‘Fairly Small’ Amount of Afghan Forces Getting COIN Training

Wednesday, July 22, 2009 at 11:30 am

Just got off a fascinating conference call with Col. John Agoglia, the head of the Counterinsurgency Training Center-Afghanistan, which seeks to instill and harmonize counterinsurgency capabilities across the 43 contributing coalition militaries in Afghanistan, as well as the Afghan security forces. If Agoglia has a bottom-line message to get across — both to his trainees and to the bloggers on the conference call — it’s that, as he put it, “COIN is a mindset” requiring officers and enlisted men and women to think in terms of security for a population, not killing the enemy. He’s thorough in that regard, saying the recent command rule change from Gen. Stanley McChrystal that troops must put the safety of Afghan civilians ahead of pursuing the Taliban was “common sense.”

I asked about the proportion of Afghan forces — soldiers and police — that had received the training, since I’ve seen Afghan police officers treat the population as a target for plunder, not protection. Agoglia didn’t have figures handy, but he said the percentage is “fairly small,” though starting to increase. He said the center had “little mentorship” with the police force in particular and that needed to improve in particular. With the Afghan National Army, Agoglia said he was looking to bring 15 Afghan instructors to the center in “120 to 150 days.”  Given that this is the force the United States is relying on to hold areas that the coalition clears of the Taliban, that seems like a particularly striking training issue. And that’s not meant as a criticism of Agoglia, who appears to be doing his utmost to disseminate best counterinsurgency practices and hard-won lessons throughout the coalition and Afghan forces, but rather a systemic problem of attention being paid to bring qualified Afghan forces into the fight.

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