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Old 12-08-2009   #1
Steve the Planner
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Default The Civilian Shoe Dropping

OK. Now we know how many troops, and when the next decision comes.

Now, what about the civilian side which everyone says is the whole point.

Barry McCaffrey has an assessment in circulation which he prepared for Gen. Petreaus, says the civilian thing just ain't happening. Even if they send them, it is too dangerous to leave the base and do anything effective.

FP has a different take from Dov Zakheim in the Shadow Government section:

"In much of our government, however, the war is nowhere to be seen. Civil servants go about their business as if it were peacetime. There is still a serious shortage of U.S. government civilians here in Afghanistan, although their numbers are increasing. Many of those who do indeed serve here do not venture out of Kabul. This is so not because they are less dedicated to their mission. The sorry fact is that all too often they have little to offer in the field. Their expertise tends to be bureaucratic -- they are only equipped to manage and document projects and activities -- rather than technical. "

That has been one of my on-going criticisms--- lots of program administrators, etc., but few with actual technical training in relevant subject areas. Wholeof Government is a great concept, but few federal agencies actually do things--- program and grant administration are the core skills.

Lots of big noise at AEI on an expended civilian surge, pending a new Obama funding request.

I attended a seminar today at USIP with Ashraf Ghani & Steven Hadley. Lots of criticism, and good recommendations on ways forward, but.... (Trying to get a web cast link)

Dec 8, McCrystal and Eikenberry both hit the Armed Services Committees. Hopefully some tough questions...

Steve
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Old 12-08-2009   #2
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If the objective is to help the provincial & local governments in Afghanistan build their capacity for governance, maybe instead of sending more grant administrators, we should recruit people from State & local governments who have hands-on experience in fixing potholes, running water & sewage systems, disposing of garbage, running local police departments, etc. Of course, it would also help if our government & our public were willing to accept the risks inherent in letting these people work in the places where they can make a difference.

The questionnaires in the USAJOBS job announcements don't really give people with these skill sets much opportunity to show how their skills could contribute to the success of the mission. An applicant from outside the Federal government / NGO community doesn't have much opportunity, under the structure of the application process, to detail his experience.

The ITAO applications were at least a little more open to that kind of experience.

If we're going to do this, we ought to at least consider whether there are other assets that might be more effective, and whether we are putting the resources in the places they can be most effective.

I understand the security concerns, but when citizens volunteer to help in a situation like this, most of us recognize & accept the fact that there are some risks inherent in the process.
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Old 12-08-2009   #3
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Hugh:

You are drawing the relevant distinction between technical Subject Matter Experts in development, government finance, and operations of government vs. diplomacy and foreign assistance program managers.

It was bewildering to me in Iraq how the Subject Matter Experts (the few of us there were) were scattered out to PRTs, and subject to the direction of folks with little to no background in State & Local government, technical aspects of development, etc...

I do a lot of expert consulting in the public and private sectors, and nothing in the structure of US civilian assistance remotely resembles how it is actually done, or could viably be done.

It's that dumb old question: If the power goes out and the sewers back up at home, who you going to call? No offense but a foreign service officer wouldn't be on the list---they have no technical skills in those areas.

Same with a school system. Might help to have an actual experienced school administrator/facilities person engage in the dumb technical questions: Where are the nearby schools? How are teachers and supplies going to be delivered (after US expeditionary funds stop)? Do we have clear title and school system acceptance for the school?

In Iraq, DoS had a handful of slots in 2007/8 for Senior Planning Advisers and Senior City Management Advisers, but not for Afghanistan. Go figure?

In my opinion, senior technical reconstruction advisers should be flying squads to support/synchronize provincial/national/US/international reconstruction focus and resources through RCs, Brigades, Battalions, FSOs, USAID, PRTs and DSTs. No reason, with a good technical back-up, that a sergeant can't do a lot more, and a lot more effectively, with that approach.

That way, you magnify the capabilities of the folks on the ground by giving them helpful technical support and advice (and not just a new layer of bureaucracy) without impeding their hard-earned local relationships.

Also, you synchronize efforts by connecting the dots, at the local level, to programs and practices used elesewhere. At a USIP Conference yesterday, Ashraf Ghani (Former Minister of Finance, Afghanistan) was adamant that most of the reconstruction efforts could be done a lot cheaper, quicker and more effectively---a 90% cost/effectiveness increase. I agree.

