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Old 12-09-2009   #21
Hugh Davis
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I hope somebody at DoS's S/CRS reads this thread & asks for Steve's advice before the process of organizing & recruiting for the CRC gets committed to the "bridge to nowhere" syndrome.

I am confident that everyone involved in these stabilization & reconstruction projects really wants to make things better. I also understand the natural tendency to assume that qualifications similar to those of the planners would be appropriate for the people they bring in to carry out the projects.

If I were hiring employees, or forming a partnership, I would look for people whose strengths offset my own weaknesses, and let's face it, we all have some. I'd also try to identify the body of knowledge, skills & abilities (KSA) needed to attain the objective, & try to figure out where people are most likely to develop those KSAs.

I think the KSAs for development & stabilization are more likely to exist in the private sector & local government than in the Federal government. Even the ability to articulate policy in a variety of forums exists among local government & private sector employees.

I understand our government's aversion to risk the lives of civilians, but they really ought to give both the volunteers & the public more credit for having the courage to accept risks for a worthwhile goal. Manage the risk rather than trying to hide from it.

At the risk of sounding facetious, rural Americans from private sector or local government backgrounds may be able to establish rapport with HN personnel in a way that some other USG representatives don't. We can honestly tell the HN officials & local leaders that we understand exactly why they feel uncomfortable & suspicious when someone introduces himself by saying, "I'm from Washington, & I'm here to help." Once that's out of the way, maybe we can help. After all, some Federally funded projects actually do some good at home, even if there are good reasons to ask whether the strings are worthwhile.

Maybe USAID is the natural home for the CRC whenever it finally gets organized. It's amazing how much of their budget is in the form of grants & contracts to be administered, rather than hands-on development work. I suspect "The Ugly American" would have trouble getting hired in this generation.
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Old 12-09-2009   #22
Steve the Planner
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Mike:

Right. Different types of engagements have different requirements.

My version is that it runs from theatre to village, but focuses exclusively on the immediate post-conflict reconstruction process.

First, post-conflict reconstruction is the stage at which immediate issues of human services are addressed---food security, health/casualty care, refugees, basic system restoration, and basic establishment of the writ of government (to include security/rule of law).

Also, it focuses on basic systems studies, fact-finding, forensic analysis, and documentation to establish what was there before, what is there now (post-conflict assessment), and establishes the analytical tool kit for what comes now and later (background systems mapping, population & refugee accountability, infrastructure availability and condition studies)---the essentials for figuring out what is there now, and the analytical spine for future "development" considerations.

It proceeds in basically three stages through the "handoff" to development. Stage 1 is just about human and essential services (first aid, refugees, food, water and security).

Stage 2 begins to focus more on improving systems stuff, courts and procedures, intergovernmental connections and public works projects (as opposed to immediate relief/repair).

Stage 3 starts to prepare for hand-off to either development (if applicable within the mission) or indigenous government with the caveat that Rule of Law seems to be the last and most important continuing component.

The How To part should be general enough to guide theatre level oversight, but with enough basics and case studies of projects and types to take a platoon through an engagement in a village that wants a new school or well repair.

Like the old 1940's Country books for Iraq, Iran, etc... Here are the basicxs you need to know to move intelligently through this objective...

Embedded in that is the notion that CERP (Commander's Emergency funds) are for immediate restoration and stability, and some other coordinated support system exists for development (ie, school building, major projects).

When, were and if "something else" like development, region, or nation-building is needed, that is a different manual....

Something like that.

Steve
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Old 12-09-2009   #23
Steve the Planner
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Hugh:

My understanding is that SCRS didn't get funded (again) to move beyond the theoretical. Unfortunate, IMHO, that they were not able to organize, step up, and get some streamers for their guidon while the two biggest post-WWII operations were underway. Probably not a good sign...

MG Caslen (just left MND-North) did a presentation today at USIP on the Way Forward in Iraq.

Interesting that, in the immediate aftermath of conflict, a uniform is a big deal. In the middle, a civilian is probably, as you suggest, the best counter-party for civ-to-civ gov't interface; a local public works manager or transportation engineer speaks the same functional language across the world. At the end, as MG Caslen pointed out, they appreciate the military contribution but cannot afford to be photographed too often with the military in the post conflict/occupation periods.

