Showing posts with label SFA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SFA. Show all posts

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Training the Afghan Security Forces - TA3E

1st SFAB HQs at Advisor Platform Lightning after uncasing colors ceremony.
1st SFAB HQs company after uncasing colors ceremony at Advisor Platform Lightning.
(photo by Maj Matthew Fontaine, 1st SFAB, Mar 18, 2018)

TAAC South HA/DR Exercise. Members of Train, Advise, and Assist Command - South along with folks from Resolute Support hqs recently held a humanitarian assistance / disaster response exercise on March 18-19, 2018 in Kandahar. The two-day course consisted of scenarios involving floods, drought, earthquakes, and mass refugee crisis. The course was led by senior Afghan leaders and planners who recently graduated from the first NATO Operational Planner's Course. TAAC-SOUTH is comprised of members of the 40th Infantry Division of the California Army National Guard and the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division. (DVIDS, Mar 19, 2018).

'Big 5' For Advisors. The 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment has identified lessons from mentoring the Philippines Armed Forces and compiled them into a paper. The authors hope that the many observations collected over months of training, will serve as an aid to anyone deploying, or currently deployed to, an advisor mission with foreign forces. Read Operating as an Australian Army Training Advisor 'Big 5' - The Philippines, The Cove, March 23, 2018.

A Little Something about Gender Advisors. Deanne Gibbon - of the Australian Defence Forces - recently served in Afghanistan from August 2015 to May 2016 as NATO's Senior Gender Advisor. She writes about the role that gender advisors play within military organizations - especially when deployed in peacekeeping, humanitarian, or military operations. Read "WPS 2018: Navigating the operational gender agenda", The Strategist, March 23, 2018.

Photo Story - Marines in Marjah District. RS HQs, DVIDS, March 9, 2018.

101st Abn Div to Head up USFOR-A. Major General Andrew Poppas, an Army officer with considerable Afghan experience, is once again heading to Afghanistan. This time he will be the U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) deputy commanding general for operations and the Resolute Support deputy chief of staff for operations. In the past the 101st was focused on the eastern region of the country (the old RC East hqs). With this 9-month long deployment the 101st will oversee NATO's train, advise, and assist mission nationwide. Read "101st Airborne Division Headquarters to case colors for Afghanistan deployment", Clarksville, March 22, 2018.

A Grain of Salt Please. Army BG Michael Fenzel, the chief of plans (Director CJ-5) for the Resolute Support mission, is quoted in a DoD news release as saying "We are more capable as an advisory force than we've ever been before, and the Afghan fighting forces are more effective than they have ever been before."

Things that make you say 'Hmmm'. Perhaps he missed the time frame of 2012-2014 when NATO and the U.S. had hundreds of advisor teams (SFAATs) deployed with MoI organizations from district center level up to MoI and MoD organizations from kandak level up to MoD. In RC East alone there were a couple of hundred advisor teams plus company and battalion combat formations conducting the 'partnership' mission. More effective now as an advisory force? I think not. We would have to provide advisor teams (or to use the new term - Combat Advisor Teams or CATs) to every district center and kandak as we had in the past.

If the ANDSF is more effective than they have ever been before why does the Taliban control more territory than at any period in the conflict since the fall of 2001?

Read more in "Officials Note Progress in Afghanistan, Difficulty for Taliban", by Jim Garamone, Defense Media Activity, March 20, 2018.

DoD IG Report on CSTC-A Oversight. A new report by the Department of Defense Inspector General's office finds that there are systemic challenges associated with the Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan's (CSTC-A's) oversight of U.S. direct funding provided to the government of Afghanistan. It specifically finds that the Bilateral Financial Commitment Letters may not be the most effective method to manage and oversee the administering and expending of U.S. direct funding to the Afghan MoD and MoI. Of course, looking back over the past few years, these commitment letters were to be the management tool to ensure that the MoD and MoI would decrease corruption and implement reforms. Hmmmm. See "Summary Report on U.S. Direct Funding Provided to Afghanistan", DoD IG Report 2018-090, March 21, 2018.

News & Info about the 1st SFAB

1st SFAB Uncases Colors. The 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade HQs and its six battalions are now stood up in Afghanistan. The brigade hqs is co-located with the 203rd ANA Corps. Its six battalions are spread across Afghanistan. Read more in "1st SFAB uncases colors, begins partnership with ANDSF across Afghanistan.", Resolute Support HQs, March 18, 2018.

1st SFAB at Camp Buehring, Kuwait. The advisory brigade, on its way to Afghanistan, stopped off in Kuwait. While they some of the brigade soldiers went through some pre-deployment training to include MRAP, SUAS, and CUAS. Read more in "1st SFAB Enters Theater", 1st Theater Sustainment Command, March 16, 2018.

Gen Dunford to Meet with 1st SFAB. A recent DoD news release says that General Dunford traveled to Afghanistan to do an assessment of the situation. In addition, he wants to meet with soldiers of the 1st SFAB which has just deployed for a nine-month rotation to conduct a Security Force Assistance mission. See "Dunford Arrives in Afghanistan to Assess Campaign Plan", Department of Defense Media Activity, March 19, 2018.

Dunford "Enthusiastic" about SFAB. General Dunford met with members of the 1st SFAB this past week and was encouraged by how the combat advisors are fusing the pillars of the ANDSF to work together in the conduct of combined operations.  Read "Chairman Expresses Enthusiasm about Military Dimension in Afghanistan", Defense Media Activity, March 21, 2018.

Assessment and Training for SFAB Soldiers. BG Mennes, director of force management (G-3/5/7) for the U.S. Army, provides info on the assessment, selection, and training of Soldiers for the Army's SFABs. (Army News Service, Mar 19, 2018).


Read more about the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade - SFAB.

Read recent news reports about the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade - SFAB.

Read about the Army's newly established Military Advisor Training Academy (MATA).

Sunday, March 11, 2018

TA3E - The Security Force Assistance Mission

Advisors using translation kits
(photo by Afghan GMIC July 13, 2017)

Reporting on the 'Train, Advise, and Assist' Mission. The renewed emphasis and modest increase in the advisory effort with the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) will not win the war; however, it is an important component of the U.S. and NATO strategy for Afghanistan. For that reason, the Afghan War Blog will continue to report on Security Force Assistance efforts by NATO and other Coalition / Partner nations.