As an example, in most small counties, they use "circuit rider" planners for special projects, and local engineering/legal, etc., experts as asupplement to local governments for those special projects. The locals keep control and responsibility, but get access to broader knowledge and best practices when needed. It's a pretty time-worn process.

The results in Iraq and Afghanistan, where it is not used, speak for themselves.

If you check out a USAID application process, the big screen-out question is whether you have spent four years with an NGO in a post-conflict environment---so they are unlikely to ever obtain subject matter and technical experts in development---just more NGO contract managers.

When is USAID going to waive it's closed shop union requirements to recruit technical experts? I haven't seen that on anyone's list.

But, what do I know?

Steve

Affiliations:
Former Senior Urban Planning Adviser, Iraq
American Planning Association
American Institute of Certified Planners
Institute of Transportation Engineers
Council of Educational Facilities Planners, Int'l
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Old 12-08-2009   #4
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Default One way ahead?

Steve,

Here's one possible way ahead that could be easily implemented.

Given the problem (as I understand it)- in small wars, we cannot get the right people to the right place at the right time. Various explanations as to why (security situation, unwillingness to deploy, salary, etc.)

Assumptions:
- In the gap, the military is taking over many of the stabilization tasks.
- The United States has a vast amount of intellectual capital.
- This is not 1850. We invented something called the internet.

Solution- Harness the power of social networking and the web and outsource the problem. Groups like ashoka.org do this with micro-financing.

Way Ahead- Outsource the problem.
1. Hire non-deployable civilian experts to work full-time or part time on problem sets.
2. Develop website to facilitate share of information.
3. Military and Political officers work as facilitators instead of problem-solvers. For example, X Infantry commander in Kabul has an issue with re-establishing school system for his town. He develops and defines the problem and send it via email or website back to US.
4. Civilian experts read the problem and send back RFI's (Request For Information). CDR answers questions. Civilian experts work the problem and send back a solution.
5. Military CDR implements. Civilian experts stand by to answer further questions.

We do a little of this on SWJ. The Stryker brigades do it everyday with intel analysis.

It seems like a very simple solution.

Best,

Mike
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Old 12-08-2009   #5
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MikeF:

Same thing our professional associations do now. Council of Ed Facilities Planners, Intl does outreach to Guatemala, India, etc... both through site visits and on-line.

I got a lot out of reach back, but you have to know what to ask for. Also, DoD/DoS are very wired into Universities, which is fine if you need what they have. But the majority of problems are not university problems.

The same trouble with maps. We were discussing last month the way to get NGA's mapping capacibilities into the hands of DoS/PRTs etc., but you have to know what to ask for and why.

A water/waste water system designer is looking for topo (to establish drainage patterns), population data (to establish the design standard), and sub-surface studies to know what he is designing in. The questions he would want answers to are all technical---not the types of things program administrators would know, or think about. Thus, a circuit rider to answer the basic scoping questions. Problem with using US designers is that they don't always understand the context and local techniques and materials. Finding the balance for a project, then engaging the right folks, is a one-two week problem, then move onto the next.

Actually, I'm interested in a goosed up construction battalion deployment process, because a lot of the big toys come in very handy for reconstruction-related activities. But that, like COIN, needs to be set in a protocol to become effective.

I just wish they would start on some of the big basic stuff SOOON.

Steve
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Old 12-08-2009   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve the Planner View Post
OK. Now we know how many troops, and when the next decision comes.

Now, what about the civilian side which everyone says is the whole point.

Barry McCaffrey has an assessment in circulation which he prepared for Gen. Petreaus, says the civilian thing just ain't happening. Even if they send them, it is too dangerous to leave the base and do anything effective.

FP has a different take from Dov Zakheim in the Shadow Government section:

"In much of our government, however, the war is nowhere to be seen. Civil servants go about their business as if it were peacetime. There is still a serious shortage of U.S. government civilians here in Afghanistan, although their numbers are increasing. Many of those who do indeed serve here do not venture out of Kabul. This is so not because they are less dedicated to their mission. The sorry fact is that all too often they have little to offer in the field. Their expertise tends to be bureaucratic -- they are only equipped to manage and document projects and activities -- rather than technical. "

That has been one of my on-going criticisms--- lots of program administrators, etc., but few with actual technical training in relevant subject areas. Wholeof Government is a great concept, but few federal agencies actually do things--- program and grant administration are the core skills.