Personally, I think they are all just ephemeral presentations, but recognizing the importance of appearance is critical. Getting the job done right is the heart---changing uniforms is easy.

Personally, I thought the State Department's Blue Badge was the all-purpose badge, but, with the exception of the 2007/8 Civilian Surge, it seems that DoS mostly just staffs within its species now (foreign service/governance, not technical SMEs).

In Afghanistan, from the looks of it, there are a number of different agency-by-agency stripes, and they each seem to have their own plans, purpose. Lots of noise about cooperation, but my friends on the ground there don;t see much difference from what was described in the opening Foreign Policy Article.
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Old 12-09-2009   #24
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Default Back to the Future

It is interesting to look at FM 27-10, The Law of Land Warfare (which is primarily a 1956 effort, except in some areas not relevant here, representing the post-WWII experience with Germany, Japan and transitions where a friendly government is on deck):

Quote:
Section II. ADMINISTRATION OF OCCUPIED TERRITORY

362. Necessity for Military Government

Military government is the form of administration by which an occupying power exercises governmental authority over occupied territory. The necessity for such government arises from the failure or inability of the legitimate government to exercise its functions on account of the military occupation, or the undesirability of allowing it to do so. (See par. 12, which discusses military government, and par. 354, dealing with civil affairs administration.)

363. Duty to Restore and Maintain Public Order

The authority of the legitimate power having in fact passed into the hands of the occupant, the latter shall take all the measures in his power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety, while respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country. (HR, art. 43.)
which are the default for a legal occupation. The transition to civil affarirs adminitration is covered here:

Quote:
354. Friendly Territory Subject to Civil Affairs Administration Distinguished

Civil affairs administration is that form of administration established in friendly territory whereby a foreign government pursuant to an agreement, expressed or implied, with the government of the area concerned, may exercise certain authority normally the function of the local government.

Such administration is often established in areas which are freed from enemy occupation. It is normally required when the government of the area concerned is unable or unwilling to assume full responsibility for its administration. Territory subject to civil affairs administration is not considered to be occupied.

If circumstances have precluded the conclusion of a civil affairs agreement with the lawful government of allied territory recovered from enemy occupation or of other territory liberated from the enemy, military government may be established in the area as a provisional and interim measure (see par. 12 b and c). A civil affairs agreement should, however, be concluded with the lawful government at the earliest possible opportunity.
A neat simple outline of legal responsibilities. As you say, "nation building" is another manual.

Regards

Mike
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Old 12-10-2009   #25
Steve the Planner
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jmm:

If I am not mistaken, there are certain rules of the road/treaty obligations for occupation reconstruction/safeguarding populace, which would be worthwhile to summarize.

And a collection of technical "thou shalts" when a project is built by the US, even in a foreign country.

Steve
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Old 12-10-2009   #26
Steve the Planner
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jmm

I've seen this one before, and it gives me the willies about Iraq:

"363. Duty to Restore and Maintain Public Order

The authority of the legitimate power having in fact passed into the hands of the occupant, the latter shall take all the measures in his power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety, while respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country. (HR, art. 43.)"

Any statute of limitations, waiver or estoppel?

Steve
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Old 12-10-2009   #27
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Default GC IV - Civilians

is a primary source of obligations imposed on an Occupying Power - Secs 246 - 448 of FM 27-10 cover Civilians and Occupations.

I wouldn't stay awake at nights worrying about Sec 363 (thinking about looters running wild ?). The SOFA pretty much puts the two governments in a clean start situation. I expect sovereign immunity would bar most individual claims that haven't already been settled.

I don't plan on research until the multi-billion dollar suit is brought - probably by one of the US firms that advertises on TV ("Are you an Iraqi who suffered damages during the US Occupation ? Call 800-xxx-yyyy).

Regards

Miker
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Old 12-10-2009   #28
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Default Class Action

Good to know about the Status agreement.

The current class action is US Iraq assignees vs. KBR for the Burn Pits and Water Treatment. That one was just consolidated in Maryland with a law firm in Georgetown.

