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USMC Tries to Understand Local issuesin Afghanistan

#1
US Marines Implement Methodology to Understand Local Problems

Today at 3:37am
Regimental Combat Team 3
Story by Sgt. Scott Whittington

CAMP DWYER, Afghanistan – There's a new weapon in the arsenal of Marines and it's considered a key to winning a war against an insurgency, but it doesn't fire or explode.

Marines from 4th Civil Affairs Group[a reserve unit], attached to Regimental Combat Team 3, use a method known as Tactical Conflict Assessment Planning and Framework to engage the local populace to get feedback on sources of instability, according to Lt. Col. Leonard J. DeFrancisci, CAG detachment commander, RCT-3.

TCAPF is a standardized diagnostic tool, created by United States Agency for International Development and used since 2006 in multiple countries.

"Our goal is to go out and see what the problems are in the eyes of the locals," said Petty Officer 2nd Class William L. Lowry, civil affairs specialist and corpsmen with the 4th CAG detachment, and Tampa, Fla., native. "We determine if we should bring the Afghan government in to foster a relationship."

Due to the limited amount of local government assets, the Marines take part in assessing the locals' status, using TCAPF. But it doesn't take a CAG Marine to get the information. The method is designed to be uncomplicated so that any Marine of any rank can gather public concerns.

"You have to have people skills," said Lance Cpl. Jasmin A. Gagnon, 23, civil affairs specialist. The Falls Church, Va., native added, "It would just be awkward to walk up and ask questions without establishing a rapport."

"I'm very encouraged by the intelligence of the Marines and locals," said DeFrancisci, a Melbourne, Fla., native. "The fact that we're listening is key to building a relationship [with the Afghan people]."

The method uses basic questions and any local citizen can be interviewed, not just key leaders. The questions were designed to get to the root causes of instability, not just the surface. The Marines then aggregate these answers locally, and work by, with and through the Afghan government to solve the problems.

"One problem isn't unique from village to village," said Sgt. Scott M. Spaulding, civil affairs non-commissioned officer and Milford, Del., native. "TCAPF should be kept at a local level."

For example, one community may have a lack of drinkable water. Another village two miles away may have a need for more security or access to medical services.

"We can direct resources to address the most significant problems," said DeFrancisci. "Since the local populace is a center of gravity in a counterinsurgency operation, this tool helps us focus on that, which is the people."

Every Marine outside the wire focuses on the threats of enemy contact and improvised explosive device strikes, but the CAG Marines deal with an additional issue. In interactions with the people, they have met a few challenges.

"People in certain areas are still intimidated by the enemy," said DeFrancisci. "They aren't always willing to work with us. Establishing consistent presence over time, they'll realize we are the good guys."

To win the insurgency, DeFrancisci said the deciding factor is the people. They will decide when this war is over, and he wants them to know, the Marines are here for them.

"We do what we say, and we say what we do," stressed DeFrancisci. "We'll deliver on our promises."

Maj. George Anikow, Civil Affairs detachment executive officer with Regimental Combat Team 3, jokes with local children during a patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan, Aug. 18, 2009. Company D, 2nd Assault Amphibious Battalion and civil affairs group Marine are interact with the local populace in order to understand their concerns and identify possible reconstruction and development projects. Co. D Marines are deployed with Regimental Combat Team 3, whose mission is to conduct counterinsurgency operations in partnership with the Afghan national security forces in southern Afghanistan. Regimental Combat Team 3 Photo by Sgt. Pete Thibodeau


Petty Officer 2nd Class William Lowry, corpsman and civil affairs specialist with Regimental Combat Team 3, interacts with village elders during a census patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan, Aug. 18, 2009. Regimental Combat Team 3 Photo by Sgt. Pete Thibodeau


Maj. George Anikow, Civil Affairs Group executive officer for Regimental Combat Team 3, shakes hands with village elders during a patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan, Aug. 18, 2009. Regimental Combat Team 3's mission is to conduct counterinsurgency operations in partnership with the Afghan national security forces in southern Afghanistan. Regimental Combat Team 3 Photo by Sgt. Pete Thibodeau


Petty Officer 2nd Class William Lowry, corpsman and Civil Affairs specialist with Regimental Combat Team 3, shakes hands with a local boy during a patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan, Aug. 18, 2009. Regimental Combat Team 3 Photo by Sgt. Pete Thibodeau


http://www.facebook.com/note.php?created&&suggest&note_id=124391149839&id=69621718453
 
#2
Right headache that was in practice.

"What do you perceive to be the major hardships at this time?"
"We have no hardships, Allah looks after us."
 
