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Thread: The Advisory or Advisor Challenge

  1. #101
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    The Green Mountains

    Default Some Marine experience

    I haven't been on SFAT (yet), but worked with Border Advisory Teams on my deployment to southern Helmand last year. I've also got a pretty good short AAR from a buddy who was a kandak advisor further north. PM me with your .mil and I'll send it your way.

  2. #102
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006

    Default Special Operations Advisory Groups

    A short explanation of this part of preparing for a post-2014 role in Afghanistan:
    SOAG’s mission is to train, advise, and mentor a senior staff headquarters within the Afghan security forces. Their creation and deployment signal a shift in strategy away from US and NATO leadership and toward developing senior Afghan planners and logisticians who can effectively manage the enormous security apparatus that the international community helped create over the last twelve years. NATO leadership believes that, at this stage in the conflict, it is best to develop the capacity of the senior headquarters to ensure that the lower level formations are employed properly

    I am sure others will find it of value. apt phrases:
    The important lesson that Commando-SOAG learnedfrom this is that outcomes are far more important than processes.

  3. #103
    Council Member Morgan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Indiana/ KSA


    As I approach the end of my 18 months working with the Afghan Special Operations forces (both 1st and 2nd Special Operations Brigades, or SOBs) as a contractor, I, too, would like to comment on the SOAG and my perspective on the "way forward".

    I agree with Mr Coughran that "selection" of personnel is extremely important. As he states that the SOAG is focused on developing the ANASOC staff, I strongly recommend that the wide net that any SOAG leader casts in search of advisors include those outside of the 18-series MOS', active and retired. Unless the 18-series is an E8 or higher, it is likely that individual has little to no time on a staff at any level. Not surprisingly, combat arms folks prefer to avoid staff assignments if possible. This makes such people less than suitable for mentoring staffs. Reach out to those with staff training (battle-staff, ILE, etc) and / or staff experience, preferably at brigade level or higher. Often times, this will be someone from the conventional side. I'm not knocking the SF bubbas but far too many of them make clear that they avoid (or avoided) staff assignment whenever they could.

    Selection should also ensure that those placed in advisory roles have the experience necessary to advise at a particular level. If the advisor says to you "The (SOB) DCO and Chief of Staff do the same job!", that guy is probably not the right one to advise the DCO and Chief of Staff or even at the brigade level. Select someone with the requisite, or at least commensurate, level of experience

    This leads next to the issue of "training" versus "mentoring / advising". As many have pointed out, particularly on the green-suit side, we are beyond training at this point and rightly so after almost 8 years with the ANASOF. The people needed here are "mentors / advisors", not trainers. Unlike some, I feel the two, while closely related and quite complementary, are different skill sets. A drill sergeant "trains" while an observer-controller at JRTC "mentors". SOAG needs mentors & advisors for the ANASOC staff. Effective trainers can be used at the School of Excellence (SOE), which is another critical part of ANASOF.

    My next point has to do with tour length. Mr Coughran states that he worked at SOAG for 5 months (June - November 2013). Such short tour lengths seem to be the norm for the SOF community. While it may effective when working with platoon and company-level elements, it does not fit for advising staffs. As anyone knows who has been on a staff, things take time. This is greatly magnified when advising a foreign force, especially one like the ANA (even the ANASOF) whose processes are compartmentalized, & based on mistrust and avoidance of responsibility. These can be overcome (somewhat) if the same advisor remains in place for at least 12 months, preferably 18-24 months.

    In many ways, the reason ANASOC has achieved its current level of effectiveness is due to the contractor force because many of these contractors have been here for three or four years, some going on eight years. The continuity that many of the contractors bring ensure that the ANASOC staff, whether they remain in Kabul or go out to the SOBs, have a known individual they can reach out to when they have questions or just want to share some thoughts. Green suiters rotating in and out every six to nine months undercut their ability to develop and capitalize on the relationships necessary in this culture to influence their Afghan counterparts to do the things needed to improve their systems.

    Finally, we (Americans) must get away from giving ANASOC anything. While we certainly don't want to leave our Afghan counterparts hanging in the wind, we must avoid maintaining their dependence on us, whether it is money, printer cartridges, fuel, etc, etc. We don't like it but letting them fail may be the best way to assist them in identifying and correcting their faults.
    Last edited by Morgan; 08-06-2014 at 01:39 AM.
    Morgan Smiley

    "If you can dodge a car, you can dodge a ball". Patches O'Houlihan

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