Been trying to learn more about it, but essentially, I believe the claim is that KBR violated it's contract in the handling of waste, uncontrolled burning including medical waste, and problems with the treatment of water.

Having seen and smelled the burn pits at Balad and Spiecher, and written a lot about water, it's not really a surprise that some particular claimants might come forward--like the electric buzz.

A total class of all Balad/Spiecher assignees would be something like 20,000 per base times two bases, times more than five rotations per year (six and 14 monthers). Heck, even the other KBR employees/contractors might be in the same class.

No doubt, more info to come.

Steve
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Old 12-10-2009   #29
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Steve:

My observations come from serving in Baghdad as an Army National Guard colonel in CJTF-7 (I was Chief of Policy in the C-5 Directorate) in 2004 and then as a State Department civilian in the US Embassy Baghdad’s Joint Strategic Planning and Assessment (JSPA) office in 2006 and 2007. My academic background includes a good deal of work in Public Policy. (Before I decided to focus upon security studies, I was interested in urban planning.)

While you raise many good points and your “three stage” outline is a useful structure to prioritize post-conflict reconstruction activities, my argument is that:

(1) It may be getting close in some places, and some areas such as the Kurdish provinces have been mostly peaceful for several years, for the most part Iraq has not yet reached the “post-conflict” stage and is at best is currently a semi-permissive environment;

and

(2) Development/Reconstruction in conflict areas or semi-permissive environments has a quantum difference from those activities in peaceful areas or permissive environments. This is because our normal development and economic practices and models operate under the assumption of a relatively high degree of security, which is necessary for the spontaneous individual economic decisions and investment that are required to expand and link together the efforts of the government (and/or occupying forces and/or international development programs). As a sheer matter of manpower and funding limitations, centrally directed and funded efforts cannot do very much on their own. It’s not merely a matter of having funding, a good central plan, and sensible priorities--solutions also require the participation of individuals who contribute value and begin to “fill in the gaps” and can leverage the government/occupier/international community efforts.

The problem in a semi-permissive environment is that no logical person will want to invest in a business if the storefront is likely to blown up and its employees and customers frequently murdered. And, government/occupier/international community activities are attractive targets for terrorists, insurgents, and guerillas unless a high degree of security is provided. But, securing business areas, residential areas, and infrastructure requires a large force—whether military, contractors, or police—until the conflict is reduced to the point where the environment really becomes “post-conflict” and normal development/economic growth processes can be used.

During the interim period we recognize that jobs and economic opportunity play an important role in reducing incentives to engage in violence, but I do not believe it is at all clear how to integrate military/police security efforts with economic and civil society development efforts in manner that will help to push the environment into a “post-conflict” situation. To date, I think we’ve attempted to follow the processes and practices that are known to work in primarily peaceful environments but we either do not understand how to adequately adapt them to situations of high violence or have been unwilling or unable to devote enough resources to create enduring pockets of security within which the usual approaches will be effective.

In late 2003 and early 2004, when violence was relatively low compared to the peaks of 2006, the priority effort to restore electrical power to Baghdad in particular and across Iraq more generally seemed sensible and a great deal of expertise and money was devoted to repairing and enhancing the electrical infrastructure.

--Chris Schnaubelt
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Old 12-10-2009   #30
CMSbelt
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---Continued---

In late 2003 and early 2004, when violence was relatively low compared to the peaks of 2006, the priority effort to restore electrical power to Baghdad in particular and across Iraq more generally seemed sensible and a great deal of expertise and money was devoted to repairing and enhancing the electrical infrastructure.

This effort pretty much aligned with your description of Stage 2.

However, the US-led coalition forces were either unable or unwilling to provide adequate protection to hundred of kilometers of power lines and insurgents soon discovered they could easily bring down power lines and pylons to disrupt the supply of electricity and achieve an important psychological effect of showing the impotence and/or incompetence of the occupation forces at first and then the new Government of Iraq once sovereignty was handed over.

Although everyone recognized that Iraq was still a "war zone," efforts to repair and improve the electrical infrastructure did not adequately recognize the special requirements of an environment at the level of conflict existing at the time. (Also critical, the military senior leadership tended to view the infrastructure and economic development efforts as separate and unrelated to security and thus protecting them was "somebody else's" problem.)