#4
Call me old fashioned, but "hearts and minds" still slips easier off the tongue than "TCAPF". OK, I know there's a difference, but I wonder who's trying to impress by jargonising old ideas?

Oops, my cynicism is slipping out again. More seriously, it's good to hear that efforts are being made to communicate, however late in the day.
 
#5
I would like to try this.

Take away the UN from Afghanistan. Allocate that money to the troops to disperse. Let them ask locals what is wrong in their area and then spend that money to directly address those problems. Use local labour where you can and bring in foreign experts only when essential, but have that expert training a local to take on that role, eventually.
 
#6
MisterEx said:
Call me old fashioned, but "hearts and minds" still slips easier off the tongue than "TCAPF". OK, I know there's a difference, but I wonder who's trying to impress by jargonising old ideas?

Oops, my cynicism is slipping out again. More seriously, it's good to hear that efforts are being made to communicate, however late in the day.
I felt the same way when I saw the term. I suppose it is just too hard a habit to break for the boys serving. I hardly understand operators anymore--I don't think the principles of war have changed but the jargon-speak is incredible. Perhaps we are sounding a bit like incredulous parents when the "kids" come home with new terms for the same stuff we did at their age and are all up in arms over it. :D
 
#7
I'm sorry JJ but it sounds to me like the Corps has just reinvented the wheel and instead of calling it a "wheel" they're calling it a triangle- no matter what you call it, it's still round and roles when you push it down the hill.
 
#8
kabulronin said:
I'm sorry JJ but it sounds to me like the Corps has just reinvented the wheel and instead of calling it a "wheel" they're calling it a triangle- no matter what you call it, it's still round and roles when you push it down the hill.
I wasn't claiming (nor did I read it that they were)anything literally "new"--just repackaged perhaps. I honestly wasn't tooting the USMC horn on this one-merely posting the article.
 
#9
Lads, Staff Occifers don't get promoted for saying ""hearts and minds" worke before, it works now".

They get promtoed by saying "If we quantify and diversify and try LSDJFLKDSJF we will be more asymetrically efficient and proactive".

Then they go quietly back to "hearts and minds" because their idea was bonk but eloquontly (complicated) worded.

Plus these sort of bonkers abbreiviations, accronyms and buzz words reveal who is "in" and "with it" within the Staff community, and those who are actually working.
 
#10
chocolate_frog said:
Lads, Staff Occifers don't get promoted for saying ""hearts and minds" worke before, it works now".

They get promtoed by saying "If we quantify and diversify and try LSDJFLKDSJF we will be more asymetrically efficient and proactive".

Then they go quietly back to "hearts and minds" because their idea was bonk but eloquontly (complicated) worded.

Plus these sort of bonkers abbreiviations, accronyms and buzz words reveal who is "in" and "with it" within the Staff community, and those who are actually working.
Very astute--you sound as if you have been in the COC too.. :D
 
#12
I think the advantage of Teecapping / Teecaffing over other similar "Non Kinetic Strikes" is that it offers a means to quantify responses. Because the questions being asked are the same questions in every village, the answers can be readily compared at a high level.

"Villagers in West Combatzone all answered negatively about security, but weren't all agreed on water."
"Villagers in East Combatzone weren't all agreed about security, but all answered negatively about water supply"

The attempt seemed to be to make asking the locals 'what's up?' be more scientific, by reducing variation. The biggest problem is that there are other sources of variation which can't be reduced.

1. How seriously the local is taking it, whether they are under duress. Some will just say, "Yes" at you until you move your bullet-magnet / patrol away from their children. Others will make up misinformation, or try to answer the 'right' answers to impress you, out of fear, thanks or recoginition of the bigger guns.
2. The quality of the interpreter. Invariably they get bored of Teecaffing and some don't pay a great deal of attention to it.
3. Whether the local is a card-carrying member of the Taliban.
 
#13
I wonder about all of this. I just can't see the USMC and others going all touchy feely. They will be training "Outreach Workers" next. God help us.
 
#14
duffdike said:
I wonder about all of this. I just can't see the USMC and others going all touchy feely. They will be training "Outreach Workers" next. God help us.
You may not have seen this:

Marines try a woman's touch to reach Afghan hearts



This Aug. 10, 2009 photo shows Marine Lt. Victoria Sherwood, of Woodbury, Conn., talking with 8-year-old Bibi Asha, right, and her grandmother, Nazu, while visiting the village of Khwaji Jamal with Golf Company, 2nd Batallion, 3rd Regiment of the 2nd MEB, 2nd MEF in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. Sherwood is part of Female Engagement Team whose mission is to make contact with Afghan woman in villages where U.S. Marines regularly patrol.

