Afghanistan — Command Works on Integrated Training for Afghan Forces

WASHINGTON, July 8, 2010 — NATO Train­ing Mis­sion Afghanistan is devel­op­ing a sys­tem that will help inte­grate train­ing pro­vid­ed to Afghanistan’s secu­ri­ty forces and civ­il ser­vants.

Dur­ing a “DoD Live” blog­gers round­table yes­ter­day, Army Lt. Col. James Bak­er, exec­u­tive offi­cer for the deputy to the com­man­der of the train­ing mis­sion, said an edu­ca­tion­al sys­tem cur­rent­ly being devel­oped in con­junc­tion with the Afghans will help to bridge train­ing gaps that came to light dur­ing oper­a­tions in and around Mar­ja in Afghanistan’s Hel­mand province.

“[The NATO Train­ing Mis­sion] is cur­rent­ly work­ing in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Afghan lead­er­ship and our coali­tion part­ners to estab­lish the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Edu­ca­tion Sys­tem, which looks to inte­grate edu­ca­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ties for secu­ri­ty forces and min­istries direct­ly relat­ed to the Afghan nation­al secu­ri­ty pro­gram,” Bak­er said.

Essen­tial­ly, the pro­gram will be a “cra­dle-to-grave strat­e­gy,” begin­ning with basic and ini­tial spe­cial­ized skill train­ing for sol­diers and police offi­cers and car­ry­ing them, in the­o­ry, into top-lev­el posi­tions through­out their career cycles.

“As we grow that expe­ri­ence over the spec­trum of a career … we actu­al­ly pro­mote those peo­ple for­ward based on their mer­its,” Bak­er said. “[We can] pro­fes­sion­al­ize the force by hav­ing a stan­dard that each sol­dier or police­man has to meet to be accept­ed for the next lev­el of respon­si­bil­i­ty.”

Hav­ing a cod­i­fied train­ing and advance­ment sys­tem, Bak­er said, will show young recruits that they can make a life­long com­mit­ment to their coun­try, and that the gov­ern­ment will reward them for their effort, not for their polit­i­cal con­nec­tions.

“We can groom young Afghan com­man­ders and non­com­mis­sioned offi­cers; first ini­tial­ly in the tac­ti­cal art, and grow that lead­er­ship into what’s need­ed for oper­a­tional and strate­gic lead­ers,” Bak­er said.

The revamped sys­tem also ensures that Army and police lead­ers have learned and earned their posi­tions the same way new recruits will have to, which will help to pro­vide trust in lead­er­ship, he added.

“Cor­rup­tion has been a chal­lenge here, so we’d like to insti­tu­tion­al­ize a sys­tem where we can get rid of things like nepo­tism, where you get a job because you’re a friend of a friend of a friend,” the colonel said. “We’d like to elim­i­nate that and be able to have a stan­dard, where every­body can look across the board and see that the right peo­ple are being select­ed for the right jobs based on the right edu­ca­tion­al met­rics.”

Cur­rent­ly, only police offi­cers, sol­diers and some mem­bers of the Afghan air force are par­tic­i­pat­ing in the sys­tem via mil­i­tary train­ing, both at the NCO and offi­cer lev­els. Upon com­ple­tion, the sys­tem will pro­vide edu­ca­tion, both in the aca­d­e­m­ic sense and in career devel­op­ment, for Afghan police, sol­diers and civ­il ser­vants.

The idea of giv­ing a cer­tain num­ber of seats in each course of study to sol­diers, police and civil­ians is to cre­ate a “cross-fer­til­iza­tion of exper­tise,” Bak­er said. Each can share unique per­spec­tives and expe­ri­ences with the oth­ers, and all will bring the same basic lessons back to their job, whether it’s with the min­istry of inte­ri­or, defense, the Nation­al Defense Ser­vice, or the Afghan nation­al secu­ri­ty forces.

“There was a lack of coor­di­na­tion and under­stand­ing between police and army forces in Afghanistan,” Bak­er said. “Along with the Afghans, we want­ed to take that apart and build that lead­er­ship from the ground up as these gen­tle­men and ladies come through on the lieu­tenant, cap­tain, major and colonel lev­els, so when they get to be strate­gic lead­ers, they’ll have had shared expe­ri­ences and be able to coop­er­ate on a nation­al stage.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)