This only one example, but is representative--I think--of the way economic development efforts must operate differently, and require additional integration with security efforts--in environments that have not yet achieved the "post-conflict" stage.

The attitudes have changed with new leadership and the publication of FM 3-24 (COIN), and there is more willingness today to cooperate amongst military and civilian officials than what I saw in the first half of 2004. But, I believe there are unique features of a semi-permissive environment that require tailored activities and integration between security and development activities that we haven't quite figured out yet.
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Old 12-10-2009   #31
Steve the Planner
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CMSbelt:

Security is not a decisive factor in whether people need to eat on a given day.

Either security permits free access and low prices, people starve, or it comes some other way.

A battle space commander does not own the economy unless he actively engages and understands it---from day one. Markets, supply routes, sources, etc...

Mishandling has two alternative consequences: (1.) people suffer from lack of supplies, which destabilizes support for him; or (2) a black market grows which destabilizes support for him.

Iraq and Afghanistan are conflict zones of long-standing, and American occupation did little to materially change the economic difficulties they learned to adapt to. People find a way or they starve. Black markets cannot be eradicated in those places without reasonably abundant free trade and basically functional markets---or by mass feeding programs.

Baby needs to eat every day, and if a battle space commander does not know how the people in his space are eating, there is probably a lot more that he is not tracking.

KRG prosperity is a really bad example. If you track the supply routes supporting their relatively peaceful economy, they were primarily Diyala and Ninewa---the conflict zones that they were equally dependent on.

There was never a day when the oil barons of Bayji did not have fresh eggs and Hillal chicken, nor one where people couldn't buy gas from him (even if the government supply wasn't delivered). This despite inaccurate assurances from Baghdad that poultry re-start in the North could not occur until the train restarted to move grain from Basrah.

KRG got its grain without a train, and Bayji had abundant fresh poultry if you could afford it. How did that happen?

The sustainable solution to black market oil profiteers in Kirkuk was not to arrest the bad guys, but to fill the market with legitimate gas.

An effective Stage 1 response to conflict is to identify and stabilize economic systems, and to supplement legitimate ones as rapidly as possible. Otherwise, you can end up in a years long occupation in a very troubling space.

Perhaps it is too simplistic to draw the distinctions, but, somewhere, there is a thesis waiting to be written contrasting occupation without due consideration for economics vs. non-occupation or occupation that focused on economic systems.

Steve
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Old 12-11-2009   #32
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Default Debate Continues

Civilian surge: an expensive failure or an emerging force?


AFN Leads with a headline that Risks Limit Civilian Movement:

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp...MFjVWJE9A0Zcdg

""So what we're doing is embedding a lot of our civilians with our military troops," the chief US diplomat said as she stood next to Jandrokovic.

The policy allows the civilian experts and aid workers to get out "at the same time or literally the next day after the Marines and the army have sent the go signal that civilians can begin to work with... the Afghan people on a range of issues," she said.

But John Dempsey, a United States Institute of Peace analyst, told AFP last month that if civilians are stuck mainly on a military base or with armed escorts, "the impact of the increase will be marginal yet expensive."

President Barack Obama has called for increasing the number of civilian experts from 320 in January 2009 to 974 by January 2010 in order to help the Kabul government serve its people and wean the economy off opium production.

Jack Lew, the deputy secretary of state for management and resources, told US lawmakers Wednesday that he forecast a "20 to 30 percent" increase in 2010 above the current civilian target of 974."

Attackerman writes about a civilian to military ratio of 1 to 100.

"About 1,000 civilians overall in Afghanistan,” with 400 of those “out in the field” beyond Kabul, “USAID development specialists, Department of Agriculture specialists, throughout the country,” law-enforcement, DEA agents. They’ll “multiply the effects of wherever they are by hiring Afghans.”"

The civilian surge continues to be emerge...
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Old 12-11-2009   #33
Ross Wherry
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Default Civilian Shoe Dropping

Steve and Hugh,
After watching the USG operate in post-conflict situations, I offer that civilian federal government agencies will never be useful sources of the SMEs required to carry out the programs that PRTs or other Feds can fund. Federal agencies are intensely domestic in focus and don't usually award merit to overseas duty, especially in a war zone. In the domestic circumstance, Feds throw money at problems and hope for the best. Same overseas.

