5/17/2009

The Wrong Change for Afghanistan

Last week there was news and discussion about how the replacement of one 4-star General with another 4-star General would affect the future of the war in Afghanistan.

However, it may be more important to explore how that war will be affected by the replacement of a Major by at 2LT, and a Captain by a Corporal.

The perplexing news comes from frontline blogger Vampire 06, at Afghanistan Shrugged:
"Today, I was informed that my team will be replaced in a matter of weeks by a team from the Georgia National Guard. Not so bad on the surface, but the hazardous rocks lay below the calm exterior. The team is commanded by a Second Lieutenant (2LT) and his Non-commissioned Ofiicer in Charge is a Sergeant (E5). The remainder of the team is made up of E5s and below. Not exactly the experience rich combination that you’re looking for in a Combat Advisor Team. In fact my S3, CPT Brain is being replaced by a Corporal.

At this point I have to shake my head and wonder, “What the ..?”

Is this what we’ve come to?

Does the building of the ANA mean so little that this is what we’re committing to the fight?

Is this the surge that’s supposed to win the war and bring us all home?

I’m perplexed, pissed off and to be perfectly honest depressed. Ask any former advisor and they’ll tell you that this is a difficult mission that we put every ounce of our souls into, with the hope that one day the ANA/ANP will get it and we can go home. It’s built on your judgment, knowledge and experience and your ability to communicate them effectively.

Now, some genius has decided that we should have 2LTs advising ANA Battalion Commanders on how to plan, support and employ their Kandaks in combat. That alone will be perceived as an insult in an Army where rank means a great deal. Who the hell thought this one up?

By the way this is occurring throughout eastern Afghanistan, right against the Pak border. A border with a country that is gradually melting down and the Taliban is attempting to consolidate. Is this the time to bring in your least experienced team?"

We can change the warriors at the top all we want to find the right strategic leadership, but if we skimp on finding the right warriors for some specific tactical missions on the ground, then we are doing more harm than good.