Friday, October 26, 2012

Month 2 Day 26

Notebook Entry
Capt Samir Drinks non-potable H2O

Journal Entry
We are down to three linguist for the team. Two on leave and the other one departed for attacking on of his fellow linguists. It is difficult to get things done without them. Few [members of the team] have made a consistent effort to learn Dari, really just me and SSgt [Staff Sergeant] Young, so doing without is not really an option just yet. I had Combined COC [Combat Operations Center] watch yesterday morning and did the BATing [basically fingerprinting] of the ANA [Afghan National Army]. The first iteration was all screw[e]d up by the terp [interpreter] who was booted, he said we had a Lt [Lieutenant] in charge of first kandak [Afghan battalion, theoretically about 1000 personnel], and the LCpl [Lance corporal, young Marine with about 18 months in the Marine Corps] I had writing everything down didn’t know that was unreasonable. I managed to get out to see my S2A [Assistant intelligence officer] despite my terp shortage, I rolled into his tent and he was laying down with an IV in his arm, apparently he drank some of the water that was non-potable and got sick. As so frequently happens. The Afghans have a weird way of dealing with the Dr as well, they just tell him what they need, they don’t ask him what they need and trust his judgment. As a result just about everything is treated by ‘serum’ as they call it. As best as I can tell this is just a saline solution. I also spent a couple of hours working on the Mission Essential Tasks that the Afghans must complete to move from one phase to another. There lots of problems with this. It is driven my Maj Valquist, and to a man, the staff is confused by its purpose. The Division put out basic guidance for the tasks that we are supposed to accomplish to move the Afghans from one phase to another, we broke those into subtasks. The problem is twofold, first, no one has bothered to ask themselves if these are the tasks that the Afghan’s really need to know how to do. Every one of the tasks is about conventional maneuver warfare, not counterinsurgency. Why the hell do the Afghan’s need to know about how to conduct a Brigade-size (5 thousand man) defense. It just doesn’t make sense for them. They are never going to project power abroad. Second, there is a major opportunity cost in teaching them this stuff, first we done have time to teach them counterinsurgency doctrine and second we just may run out of time to teach them entirely. This is all a bunch of heat and noise so that we can quantify the Afghan’s progress. This is what the Major is used to seeing and this is what he wants, so he will get it, but it is the wrong goal.

Edited to Add:
A lieutenant would never be a battalion commander. If a lieutenant were filling the job of a Captain, about as high as you could expect them to go, then they would be in charge of just over 100 people.

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