NODs and the ANDSF. One one of the more important pieces of equipment when trying to 'own the night' is access to night observation devices (night vision goggles or night vision goggles). Attempts in the past to equip Afghan forces with NODs were half-hearted and lacking accountability. At one time, the issue of NODs was suspended because the ANDSF couldn't track the whereabouts of the NODs. The fear was that they had fallen into the hands of insurgents. In addition to the accountability problem (halting the provision of NODs) there is the bureaucracy and cost involved. So the simple solution of "Just give them NODs" is actually very complicated. Read more in an article by Sunny Petzinger - a member of the Civilian Expeditionary Workforce detailed to the Army to work as a Political and Civil Affairs Advisor based in Kandahar from 2016-2017. Read "When Made-in-the-USA isn't Afghan-Good-Enough", Small Wars Journal, March 5, 2018.

"Temporareality" and Advising. Greg Kleponis, is a retired USAF Colonel who has served in advisory capacities in both Iraq and Afghanistan during the last 10 years. His most recent post was as Senior Advisor to the Deputy Minister of Interior (Afghanistan) where he served as an advisor on security, anti-terror, and rule of law programs. Read his very interesting article entitled "Temporareality: Permanent Contingency Operations and the Pervasive Influence it Has on Military Operations & Culture and the Afghan Perceptions of Commitment", Small Wars Journal, March 7, 2018.

News & Info about the 1st SFAB

Video about 1st SFAB. On March 5, 2018 the U.S. Army published a video about the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade - now on deployment to Afghanistan.


Read more about the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade - SFAB.

Read recent news reports about the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade - SFAB.

Read about the Army's newly established Military Advisor Training Academy (MATA).

Sunday, March 4, 2018

TA3E - "Train, Advise, Assist, Accompany, & Enable"

207th Corps - Afghan National Army

Reporting on the 'Train, Advise, and Assist' Mission. The renewed emphasis and modest increase in the advisory effort with the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) will not win the war; however, it is an important component of the U.S. and NATO strategy for Afghanistan. For that reason, the Afghan War Blog will continue to report on Security Force Assistance efforts by NATO and other Coalition / Partner nations.

Training and Equipment Needs of ANDSF. Ahmad Murid Partaw writes on how the Afghan security forces must increase focus on training and equipment. Partaw is an alumnus of the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies in Washington, D.C. In addition, he is a former Afghan Army major and served as Afghanistan's senior national representative to U.S. Central Command. His article is posted in the CENTCOM quarterly periodical UNIPATH. Read "Aiding Afghanistan", February 2018.

Updated Senior Advisor Training Requirements for RS. On February 15, 2018 the Commander of the Resolute Support Mission, General John Nicholson, approved updated senior advisor training requirements for uniformed personnel deploying in support of operations in Afghanistan. A pilot program to implement these training requirements begins in June of 2018.

Seminar on SFA. The primary mission of NATO's Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan is Security Force Assistance (SFA). Norway is hosting a seminar on the topic in March 2018.

News & Info about the 1st SFAB

"Soldiers, With Empathy: U.S. Army Creates Dedicated Advisor Brigades", National Public Radio, February 27, 2018.

"On the Security Force Assistance Brigade", Partisan Source, March 2, 2018.


Read more about the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade - SFAB.

Read recent news reports about the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade - SFAB.

Read about the Army's newly established Military Advisor Training Academy (MATA).

JCISFA Quarterly February 2018

The JCISFA Quarterly is now posted online. This February 2018 issue by the Joint Center for International Security Force Assistance has a wealth of information about the Security Force Assistance (SFA) mission. Access to the newsletter requires login.

JCISFA is a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) controlled activity that reports to the Joint  Staff J7, Joint Force Development. JCISFA supports the integration of Security Force Assistance (SFA) capabilities into the current and future Joint Force in order to advance joint warfighting capability.

Some of the articles in this issue:

"Building the Ready Bench"
"JISFA Attends CENTCOM Training Conference"
"Lieutenant General Joseph Anderson Visits JCISFA"
"Aviation Security Cooperation Works to Advance Global Vigilance, Reach, and Power"
"Security Force Assistance in the 2017 National Security Strategy"
"Foreign Policy Advisor Visits JCISFA"

Sunday, February 25, 2018

TA3E - Train, Advise, Assist, Accompany, and Enable

Members of the TAAC-West Police Advisor Team (PAT) train female
police in Herat province. (photo by RS HQs, 10 July 2017).

Reporting on the 'Train, Advise, and Assist' Mission. The renewed emphasis and modest increase in the advisory effort with the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) will not win the war; however, it is an important component of the U.S. and NATO strategy for Afghanistan. For that reason, the Afghan War Blog will continue to report on Security Force Assistance efforts by NATO and other Coalition / Partner nations.

Seminar on SFA. The primary mission of NATO's Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan is Security Force Assistance (SFA). Norway is hosting a seminar on the topic in March 2018.

Expeditionary Advising. Afghanistan is not Iraq; but advising is advising. 2nd Bn 101st Airborne Division (Task Force Strike) had a mission to advise the Iraq Security Forces (ISF) during the fight for Mosul. TF Strike had to rethink the way they conducted advise and assist operations. The brigade shifted from advising in static locations to "expeditionary advising". This model allowed advisors to have a persistent presence forward with their ISF counterparts. Eventually "expeditionary advising" gave way to "Advise, Assist, Accompany, and Enable" (A3E). An excellent article entitled "Expeditionary Advising: Enabling Iraqi Operations from the Gates of Baghdad through Eastern Mosul", Small Wars Journal, February 22, 2018.

NSOCC-A Reports Growth of Police NMUs. The NATO Special Operations Component Command - Afghanistan says that the General Command of Police Special Units (GCPSU) will grow from three to six National Mission Units (NMUs).  (DVIDS, Feb 22, 2018).

IMET Programs. Every year U.S. International Military Education and Training (IMET) programs are used to train approximately 6,000 - 7,000 foreign officers from roughly 120 friendly and llied nations in US military schools alongside their US counterparts. Afghan officers of the MoD and MoI are included in these training programs. Learn more in "Normative Persuasion and the Impact of IMET Programs on U.S. National Security Goals", Georgetown Security Studies Review, February 22, 2018.

