Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Month 8 Day 9

Notebook Entry
Nine reports given, the constraint is our time with the Afghan National Army, What is the adjacent possible? Nawa Transition pushed, focus on stuff, staff pressure, 15 year perspective now, Garrison Support Unit intelligence goes to class Garrison Support Unit Admin has 12 leave blocks, Asadullah late, Garrison Support Unit logisitics decree, Homework not done, Admin resistant to new leave policy.

Journal Entry
A lot of interesting things to write about.

I just finished The Goal. It is a book about manufacturing, and in it they basically describe any sequential process as limited by the throughput of the slowest thing in that process. They were talking about how oftentimes this principle and the subsequent logical steps have been applied outside of manufacturing with great success. I started the think about it and our constraint here is our time with the Afghans. I brought that up with LtCol Paul Shinkman yesterday, but he said-“well the meeting schedule for the RCT is pretty tight”

I started listening to another book. Where Good Ideas Come from. It gave me a good framework to think about Afghanistan, about the USMC, and about the book. It talked about the near simultaneous invention of lots of inventions, the telephone, telegraph, etc. These were ideas whose time was ripe. Then it talked about the first ‘analytical engine’ really the first computer designed in the 1850s. It had a type of RAM, Hard Drive, Processor. All the hallmarks of the computer, but it was literally ‘ahead of its time’ the inventor labored on it for basically his whole life and nothing happened with it. All the the components had to be separately reinvented over 100 years later. The reason this seems important is because in addition to acting with effect in mind (something that I do not do well, I tend to act with what I think is right, damn the effect), I need to think about what can possibly be done. They call this the ‘adjacent possible.’ Can I genuinely convince the American public or the USMC that the way we are going about this is wrong or make a big-enough change that it justifies the sacrifice? Can I legitimately effect what goes on in Col Schmitt’ campaign plan, or am I going to be stuck playing at the margins? There is no use laboring on something that is ahead of its time and is going to be shut down, but it does make sense to try to push people to the adjacent possible.

Had another ANSF working group. The focus was on MoD-14s-these are the forms that get you stuff. The advisors said that no matter how many MoD-14s we submit we are not going to get more radios because they are all going to new units. They said we need to get Nawa ready to transition to Afghan control. They asserted that there was not enough stuff there for them to work with. I spoke up and said that I had been to Nawa, done patrols with the Tolais [Companies approx 100 soldiers] there and that they had plenty of stuff, they were also probably going to abandon it in favor of cell phones as soon as the Marines leave. The problem is not stuff, the problem is training. That is the really hard part, I have spent two weeks trying to teach my guy how to fill out one form. “Downs syndrome Chuck” as the S6 [Communications] officer is called said he could get a mobile training team, but I explained that they are too illiterate and ADD to get it . I was ignored. I also brought up that there is really only about 1 thing that we can focus on at a time with the staff because the General is the only one they are going to listen to and he only has a limited set of things he can beat them up about at a time. The Advisors talked to LtCol Paul Shinkman afterword about the focus on stuff vs process, he said that the [Regimental Combat Team Commanding Officer] “is not a patient man and these guys are being berated every day about this, so they need to push for what the Colonel wants or he will fire them and send them home.” Awesome command climate.

At lunch over homemade Pizza at DFAC 5 I brought up with Capts Arthur and Brawny. “Who cares if you get fired, you are here to serve the country, not a guy, grab your balls and say what actually needs to get done. What about God Country and then Corps, we are supposed to be officers” Capt Brawny chimed in “your perspective changes after about 15 years in the military, you have your plan.” I bet it does. “we are supposed to be military officers, we are supposed to have branch and sequel plans” I guess that didn’t occur to anyone. Who cares if you are fired, ITS NOT ABOUT YOU.

The afternoon with the Afghans was pretty good. The GSU S2 [Garrison Support Unit Intelligence] went to the class, the GSU S1 [administration] already had 12 leave blocks set out for the new leave policy. Asadullah, one of my new S2 sgts drew a better motorcycle in powerpoint than I could have. Qais gave me a brief overview of some of the things he learned. I told him to be ready to give a class on it tomorrow. The Bde [Brigade] S1 was resistant to the new leave policy. He said the soldiers are only in the Army for 4 years, don’t you think they should have a different policy than the officers who have been in the Army for 30 years? He also pushed for a plan that looked basically like the one that was just implemented. He said he would tell the General as much and try to get to the kandaks to figure out why the soldiers are going on leave-all right nice work. I told him he was right in both regards but that the policy was being pushed by Col Schmitt, so it was probably going to happen. If and when it happens, we need to salute sharply and do what we are told, but we should start planning.

Interesting day.

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