Hitting the target


Ironically, the Intentional Development website (edit 4 Feb 13: removed the link as it was dead as the proverbial door nail – managed to recover the image via the power of the Wayback Machine) from which I took this image specialises in…

Freeing the embedded wisdom of an organization’s most valuable assets (human resources) currently constrained by titles, roles, politics and procedures.

Mobilizing personnel at all levels to truly participate, become involved, and internalize objectives as their own so they willingly and eagerly contribute to solving their organization’s challenges.

Creating the circumstances and the environment to facilitate change.

Possibly there’s a job for them in Kandahar…?

The Canadian National Post has published Canadian Forces comment in response to Michael Yon’s criticism this week of security arrangements around an important bridge that was damaged in an attack near Kandahar this week. Interestingly, it is Michael Yon who disseminated the link to this article via his Facebook Page.

The release points out that “…all the land surrounding the airport has long been the responsibility of the Royal Air Force Regiment, a British infantry unit that specializes in protecting airports from attack. Most road checks in the area are carried out by Afghan National Police while sweeps for improvised explosive devices on the major highways in Kandahar are done by a U.S. Army Stryker brigade or by U.S. combat engineers attached to them...”

Although a whole three people have commented on the National Post Article, hundreds have offered comment on Yon’s items on his Facebook page, including this one on the RAF regiment in Kandahar…

Never seen this bridge Michael, but as a lowly British Inf NCO, am I making a fair assumption that as a natural/man-made choke point, this should have been identified as a weak point, in oh I don’t know…2 seconds? Therefore reinforced/defended accordingly?

On a slightly related note, there was some talk of the RAF Regt and their role. I personally have no love for them, being Infantry, but they do carry out a role that frees up our Army reservists who can get out and do their jobs. The RAF Regt’s mission is base/airfield protection and security up to 8km from the airfield. I believe this bridge was 10 miles out or something? Far from passing the buck, it should be asked then why this was not identified as an issue, and who was responsible for providing the security for a known high value choke point?

The article then goes on to link the Yon items with “…a growing frustration on the part of some Americans that NATO has put four U.S. battalions under Canadian command in Kandahar…the Americans answer to a Canadian who answers to a British major-general who in turn answers to an American. This is coalition warfare at its best…” At its best, huh? Sounds like an overly-complex recipe for buck-passing and gaps you could drive a LAV (or a VBIED) through…one mother’s comment on Yon’s Facebook page “…This was coalition warfare at its worst…a bridge was blown up! They should have to place the calls to us mothers…

Funnily enough, after presenting the current command and control  environment around Kandahar as hunky-dory, the National Post concludes “…the issue of who commands what in Kandahar is particularly sensitive at the moment, with NATO planning a major offensive in the province later this spring…

Meanwhile back in Kandahar…Michael Yon remains on the offensive… submitting two questions yesterday to Task Force Kandahar regarding the Monday bridge attack:

1) When will the bridge become fully operational?

2) What measures are being taken to prevent such attacks in the future?

A few hours later…Task Force Kandahar just answered the two questions I submitted yesterday. The TF-K answers beg for follow-up, which has just been submitted. Will publish in full when this is over. Something fishy going on.

And about an hour ago (all times are pretty lose as the Facebook clock leaves a lot to be desired)…

Bridge Update: Much information flowing. Just went through long conversations with key people. BLUF: the bridge has become an Orphan. TF-Kandahar says TF-K is not the father. We are waiting for U.S. Brigadier General Ben Hodges to say who is responsible for the bridge. BG Hodges is the Deputy Commander for RC-South. The British command RC-South. The Commanding General is Nick Carter.

My gut, based on what am seeing all over, is that this is between RC-South and TF-Kandahar. TF-K clearly has responsibility, as does their parent command RC-South. While the British command RC-South, the Canadians TF-K. The US is just sort of here under an obtuse command structure that can’t guard a strategic bridge ten minutes from the front gate of one of the biggest bases in Afghanistan.

Bridge situation — This smells like rotten fish. At a bare minimum, someone(s) at General Officer level dropped the ball. Going to take more time to sort this out and get the facts straight. One certainty: it’s not pretty.

A few minutes later…

Menard vs. Carter

Bridge failure heating up: TF-K has, for all intents and purposes, blamed RC-South for allowing the bridge to be attacked on Monday, resulting in the death of a US soldier and serious damage to a vital bridge. The controversy has reached the respective Generals at TF-K and RC-South. For those who understand the dynamics here, Brigadier General Daniel Menard (TF-K boss) has shifted the blame to Major General Nick Carter (RC-South boss).

This has become a dinosaur fight — Menard vs. Carter — wherein little people can get crushed.

If nothing else, ‘Bridgegate’ sends a clear message to ISAF that it needs to seriously up its Information and Influence Operations game…it is probably too broad a stretch to imagine that the Taliban planned or even anticipated this spatting between coalition partners but they must be loving it. It is a pretty simple question: who is responsible for the security of this bridge? Surely it must be in a clearly defined Area of Operations assigned to a specific formation or unit? That ISAF has resorted instead to bureaucratic tap-dancing and not released any comment on the issue is perhaps indicative of deeper rifts within the coalition. Jim Molan recounts in Running the War in Iraq that, prior to the final battle for Fallujah GEN Casey directed him “…in no uncertain terms to ensure that there was no more than a one-hour turnaround between an allegation appearing in the media and our response being fired back…the information fight required less physical courage and sacrifice, but was just as important as the combat on the ground…

Certainly from many of the comments on Yon’s Facebook posts, there is considerable anger in the US at Canada’s stated intention to withdraw from Afghanistan and at those NATO partners who do not pull their weight (which would probably be most of them). This latter issue was a theme in Yon’s posts last week before the bridge attack and I do wonder if the US, or some in it, are not running their own IO campaign to expose those who are not holding up their end of the stick…?

New word of the day

Thanks to Dean at Travels with Shiloh for today’s new word ‘fobbit’, replacing ‘poug’ and ‘REMF’ as a term of endearment for those personnel that spend the larger proportion of their deployment in camps and bases. This is not to say that these personnel do not perform valuable and vital functions in support of operations nor that it is their fault that higher minds decide to introduce as many home comforts as possible into these facilities. I do think however that it behooves such individuals to always remember where they are, why there are there and who they are supporting before bemoaning the quality of the GoatBurger at BK-Kandahar…

Edit: Oh, the joys of working in the information age!! Just as I was writing up ‘fobbits’ and hit the publish button, Michael Yon posted this link to a great description of the Life of a Fobbit in Afghanistan. Although humorous in nature, it is a reminder of the vital role that ‘fobbits’ play and I think that this blog, on the adventures of staff in a currently deployed Forward Surgical Team will be well worth watching…

Acronym of the day

From Michael Yon’s posts, BLUF = Bottom Line Up Front, not to be confused with that ultimate hearts and minds tool, the BUFF:



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