Sunday, December 04, 2005

Justify My Gov

This week we're reading about transformation within the military. Since 9/11, it is sad how little we have transformed. Just this week the 9/11 Commission gave the grade of a "D" on reform,

But let's focus on the military's problems: Washington still has multiple layers of rank heavy bureaucracy, there is the insertion of large cumbersome task forces in to every place; an over-emphasis on technology; and a lack of appreciation for the urgency of providing security, food, water, and electricity IMMEDIATELY so as to start the cycle of counter-insurgency information collection from locals.

Our bureaucracy has failed to provide the crucial linguistic skills, four years after 9/11, that are far more important to transformation than any weapons system. For example, the road to the Bagdad Airport, AKA Route Irish, suffers fewer attacks today, because Iraqis man the checkpoints. Reportedly, in Afghanistan even our translators don't have a firm hold on Pashtun, several years in. There are still too many delays in approving operations in the field that are associated with layered bureaucracies that come with joint task forces. The result is detrimental to fast moving tactical success at ground level.

If we really want to have a RMA, we need to work more on "people skills" then new technology. We need to learn difficult languages, allow the men on the ground to have more leeway in making decisions, rid ourselves of bureaucracy. One need only look at how the Special Forces and C.I.A. were allowed to operate in Afghanistan before and at the beginning of that war. Sure, the brass at the Pentagon didn't like seeing pictures of SFs with mangy beards riding horses, but they got the job done superbly; and their beards and horses were part of the reasons why.

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