Today, I got a chance to have my “in-brief” with the my new boss, a Colonel who is the Director of the CTC-A, or Counterinsurgency Training Center – Afghanistan. It took a week to catch fifteen minutes or so of his free time. He has none, and so what I got was stolen. The conversation went well. Among other things, I am clear to blog.
One thing: Don’t ever think that I speak for the CTC-A. I don’t. I speak for myself and myself alone. See the disclaimer for details. CTC-A would fall under at least one of the covered entities that I do not speak for.
That being said, I’ve got to say that I’m mui impressed with the curriculum here. I am surrounded by people who get it. Many are former advisors. Evangelists all, our job is to help my Army, and and armies of our allies and the Afghans, and governmental organizations of all of the above… and a few others… to “get” COIN. That in many cases refers to how to operationalize it, not just talk about it. Good stuff. It’s what I volunteered to come back to The Suck for.
It’s a great mission. I have been writing and evangelizing COIN for months and months… but I believe that when you believe in something, and you believe it’s the right thing to do, you do it instead of just endlessly talking and criticizing. *POOF* I’m in Afghanistan.
It actually took months and months to get here. It’s a story of a comedy of errors. You’d think I’d hate my Army, the National Guard, and all involved after the murderous process to get here, but I don’t. I’m just grateful to be in a position to contribute. Perhaps one day I’ll tell the story of the arduous struggle uphill to be once again permitted the honor of serving my country in Afghanistan. It will fill you with a bored anger akin to Eeyore’s slowly burning inner rage; an oft-overlooked and entirely under-discussed aspect of A.A. Milne’s masterworks of the 20th Century.
So, now free to discuss COIN in many, if not all, of its permutations, I begin with this:
At least they’re struggling to find some sort of relevance in the discussion, now that they figure that they have some sort of stake in it. I’m referring to the “progressive” left attempting to get a grip on the issue of Afghanistan. It appears that they may be asking some relevant questions, but the hope of coming to any conclusions that bear more than a vague resemblance to reality is slight indeed. This inability is exacerbated by the inclusion of Richard “I’m an expert because I showed up” Smith and Robert “I’m agin’ it!” Greenwald.
Both of those schmendricks are reality-resistant examples that mental/emotional GoreTex brain linings are available in stunning colors.
Spencer Ackerman will likely be the best informed of the lot, as he gathers information about the region fairly regularly.
So I’d like to offer my wishes for good luck with that to the enterprising organizers of this esoteric romp through theoretical Afghanistan. When “Netroots” decides to include some actual Subject Matter Experts in their discussions, there will be hope. I would like to remind them that hollering into a trashcan and listening to yourself is an ineffective strategy for relevant foreign policy determinations.
But it’s nice that they’re trying. It’s a little like watching kindergartners organize a prom.
This is what they were wearing at the same conference three years ago. No kidding; this is an actual picture.
These folks have a way to go before they have anything really relevant to say about foreign policy, and I don’t believe that they will ever have anything coherent to say on COIN or why we should do it in Afghanistan.