in Afghanistan - poor reachback. In simple terms, "corporate knowledge" of an area gets lost with each unit rotating out and the handover when a new unit comes in tends to be dominated by the most immediate common denominator (aka kinetic potential). This is a real problem, and it's one that I think we should be thinking about.

    This entire project is, in some ways, an attempt to circumvent the institutional lack of a decent reachback facility (as is Rach's CMO). It may be seriously woth thinking about designating someone as a reachback officer - someone whose focus is on making sure that knowledge gets stored where it can be accessed by other units going into the area (assume a FOUO level) and where people who are subject matter experts can be contacted.
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
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    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
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    Carleton University
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  15. #35
    Council Member Red Rat's Avatar
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    Default Open Sources

    Attached has just gone out around the bazaars, supplementary to the reading list.

    Aim is to gee up the Int and Influence people to use open source more and to start to accurately track what is out there and provide near real feedback as we get closer to deployment. Initially I am just happy to get the systems up and running!

    RR
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  16. #36
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    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.
    That's an excellent point, and one thing we did not do at all before our last deploy. It is good fortune that the exact unit we expect to replace is conducting work-ups right next door to our CP, so I will take little bit of a look at what they have cooking. I'm afraid it won't be much though.

  17. #37
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    I had a chance last night to talk with one of the people from DLI. Very initial discussion, but it sounds like they will be willing to privide some of their language training materials - they have what they call a Head Start program - to you for free in the 2-3 k worth of CD range. We talked mainly about Pashtu, but they also have Dari. They may also be willing to provide you with a mobile training team, possibly for when you come to Canada. All of this would be free.

    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/

  18. #38
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    I've settled on a rough outline of training for our battalion-level LOO team. The only thing left is to find the training time and squeeze it in with the principal members:

    Read and discuss White House position paper on regarding Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as the President's comments delivered on 27 March 2009 at the White House.

    Read and discuss COMISAF's (Gen McChrystal) COIN guidance, published in Aug 2009.

    Read and discuss the article, "Analyzing Afghanistan."

    Get multiple copies of the Afghan interaction handbook (MCIA version) for all members and discuss the points on shuras, first contact with tribal areas, engagement strategies, etc.

    Red and discuss Long War Journal Analysis: "Al Qaeada is the Tip of the Jihadist Spear."

    Read and discuss "One tribe at a time" by Maj Gant.

    Print out posts from the A.L.L. = Afghan Lessons Learned for Soldiers Afghan blog page, especially lesson 3A: Chai and the Pashtunwali

    Read and discuss "Money as a Weapon System" and get that integrated into a CERP training program [what will be our constraints/restraints with CERP?].

    Review LOO concepts so that the process is understood by all.

    Review non-kinetic targeting principles, the cycle, and working group and targeting board rules. More specifically, review who will participate in what (S-3, S-2, FSC/IO, etc) and what the flow is, from target selection, to potential project selection, requirement, to pay agent and project pay officer.

    Establish the key leader enagement SOP that will be used for each engagemnt, from PCCs/PCIs to intel prep, to OPORD to mission rehearsal. (it should look much like a quad chart of sorts used for kinetic/intel targeting).

    Introduce the staff judge advocate to the Afghanistan Justice Sector Support Program webpage.
    Last edited by jcustis; 11-30-2009 at 01:55 AM. Reason: Spacing amended.

  19. #39
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Training for Afghanistan

    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.

    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.
    davidbfpo

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