Tuesday, November 25, 2014

CONOP Approval in Afghanistan

Ask any Special Forces Soldier who served in Afghanistan (or Iraq) what the number one issue he would fix and the answer is likely to be "CONOP Approval". CONOP stands for Concept of Operation. In earlier days this was a short text paragraph in an operations order. However, in today's Army (and yes, today's Special Forces) a CONOP is a 40-page PowerPoint presentation. Michael Vickers, the current Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence was briefed in Afghanistan by a Special Forces company commander on the process for CONOP approval and his response was "What the hell are we doing here?". The conversation noted above is an excerpt from a book by Michael G. Waltz, the Special Forces officer doing the brief to Vickers, entitled Warrior Diplomat (available on Amazon.com). Read more in "Tales of war: Getting 12 approvals for a relatively minor mission in Afghanistan", by Thomas Ricks in Best Defense, November 24, 2014.

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