Military News Highlights: December 3, 2010

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COIN standards for Afghanistan approved

Secretary Gates has approved a COIN skills list (COIN Qualification Standards) for troops in Afghanistan.  It is rather extraordinary for top civilian officials to approve pre-deployment tactical and operational training tasks.  Perhaps this is an effort for General Petreaus to dictate that a certain level of COIN proficiency is required prior to deployment.  Sounds reasonable, right?  But, why does this kind of guidance have to be rubber-stamped by Secretary Gates?  Can’t the uniformed service leaders and operational commanders work this out amongst themselves?  Unless of course, General Petreaus tried to work the COIN Qualification Standards through uniformed service leaders and operational commanders and they told him to get bent.   Seems that Petreaus’ brand of COIN is the only acceptable goblet at the table – all others don’t get served.  Won’t this stifle initiative and new ideas?   And what happens say, if you follow the list during pre-deployment training, and your unit deploys, and you put the task list into practice and your unit fails?  Then what?  Who then becomes accountable?

And one last thing, what the hell is “Develop a Learning Organization” as a task?

Cables Depict Heavy Afghan Graft, Starting at the Top

Are we at all surprised that the latest batch of Wikileak cables depicts unprecedented levels of graft, corruption, decadence, and lies coming out of Kabul and Afghanistan?  Are we really surprised by this?  Maybe it’s the scope and breadth of the corruption that is so startling.  Examples of a country where everything is for sale include:

  • The Transportation Ministry collects $200 million a year in trucking fees, but only $30 million is turned over to the government;
  • Bribes and profit-skimming in the organization of travel to Saudi Arabia for the hajj or pilgrimage;
  • a scheme to transfer money via cellphones;
  • in the purchase of wheat seed;
  • in the compilation of an official list of war criminals;
  • and in the voting in Parliament.

Quite staggering after all when you consider the fact that the US  military is stuck with the mission of reversing Afghanistan’s failed moral and cultural compass.

Army Working on Lightweight .50 cal

The XM806 is a new version of the M2 Heavy Machine Gun undergoing a “fundamental redesign” to cut its weight in half, increase its accuracy, and improve its tactical application.  The M2’s basic items of issue including the tripod will also be lightened.  The intent behind the program is to enhance the current stock of M2’s and not replace the M2.  Perhaps the programs efforts can share its results in future redesign of other critical equipment and armaments in order to improve tactical firepower and survivability.

Somber ritual as slain soldiers are returned to U.S.

Hopefully the VIPs (Pentagon and White House officials) that recently attended and observed the dignified transfer of remains recently at Dover Air Base will keep in mind the “human cost of a long-running, faraway war” as they deliberate over the next few weeks reviewing the Afghanistan policy.

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Secretary Gates & Adm. Mullen Discuss Wikileaks

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In a Department of Defense (“DoD”) News Briefing at the Pentagon, Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen discussed the latest release of classified documents on Wikileaks.

Secretary of Defense Gates’ answer to a Wiki-dump related question was in fact an artful dodge.  There were in fact significant differences on what the US public was informed of and what the stark reality of events in Iraq were and the same type of misinformation is bleeding out of Afghanistan.  Does it rise to the level of the Pentagon Papers?  Probably not, but misinformation and damage control nevertheless.

You can decide for yourself.

“First of all, I would say unlike the Pentagon Papers, one of the things that is important, I think, in all of these releases, whether it’s Afghanistan, Iraq or the releases this week, is the lack of any significant difference between what the U.S. government says publicly and what these things show privately, whereas the Pentagon Papers showed that many in the government were not only lying to the American people, they were lying to themselves.”

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