Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Turn Off the Good Idea Generator

I don't have the time to put on either the Cyprus Hill or RATM version of Pistol Grip Pump, crack my knuckles, and do a detailed takedown of this unsolicited recommendation from MAJ Smiley in the SWJ that Transition Teams need to extend their tours of duty to at/about 24 months. Let's just say that I disagree.
Hey, brother, turn off the good idea generator, euthanize the Good Idea Fairy, and get your head in the game.
Extending tours (or programming longer tours) for combat advisors may, in fact, be a good idea. But the Transition Team program is so rife with problems that the added "goodness" of extended tours is minimal.
Right now, Transition Teams have got bupkiss when it comes to the Army handing them the tools to do their jobs. All a Team has in order to influence its counterpart unit and build operational capacity is looks, brains, and personality. No money, no equipment fielding, no authorities, variable proficiency, and a host of execution problems minimize the effect a Transition Team can have on its counterpart. Fix all those problems, and then perform a detailed analysis on whether TTs are on the ground long enough.
Has it occured to the author that it is the profound lack of lickies & chewies/carrots & sticks that the Transition Team can bring to the fight that retards the growth of interpersonal relationships in the first place? After all, while shared danger on the battlefield goes a long way in US eyes toward building mutual rapport, our counterparts live in a constant state of danger. Being brave enough to share the dangers of the battlefield with one's counterpart, is--in his eyes--kind of an entry level requirement for the job. The first friction a TT leader gets from his counterpart stems from the question: what can you do for me, right now? Because of the dearth of tools at the TTs disposal, this quickly grows into the second, enduring friction point: what have you done for me lately?
From the counterpart's perspective, the TT is a bunch of guys who show up and operate with him--i.e., tell him continually where he's fucking up and what he needs to do better. But, often, we don't have the equipment or funds to escalate the rate of growth of his operational capacity, or even to ameliorate the problems that we continually point out. I will guarantee you that a TT that shows up with the money and equipment to inject a significant jump in operational capacity is going to build a stronger relationship more quickly.
Instead, MAJ Smiley recommends that we take the one asset we have dedicated to the Combat Adivsing dimension of COIN, and break it through over-employment. Instead, the Army needs to perform a no-shit analysis of its perfomance objectives for TTs, and then organize, equip, train, and empower the team to be a nested part of the Coalition campaign. TTs should be able to offer their counterparts more than just time.

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