Monday, April 25, 2011

Tapdancing on the Battlefield

I'm finally back online.

Since we got here, I've been living in temporary housing, but now that our predecessor unit left, I'm in a single room...and have Internet access.

The General of the unit we replaced made an excellent point the other day. In a meeting, one of our guys mentioned a VIP visit (either a visiting Four-Star or a Congressman from the States) and said how we'd have "someone there to cover down."

"Not so fast," was his reply. "No one cares about you and your staff. They're visiting to see the ANA trainers...not you."

He went on to say a little bit more, and I hope our key staffers were listening. He went on to explain the importance of knowing your role and scope on a large, mature battlespace that's been functioning for nearly ten years now.

Kabul is a complicated place. There are more foreign militaries running around than I can name (we've got the Turks, the French, and the Bulgarians, just for starters), and they've all got their "lanes in the road." Then you've got the alphabet soup of the myriad three-letter government agencies alongside all the NGOs. Throw the Afghan organizations and their security forces into that mix, and you've got quite an eclectic stew.

What does this all mean? Now is a great time not to be "all stick, no rudder." Before taking any initiative, two important questions to ask concern footprint and demand signal.

As to the footprint question, it means checking first to see whether someone is already doing what you're trying to do, and what level of effort (and personnel) is optimal. More is not always better.

As to the demand signal question, it's important to stop and ask whether something is really needed or wanted. Maybe the local neighborhood you're trying to *engage* would just rather prefer NOT to be visited by the big guys with the green suits and the shades, thank you very much.

1 comment:

C R Krieger said...

Excellent Comments.

Regards  —  Cliff