News & Info about the 1st SFAB

1st SFAB Arrives in Afghanistan. The new Army unit created to conduct the advise and assist mission on a permanent basis is now starting its first deployment in Afghanistan. The 1st SFAB leadership and advanced elements are now in Afghanistan. Soon around 36 advisor teams will spread out around the country to advise and assist the ANDSF at the brigade and kandak level. Read "First Troops Among Front-Line Advisor Brigade Arrive in Afghanistan",, February 22, 2018.


Read more about the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade - SFAB.

Read recent news reports about the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade - SFAB.

Read about the Army's newly established Military Advisor Training Academy (MATA).

Sunday, February 18, 2018

TA3E - Train, Advise, Assist, Accompany, & Enable

A U.S. medical advisors discusses medical evacuation
procedures with Afghan counterpart in OCC-R South (RS photo)

Reporting on the 'Train, Advise, and Assist' Mission. The renewed emphasis and modest increase in the advisory effort with the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) will not win the war; however, it is an important component of the U.S. and NATO strategy for Afghanistan. For that reason, the Afghan War Blog will continue to report on Security Force Assistance efforts by NATO and other Coalition / Partner nations.

NATO Adding 3K More Troops. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is aiming to increase the number of its forces in Afghanistan to conduct the training mission with the ANDSF. (Khaama Press, Feb 14, 2018).

Seminar on SFA. The primary mission of NATO's Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan is Security Force Assistance (SFA). Norway is hosting a seminar on the topic in March 2018.

Paper on SOF Advising. The Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) has published a 106-page publication entitled Growing SOLO: Expanding the Spectrum of SOF Advisory Capabilities, by Troy White, JSOU Report 18-1, Feb 2018.

News & Info about the 1st SFAB

Veteran Questions Usefulness of the SFAB. A veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts looks at the new SFAB about to deploy to Afghanistan and wonders if it will really make a difference. Read "Repeating the mistakes of Vietnam today in Afghanistan", The Hill, February 12, 2018.

SFAB - A New Way to Train. Reuters correspondent Phil Stewart writes about the 1st SFAB in "In Long Afghan War, US Army Tries New Way to Deploy Trainers", Reuters, February 14, 2018.

Security Element for 1st SFAB. The insider threat is a huge concern for advisors working with the ANDSF. It is for that reason (as well as the threat from insurgents) that advisor teams are protected by security elements (like Guardian Angels). The 1st SFAB will soon deploy to Afghanistan with soldiers from Task Force 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment (based at Fort Benning) who will serve as their security force element. (WLTZ TV, Feb 12, 2018).


Read more about the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade - SFAB.

Read recent news reports about the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade - SFAB.

Read about the Army's newly established Military Advisor Training Academy (MATA).

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Train, Advise, Assist, Accompany, & Enable Mission in Afghanistan

An Intel Advisor Mentoring ANDSF

Reporting on the 'Train, Advise, and Assist' Mission. The renewed emphasis and modest increase in the advisory effort with the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) will not win the war; however, it is an important component of the U.S. and NATO strategy for Afghanistan. For that reason, the Afghan War Blog will continue to report on Security Force Assistance efforts by NATO and other Coalition / Partner nations.

Italian Troops Travel to Farah. About 50 Italian military personnel are now in western Farah province to support Afghan forces during operations against militants.  (, Feb 7, 2018).

TFSW Marine Advisors Worked at Kandak Level. The Marines from Task Force Southwest are working with the Afghans in Helmand province at corps, brigade, and even (at times) down to battalion level. The past rotation of Marines did this without suffering casualties - the current rotation of Marine advisors may get even closer to the front lines. Read "For U.S. troops in Afghanistan, new questions about where to be in combat", The Washington Post, February 8, 2018.

SOD-O TAA's ANASOC and More. The Special Operations Detachment-O of the Maryland Army National Guard has been working at Camp Morehead (Camp Commando) for the past several months with the primary mission of training, advising, and assisting the Afghan National Army Special Operations Command (ANASOC). But, in addition, the unit members have found time to conduct a little humanitarian service work in Afghanistan. (The Baltimore Sun, January 25, 2018).

Seminar on SFA. The primary mission of NATO's Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan is Security Force Assistance (SFA). Norway is hosting a seminar on the topic in March 2018.


Read more about the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade - SFAB.

Read recent news reports about the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade - SFAB.

Read about the Army's newly established Military Advisor Training Academy (MATA).

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Train, Advise, Assist, Accompany, and Enable Mission in Afghanistan

A Marine advisor with Task Force Southwest (TFSW) battle tracks
with a soldier from the 215th Corps at Camp Shorabak, Afghanistan.
(photo Jan 22, 2018 by SGT Conner Robbins, USMC)

Reporting on the 'Train, Advise, and Assist' Mission. The renewed emphasis and modest increase in the advisory effort with the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) will not win the war; however, it is an important component of the U.S. and NATO strategy for Afghanistan. For that reason, the Afghan War Blog will continue to report on Security Force Assistance efforts by NATO and other Coalition / Partner nations.

Upcoming CoC for TAAC-Air. Brig. Gen. Phillip A. Stewart, commanding general, Train, Advise, Assist Command-Air; and commander, 438th Air Expeditionary Wing, Air Combat Command, Kabul, Afghanistan, will be the commander, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Alliance Ground Surveillance Force, Allied Command Operations, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Sigonella, Italy. He will be replaced by Col. Joel L. Carey, who has been selected for the grade of brigadier general. Carey is currently the commander, 12th Flying Training Wing, Air Education and Training Command, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, to commanding general, Train, Advise,Assist Command-Air; and commander, 438th Air Expeditionary Wing, Air Combat Command, Kabul, Afghanistan.

New DCoS Ops for RS. BG (P) Dan Walrath will soon be back in Afghanistan. He did a great job as cdr of 2/101st in RC East. The Strike BCT was one of the first SFABs to deploy to Afghanistan in 2012.

The Afghan military attache at the Afghan Embassy in D.C. meets with
two U.S. Army officers to discuss the training of the ANDSF.

Paper: "Afghanistan Army Development: What Went Wrong", Interagency Journal, Vol. 6, Issue 1, Winter 2015, LTC Tommy J. Tracy.

