Tag Archives: Computers

Lessons Ignored

The Counterinsurgency Field Manual, written by Generals Petraeus and Amos, contains lessons learned from past counterinsurgencies.  One such lesson is cited below in its entirety:

Building a Military: Sustainment Failure

By 1969, pressure was on for U.S. forces in Vietnam to turn the war over to the host nation in a process now known as Vietnamization.  While assisting South Vietnamese military forces, the United States armed and equipped them with modern small arms, communications, and transportation equipment—all items produced by and sustained from the U.S. industrial base.  This modern equipment required an equally sophisticated maintenance and supply system to sustain it.  Sustaining this equipment challenged the South Vietnamese economically and culturally, despite the training of several thousand South Vietnamese in American supply and maintenance practices.  In short, the American way of war was not indigenously sustainable and was incompatible with the Vietnamese material culture and economic capabilities.  South Vietnam’s predominately agrarian-based economy could not sustain the high-technology equipment and computer based systems established by U.S. forces and contractors.  Consequently, the South military transformation was artificial and superficial.  Many South Vietnamese involved in running the sustainment systems had little faith in them.  Such attitudes encouraged poor administration and rampant corruption.  After U.S. forces left and most U.S. support ended, the logistic shortcomings of the supposedly modern South Vietnamese military contributed to its rapid disintegration when the North Vietnamese advanced in 1975.

From:  U.S. Army Counterinsurgency Field Manual, 3-24, p. 8-10 (176/282), Univ. Chicago (2007). 

Courtesy of RJR.

Teach a man to fish. . .

Give a man a fish and he eats for a day; Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.

One problem–the proverb presupposes that there is a place to fish.  In Afghanistan, the biggest bodies of water are the evaporation lagoons of the westernized wastewater treatment plants and the irrigation ponds surrounding the ANA’s botanical gardens.

The photo at left appeared on the NTM-A website with the following caption:  “Afghan National Army soldiers unpack 70 Dell computers for use at the Regional Military Training Center Aug. 18. The ANA will use the computers to keep track of its supplies in [digital] form.”

Of what little I know about Afghans, this much is certain–“Afghan Right” is not computer-based.  What would Ghengis Khan or Attila the Hun have done with a computer?  So the obvious joy on the soldiers’ faces says one thing to me–PAYDAY (or Fantasy Fishing)!

Don’t be surprised if the billions of dollars of boats and tackle end up in the next Bassmaster tournament on ESPN.