The British soldier reading Afghan minds

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Skynet, May 23, 2009.

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  1. From The Sunday Times

    May 24, 2009

    The British soldier reading Afghan minds
    The army’s first cultural understanding officer tells how his work with the people of Helmand can help defeat the Taliban
    Jon Swain
    Men have always been drawn to war, even as they hated it. Lieutenant Mike Martin, 26, an army reserve officer who is just back from Afghanistan, spoke fondly last week about his six-month tour in Helmand province: “It was awesome, one of the best times of my life,” he told me.

    Such enthusiasm for the war may seem inappropriate. Afghanistan has cost the lives of 159 British servicemen; it is a brutal, challenging, chaotic and hugely complex struggle and there is no end in sight. In the coming weeks and months the Americans are sending 21,000 reinforcements to help turn the tide.

    Such coalition tactics show increasing signs of desperation. For the British, who have been in Helmand for three years and are now sending extra troops to boost the 8,300 already there, the expectations are that the fighting is going to get worse. The Taliban still have a strong hold in the province.

    However, Martin, a reserve officer bearing a disconcerting resemblance to Prince Harry, is looking forward enormously to returning to Afghanistan for a second six-month tour in November. He has a unique role in Helmand, distinct from the other British soldiers fighting the Taliban, and the Ministry of Defence points out that he is the army’s first cultural understanding officer.

    Martin’s job is to get out and about among the Afghans so that he can advise British commanders about how to get them on board. He is fluent in Pashtu, which he was taught during an intensive 15-month course (most military language students do only 10 weeks).

    “The commanding officer trusted me to go out and get the information we needed to achieve our aims. There is a huge hunger for this type of information because up until now it did not exist at the battle group level and because of the amount of contact I had with Afghans I was able to tell the commander what they were thinking,” he said.
    More on the link
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article6349141.ece
     
  2. In the !830s we had loads of Pashtu speaking officers, but we still got our arrse kicked
     
  3. If you'd like a view on how someone acquired an understanding of the Afghani mind, then there's also this: Waziristan's last soldier.
     
  4. rampant

    rampant LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    Excellent Post, I been trying to rememeber the name of that guy for ages. My word I bet he has some stories. :salut:
     
  5. Sounds a bit like Nairac and remember what happened to that poor s0d
     
  6. Sounds like MM is winning this war single handed...
     
  7. Was that the fault of the Pashtu speaking Officers and the Political Officers, or the fault of Elphinstone?

    Pashtun was certainly still being taught to British officers up to the end of our time in India. I've one of my father's education certificates showing "Profieciency and fluency in the languages of Urdu and Pashtun" from his commissioning course at Bangalore in 1945.

    Being fluent in the language and customs of those you wish to influence is not a nice to have, it's a must have.
     
  8. But not the minds of the MoD it would seem.

    http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/apr/09/territorial-soldier-resigns-book-afghanistan

    I suppose it's that stage of the campaign to get your book in. I would have thought "Reserve Officer hands kit in" would be more fitting.

    For all the to and fro, from what I can gather Mike was responsible for DCSU being set up giving cultural advice to commanders which, one hopes, was a step in the right direction despite most commanders I saw being mainly there to have a MS moment, scrap and come home. Somewhere there were also some chogies, history and something called COIN knocking around all firmly subordinated to the career.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. I'd sincerely hope so, 'specially as the thread is over 5 years old...
     
  10. From that article:
    . . . . as evidenced by the Army's recent handling of the British Army Review when its editor has been prevented from publishing articles that challenge existing norms and conventional wisdom, for fear of demonstrating how little its senior officers have learned from experience over the last decade or so?
     
  11. i've just nicked this link for another thread after the mention of Dead Men Risen but really couldnt believe the below from the article;


    "The row echoes an incident three years ago in which Sunday Times journalist Toby Harnden had his book, an account of a British deployment to Helmand, pulped because of MoD objections.

    The MoD bought up the entire first run of Dead Men Risen: The Welsh Guards and the Real Story of Britain's War in Afghanistan and pulped it. After minor amendments, it was reprinted.

    Writing in the Telegraph at the time, Harnden said: "The truth is that the MoD was really motivated by politics and by embarrassment.""
     
  12. By name and by nature? Is the date all you read?
     
  13. I weep for the people of Britain, I really do.

    One or two stories in a newspaper and you are happy to sit back and wallow in your own self pity.

    how ******* sad.
     
  14. You weep over news articles? Were you on a ******* bus at the time you wet twat.

    Sent from my SM-T210R using Tapatalk
     
    • Like Like x 1