Marines to Lease Reaper Drone for Helmand. The Marines assigned to Task Force Southwest are looking to use an armed drone to keep an eye on things in Helmand province while they conduct their 'advise and assist' mission. Read "Marine Corps Wants Reaper Drone to Provide Overwatch for Helmand", Defense Tech,  January 29, 2018.

Increased Risk of U.S. Casualties. As advisors work closer to the front lines (at Afghan kandak level) the probability of casualties rises. See "US troops at greater risk in Afghanistan under Pentagon's new approach, top official says", Fox News, February 2, 2018.

Advising - Lessons Observed: Not Actually Learned

Some Familiar Themes Here - Vietnam and Afghanistan. Read "US Combat Advisors in Vietnam Knew the Score and Got Ignored", by James A. Warren, The Daily Beast, February 2, 2018.

USMC's CAP in Vietnam. The US SOF's Village Stability Operations (VSO) program in Afghanistan bore a resemblance to the U.S. Marine's Combined Action Program (CAP) - advisors living in small Vietnamese communities. "Preventing the Barbarization of Warfare: The USMC CAP Program in Vietnam", Small Wars Journal, February 2, 2018.

Want to Read more Papers on Advising? Take a look Afghanistan: Annotated Bibliography for Resolute Support, over 200 pages referencing documents and publications on SFA in Afghanistan.

Breaking News - COIN Actually Worked in Vietnam. J. R. Bullington, a man who spent considerable time in Vietnam, writes on how counterinsurgency actually was the right strategy in Vietnam. Other factors contributed to the lost effort; but not COIN. "Assessing Pacification in Vietnam: We Won the Counterinsurgency War!", Small Wars Journal, March 23, 2012.

News on the 1st SFAB

1st SFAB - "Fully Capable".  On February 8, 2018 the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade will be recognized as fully capable at a ceremony at Fort Benning, Georgia. The 1st SFAB is scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan this spring.

SFAB Recruiting. The U.S. Army is on a big push to recruit for the six Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFABs) that it is in the process of standing up. The first one was brought online in August 2017 at Fort Benning - it has finished its training and will deploy to Afghanistan soon. The 2nd SFAB is now forming at Fort Bragg. The SFABs, 800-men strong, are key to the U.S. efforts to advise foreign military forces. Read "Event highlights options in Army", Fort Hood Sentinel, January 25, 2018.

Modernization and Equipping the SFAB. Standing up a brand new unit like the 1st SFAB (August 2017) and deploying it within its first year of existence poses an number of huge problems. One of which is fielding the equipment for a new brigade (yes it is undersized in strength but still . . . ) In addition, the U.S. Army wants it to have the latest and greatest in equipment (more fielding and training issues there as well). Read more about the latest of comms gear going to the 1st SFAB in "A special Afghan unit could be the Army's test case for its future network", C4ISRNET, February 2, 2018.

1st SFAB EOD Specialists. An EOD specialist talks about his assignment to the 1st SFAB and it's impending deployment to Afghanistan. (DVIDS, Jan 23, 2018).

SFABs New Pistol. The 1st SFAB trained up on the Army's new pistol - the M17 Sig Sauer 9mm P320. But . . . there seems to be a few problems. (The Warzone, Jan 2018).

Read more about the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade - SFAB.

Read recent news reports about the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade - SFAB.

Read about the Army's newly established Military Advisor Training Academy (MATA).

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Bibliography for Resolute Support Advisors in Afghanistan

The Annotated Bibliography for Resolute Support has been updated and posted. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission ended on 31 December 2014 and the NATO Resolute Support Mission (RSM) began on 1 January 2015. The Resolute Support Mission is primarily Security Force Assistance (SFA) along functional areas at the ministry, institutional, and ANA corps level. Some advisory teams are working at the brigade and kandak level.

The bibliography will be very helpful for advisors at all levels in Afghanistan as well as staff members of the RS mission. It has links to hundreds of documents, papers, publications, and websites about advising, the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, and Afghanistan. The bibliography is updated periodically and the date of revision is posted on the first page. The publication is an Adobe Acrobat PDF, is more than 200 pages long, and is less than 3 MBs big. You can read online or download at the link below. Updated on 8 Dec 2017.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Train, Advise, Assist, Accompany, and Enable (TA3E)

Photo: ANA Soldiers from the 215th Corps conduct CASEVAC training at the Helmand Regional Military Training Center (RMTC) on Camp Shorabak. (Photo by SGT Lucas Hopkins, RS HQs, November 19, 2017).

40th ID to head TAAC South. The California's Army National Guard 40th Infantry Division (Mech) will form the core of the hqs and staff of Train, Advise, and Assist Command - South (TAAC South). In November elements of the 40th ID participated in a training event at Hohenfels, Germany to prepare for the deployment. (DVIDS, Nov 18, 2017).

TAAC South Checks Out CASEVAC Training at 215th Corps. Advisors with Train, Advise, and Assist Command - South visited Helmand province to observe CASEVAC training with the Afghans at the 215th Corps that took place at the Helmand Regional Military Training Center (RMTC). (DVIDS, Nov 19, 2017).

Canada and Afghanistan. The CEO of Afghanistan, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, recently conducted a tour of North America. During his visit he expounded upon the need continued support by the international community for Afghanistan. Abdullah met on the sidelines of the Halifax Forum to ask Canada's Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan for more help in military training. See "Afghanistan looks to Canada for more training support", CBC News, November 19, 2017.

Intel Analysts Ready for Afghan SFAB Deployment. Intelligence Analysts (35F) play a critical role in determining the enemy's capabilities, vulnerabilities, and probably courses of action. Most Intel Analysts work at a desk behind a computer. For a 35F with a Security Force Assistance Brigade the job will most likely take him 'outside the wire' as a member of combat advisory teams. The 1st SFAB will soon deploy to Afghanistan in early 2018. Read "Outside the Wire: Intel Analysts in Army's 1st SFAB get career-building opportunity", DVIDS, November 7, 2017.

The Colors of U.S. Army's Beret. The formation of the SFABs got very contentious with the plans to issue a beret with a shade of green close to the famed Green Beret of the U.S. Army Special Forces. The Army quickly announced a change of plans - it would issue a beret with a shade of brown. Read more about the color of berets in "Earning it: A complete history of Army berets and who's allowed to wear them", by Meghann Myers, Military Times, November 20, 2017.