Lots of big noise at AEI on an expended civilian surge, pending a new Obama funding request.

I attended a seminar today at USIP with Ashraf Ghani & Steven Hadley. Lots of criticism, and good recommendations on ways forward, but.... (Trying to get a web cast link)

Dec 8, McCrystal and Eikenberry both hit the Armed Services Committees. Hopefully some tough questions...

Steve


Saw just a few minutes of this....Eikenberry was/still is opposed to the surge
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Old 12-08-2009   #7
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Default 1984

Slapout9:

Nation-building/non Nation-Building; a withdrawal date set oin stone/not set in stone; Karzai, a crook. now elder statesman. Surge, no surge.

Hard to keep track of what each term means on a daily basis.

You must have been watching body language again, because the words don't seem to have any solidity.
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Old 12-08-2009   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve the Planner View Post
Slapout9:

Nation-building/non Nation-Building; a withdrawal date set oin stone/not set in stone; Karzai, a crook. now elder statesman. Surge, no surge.

Hard to keep track of what each term means on a daily basis.

You must have been watching body language again, because the words don't seem to have any solidity.
I am becoming more confused day by day Ken was right it is all on Autopilot now.......everything else is just a talking head. If you can't dazzle them brilliance Baffle them with Bullsh...t.
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Old 12-08-2009   #9
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Spencer Ackerman doesn't think Eikenberry opposes the surge. I haven't watched the HASC testimony myself, though, so I can't say.

Also here.
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Old 12-09-2009   #10
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Quote:
Ken was right it is all on Autopilot now.......everything else is just a talking head.
concur with it being on autopilot, but I don't know how it turns out.

My guess is anything that approaches an increase in civilian capacity will be contracted - and as such it will be expensive, but probably better than filling a USG capability gap we've known has existed for about 5 years with people off the street who may/may not have anything approaching the right technical skills and experience.

Even then, I suspect the majority of any tasks (time to name that tune) we'd expect a civilian surge to fill will be done (if done) by the uniformed folks once we realize we laid place settings for dinner guests that never even existed (or were intended to exist)

Best, Rob

Last edited by Rob Thornton; 12-09-2009 at 03:08 AM. Reason: found the context of Ken's original quote on another thread
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Old 12-09-2009   #11
Steve the Planner
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Rob:

Right. The military is the only real party with the "expeditionary" capability to boldly go...

At some point, however, for the things they do to have purpose, continuity, and propulsion, they must link to a substantive civilian structure.

Otherwise, it is just Clear, Clear, Clear, Build Some Crap, Clear, Clear, Clear...

Steve
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Old 12-09-2009   #12
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Default You forgot to add

"Rebuild same Crap, Clear, Clear, Clear..."
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Old 12-09-2009   #13
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Default We declare Victory and leave...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
concur with it being on autopilot, but I don't know how it turns out.
Big drawdown by mid 2012, full probably about late 2015 - early 2016.
Quote:
...but probably better than filling a USG capability gap we've known has existed for about 5 years with people off the street who may/may not have anything approaching the right technical skills and experience.
I'd say that capability gap has been known since 1918, was relearned in 1942 and we've had it branded on our foreheads about for about 50 years. The gap has really existed for about 34 or so years , has been reborn for about 7 -- it's not like we haven't done this before...

I also suggest that if the USG cannot put the right people with the right skills in place, that is the sole fault of the USG and specifically the
legislative and executive branches -- to include State, DoD and the US Army. The people are out there.
Quote:
Even then, I suspect the majority of any tasks (time to name that tune) we'd expect a civilian surge to fill will be done (if done) by the uniformed folks once we realize we laid place settings for dinner guests that never even existed (or were intended to exist)
If so, that is the fault of the uniformed folks for not sticking to what they should be doing and allowing others to do what they should be doing. Indeed, insisting on others doing what they should be doing...

But that might mean a budget shift...