In the 2007 Iraq surge, I recruited large numbers of city managers, trash engineers, electrical technicians, etc. These are the most valuable employees a city has, and at best we could borrow an SME for up to 12 months. When the guy returned to his city or county post, he had to eject his deputy who had been filling the job "temporarily" or go into the job market himself. We got good people, but they were treated worse than returning military reservists after their mobilization was done.

It's unreasonable to expect the Feds for the come up with SMEs on short notice -- the needed specialists do things that the civilian Government doesn't have a clue how to do. The ideal would be to mobilize Dade or Dallas county into service as a unit. Could the Govt afford such a thing?
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Old 12-11-2009   #34
Steve the Planner
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Ross:

The crux of the problem.

In the field, everybody wants (and might actually need) Greg Mortenson or Rory Stewart to come in, join the tea party, and work out effective schools, jobs, etc.., in a village they have just invested a huge amount of time, blood and treasure to clear, so that it can be effectively held and built---a stable addition to the win column.

Reality is that actual trained civilian SMEs will always be a shortage, and the conditions will not support and sustain them to operate effectively beyond one-on-one examples. 12,000 some villages need 12,000 Greg Mortensons working for two years; not going to work, or happen.

What we get instead is something that does not work. Lots of contractors where, a contract let in Washington gets flipped down through so many groups that only 5% of the money/value ever hits the ground in Afghanistan. This being managed by US federal civilians whose expertise is, in fact, in those contracts, and contracted engagements. It is expensive, inefficient, and does not deliver what hold and build promises.

The statement was that there would be 1,000 civilians of which 400 will be in the field. What do the 600 do? What do the 400 do? How are they resourced? What are their specific expertises for the problems faced?

Most, it seems are ag experts (a big help maybe), FBI/DEA, transferees from higher level federal agencies. Oh, and plenty of reflagged military---while I agree that the pay/benefits are better, and that an experienced military reflag will always be productive, they are not civilian SMEs of the type required for serious change. And are, too often, compromised by prior position from reaching beyond "this is how we have always done it."

The big disconnect, it seems, is that soldiers in villages are calling for schools and services (immediate and medium term engagement tools), while the US civilian focus was and remains on poppy irradication (Ag, FBI, DEA). While laudable, it is a very big mismatch.

We all know that, especially for an older civilian, their are huge risks and discomforts to going out in the field for the civilian, and an additional burden on those who are carrying them. The challenge, however, should be whether it is worth it.

My argument was, and remains, that civilian SMEs will always be in short supply (absent a genuine Reconstruction Corp which doesn't exist, or USAID retooling/restaffing with SMEs---this would not happen in any time frame related to Afghanistan).

Assuming the 400 are genuine SMEs in, say, transportation, schools, health, once one is assigned out to a FOB or DST, how productive can he be? He is only one expert in one of potentially many needed specialties.

The question is: Given that they will always be in short supply, how do you magnify their work to support the required mission?

Off the bat, I can imagine lots of ways to magnify SMEs down to the village-level, but most involve working out of a hub that brings advice, training and resources down to the front line.

Personally, I believe the hub works most effectively as a civilian SME activity engaged around an MND or RC, and sets up a service delivery system that takes advantage of what they offer: Division-level engineering, terrain, intel, CA, construction battalions, oversight, coordination, movement, finance, logistics.

From there, it serves as an expert tool with linkage downward to the field, but links upward to national and US-level programs. Civilian planners, for example, are trained to connect dots between resources and needs, and its that vital connecting of dots that is missing.

In many cases, too, as with UN Development Program, the system of hubs and satellites can extend back even to a safe ground. In Bahgdad, the UN's main hub was in Amman where engineering, data were free from the strains of war, but readily accessible; experts came and went in rotations, which had two results: made it more attractive for civilians, and made them more productive. At the same time, the UN's expert hub is not built on SMEs sitting at a FOB for one year, but coming and going to problems and places as an when needed---often over many years, so they were deep experts whose one day on the ground was better than most SMEs could accomplish in a month.