More SFAB. Read more news stories and articles about the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Train, Advise, Assist, Accompany, and Enable (TA3E)

Members of 1st SFAB conducting a meeting with 'Afghan counterparts'
during advisor training at Fort Benning, Georgia.
(Photo from TRADOC pub, November 1, 2017).

1st SFAB. The 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) is ramping up its training in preparation for its upcoming deployment to Afghanistan in early 2018. One of the adjustments the SFAB is making is the increase in personnel from 529 to over 700. This will allow the Combat Advisor Teams (CATs) to be augmented with intelligence and medical specialists. Read more in "Combat and cultural readiness key for new Army trainers", San Francisco Chronicle, November 7, 2017.

SFAB Seeking Tactical Leaders. The U.S. Army is seeking tough and experienced tactical leaders from many occupational specialties to serve as combat advisors in the Army's newest expeditionary force. Read more in "Security Force Assistance Brigade" XVIII Airborne Corps seeks tactical leaders", Fort Campbell Courier, November 9, 2017.

1st SFAB in the News. The Army's grand experiment in forming up an institutionalized advisor unit is well on its way to proving itself in combat. The unit will deploy to Afghanistan in early 2018. Read some recent news stories about the 1st SFAB.

In Afghanistan - More Troops Outside the Wire. Several years after pulling back, American troops will head outside the wire to battle the Taliban and turn up the air war. Read more in an news report by Foreign Policy, November 10, 2017.

TAAC-North Conference. Members of the Train, Advise, and Assist Command - North met in Brussels to discuss regional challenges and make plans for future peace activities. The defense ministerial was organized by Germany's Defence minister. Germany is the lead 'framework' nation for TAAC-North. (, Nov 11, 2017).

NATO Troop Increase. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization says it will increase troop levels to 16,000 to enhance the 'train, advise, and assist' mission in Afghanistan. Read a brief news release by NATO posted on 9 November 2017. See also "NATO Plus-Up Will Give Afghan Forces an Offensive Boost, Nicholson Says" Department of Defense, November 11, 2017.

Canada Taking a Pass. Canada is not participating in the NATO troop increase for Afghanistan. While it made significant contributions for over a decade it is passing on the renewed training effort of NATO to enhance the capacity and capability of the ANDSF. (Ottawa Citizen, Nov 8, 2017).

DoD Sending More Troops. One news report (by Adam Linehan) says that the Department of Defense will be adding more troops to Afghanistan - with the troop level meeting 16,000 by early 2018. See "The DoD Is Sending More Troops to Afghanistan Than Previously Announced", Task & Purpose, November 9, 2017.

Article on the "Accompany" Part of TA3E. A British military blog writes on the importance of "Accompany" in the "Train, Advise, Assist, Accompany, and Enable" mission. Read "Accompany" - That Third Myth, Wavell Room, November 9, 2017.

Language and Culture Training. Robert R. Greene Sands, the CEO of LanguaCulture, LLC, writes about how the U.S. Department of Defense can improve language and culture training. (Rosetta Stone Blog, October 19, 2017).

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Update on Afghan Train, Advise, & Assist Mission

Marine Advisors at Kandak Level. The U.S. Marines in Task Force Southwest are pushing their advisors down to brigade and kandak level. According to one Marine advisor, the task force of roughly 300 Marines (augmented by other services to a larger number) have pushed about six teams to Afghan forward operating bases. The expeditionary advisor packages are made up of advisors, enablers, and security personnel. Read more in "Small teams of Marines advising Afghan brigades and battalions", Marine Corps Times, October 28, 2017.

1st SFAB and Their Beret. The 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) is gearing up for their Afghan deployment in early 2018. While they are participating in important pre-deployment activities and training they are surrounded with a bit of controversy. Seems that the Army leadership has decided to allow them to wear a distinctive beret. This, naturally, has inflamed past and current members of the Special Forces community. Read more in "Beret for Soldiers of 1st SFAB - Concern in SF Community", SOF News, October 29, 2017.

Canada Rejects NATO Invite for TAA Mission. Canada turned down an invitation from NATO to send troops to Afghanistan for the Train, Advise, and Assist mission. (CBC News World, Nov 3, 2017).

Sunday, October 22, 2017

SFABs - Once Again or "TA3E"

Soldiers of 1st SFAB fire 9 mm pistols during training (photo credit below)

In 2012 the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) deployed hundreds of Security Force Assistance Advisory Teams or SFAATs with the task to train, advise, and assist the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP) as part of the overall Security Force Assistance (SFA) mission. Of course, this was not the first time that advisor teams had worked in Afghanistan but it was perhaps the largest advisor effort of the conflict. In 2013 the U.S. changed the structure of the brigade combat teams (BCTs) deploying to Afghanistan - leaving behind many of the lower-ranking Soldiers. In this new organizational structure the BCTs resembled the 'Advise and Assist Brigades' (AABs) that deployed to Iraq toward the end of that conflict. The SFABs were re-deployed to the United States once the Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and the ISAF mission down-sized and concluded. The BCTs returned to the states, discarded the emphasis of the SFA mission, and returned to the normal training activities it conducted prior to the Afghan deployment.

However, the use of the SFABs in an advisory capacity was not forgotten. General Milley - now head of the Army - served as the commander of the ISAF Joint Command (IJC) in Kabul while the SFABs were at the height of the deployment cycle in Afghanistan. He saw the value in the SFABs but also noted they were an ad hoc arrangement. He decided to institutionalize the SFAB concept. The Army is now establishing six SFABs. Five active and one reserve component. The first one has stood up at Fort Benning and is undergoing training in the tasks associated with Security Force Assistance.

The 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade will deploy to Afghanistan in early 2018. So, once again, we will see the SFABs back in Afghanistan. The difference is that it isn't an ad hoc arrangement . . . and hopefully that will improve the caliber of the advising effort with the ANA and ANP. The unit's core mission is to "train, advise, assist, accompany and enable missions with allied and partner nations".

So observers of the Afghan conflict will note that previous advisors and advisor teams were very attuned to TAA or 'train, advise and assist'. However, now we have TAA plus 'accompany' and 'enable'. In a push to get the ANA up to speed advisor teams will now (once again) work below corps level at brigade and kandak (battalion) unit level. I suspect this is the 'accompany' part of the mission. The 'enable' part would likely be the providing of ISR, artillery, and close air support 'enablers' along with other types of support.

