A small organization with a very big name
July 25, 2013
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan - In a small Afghan National Army base in city of Asadabad, there sits a small, non-descript, windowless building that houses a small organization with a very big name: the Operational Coordination Center-Provincial.
"From all the security organizations we have a representative here," said Afghan National Army Col. Abdul Ghafar Waheb, director, OCC-P. "OCC-P is one of the [more] trusted organizations for planning."
The OCC-P is a planning and coordination unit. It is comprised of personnel from the Afghan National Army, Afghan Uniformed Police, Afghan Border Police and the Afghan National Directorate of Security.
The purpose of the OCC-P is to bring together these various organizations in an effort to work to find a solution to any issue that may arise in the province - whether it is a terrorist attack by the enemies of Afghanistan, coordinating disaster relief if the Kunar River were to flood a village or coordinating and planning for the 2014 national elections.
The OCC-P will come up with a possible solution and present it to the provincial governor, provincial chief of police and or other civilian officials for consideration.
In other words, make sure that not only does the left hand know what the right hand is doing, but that they work together.
"That is the job and the task of the OCC-P," said Waheb with a chuckle, "to make them work together."
That is a task that is easier said than done
"It's really, really hard," said Waheb.
Part of the problem is that the OCC-P doesn't command any of the forces in the area.
"They do not have tactical control or operational control over any forces," said U.S. Army Col. Brenton Fraser, team leader, Provincial Security Force Advise and Assist Team, Kunar Province, 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). "As long as they are empowered by the provincial leadership - whether it's the governor ... the ANA brigade commander ... the provincial chief of police - they serve a role as a focal point for combined Afghan National Security Force planning as well as civilian-military planning. The combined ANSF forces are at the disposal of those people who come to the OCC-P for planning."
For example; the Afghan Border Police received information that weapons smugglers will be moving a large shipment of arms across the border from Pakistan. They bring the information to the OCC-P and a plan is devised to intercept the weapons. If the plan is to work, then a series of checkpoints and observation posts need to be set up. Unfortunately the ABP does not have enough personnel to staff these additional positions and in order for the plan to work the ANA must supply the additional troops.
Usually all the organizations work together, though this is not always the case.
"The forces here can say no," said Fraser, a native of Swanzey, N.H. "It doesn't happen all that often, but it does happen."
When it does happen, the provincial governor can take the matter up with the individual group's higher headquarters. If that doesn't work, the matter can be brought up as high as the office of the president of Afghanistan.
"Generally, they [the different branches of the ANSF] all recognize what's good for the province and they'll make it happen," said Fraser. "They really do try to work together."
Working together for a better country might sound like a common sense solution.
"Before [the OCC-P] ... we had a military, we had police, but they were not accepting each other's orders, they were not working together," said ANA Col. Said Rahman, planning officer, OCC-P. "This was the right decision to have [the] OCC-P. We've had a lot of achievement['s] through the OCC-P."
In this case, progress in Afghanistan is taking the form of a small organization with a big name that controls no forces.
"It has the opportunity to make them more successful because they don't own the forces, they can't become a bureaucracy," said Fraser. "They're forced to bring people together and it's through the group's efforts that they are able to come up with Afghan sustainable solutions."