By ALFRED de MONTESQUIOU (AP) – Aug 14, 2009

KHAWJA JAMAL, Afghanistan — Put on body armor, check weapons, cover head and shoulders with a scarf.

That was the drill for female American Marines who set out on patrol this week with a mission to make friends with Afghan women in a war zone by showing respect for Muslim standards of modesty.

The all-female unit of 46 Marines is the military's latest innovation in its rivalry with the Taliban for the populace's loyalty. Afghan women are viewed as good intelligence sources, and more open to the basics of the military's hearts-and-minds effort — hygiene, education and an end to the violence.

"It's part of the effort to show we're sensitive to local culture," said Capt. Jennifer Gregoire, of East Strasburg, Pa. She leads the Female Engagement Team in the Now Zad Valley of Helmand province, the heartland of the Taliban insurgency.

"If you show your hair, its kind of like seeing a nude picture here, because women are very covered up," she said.

Women are technically barred from combat units in the Marines, and some infantrymen have been surprised to see them in brightly colored head scarves under their helmets, deployed in the most intense combat zones in the country.

"But ... I think they understand that what we're doing is vital to operations and vital to the counterinsurgency program they want to run," said Gregoire.

Women soldiers were assigned to search women at checkpoints in Iraq, and the experience fed into the Afghan effort, said Cpl. Sarah Furrer, from Colorado Springs, Colo., who served in both war zones.

"I'm not married and I don't have children, so they think that's awkward because I'm 24," Furrer said of her Iraq experience. But as a result, "we're not so much afraid of engaging the women" in Afghanistan, she said.

"I've found you get great intel from the female population," said Capt. Zachary Martin, who commands the Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, stationed in Now Zad. "The women don't want their men out there conducting jihad and getting killed."

Martin said units have frequently received tips from women about weapons caches or hidden bombs.

But just to find the women is a challenge. There were none in sight as Gregoire's team entered Khwaja Jamal, a village of mud brick homes with no electricity or government presence.

While heavily armed Marines fanned out, the four women started by trying to strike up conversations with the few old men and young children who ventured outdoors.

The several hundred villagers grow wheat and opium poppies in the crossfire between Marines and Taliban fighters who are in the woods less than a mile away.

"They look at us through binoculars. They'll kill anybody who talks to the Americans," said Abdul Gayom to explain why the villagers were so wary of meeting the patrol.

1st Lt. Victoria Sherwood was undaunted, talking to him through her Afghan translator. She gave him painkillers for his back, and small presents for the children timidly clustering around. Some of them begged to try on her sunglasses, and promptly made off with them.

Sherwood, from Woodbury, Conn., got Gayom to promise he might let her into his compound to meet his wife, who he said with a shrug is "so old, the Taliban probably won't care."

But there was a snag: The translator was male. Could he be in the wife's presence? "No way," said Gayom, then asked the Marines for more medicine and goods.

Deeper in the village, an elderly woman eventually appeared on a doorstep. Gusha Halam claimed she was 120 — so old she could do what she pleased. Her black head scarf left her wrinkled face uncovered and revealed some hair, dyed bright orange with henna.

"The Taliban took everything from us. Make them leave," Halam said, before her sons and grandsons arrived, stopped the conversation and hustled her indoors.
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ilODQacHaSpLnY9TIeNVrj3jdDSgD9A2QND00
 
#15
I've heard (and it pains me to no end to say it) that the marines are actually doing better than the Army in adapting to COIN and community outreach. I didn't believe it at first, as Marines tend to be the most aggressive people in the US military (I would give them a tie with Army Rangers), but they are also among the most adaptive.
 
#16
Chief_Joseph said:
I've heard (and it pains me to no end to say it) that the marines are actually doing better than the Army in adapting to COIN and community outreach. I didn't believe it at first, as Marines tend to be the most aggressive people in the US military (I would give them a tie with Army Rangers), but they are also among the most adaptive.
Being totally unbiased (well at least trying) I agree. To some extent it is historical in that the USMC was used more than the Army in previous COIN situations (the "banana wars" of the interwar years between WWI and WWII) and has done a good deal of thinking and writing about it. Also the USMC experience in Vietnam toward the end of the war with the "Combined Action Program" provided some good experiences with approaches other than the more traditional ones for dealing with COIN/CT operations that were tried by the USMC in Al Anbar Province in Iraq.

It is also easier to make directional and doctrinal changes with a smaller more cohesive service.
 

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