So welcome to the "TA3E" mission!


"All Things SFAB - Explainer of Security Force Assistance Brigades", SOF News, October 10, 2017.

"First Security Force Assistance Brigade training for deployment",, October 12, 2017.

Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by SGT Joseph Truckley, 50th Public Affairs Detachment. Soldiers of the 92nd Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade fire their 9 mm pistols at Hibbs Range on October 17, 2017 at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

"Expeditionary Advising" and 215th Corps

The Blue Areas are where TAACs are Located

Expeditionary Advising the 215th ANA Corps - Not so Much! A couple of years ago the United States rapidly drew down the force levels in Afghanistan. Keeping below a troop level of 9,800 required the closure of a large number of bases and a restructuring of the mission. It was decided to keep a small counterterrorism force, some enablers & support units (drones, intelligence, logistics, air support, etc.), and to maintain an advisory capacity at the ministry, institutional, and corps levels. However, not all the Afghan National Army corps were covered by full-time, permanent advisors co-located at or near the corps headquarters. The 203rd and 215th Corps were advised by an expeditionary package - called "Advise and Assist Cells" that operated out of Kabul. While this may have been effective for the 203rd Corps responsible for seven provinces east and south of Kabul it was probably less effective for the 215th Corps in southwest Afghanistan (Helmand and Nimroz provinces). History will probably judge that this attempt at "Level 2" or expeditionary advising was not as effective as hoped; at least not for the ANA and ANP in Helmand province. Recent news reports now indicate that a large contingent of advisors are to be deployed in Helmand province to assist the 215th Corps. Read more in "U.S. troop reinforcements head for embattled southern Afghan province", Reuters, February 9, 2016.

SFA Planners Guide. For those heading out on an advisory mission there are a wealth of documents to read. One of the better ones for learning Security Force Assistance (SFA) is the Security Force Assistance Planners Guide by the Joint Center for International Security Assistance (JCISFA) at Fort Leavenworth which was just updated in January 2016.

Sunday, November 29, 2015


Reasons Not to Use Local Proxies. Joshua Foust argues against the use of local proxies by the United States in advancing U.S. national interests - as in the training, equipping, and advising the Iraqi and Afghan security forces. Can't say I agree with him. My thoughts are that we were (and are) less than successful in the 'use of proxies' not because of a bad strategy or policy but because of 1) poor execution - bureaucratic processes, poor selection and training of advisors, etc. and 2) a lack of political will to hold our 'proxies' leadership accountable - as in Malaki in Iraq (Shia Sunni divide) and Karzai in Afghanistan (corruption and nepotism). Read more in "The Local Proxy Problem", Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), November 22, 2015.

Kabul's Street Politics. The recent kidnapping and beheading of Hazara civilians taken off a bus in Zabul sparked massive street protests in Kabul. Some observers look at this as a new development - where Afghans take to the streets to advocate for issues. Read more in "Kabul's New Street Politics", Foreign Affairs, by Robert D. Crews, November 26, 2015.

Stability Operations in 21st Century. An article by Steven A. Zyck and Robert Muggah looks at the relationship between security and development in stabilization environments in their article "Preparing Stabilisation for 21st Century Security Challenges", Stability: International Journal of Security & Development, November 2015.

Security Assistance & Importance of Governance. Two critics look at the failures of U.S. security assistance and cooperation programs (Africa, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan) and provide their thoughts. Read "Ignoring Governance Puts Military Aid in Peril", Security Assistance Monitor, November 19, 2015.

Optimism Ending in Afghanistan. "Fifty-seven percent of Afghans say their country is heading in the wrong direction, the most pessimistic view recorded in 10 years of the Asia Foundation's annual survey of Afghan's attitudes. Unemployment and insecurity are the main causes for a sharp fall this year in public optimism . . . " Read more in "In Afghanistan, and End to Optimism?", by Gopal Ratnam, United States Institute of Peace (USIP), November 20, 2015.

Frustrated Afghans are Leaving. New public opinion data shows the governance shortcomings of Afghanistan's National Unity Government and the countries citizens are frustrated and opting for a better life outside of Afghanistan. Read "Why Afghanistan's Citizens Are Frustrated . . . And Leaving", The Diplomat, November 24, 2015.

Paper on Authoritarian COIN. David H. Ucko, an associate professor at the College of International Security Affairs (CISA), National Defense University, and an adjunct research fellow at the Department of War Studies, King's College London, has wrote a paper entitled "'The People are Revolting': An Anatomy of Authoritarian Counterinsurgency", The Journal of Strategic Studies, November 2015.

Will Taliban Fragment? The Taleban movement has entered its third decade and has held up as an organization. While there have been rifts within the organization - especially after the announcement of the death of Mullah Omar - they do not pose a great threat to the insurgent organization. Read more in "Toward Fragmentation? Mapping the post-Omar Taleban", by Borhan Osman, Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN),  November 24, 2015.

India - Afghanistan Relations? "Recent developments in the India-Afghanistan bilateral relationship suggests a major shift may be afoot." President Ghani got off to a rough start with his attempt to open a dialogue with Pakistan on security issues and to restart the peace process. This temporary situation was finally reversed when Ghani found Pakistan less than sincere. Now the move to India is back on - but with a 'lost year' to make up for. Read more in "A Turning Point in Afghanistan-India Relations?", by Ankit Panda, The Diplomat, November 24, 2015.

Understanding Motives in Afghan Drug Trade. In a lengthy article, Mathilde Simon helps us understand the evolution of the drug trade in Afghanistan and Afghan farmers' decision to grow opium poppies. Once this is understood - efforts can be devised to provide alternatives to Afghan farmers. Read "The Drug Trade in Afghanistan: Understanding Motives Behind Farmers' Decision to Cultivate Opium Poppies", Foreign Policy Journal, November 27, 2015.

More on India and Afghanistan. Read "What is the State of Afghanistan's Relationship with India?", The Diplomat, November 25, 2015.

UK SDSR 2015. The Brits have released the Strategic Defense and Security Review (SDSR) 2015. Read some comments. (Think Defence, November 2015). See also a report by, November 23, 2015.