We've done this before. We do not do it well and Congressional, military and bureaucratic failings are a big part of why we do not. The attitude that "...it won't get done unless we do it." is a big part of the problem. People think they need credit for a big Attaboy on their watch. "I see it, I own it" is a poor philosophy...
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Old 12-09-2009   #14
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A little faith Ken, there's a wild card in the deck.
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"The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)
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Old 12-09-2009   #15
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Hi Ken,
You are probably right on all accounts. On points 2 and 3, as much as I suspect you are right, they don't do much to engender any confidence that we will get it more right in the future.

On point 2, there is knowing and then there is knowing. Its kind of like that expression there are no lessons learned, just lessons available. It leads me to believe there will again come an opportunity in the future where we will discover we have a gap that was previously identified and not addressed.

On point 3, I don't know if its specifically that so much as a desire to make it work - its one of those things that is maybe both a strength and a weakness. Also at work maybe is pride and a fear of being the fall guy (or component/department/etc.). I'm relatively young as such things go, but I don't expect a budget shift and part of the reason is based on what I have seen I don't think any potential beneficiary would be willing to risk having the marker called in - they only seem to want the sure thing and I don't see many of those in the near future.

Best, Rob
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Old 12-09-2009   #16
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Default Civilian Issues in Semi-Permissive Environments are Complicated

The issue with civilian participation as being due to security problems is usually overstated, and often done in a manner to give the incorrect impression that the military personnel are "braver" and more willing to work in dangerous areas.

A more pertinent issue is the lack of a civilian reserve capability to provide people with the right skills. Only about 25% of the US military is currently deployed on operations. The vast majority of the force is available and "waiting" (to include training, re-setting, and preparing) to be sent on missions. Conversely, almost everyone in a civilian agency is currently doing their primary job. There is no vast pool of civilians available to be sent to Afghanistan without taking them away from other critical functions.

The military is more like the fire department. Only a small percentage is out fighting fires at any one time, with the majority waiting to be sent out. The civilian agencies are more like the police department. Almost all of them are already out "on the beat" with very few in reserve. The US is trying to build such a capacity with the Civilian Response Corps, but this Bush-era initiative was only recently given adequate funding and still has a ways to go.

Additionally, aside from the problems already mentioned regarding program managers and bureaucrats versus subject matter experts, we don't really have a good handle on how to integrate the military and civilian planning and execution functions. It's not just a matter of adding another column or two to the synch matrix. For more on this topic, see "Complex Operations and Interagency Operational Art" at:

http://www.ndu.edu/inss/press/prism/...Schnaubelt.pdf

and "Operationalizing a Comprehensive Approach in Semi-Permissive Environments" at:

http://www.ndc.nato.int/download/downloads.php?icode=79
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Old 12-09-2009   #17
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CMSBelt:

Agree that security and availability are overstated problems.

On the civilian reconstruction side, however, I think the same is true of post-conflict reconstruction.

I have read all the literature and manuals recently produced on the subject, but most miss the point. Most, IMHO, are assemblages of political and organizational slogans, but provide little if any guidance on the actual how to's needed for effective solutions.

Immediate reconstruction, ie, restarting what existed before, is neither complicated nor non-linear. In sum, very much adaptable to traditional mil approaches and resources. Rapid and effective reconstruction requires, more than anything, a systematic approach to understanding what was there before, and what needs to be done to get it operational again.

In Iraq, I put together a simple diagram---a triangle with Water, Energy, Mobility (WEM). Beyond security, these were the essentials to get back in place, and the pre-conditions (in varying degrees) for any business, factory and local economic restarts. Systems of roads and bridges, articulatedto identify local trade connections, patterns and dependencies, as an example, helps to prioritize which repairs are needed when, and which roads and bridges are essential to do first. Also, quick repairs and route/movement security are usually well within the military sphere--including construction resources.

So, there is a Level One which is deeply tied to military reconstruction for immediate and basic services.

Level Two is more complex, involving major repairs and system replacements---like engineering and constructing a major bridge replacement.

The place where things bog down is when people, organizations attempt to go beyond reconstruction into the sphere of development, whether social, economic or political.

At the first level, you have folks doing what they thing are "quick hits" like building schools and public health clinics, but these are actually local/provincial organizational and systemic changes that require, for sustainability, a level of organizational/institutional engagement that may, from the outset, assume levels of political stability and will that goes far beyond the immediately possible. The slippery slope to a higher level of problem/solution.

