Building Bak one shura at a time

KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Navy Lt. Mark Fetterman, Khowst Provincial Reconstruction Team engineer from Plymouth, Mass., stands on a hilly outcropping in Bak district during a foot (click for more)

ANA enforces weapon registration law

PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Army soldiers from 1st Coy, 3rd Kandak play with village children during a patrol through Sar Mast Kheyl, Zormat District Jan. 16. (click for more)

Afghan forces, ISAF help improve security in Bak

KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan – An MRAP remains idle as construction efforts surround Combat Outpost Bak and the nearby district center. ISAF, ANP and ANA members work together daily (click for more)

Task Force Leader Soldiers patrol Zambar

KHOWST PROVINCE – U.S. Army Spc. Kyle Oszczakiewicz, an infantryman with 2nd Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, from Trenton, N.J., scans for insurgents as 2nd Plt. receives (click for more)

US, Polish forces build relationships in Ghazni

GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Polish Battle Group A and Texas Army National Guard Ghazni ADT-IV conduct a village assessment of Pir Shabaz, a small village near Ghazni City, (click for more)

New recruits join Afghan army

PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Army Operations Sgt. Maj. Akhtar Muhammad takes questions from new recruits during Basic Warrior Training at Forward Operating Base Thunder Jan. 22. (click for more)

ANA, Red Bulls find IED

NURISTAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army Spc. Michael Scarsbrook, an infantryman with Task Force Ironman, from Iowa Falls, Iowa, looks down on a spot in Tupac Jan. 21, (click for more)

ANSF, TF Thunder aim to increase GIRoA influence in Pul-e Alam

LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Spc. Tyrik L. Holmes, assigned to 5th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Task Force Thunder, (click for more)

Sayed Karam market walk, step in right direction

PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class David Davis, from Moore, Okla., the platoon sergeant of the 2-45th ADT’s security force, leads the rear security element (click for more)

Iowa Soldiers discuss ‘average’ days in Afghanistan

NURISTAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army Pfc. Corey Vanotegham, an infantry radio telephone operator from Victor, Iowa, with TF Ironman, smiles as he stands beside a Holstein cow (click for more)

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LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Lt. Col. Robert Ault (standing), commander of Task Force Brawler, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Falcon, describes the focus of the COIN meetings to key leaders and staff during the first COIN session, Feb. 23, at Forward Operating Base Shank in Afghanistan’s Logar province. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Scott Tant, 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, Task Force Brawler Public Affairs)LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – A new program designed specifically to help undermine local support for the insurgency is being taught now at Forward Operating Base Shank in Afghanistan’s Logar province. The program, called the COIN Academy, is a new line of reasoning and planning requiring battlefield commanders to rethink the use of conventional warfare tactics. 

On FOB Shank, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Robert Ault, commander of Task Force Brawler, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, formally began the COIN Academy, which stands for ‘counter insurgency,’ more than a month ago.


The setup for the COIN Academy is simple: A conference room, a few PowerPoint slides, and a whiteboard with markers. The meetings typically last an hour and are open to all task force members. To keep the discussion moving, each COIN meeting covers one particular aspect of the task force’s involvement in combat.

The main topics of each COIN session vary. One week covers a Public Broadcasting Service documentary showing a behind-the-enemy-lines view of how the insurgents receive aid from a local villager and how the insurgents use psychological warfare to undermine support for the government and the coalition forces.

The next week entails a walk-through on how detainees are handled, processed, and eventually released, stressing treatment of detainees and how their treatment impacts whether or not they will rejoin the insurgency once released. Each topic is designed to have the participants of the meeting involved in open discussions.

“Having an actively participating group is one of the key aspects to a successful COIN session,” said Ault. “It keeps these meetings flowing and gets everyone interested.” 

Ault, or another member of the command staff, acts as the session’s moderator, keeping the conversations going while writing key points on the dry-erase board. Ault encourages all servicemembers to express their opinions throughout the meeting. This engaging dialogue has a dual effect: First, it allows key leaders to understand how their subordinates feel and think. Second, the attendees are given a chance to voice their agreement or disagreement with any new direction the task force is taking.

“I believe that in the short term or immediate, COIN can work,” said 2nd Lt. Erik Bernard, platoon leader for Company C, 1st Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, TF Brawler, 3rd CAB, TF Falcon. “It is the long-term effects that are unclear. (Counter insurgency) has worked in other conflicts; we will see if it can work here.”

The overarching goal of the COIN Academy is to have key leaders understand there are more effective ways to undermine the enemy and possibly win over the population’s opinion of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the International Security Forces. With the realization that every action taken on the battlefield has both good and bad consequences, commanders will have to rethink certain decisions, such as when the use of deadly force is necessary.


“The Soldiers of Task Force Brawler face a challenging time ahead,” said Task Force executive officer, U.S. Army Maj. Larry Halsey. “Counter insurgency tactics have the potential to work, as displayed by its success in Iraq. But, COIN can only work if both leaders and Soldiers apply it with every mission. With each one of these sessions, the Brawlers realize that to do their part to help win the war in Afghanistan, the COIN principles are the way to go.”

 

Last Updated on Saturday, 17 April 2010 16:29
 

    

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The security and safety of Afghan civilians is an important part of every coalition operation. All weapons caches found during these operations are destroyed to ensure they do not harm civilians or military personnel.

“Mines are indiscriminate killers. They don’t distinguish between Soldiers or civilians, between men, women or children. We must all work together to eliminate the threat posed by these deadly weapons,” said U.S. Army Col. Ben Corell, commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, Task Force Red Bulls.

If you see any suspicious activity or know of a weapons cache in your area, please report it. Call the Operations Coordination Center Provincial Tip Line at 079-662-0193 or at 079-397-0975.