Sunday, October 7, 2012

Month 2 Day 7

Capt Samir gave me a practice IPB [Intelligence Preparation of the Battlespace] presentation and we worked on PIRs [Priority Intelligence Requirements]. I got an E-mail from Major Kraus basically saying why are you teaching these guys about conventional warfare. I didn't reply to it yet, but I was basically playing shut-up and color. The general left on leave and the rest of the staff basically ceased to function. Maj Hesko told me if I want to do recon [reconnaissance] or MarSoc [Marine Special Operations Command] the time is right when I get back, groan, I think I want some peace for a minute.

Edited to Add:

Here was an instance where I was at least partly incorrect. I was trying to teach them conventional warfare doctrine (i.e. doctrine that applied to two armies fighting one another) when I should have been trying to teach them more about unconventional warfare. This was partially correct, and partially incorrect. As I would later find out, my soldiers didn't know the difference between North, South, East and West. That might not seem very important, but it is a big deal when you are trying to identify the location of things in a world without street addresses. They did need to learn the basics of conventional warfare, but I did end up teaching them a lot more about it than I really should have. Part of this is a problem with the US Military and part of it is a problem with me. At this point, I was still trying to turn my Afghans into little versions of myself. I thought that if they looked more like US Marines, then they would be better soldiers (this presumption is dubious, if we are so damn good, then why are we still in Afghanistan). Part of that involved the way that I was trained. Marines are taught how to conduct force-on-force conflicts first, not counterinsurgency campaigns, war amongst the people. The doctrine for force-on-force conflict is clear, there a best-practices, and doctrine is written down. This made training to these standards very easy. Counterinsurgency is not like this. The doctrine is still new, the definitions are difficult for tribesmen to grasp, and second and third order effects are critical. Much of it was too nebulous to properly gauge their progress on. It was quite simply too difficult to teach them very much of this, especially when they did not understand the things that were common to both types of warfare.

The two units I mention toward the end are some of the elite Marine Corps units.

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