Origins of the Durand Line. This border, negotiated in an agreement between the Emirate of Afghanistan and British India, divides the Pashtun tribal regions. Pasthunistan, as this area is informally known, also resulted in the loss of Baluchistan to British India - depriving Afghanistan of its historic access to the Arabian Sea. The Durand Line has been a source of conflict between Afghanistan and Pakistan to the present day and is an issue that remains unsettled to this day. Read more in "Afghanistan and Pakistan: The Poisoned Legacy of the Durand Line", by Joseph V. Micallef, The World Post, November 21, 2015.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Security Force Assistance

The Pentagon's foreign military aid budget will rise for yet another year with the Senate's vote on the new version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It also passed the House of Representatives. $10 billion of that money is allocated to security assistance but because the defense budget is insulated from scrutiny there is no way to tell if the dollars are used effectively. Recent expensive and high profile failures in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria have prompted Congress to look a little closer at the military foreign aid programs. Read more in "The Pentagon's security assistance wasteland", The Hill - Congress Blog, November 11, 2015.

Sunday, November 8, 2015


RAND Paper on Security Cooperation. Christopher Paul (of RAND) has published a transcript entitled What Works Best When Conducting Security Cooperation?, CT-441, October 2015. The pub is the testimony presented before the House Armed Services Committee on October 21, 2015. Some important points outlined for the committee include aligning "with partner nation security forces' baseline capabilities and their ability to absorb training and technology", "relationships matter, and they can take time to establish", "characteristics or features of partners improve prospects for security cooperation success", and "consistency and sustainment are key".

Russia Revisits Afghanistan? Recent security reverses in Afghanistan, the resurgence of the Taliban, large swathes of terrain in northern Afghanistan under the control of the Taliban, and other factors have Central Asian states and Russia deeply concerned. Khyber Sarban explores this in depth in his article entitled "Russia in Afghanistan: Past as Prologue?", The Diplomat, November 4, 2015.

The 'Forever War'. Ann Jones, book writer, columnist, feminist, and former Afghan expat writes about the hopeless situation in Afghanistan in "Afghanistan 'After' the American War", Huffington Post Blog, November 5, 2015.

A Tale of Two Afghan Armies. Lemar Alexander Farhad examines the performance of the former Afghan Communist Army with today's Afghan National Army using two decisive incidents. The Battles of Jalalabad 1989 and Kunduz 2015 illustrate the comparative capabilities of the two Afghan armies. The author also explores the ANA's motivational belief system, what motivates them (nationalism vs. ethnic / tribal affiliation), and lack of will to fight. Read the report in Small Wars Journal, November 3, 2015.

What Should U.S. Do in Afghanistan? The decision by Obama to stop the flow of U.S. troops out of Afghanistan allowing them to continue the Counterterrorism and Train, Advise, and Assist mission at current troop levels is an important step to halting to slide into deepening instability in that country. However, that is not enough. More needs to be done on the political front. 1) improve the constitutional process and fix the problems generated by the NUG, 2) help reform the electoral processes, 3) help in building the relationship between the central government in Kabul and the re-emergence of sub-national power brokers, and 4) assist in the negotiations with the Taliban. At least, that is what Rebecca Zimmerman of the RAND Corporation thinks has to happen. Read her article in "Saving Afghanistan: More Than Just Troops", War on the Rocks, November 5, 2015.

Lessons from Afghanistan. Janine Davidson, a Senior Fellow for Defense Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, is interviewed about Iraq and Afghanistan. Read (or listen to the podcast) in "Lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan: Facing Future Defense Challenges", Council on Foreign Relations, November 4, 2015.

Political Centralization in Afghanistan. Ahmad Murid Partaw writes about the costs of political centralization in Afghanistan and how the highly-centralized political system has deepened the country's problems. (Foreign Policy Journal, Nov 4, 2015).

Ashraf Haidari on US-Iran Nuclear Deal & Afghanistan. Haidari, a former high-level Afghan national security official, provides his view that the JCPOA is a win-win situation for the Middle East and believes that similar negotiation efforts concerning Afghanistan will be of great benefit in the future. Read "Afghanistan after the US-Iran nuclear deal", Observer Research Foundation (ORF), November 4, 2015.

The U.S. Military's Broke Personnel System. One need only look at how the U.S. Army and other services assigned personnel to work at the Afghan Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defense as advisors to realize that the military's personnel system is very broke. Air Force Colonels were assigned as advisors to the MoD's Ground Force Command (GFC), Navy logistics officers to advise ANCOP kandaks, and a reserve logistics Navy officer (06) who specialized in computer software in her civilian occupation was assigned as the principal advisor to the Afghan Public Protection Force (APPF). But the problem is much bigger than that and it is resulting in the loss of valuable people. Read more in "Can the U.S. Military Halt its Brain Drain?", The Atlantic, November 5, 2015.

Millennium Challenge (MC-02) - a Lesson in Red Teaming. Shortly after the invasion of Afghanistan and less than a year prior to the invasion of Iraq the U.S. military conducted one of the largest and most integrated military exercise ever - Millennium Challenge. The exercise was to be transformational - introducing concepts such as Effects Based Operations (EBO) and other advanced ways of thinking about military operations. The exercise was deemed a success or failure (depending on who you listened to). Read more in "Millennium Challenge: The Real Story of a Corrupted Military Exercise and Its Legacy", by Micah Zenko, War on the Rocks, November 5, 2015. On a related note, the Center for Strategic Leadership Newsletter (Carlisle Barracks, PA) has a number of articles about conflict simulation and wargaming.

Sunday, October 11, 2015


Training the ANA - Not so Much. A recent visitor to Afghanistan provides us his views on how well the training program in Afghanistan is going.
"Yet the current training is aimed a bureaucrats more than warriors, revolving around administrative functions such as budgeting and planning rather than the best way to fire a rifle or mount an attack."
Read what David J. Lynch has to say in "Training Afghan soldiers is just not working", USA Today, October 5, 2015.

SFA and BPC Questioned. Phillip Carter, a former Army officer and a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security provides us his thoughts on having foreign troops fight our wars. He takes a hard look at the recent Security Force Assistance (SFA) and Building Partnership Capacity (BPC) ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan and finds some areas where the effort was lacking. He cites a difference in interests, the complexity of U.S. weapons, and a lack of a will to fight among our surrogates. Read "Why foreign troops can't fight our fights", The Washington Post, October 2, 2015.

