June 16, 2010
Arghandab follies, redux
The Arghandab District continues to mess with people's careers. Following on the "worst briefing ever" incident, where the American battalion commander in the Arghandab was sent home, allegedly over a risque PowerPoint slide, the wife of his brigade commander back home has now been banned from having anything to do with the formation's soldiers. The unusual move by the division commander lends credence to statements, reprinted in a report in the Fayetteville Observer, by the lieutenant-colonel who was fired, Frank Jenio, appearing to blame his firing in part on undue command influence by the brigade commander's wife:
"Mrs. Drinkwine's overbearing influence on the entire command, combined with Col. Drinkwine's [the brigade commander's] self isolation from the battalion commanders and his subordinate battalions, has alienated the battalions from the brigade and created the most dysfunctional military unit I've ever seen or heard of," Jenio wrote in his sworn statement.
Meanwhile, back in the Arghandab, the Afghan district chief and his son were assassinated by insurgents yesterday.
Improving military mentoring
Researcher Adam Mausner of CSIS (Tony Cordesman's think tank, not the spy agency) has a new position paper out on improving Afghan military mentoring evaluation methods. This in advance of the report on the problems with the Capability Milestone system that was in place during my time by the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR), which is expected out later this month. That report will undoubtedly talk about the issues we experienced with accurate evaluation in exhaustive detail, but Mausner's paper offers a good summary of the key issues in the interim.
Credit where credit's due
For what it's worth, a larger Canadian military presence in the ANA training facilities in the Kabul area (the Kabul Military Training Centre, the National Military Academy, and the Command and General Staff College, the latter two soon to be merged into the National Defense University) would seem consistent with prior House of Commons resolutions, is probably sustainable for a long period by the army, would probably help the Americans by allowing them to reallocate training resources elsewhere, would probably do a lot of good for the Afghan army, and doesn't run into many of the problems with operational mentoring without one's own troops on the ground that have been mentioned before. Not seeing the downside here.
"endearingly macho" -- Mark Steyn
"wonderfully detailed analysis" -- John Allemang, Globe and Mail
"unusually candid" -- Tom Ricks, Foreignpolicy.com
Bill & Bob
Ghosts of Alex