Murphy's Law: Teaching Afghans The Drill


October 1, 2015: American trainers and advisors are trying to get the Afghan military and police to pay more attention to OPSEC (Operational Security, as in keeping quiet about operations) and C&C (command and control). One pressing reason for this is the need to reduce the effectiveness of “false flag” (terrorists disguised as soldiers) attacks. The Taliban and other Islamic terrorists have little problem getting army and police uniforms and while only a few dozen hummers and other military vehicles get captured (or “go missing”) each year the terrorists are finding these vehicles most useful as part of these false flag attacks.

A typical false flag attack has the Islamic terrorists wearing military or police uniforms and driving in a military vehicle towards a base or checkpoint. A single such vehicle can be a suicide bomber, the first phase of an attack on a base. Right after the explosion destroys the gate to the base other terrorists gunmen, perhaps also disguised as military personnel, rush in with assault rifles, RPGs and grenades. These attacks fail when the local commanders are keeping track of who is “outside the wire” and where they are. Under these circumstances it is relatively easy to detect a false flag attack before it hits you. These failed attacks don’t make the news as much as successful ones do.

Cultural differences are the main problem here. Americans know the term “what’s the drill?” and what it implies. Most Afghans are more accustomed to simply improvising. Drills, check lists and procedures are not part of their culture. Cell phones and inexpensive electronic communications are a very recent phenomenon in Afghanistan. Americans have been using electronic communications for over 150 years and this led to standards in terms of time zones, train schedules and more procedures. A century ago Americans knew that you had to carefully organize many activities, especially military ones, in order to succeed. While most Afghans are eager to have and use cell phones many do not appreciate the imposition of “drills” and procedure on their lives. Many Westerners don’t either but it is accepted that you have to be very organized to succeed on the job and especially in the military. Afghan soldiers and police are learning the hard way that “the drill” is often a matter of life or death.

American advisors point out that adopting Western attitudes towards OPSEC and C&C also bestows a major advantage in combat because the Islamic terrorists are usually just as casual as Afghan security personnel and even more hostile to adopting Western inventions like strict adherence to procedures. Thus when the Islamic terrorists capture a military vehicle, especially a strictly military one like a hummer, they know they can only use it for a few weeks because they have little access to spare parts or qualified mechanics. The first time something goes wrong with a hummer it must be abandoned. This is a common problem with most Islamic terror groups and it’s partly cultural, partly religious and partly the fact that Islamic terror groups mainly recruit from the shallow end of the gene pool.





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