Showing posts with label CAAT. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CAAT. Show all posts

Friday, January 17, 2014

Directed Telescope: Element of Effective Command

All organizations have an established hierarchy of leadership and structure. This is especially true of the military. The armed services have several lines of communication within its organization. There is the commander's line of communication - messages and instructions passed from commander to commander up and down the organization. Then there is the functional or staff method of organizational communication. Operations officers exchanging information with other operations officers up and down the entity. Other staff sections do the same - the communications, medical, personnel, and logistics officers communicate with each other. Let's not forget the enlisted chain of communication - senior NCOs, SGMs, and CSMs. In addiction, there are several other informal methods of communication available to commander and staffs.

Filtering. However, there is also a "filtering" process that takes place in the military communication process. Subordinate commands will pass up information, reports, and briefings to the higher headquarters (whether commander to commander or staff section to staff section) that have been diluted or sanitized. There are many levels to a military organization. Within the Army you can start at the platoon level, through company, battalion, brigade, division, and all the way to corps and beyond. At every level bad news is watered down and good news emphasized. Ultimately, the higher headquarters is making plans and decisions based on skewed reporting.

Timeliness. In addition to the filtering problem there is the timeliness of the reporting. Information becomes stale as time goes by. Some problems can be fixed immediately if the higher echelons know about a problem. Then again, some problems will get only bigger if no remedy is taken to alleviate the situation.

Commander's Intent. In addition to the "filtering" and "timeliness" dilemma there is the difficulty of ensuring that a commander's intent is actually being followed at the lower levels.

Directed Telescope. Commander's through the ages have struggled with the problems associated with filtering, timeliness, and intent. One remedy used is the 'directed telescope'. The directed telescope can take the form of a commanders' aide, adviser, special staff officer, or liaison officer. The directed telescope has been used throughout military history by commanders around the world. It was a common tool used by Alexander the Great, during the Napoleonic Wars, American Civil War, World War I, and World War II; allowing commanders to cut through the haze of the battlefield and staying informed on what was really happening on the ground without the adverse effects of filtering and time.

A Discontinued Aspect of War. It would seem that the use of 'directed telescopes' (or anything resembling the function) has been discontinued by the U.S. military since World War II. There is scant evidence that this function has been replicated during the conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf War (1991), Iraq War (2003-2001), and the current Afghan conflict. In Afghanistan, however, there is a small organization that was formed in 2009 called the COMISAF Advisory and Assistance Team (CAAT). The CAAT provides this 'directed telescope' service.

Read more on this topic in The Directed Telescope: A Traditional Element of Effective Command, by LTC Gary B. Griffin, Combat Studies Institute, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas published in 1985. The document is available at the link below:

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

"A Bitter Pill to Swallow" - COIN Adviser Speaks Out

Over the past week several events have captured the news that should put Iraq and Afghan War veterans into a state of dismay. The sacrifice made in Iraq from 2003 to 2011 by countless military men and women is now open to question with news that al Qaeda is making a resurgence in places where hard-fought battles were won in Iraq. In addition, instead of a sense of order and stability in the Middle East the media is filled with reports of strife in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Somalia, and Kenya.

Afghanistan, the other war, does not seem to be yielding great promise. President Karzai continues to refuse to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) which would allow NATO and U.S. military troops to remain beyond December 2014. Opium production is at an all time high, the Taliban were not defeated this past 2013 fighting season, and governance has not improved significantly to offer the Afghan population a positive view of the future. To top it all off we find that, from excerpts of Robert Gates book, President Obama and his White House staff have less than positive views of the military and the mission in Afghanistan.

Read the thoughts of a participant in both wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) about the two Presidents who presided over the wars, the legacy they will leave, and his thoughts on leadership in "A Bitter Pill to Swallow", Tampa Bay Times, January 13, 2014. The author served in the US Navy SEALs, worked in Iraq in the Hostage Working Group at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and served as a Counterinsurgency Adviser for the COMISAF Advisory and Assistance Team (CAAT) in Afghanistan.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

How Advisors Can Regain Trust in Afghanistan

Fernandao Lujan, a U.S. Army Major, wrote a piece recently about how to re-establish trust between Afghans and the U.S. military. Lujan is a Special Forces officer, has spent some time in Afghanistan as an AfPak Hand, speaks a little of the language, knows some of the culture, and spent much of his Afghan trip working with Afghan military units as a member of the Counterinsurgency Advisory and Assistance Team (CAAT). He offers advice for those military members who will work in an advisory role in Afghanistan over the next several years.  Read Lujan's article in "How to get Afghans to trust us once again", The Washington Post, March 2, 2012.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Assessment of the Future of Afghan War After U.S. Departs Afghanistan

Two military officers with recent experience in Afghanistan wrote an article about a visit to Zabul Province where they spent some time with an Afghan infantry battalion operating "independently".  They detail the struggle that the Afghan battalion faces as it confronts both the enemy and an ineffective Afghan logistics and supply system.  While the battalion does not measure up to a U.S. infantry battalion in firepower, training, experience, and planning ability; it is getting the job done.

The two officers recognize that the upcoming departure of the coalition forces and the shift to an advisory role for those coalition troops that stay after 2014 will put the Afghan Army in the forefront of the battle against the insurgents. Their article provides some insight on how Afghan battalions will fare when left on their own.  In addition, they discuss what type of individual is best suited for "advisory work" in Afghanistan after 2014.

Some info on the two writers; one officer is American and the other Afghan. The U.S. officer is a Special Forces Soldier who is in the AfPak Hands program and was working for the Counterinsurgency Advisory and Assistance Team (CAAT) in Afghanistan. The Afghan officer, a major in the Afghan Special Forces, is now attending U.S. military schools in the United States.

You can read their article here - "Two Officers Counter Bleak Assessment of Afghan War", by Fernando M. Lujan and Khosal Sadat, At War Blog, The New York Times, February 13, 2012.