I know from my experience with State, however, that there was no plan or structure to effectively use SMEs, and, for example, not even a dwell time or home training piece. If you wanted a year away to gather your thought, you had to not take an assignment. If like myself and other SMEs, you needed to catch up on professional certifications and continuing education, you went home. My professional requirements, for example, would not allow me to do a back-to-back two year tour as a State SME because my certifications would all lapse, and I would be too far out of touch with my profession.

At home, I can take course in regional watershed management and international development efforts (Honduras, Nairobi), go to conferences on UN Habitat initiatives, and have access to unlimited professional research bases and tools.

I listened hard last week at a DC seminar as Former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani explained why the current US civilian program fails, and how to improve it by a factor of ten. There is a lot to learn here that just doesn't get transferred down to a FOB (except probably through this board).

But, as you said, there is no system to effectively engage/retain actual civilian SMEs any more than there is one to take full advantage of them once they are one the ground.

It could all be changed, but, to my knowledge, no effective changes have hit the ground yet.

Steve
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Old 12-11-2009   #35
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Default UN Leader Leaving In March

Just in from AP: Kai Eide willleave when his two-year contract ends in March.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/...hjZJQD9CH5EB80

Much controversy about him and his position but, at the least, his analysis of the situation is on par:

"Speaking in Kabul, Eide lamented that civilian work remains too "fragmented," too "ad hoc," and expressed hope that future work done by the international community will be sustainable when foreign assistance declines."

Steve
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Old 12-11-2009   #36
Steve the Planner
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Default The Big Game

World Politics Review has an article about the spheres of influence (China/India) and the Big Game being played out through Afghanistan on the economic development side:

http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/article.aspx?id=4796

"To begin with, a de facto division of the country into these spheres of influence is already taking place. China is making investments in mining all around the country, but its flagship project -- the massive copper mine at Aynak -- is, significantly, in the Pashtun belt. Beijing seems to be counting on Pakistan's support in the event the central Afghan government loses control of this region. But would Pakistani guarantees be sufficient to keep the mine in operation? Meanwhile, India's influence is strongest in the north and west, the heartlands of the old Northern Alliance.

Unlike the situation in Persia, where spheres were imposed on the country, the outside players in Afghanistan do find genuine support among specific ethnic groups and regions of the country.

And unlike the treaty of a century ago, there need be no formal document drawn up this time around. An informal agreement whereby the major players voluntarily placed limits on where they will situate their investments and security services would suffice. Kabul could return to its traditional function as the country's marketplace, where all sides are represented. A settlement in Afghanistan could work to guarantee China's vital Baluchistan lifeline, while leaving intact the Indian-Iranian transport routes that provide New Delhi with a direct route to Central Asia."

To me, there are two implicit elements: (1.) Eide's role was probably eclipsed long before he started by the Big Game; and (2.) the humble troops in the field cannot have a big and sustainable effect using a village-by-village approach without some form of engagement/coordination of their local work to the Bigger Game being played around them; they don't need to understand it, but they need to effectively walk with and around it.

Steve
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Old 12-12-2009   #37
Ross Wherry
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Default Those contractors again

Steve,

I agree that direct hire govt employees might be more efficient than those awful contractors, of whom I'm one. But the Feds aren't allowed outside the wire without massive security. Counterproductive. Contractors, being modestly more expendable, can often get out and be useful if well directed.

Contracts should be judged by their tooth-to-tail ratio. More than half tail -- send 'em home, with no further ado.

Poppy eradication is a steadily receding mirage. Same for spraying coca bushes. Been there, chased it, came home disillusioned. Until the marketing links are disrupted, Smith's invisible hand will keep the harvests coming.

I like your thought of a well staffed hub, provided that there is unity of purpose. A half-pint replication of the WDC interagency process isn't good for the mission. There are (too) few examples of ready reserves in civilian instances, but they exist. The trick seems to be finding a city/county with enough good men and women willing to take a walk on the wild side from time to time.

How do we make this hub work? Komer did it in Viet Nam, but I haven't seen it be successful since.
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Old 12-12-2009   #38
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Default Problem with Contractors

Ross;

My problem with contractors isn't, per se, with the contractors, but the contracts.

