Small Wars Journal

Leadership Development, Professionalism, and Transition

Sun, 08/29/2010 - 7:28am
Professionalization of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) is the key to setting the conditions for transition of security responsibility to the Afghans. Professionalism can only be created through the development of capable leaders, and it is a vital foundation for future Afghan security and prosperity. Capable leaders are essential for long term sustainability in increased retention, decreased attrition and quality development. For these reasons, leader development has been the #1 priority of NATO Training Mission -- Afghanistan since activation late last year.

In our effort to establish and strengthen this foundation, we are working with the Ministries of Defense, Interior, and Education to develop a system based on education, training, and experience to ensure enduring leadership solutions throughout the ANSF. This system will serve as the cornerstone of professional training and education for future security in Afghanistan and the region.

This system is designed to break down barriers between the Afghan National Army, Air Force, Police, National Directorate of Security, and their respective civil services. Where friction now exists between the different security institutions, we will seek to build understanding and cooperation. Our initiative includes government input from outside of the security sector drawing on expertise within the Afghan Ministry of Education to standardize programs of instruction and increase the effectiveness of the training and education system.

Our greatest challenge is the development of mid-level leadership, non-commissioned and commissioned, which takes significant time and commitment--a process that requires time and resolve. To immediately address this issue, we have developed a 1-Uniform course, which produces direct-entry non-commissioned officers in twelve weeks, along with an Officer Candidate School that develops officers from civilians and non-commissioned officers in twenty weeks. If we want capable leaders tomorrow, we must build a leadership development foundation today.

Graduates of courses under this system will have the opportunity to learn from and work with their counterparts from throughout the security sector. We have seen in our own professional military education system how valuable interaction is between military, civilian, and international students. The U.S. Army Command and General Staff College is an example of this principle where integrating leaders from the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, foreign countries, and the interagency in every course reaps great benefits. The relationships students gain in each course foster respect, cohesion, and enduring friendship. Students in the Afghan training and education system will benefit in a similar fashion.

Successful professionalization of the ANSF begins with leader development. We must integrate the disparate areas of the government of Afghanistan's leadership and help bring leaders together in cooperation to secure and govern this nation. Our work must be done from the bottom-up in order to cooperatively break down cultural and organizational barriers through an integrated training and education system.

What steps do you think we should take to develop leaders in the Afghan National Security Force? What would be the best way for us to support breaking down the barriers between security institutions?

Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell, IV is Commander of NATO Training Mission Afghanistan and Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan. You can access LTG Caldwell's NTM-A / CSTC-A speeches, interviews, videos, and blog entries here.


Rob Thornton (not verified)

Tue, 08/31/2010 - 1:06pm

I think Callum's last paragraph about the need for an equivalent ISAF system is very important. How much of what originates in NTM-A must be coordinated, tracked and implemented in the other 3 star HQs? How can the broader 4 star HQs facillitate it?

Red Rat

Tue, 08/31/2010 - 11:57am

Professionalism of the ANSF may be the key for setting the conditions for security transition to the Afghans, but it is not be the key to conflict resolution. Highly professional but corrupt ANSF are unlikely to lead to stability.

The issue with a mid-level or bottom up approach is that the leaders you produce are likely to be compromised by the system they find themselves working in, particularly if their leadership is politically compromised or corrupt. If you want capable leaders tomorrow you must build a leadership development foundation today, but if you want capable leaders to exert a positive influence in the future then you must develop and nurture them today and through tomorrow. Furthermore the compromise of leaders between the services is likely to lead to a continued lack of integration. If they do not trust one another or are in competition with one another then they are unlikely to work well together.

There are several areas that I think can be looked at to assist in this task of development and integration. All concern the ANSF postings and promotion policy; some may be in hand or indeed current practice already.

Students that attend the 1-uniform course, whether non-commissioned (NCO) or officer should be posted en masse to the same geographical locality. It is harder to assimilate large groups then small. If the system itself is flawed and you are trying to change the system then large groups make sense. So students from the courses, regardless of which element of the ANSF they are going to, should arrive as a cohort in the same geographic local and within a close timeframe. Coordination of NCO and officer training so that combined training elements are available (perhaps NCO students participate as NCO and soldier appointees and the officer cadets as SNCO and officer appointees during the final exercise phase of the officer course) would also possibly help the process.

