Now I can type what you're reading right now...I just can't post any photos. Which won't work for us either, really, because visual stimulation is the only way I can reel you good people into my web of blarney.
So we'll try some descriptive writing here on the next go 'round, with a link or two thrown in for flavor. Tell me how it turns out! Please don't be shy, people...sure I'm thin-skinned, but feedback really does validate the painstaking loss-of-precious-sleep effort your beleaguered author puts in.
This story details some of the daunting challenges faced by my command, NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan, as it works to build the nation's police force and transform what exists into a credible and professional organization. My former boss, who just re-deployed stateside from his yearlong deployment, doesn't mince words! Link is below, followed by a few key quotes and my comments on each...
NATO retools in a key mission: Building an Afghan police force
- "Police couldn't shoot, or if they shoot, they can't hit," he said. "Half the police force is still untrained and on the streets. And then there are the reports of corruption."
(You can't begin to fix something until you acknowledge what's wrong in the first place. And far too often, the Coalition has shied away from doing that these past 8 years. So you might say I'm enjoying serving for a command that points out how broken the institutions actually are.)
- Because many officers are illiterate, "some of these guys never even realized how much they were supposed to be paid," Breazile said.
(A great example of an improvement that introduces something we take for granted -- automated pay -- and in the process transforms an Afghan generation's expectation of receiving what they are due, not what the paymaster/corrupt boss feels like giving after taking a hefty cut.)
- The makeover, which began late last year, is largely aimed at attracting a higher-caliber recruit and offering incentives to keep him in uniform longer. The inducements include signing bonuses and -- a first -- literacy classes, a powerful draw in a country where only 20 percent of the adult population can read and write.
(Think of the effects this could potentially have, along the lines of our postwar GI Bill for the WWII generation. I know some folks involved in the literacy program, and they are excited as hell to expand it.)
- A revamped, eight-week training program supervised by foreign paramilitary officers is improving marksmanship and basic military and survival skills. Soon it will be expanded to include veteran officers, NATO officials say.
(This is why the Gendarmarie and Carabiniere and other similar 'national police forces' are here en masse as trainers...not only to shape and advise Afghanistan's own Civil Order Police modeled after them, but to train existing police officers throughout the country. This is urgent business...as with most of the frenzy of training programs and schools that NTM-A provides, oversees, or funds; the courses cannot accomodate the number of students who need it. On top of that, long-term schools are being built or planned for just about any specialty you can think of, for the Afghans themselves to train the next crop of green recruits.)
Let's conclude this post with a guest author. I am a big fan of the way my fellow Marine in Kabul introduces the day's media summary. Here is today's so you can judge for yourself. Cheeky? Yes. Accurate? Hell yes.
TABLOID TACTICS: Six insurgents met certain and violent deaths in another literally and figuratively suicidal attack, this time on J-bad Airport. These insurgents bought a brief headline in exchange for their lives…
Taliban attack on Nato base in Afghanistan is 'repelled'
SNL WEEKEND UPDATE MOMENT: In a text message to The Associated Press in Kabul, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said six homicide attackers killed 32 foreign and Afghan security forces at the airport….Really? Seriously?
(By the way, fans of this blog may remember that base...I was working from Jalalabad Air Field with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, from March to May of 2006. Remember when "the last Marines in Afghanistan" left, and we few individual augments behind? Yeah, that lasted about a year until the leathernecks were sent in again. The more things change..., you know?)