At the next level, you get into regional and national system change which, in any light, is a very advanced problem/solution set (nation-building) which, at it's core, involves every possible "wicked" problem.

Instead of rationalizing the levels and distinctions between immediate post-conflict reconstruction (a very military-oriented problem), and the distinctly different start down the slope of development, we operationalize a series of competing, and often conflicting, US and international agencies, armed with contractors and contract managers, to create a mix and muddle with little feasible sustainability or focus.

Minister Ghani and Stephen Hadley were discussing this at USIP on Monday. As the Minister indicated, a lot of US/Int'l reconstruction is just a mess, and far more expensive, rife with corruption, and ineffective than it should be. It is a dance of aid agency organizational imperitives, and not a genuine and focused reconstruction effort. Now, if you can't get the baseline reconstruction part going, how do you effectively leap to complex social and organizational development?

I spent time with Dr. Baban, Iraq's Minister of Planning, looking at the US effort, and shaking heads. Last month, he was quoted in the NYT as saying our $53 billion reconstruction effort left no marks---he was starting from scratch. I agree.

Notwithstanding, our Iraq Surge succeeded in getting us out, and begs the question of which parts, if any, of the failed $53 billion effort, actually contributed to the military and political problems we faced/addressed in Iraq.

This problem becomes uniquely important in Afghanistan where, unlike Iraq, our focus is not on a unity of indigenous government, but, instead on a complex, disaggregated approach to the body politic.

Add complexity to complexity, and immerse it in development missions with little focus, and you get what you get.

Steve
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Old 12-09-2009   #18
Ken White
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Talking Oh, I've got plenty of faith that it'll work out, more than most.

I just subcribe to realism and accept that it will not be pretty, they way most would like, or the best we could do. I wish it could be different but accept that it likely will not be and I can very grudgingly accept that...

And that's okay, it will be adequate. Mediocrity is our touchstone.

Bob's World: There always are...

Rob:
Quote:
"...I don't expect a budget shift and part of the reason is based on what I have seen I don't think any potential beneficiary would be willing to risk having the marker called in - they only seem to want the sure thing and I don't see many of those in the near future."
Exactly -- that's why it will not get fixed.

A big part of the problem is that we -- military and civilian -- have become so bureaucratic and so very risk averse in all aspects that we are becoming a true danger to ourselves. We aren't there yet but the prognosis is not good unless those trends are reversed...

CMS and Steve the Planner:

We can integrate military and civilian planning and execution functions, we did it in WW II and it worked well -- we just do not want to do that today for mostly bureaucratic and turf protection reasons.

As long as the solution is to just throw money at problems without fixing the underlying turf and bureaucracy issues, there will be no improvement.

Congress likes the dysfunctional milieu as it aids their reelections and ability to move OUR money where they wish. The good of the Nation is not an issue for too many of that august body...
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Old 12-09-2009   #19
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Ken:

"We can integrate military and civilian planning and execution functions, we did it in WW II and it worked well -- we just do not want to do that today for mostly bureaucratic and turf protection reasons.

As long as the solution is to just throw money at problems without fixing the underlying turf and bureaucracy issues, there will be no improvement.

Congress likes the dysfunctional milieu as it aids their reelections and ability to move OUR money where they wish. The good of the Nation is not an issue for too many of that august body... "

Right.

Within my aspirations (World Peace? A Bugatti on the Autobahn?) is a
Field Guide to Immediate Post-Conflict Reconstruction, laying out the stages and actions required to do at least a functional job of getting the basics done after fighting. It is, of necessity, military led and focused. And just the basics of stabilization.

(Quite apart from all the confusing multi-agency Development initiatives that people seem to get lost in).

Another forest cut down to become a paperweight?

Steve
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Old 12-09-2009   #20
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Default Thoughts for the Field Manual

The FM should be in three parts:

1. The Ways and Means of a Punitive Raid, where there is no intent to occupy a country legally.

2. Your Immediate Post-Conflict Reconstruction in situations where a short-term legal occupation follows from an intervention.

3. Clear doctrine when we should use 1 vs 2 - there is a difference.

Cheers

Mike
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