Thursday, November 8, 2012

Month 3 Day 8

Notebook Entry
Intelligence Preparation of the Battlespace given. Mullah Abash reported to bin in Marjeh

Journal Entry
Samir [the Afghan Assistant intelligence officer] gave his IPB [Intelligence Preparation of the Battlespace] brief. It was decent, but he got a little bit nervous and forgot some of the stuff that he was supposed to brief. I met with him briefly in the morning and talked about the S-2 [Intelligence] training cadre as well as some reports that he had been giving. I was tasked with the ‘my hair is on fire’ issue of the day getting a bunch of literacy teachers ID cards and getting their phones back. These guys are important to our effort, agreed; however, it seems like everything is important to our effort. There just aren’t enough guys around for the CO [Commanding Officer/Team Chief], XO [Executive Officer/Deputy Team Chief] and OpsO [Operations Officer] to throw out tasks and expect everything to get done. It is impossible to get a solid schedule with the Afghans so mentoring them is what suffers.

Edited to Add:
One of the troubles with adviser teams is that they are top-heavy. There are a large number of high-ranked individuals with very few subordinates. For instance, at my rank I would normally have had roughly thirty subordinates; however, because were were there to advise the Afghans and they were the ones who actually had troops to command we did not have an additional contingent of Marines of our own. This makes sense; however, it takes time for Marines to get used to this. The CO, Major Valquist was used to having nearly 1000 Marines at his disposal. He would throw out tasks like we were his battalion staff, but we didn't have our own Marines to help us accomplish the task. We officers thus became grunt-workers, presenters, and mentors. Long-term mentoring suffered because on any given day you could not advance your Afghans very far, but on a given day you could put out one or two of these hair-on-fire issues. You would never be asked for instance "did you teach your Afghans how to read a map today" everyone knew that was a ponderous and slow process, but you could be asked "fix this situation with the teachers" but because there was only you, and you couldn't simultaneously fix a problem and teach a class the thing that was not asked suffered. This improved toward the end of deployment with a weekly refocus on our long-term goals, but at the start, it was tough.

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