Students coming from ISAF run or assisted training courses should have a report written and be 'handed over from training regime to the in-field mentoring team (OMLT) who will continue the mentor and training process. This provides continuity and a degree of objective oversight as to performance and behaviour which is important in looking at promotion.

The promotion and postings system should be amended so that ISAF reports carry substantive weight. While the Afghan government is unlikely to allow ISAF elements a direct veto on promotions or postings, recognition that ISAF reports will influence issues is likely to further enable ISAF influence on behaviour as well as performance. Perhaps attendance on highly sought after courses or some qualification for promotion courses being dependent on a positive recommendation from an associated OMLT would suffice. This could also be done through education.

Looking at the different roles of the ANSF I am not overly convinced as to the value of joint courses except at the most basic or the most advanced levels. However promotion could and should be linked to a standard level of educational attainment. These courses should be residential and joint. This would develop the overall capability of the ANSF as well as provide for a degree of integrated training. It would break down cross ANSF barriers and through curriculam management also enhance integrated capability if required. This education training is important not just in its own right, but it also affords integrated training away from the direct chain of command and can be objectively assessed and marked.

All the above assume not just a coherent pan-ANSF personnel management system, but also an equivalent ISAF system, able to record, track and grade as necessary. The aim of the overall system is not just to train, but to enable continuous ISAF oversight in order that ISAF can provide a degree of coherent 'full-careermentoring as well as ensuring ISAF trained ANSF personnel achieve both mass and momentum within their respective systems.



Rob Thornton (not verified)

Mon, 08/30/2010 - 11:28am

I think there are two areas you may want to look at if you have not already.

The first involves a legal and process review of how the controlling government authorities of those security forces go about the administration of their forces. This is one place where organizational culture is developed, and it is shaped and reinforced by policies that govern promotion, sustainment, etc. This can have a very tangible effect at ground level as "tactical" organizations compare and contrast themselves against the units of other types of security forces in the field. I think this will provide you a perspective of what types of organizational cultures are present or emerging and if it is healthy / conducive to "joint-ness" as we might call it, or if it is counterproductive and really only meant to reinforce the power and authority of the controlling bureaucracy.

The second thing you can do is encourage those units and individuals who are most influential with FSF units and leaders to promote "joint-ness" at every level and possibly to assume some risk in doing so. We often went out of our way to encourage the IA BN we were advising in 2006/2007 to reach out to the local police stations and prison guards at Badush. Initially, there was a great deal of distrust (some of it warranted), and there were times where the BN CDR wished to preserve some OPSEC, but in general the policy of helping to sustain the IP with CL IIIB, loan of a generator or even other types of extra supplies. They routinely conducted joint patrols, kept communications open and paid office calls between leaders. The IA as the stronger service responded when the IP were overwhelmed through cell phones, etc. The "advisor" can play a key role in this as he can provide the wisdom of the units working together. I understand your set of conditions is different in many ways; however I think the basis of overcoming bias and prejudice regardless of environments is somewhat common. If you dont already have it at that level, you may want to start a "best practices" forum/means of communication on this specific topic - it is one that is sometime overlooked.

While this does not directly get at Leader Development and Education in the way you are discussing, I think it does shape it in a way that matters. PME is such a limited and valuable time that setting the conditions to make it the most effective is critical. If FSF leaders of all stripes go into a PME opportunity already having some knowledge of their "sister services" and some positive experiences to overcome their own organizational culture and preference then I think you will make it a more effective experience that may expedite the broader process some.

With respect to senior leader engagement use your ministerial and senior advisors to raise the issue of incentivizing "jointness" and developing service policies such that individual performance and initiative in this area are rewarded. From our own experience we should recognize how bureaucratic policy and process can for the basis for organizational inertia that is hard to overcome or change course once it is in place and ossified.

The last thing is convincing the ANSF leaders (civilian and military) that as a government in conflict - one where they seem to be constantly stretched thin - that developing leaders through PME and joint assignments is critical to developing the kind of force(s) that will be able to attain and sustain the political objectives for which those security forces exist, and that to do otherwise is counterproductive. That may require developing a pilot program with metrics to show the difference between leaders who have gone through and those who have not, or given conditions you may want to highlight existing ANSF leaders. Track those "joint" leaders, see how they are doing and where there is potential help the senior leaders understand where those "joint" minded officers may best provide service so they can influence their subordinate leaders. I think what you are ultimately looking for is an institutionalized joint culture that sustains itself as an end objective for this LD&E LOE.

Best Regards, Rob