Can the Afganis Do Logistics?

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 1 month ago

From Reuters:

Stocking warehouses in most police forces is low-rank, unglamorous work. In Afghanistan, where literacy and education are at a premium, Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Hurley is pushing to make it a well-paid and prestigious job.

The U.S. and its allies are rushing to ready the Afghan army and police to take over control of security from July, but they are discovering they have a job far more complex than just providing guns and training about how to use them.

Years of funding shortages, civil war, corruption and weak leadership have eaten away at the backbone of logistics, medical and training systems that support front-line troops.

So U.S. Air Force officer Hurley is just one of hundreds of foreign soldiers who have found themselves in Afghanistan fighting a war with training manuals, Excel spreadsheets and theories about supply lines.

Hurley runs training and management at the Afghan police force’s largest regional logistics hub, where just six Afghan officers coordinate supplies for 20,000 police in the south.

“One of the greatest challenges we face is the lack of literate, capable Afghan logisticians,” Hurley told Reuters in a gleaming warehouse stacked with everything from waterproof coats to pistols kept in a padlocked wire cage.

At present the pay and rank of the jobs are low. In a country where two-thirds of the population is illiterate, that makes it virtually impossible to attract police with the management and record-keeping skills needed, or give them a salary that ensures they resist temptations toward corruption.

“Logistics isn’t terribly glamorous, but what they control are the resources and the weapons so there is incredible pressure on them and a huge revenue stream,” Hurley said, adding that it is also a dangerous career choice.

“If they are doing things honorably they are at huge risk from the Taliban,” he said, gesturing to the stacks of guns.

Read the whole article.  I’ll predict that no amount of laptops, EXCEL spreadsheets, training or oversight will develop a logistics force or the capability to transport goods and services from place to place in Afghanistan.  But what’s more important, nothing we can do will rid the force of its systemic corruption.  As I recently observed, “in the end, evil is a moral problem, not an epistemological one, and you cannot educate or rehabilitate evil out of mankind.”

Corruption is neither a financial nor a pedagogical problem.  No literacy program will modify behavior.  Endemic corruption is an Afghani problem, and they Afghans will have to solve it, or they will fail at everything they do.  In this case the failure would be in logistics.  I have observed before that no army can long survive without logistics.  Logistics rules.

  • Joe

    What seems most obviously wrong here is trying to Drop in 21 century Logistics into a 14 century mindset. Why not back it off a bit to at least 40-50 years ago methods. Yup, I said it, old school. Of course our modern Military trainers wouldn’t understand just how things actually got done back in the 50′s, 60′s and 70′s, but it did get done, it worked, and it didn’t involve computers, laptops, or any other electronic gizzmo exept maybe a calculator and a remington raider.
    How many retired Logistic Officers of the 50′s, 60′s and 70′s are tired of their life in Florida and would love to become instructors on “the Basics”.
    Think of it as right now, were trying to teach a 3rd grader with no interrest in cars how to diaginoise and repair a Ferrari…How about teaching that same 3rd grader how to repair a bicycle instead. Then grow from there.


You are currently reading "Can the Afganis Do Logistics?", entry #7053 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Afghanistan,Corruption in COIN,Logistics and was published June 7th, 2011 by Herschel Smith.

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