Too often, I have seen, or heard of contractors who, because of their status, are just not allowed into the game---so their effectiveness gets limited. Otherwise, it is the gamesmanship of the contracts themselves.

In Iraq, I worked closely with some RTI contractors, who were genuine specialists, and real did great work where they could. One was around since Basra in '04 and is mentioned in the Prince of the Marshes. I wished, though, that he had a proper Blue Badge so he could be more effectively engaged in '08, and that he wasn't tied to tripping over contract/admin stuff so much.

Even though we might have been great side-by-side, the contract was a stumbling block. Same with the civilian GIS folks---good skills but no clearances was a problem for rapid ramp up using US base data.

Being concerned more with the end product than the who, I felt that many of the people would have been more effective for the US effort if there was a direct structure.

Sorry if you took it the wrong way.

Steve
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Old 12-12-2009   #39
Hugh Davis
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Steve & Ross,

I've learned a lot from reading SWJ's discussions, & spent several weeks reading the discussions before registering. As you may have gathered, most of my career is in State & municipal government. I haven't yet had the opportunity to serve overseas. I appreciate folks like you sharing your lessons learned. If (when?) I get the call, I want to be as prepared as I can be, which, to me, includes anticipating potential problems & trying to have at least a partial solution in mind.

I hope I'm wise enough to remember that these partial solutions aren't set in stone, & have to be adapted to the facts on the ground.

In the meantime, as we discuss this "big picture" stuff about how the civilian effort should be organized, I agree that mid-career SMEs have additional responsibilities & concerns that need to be addressed differently than we approach the recruitment of an 18 year old military volunteer. Ross is right that career protection is important. It would be helpful if Congress would consider protecting these volunteers' jobs the way we protect reservists deployed on military duty. Steve is also right that continuing professional education & certification is an important concern.

It's tempting to get frustrated about how imperfect the system is. It does take time, though, for the US to figure out what does & does not work, & then to figure out why, & then to make improvements. It's not just Congress & the bureaucrats; they have to figure out how to explain to the rest of us what they're trying to accomplish & why it's a good idea to spend our money on it. I think that's part of our "national character," to be difficult to persuade & slow to decide. Sometimes it's a strength, & sometimes a weakness.

Again, I appreciate y'all sharing your experience, & I hope somebody in a position to influence the decisions is paying attention.
Hugh Davis is offline  
Old 12-14-2009   #40
Steve the Planner
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Maryland
Posts: 827
Default Surprised.

I guess I had my fingers crossed that somebody on this Board was going to jump out and, No you are wrong. New things are coming. It will all improve.

I keep scanning for articles, but all I ever find are the kind, like below that explan why or how the civilian effort isn't working: a UPI Report about "the missing tool" for Afghanistan:

"First is the means to bring governance to Afghans. In this regard, the government in Kabul is incapable certainly over the next year or two and almost certainly for the longer term. Appointing an overseer or foreign viceroy to put some steel into President Hamid Karzai's backbone is entirely infeasible and will no doubt force the resignation of the three or four capable ministers in the government who do not wish their authority bypassed. Hence, the job of bringing governance will fall on the shoulders of an already overstretched U.S. and NATO military and a so-called surge in civilian capacity that is a fiction. Unfortunately, even if the president had agreed with commanding Gen. Stanley McChrystal's upper-limit request of 80,000 additional troops, this nation building is not a job any military can do with confidence.

Second, the Afghan government has been roundly and correctly challenged on the grounds of corruption and waste. But even if those excesses could be magically corrected -- which they cannot -- this criticism misses the point. It is not Afghan waste and incompetence in managing its resources that is the issue. It is the incompetence and waste with which the tool of Western aid has been so grossly mismanaged that needs immediate redress.

The investigations of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan who reports to Congress -- not the White House -- suggest the scope of mismanagement. These could have been harsher. Specifically, for every dollar spent on Afghanistan reconstruction and aid, about a dime goes to the Afghan people. If this tool cannot be made to work, then all the king's horses and men will not turn Afghanistan into a functioning state."

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Analysis...0201259762400/

Maybe somebody will come along....
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