Tuesday, December 16, 2014

"Cold Base" and Advising from Afar

SFA Advisor, CPT Jeff Burgett from 10th Mountain, interacts
with 203rd Corps counterparts in Feb 2014. At this time the
203rd Corps was still advised on a daily basis. (Photo by 
PFC Dixie Rae Liwanag).
The Coalition has shrunk its force in Afghanistan in preparation for the Resolute Support mission that will begin on January 1, 2014. In an attempt to reduce the force footprint to around 12,000 by the beginning of 2015 some decisions had to be made on where to place advisor teams. ISAF planners decided to pull advisory teams off two of the six Afghan National Army Corps - leaving no advisors in those regions to interact with the ANA corps, Afghan Border Police, Afghan National Police, and the Operational Coordination Centers (OCCs). Those two regions were the 215th Corps in Helmand province and the 203rd Corps in southeastern Afghanistan. Both regions are highly contested by the Taliban and other insurgent groups.

Naturally, the experienced SFA advisor would prefer to be "embedded" full-time on a permanent basis with the Afghan unit to maintain constant day-to-day contact with the advised unit. This would entail living and working on a Coalition base adjacent to or 'embedded' within an Afghan installation or base. But with the limited number of advisors in country and the counter-productive "risk adverse" attitude of higher command this is not always possible.

Efforts to maintain some type of communications (and influence?) with these two corps (203rd and 215th) are problematic. The ability to interact, influence, train, advise, and maintain situational awareness through emails and cell phone calls with an Afghan counterpart is extremely limited. So periodic visits to the corps are utilized. The Coalition attempts to stay in touch with the 203rd Corps utilizing what used to be called Level II Advising and now is referred to (at least informally) as a "Fly to Advise" methodology or "expeditionary advisory package". Apparently that is called an "EAP" for short; so another acronym for the glossary gets added.

However, flying into an Afghan base and staying for hours or days requires a support mechanism and facility to set up radios, a work center, and living / sleeping areas. Enter the "Cold Base" concept for advisors. In lieu of embedding with the Afghan unit or co-locating with an adjacent Coalition unit the advisors utilize the EAPs and Cold Base concept described in "A reduced presence does not equal a reduced commitment", DVIDS, December 13, 2014.

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