NUG, Bad Comms, & Bad Intel. The combination of a government mired in conflict (Ghani vs. Abdullah), bad communications across and up/down with MoI, MoD, Corps, Zones, etc., and bad intelligence is consistently setting up the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) for failure. Read more in "The Plight of Afghanistan's Soldiers", The Diplomat, October 7, 2015.

"I Fought For Nothing". An infantryman remembers his tour in Afghanistan (2004-2005) and contemplates if it was worth it. Read "I fought for nothing: Staggering incompetence, egregious corruption & America's doomed war in Afghanistan", Salon, by John Rico, October 7, 2015.

Did HTS rationalize Pedophilia in Afghanistan? An HTS explanation of "Man-Boy Love Thursday" may have contributed to the U.S. looking the other way when confronted with "Bacha Bazi" events. Or so says two authors of a recent story about the HTS. Two anthropologists conveniently tie the recent story of the Special Forces NCO getting kicked out of the Army for assaulting an Afghan police officer who was raping a young Afghan to everything that was wrong with the Human Terrain System that provided cultural advice to the U.S. military in Afghanistan. While their writing may be convincing to some it looks to me as another opportunity to attack a very valuable program that provided great results in the Afghan COIN fight. Read their news story (but with a grain of salt) in Counterpunch, October 9, 2015.

Pakistan - Aiding the Taliban . . . Still. If you want to solve the problem of the insurgency in Afghanistan then you must look east to Pakistan. So says Fareed Zakaria - an opinion writer for The Washington Post and also commentator on several other media enterprises. The bottom line is that very few insurgencies are defeated if they have a cross-boarder sanctuary and a powerful patron (that would be Pakistan and Pakistan). Read his article "The key to solving the puzzle of Afghanistan is Pakistan", The Washington Post, October 8, 2015.

Paper Plans and Reality on the Ground. The battle for Kunduz exposed the strategy for the defense of Afghanistan as paper thin. Despite air power, advisors, and intelligence support from the U.S. (and NATO, of course) the Taliban were still able to take a provincial capital and hold it for a number of days. This problem of containing the Taliban goes beyond the development of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) into a professional counterinsurgency force. It has a lot more to do with eradicating the senior ANDSF leadership of corrupt officers. Read more in "Is Kunduz the Beginning of the End for Afghanistan?", by Emile Simpson, Politico, October 4, 2015.

Prospects of Success in Afghanistan? Not so Much. One observer, Patrick Skinner, has a pessimistic view of the situation in Afghanistan. Read "What Endures From Operation Enduring Freedom", The Cipher Brief, October 8, 2015.

Ignatius on Afghanistan. David Ignatius provides us with his opinion of the current state of affairs in Afghanistan and Pakistan in "The U.S. cannot afford to forget Afghanistan and Pakistan", The Washington Post, October 6, 2015.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

ATP 3-05.2 Foreign Internal Defense (FID) August 2015

The Army has released an updated version of Army Techniques Publication (ATP) 3-05.2, Foreign Internal Defense, August 2015. This version supersedes the September 2011 version. This 218 page publication is full of important information for advisors conducting Foreign Internal Defense (or Security Force Assistance) in a host nation. The proponent of ATP 3-05.2 is the U.S. Army Special Operations Center of Excellence, USAJFKSWCS. ATP 3-05.2 provides the U.S. Army commanders and staffs information on the concept of planning and conducting foreign internal defense (FID). This publication describes the fundamentals, activities, and considerations involved in the planning and execution of FID throughout the full range of military operations, and it emphasizes FID as a strategic policy option. The pub serves as the doctrinal foundation for Army FID doctrine, force integration, material acquisition, professional education, and individual and unit training.

Chapter 1 - Overview
Chapter 2 - Organization and Responsibilities
Chapter 3 - Planning
Chapter 4 - Training
Chapter 5 - Employment Considerations
Chapter 6 - Operations
Chapter 7 - Redeployment
Annex A - Legal, Regulatory, and Policy Considerations
Annex B - Internal Defense and Development Strategy
Annex C - Intelligence Support Operations
Annex D - Illustrative Interagency Plan
Annex E - Security Assistance
Annex F- Site Survey, Trainer, and Advisor Checklists

Friday, April 24, 2015

COIN Strategy Doesn't Work?

James F. Jeffrey explains in the March/April 2015 issue of Foreign Policy "Why Counterinsurgency Doesn't Work". He says the problem is in the strategy, not the execution. Huh. I thought that the execution was faulty but the strategy was good. The author explores the counterinsurgency wars of the United States in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He says our military can get the "Clear, Hold" parts of "Clear, Hold, Build" counterinsurgency done; but that the civilian agencies (DoS, DoJ, DEA, USAID, etc.) of the United States government always seem to fall short in the 'nation building' arena of the conflict.

Jeffrey concludes the article with this:
"What, then, should U.S. policymakers do when faced with an insurgency? If possible, Washington should respond by backing friendly local forces. If not, it should accept the consequences of a victorious insurgency, contain its spread, and protect critical allies. But to embark on another U.S.-troop-centric counterinsurgency mission would do an injustice to the fine men and women who serve in the U.S. military".
Ah. So now I get it. COIN strategy can be broken into two different approaches.

One approach is the use of massive amounts of U.S. troops on the ground in a foreign nation attaining a sufficient force to population ratio conducting counterinsurgency (and doing the lion's share of the fighting - as in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam). This type of COIN was endorsed in FM 3-24, Counterinsurgency,  2006. Some call this 'population-centric COIN."

A second approach is in the "By, With, and Through" methodology favored by U.S. Army Special Forces. This is where highly-trained Combat Foreign Internal Defense teams (C-FID) of twelve advisors are embedded with the indigenous host nation forces (at battalion and brigade level) to train, advise, and assist. In other words, let the host nation forces do the fighting (clear and hold) and the host nation (assisted by Civil Affairs teams and U.S. agencies) do the building. In a more hostile environment there may be the need for conventional FID teams (as in the SFAATs used in Afghanistan or the MiTTs in Iraq) to work in conjunction with SOF advisory teams.

So, in my view, it isn't the counterinsurgency strategy that is wrong - it is the approach and execution of that strategy.