6 years ago
In Response to Afghanistan: We No Longer Give Pens and Stationary Away, DirtyMick responded as follows:
I was on the previous two PRTs in Kunar. They need to jettison the navy element and make it an army effort. Previous two Navy commanders (especially the one with the Nevada National guard in 2009/2010) focused too much on the soft aspect of coin, were in overall charge of the army manuever element at camp wright (like army running a ship), had a hard on for wanting to take non essential navy personnel (ie anybody not engineers) into places like the pech river valley and north of asadabad, and passing out badges and awards like candy on Halloween (so navy guys can be just as stacked as an 0311 marine cpl.). Torwards the end of this summer did my higher chain of command do things like cancel projects in the pech only after many months of us getting shot up in the pech. Why build a school for assholes when they’re shooting RPGs at us? I will never work on a PRT again.
I was with DirtyMick in Asadabad during 2009-2010; I felt like our time was wasted in large part to satisfy the egos and experimentations of everyone who wanted to show how nuanced they were, and how we were going to make a lasting impact by NOT killing the enemy… An old vet told me once that “when you have them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow”.
It’s bad enough that Army and Marine Corps field grade officers are unwilling to risk their careers by granting air and indirect fire assets to troops in contact… We have Navy surface warfare officers and Air Force admin officers “leading” PRT’s; most of them without applicable experience or training – but trying desperately to pick up their O6 as they blame the Army and Marine Corps for screwing everything up.
The Pashtuns are not suicidal fanatics, they are brigands. We won’t win them to our side by bribing them with roads (when many of them don’t own cars), hospitals (without doctors to staff them), or electricity (when most of them don’t own televisions). We will win them to our side by effectively separating the militant Taliban from the general populace by hunting them down and killing them.
If you look back at the advent of Naval officers on PRTs in Afghanistan, it has pretty sad and naive theoretical framework.
The teams were founded in 2004 and are designed to be mobile goodwill ambassadors for coalition forces, using their transportation, logistics and communications capabilities to access the most remote Afghan villages.
Once there, the specialized personnel can hold medical, dental and veterinary clinics, and help build roads, wells, schools, irrigation systems and other facilities that will improve life for Afghans who have known only war and poverty for generations, Hartung said.
What about the infantry, you ask? Why, they handle force protection for the team. That’s right. Force protection. But DirtyMick and Scarbelly79 have given us reason to think that things are even worse now. Naval officers are adorning themselves with medals at the expense of the fighting men, and then blaming the Army and Marines to boot.
Let’s make one thing clear. We can discuss ineptitude all day, or organizational inadequacies, or lists of reasons that we are failing in Afghanistan. We can treat that with clinical precision and a degree of detachment as a scientist. But for a Naval officer on a PRT to complain and blame the fighting men is about as low as it gets. I’m not sure what medals adorn the Naval officers on the PRTs, but unless they have been involved, engaged and active in kinetic operations and under fire, they don’t deserve and shouldn’t be awarded Combat Action Ribbons. This would be a travesty.
Finally, here is the prerequisite for a Naval officer to complain about anything – ANYTHING – that is going on in Afghanistan. Pick up a weapon, go on patrol, take fire, and kill the enemy. Until you do, no one cares about your complaints, and playing the blame game with men under fire is immoral. If you are a Naval officer who wants to complain, then lodge it right here, right now. But show us your combat action ribbon first. Tell us all about it. We’re waiting.