Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Beyond Afghanistan – Let’s Plan Ahead For A Change

The July 25, 2010 publication of classified documents by Wikileaks (see: was yet another call to examine the war in Afghanistan. Once again contractors and budgets were flouted and profiled.

Regrettably it’s all too easy to harrumph about today’s conflicts and mumble about the PSYOP/MISO name change, it is not so easy to step back and think about the next potential conflict and the one after that. In my Tactical Intelligence Course that I teach for American Military University I have a discussion board where I let the students ask me any question they would like. One of them asked me about AFRICOM.

Candidly I really didn’t know too much about that command’s successes and failures.
I was aware recent terrorist activity and the nature of the mega cities found in Africa as well as Chinese investments and terrorist and pirate hotbeds in the Horn of Africa. While, I don’t consider myself very knowledgeable and I am a big fan of the Penguins of Madagascar, most of my geographic knowledge about Africa comes from my childhood days as a stamp collector.

Which brings me to preparing for tomorrow’s missions – given the gut wrenching pace of today’s optempo, are we (the Community) devoting strategy and learning time for Africa, Latin America and South East Asia? How many of today’s junior soldiers and company grade officers know the cultural differences between Eritrea and Ethiopia? Do we have a trained cadre of influence professionals who can credibly work in embassies as well as navigate the streets of Lagos?

Perhaps a good start is to offer an elective class in PSYOP qualification training where students can do their own country study but which harnesses the power of the Internet and encourages creativity in learning through providing a small stipend or budget that can be used for books, stamps of the nation, meals at ethnic restaurants, etc. Who knows it might even make military learning fun.

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