Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Leaders tackle counterinsurgency and civilian casualties

ISAF and Afghan leaders ended two days of discussions on improving counterinsurgency (COIN) operations and preventing civilian casualties by cataloguing best practices that can be shared by all units operating in Afghanistan.

Maj. Gen. Rouzi, Afghan National Police, talks to a group of more than 100 people at the first ISAF Joint Command counterinsurgency shura. General Rouzi stressed the importance of partnering to help reduce civilian casualties throughout Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Steve Horton)

More than 90 representatives from all regions of Afghanistan, the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police participated in the COIN shura, the first of its kind hosted by the ISAF Joint Command (IJC).

“We want to ensure that we are doing everything we can to reduce civilian casualties,” said U.S. Marine Col. Bradley Weisz, deputy chief of IJC Current Operations and shura coordinator. “We need to change the mindset of our troops to the COIN approach of ‘protecting the people,’ and the best way to do that is by sharing best practices and improving overall COIN awareness.”

The four main discussion topics the participants focused on were training and education, partnering with Afghan National Security Forces, escalation of force and civilian casualties, and best practices around the Afghanistan theatre of operations.

These discussions were based, in part, on observations brought back by IJC Mobile Training Teams (MTT) that were sent to gather information on how units handle escalation of force incidents and report standard operating procedures that are being used to help reduce civilian casualties.

“We need to make good decisions to help reduce civilian casualties,” Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, IJC commander said. “The MTTs bring back many good lessons of restraint and good decision making from our young soldiers.”

“75 percent of civilian casualties have occurred when we are not partnered, so it’s very important to work with our Afghan partners to solve this problem,” he added.

Some of the observations and recommendations from the discussions included the need to filter information and COIN awareness down to the lowest soldier level; getting real-life examples to the training centres for units to use; sending ANSF partners to help train units prior to deployments; and focusing more on non-kinetic measures instead of kinetic.

To help address these recommendations, a COIN working group was established to discuss lessons learned, best practices and initiatives. Additionally, a monthly IJC training and education plan is being established, and consequence-management drills are planned for units down to platoon levels.

“Overall, the COIN shura was a success in that it brought the people from around the [area of responsibility] who deal with these issue everyday together to talk about ideas and solutions to the problem of civilian casualties,” said Colonel Weisz. “This is an ongoing process and we have a long way to go, but this is a great start to lead us down the path to success.”

1 comment:

  1. Is it true that General David Rodriguez is retiring in 2 weeks time? Who is taking over his position?