Joint Center for International Security Force Assistance (JCISFA) held a senior advisor training working group event last week at Fort Leavenworth. The five-day event brought leaders from across the Department of Defense, North Atlantic Treaty Organization and academia to craft recommendations on how to improve senior advisor readiness in support of Resolute Support/U.S. Forces -- Afghanistan (RS/USFOR-A) and Geographic Combatant Command (GCC) requirements.
"One year ago JCISFA undertook the mission to study the necessary requirements for senior advisors to be successful when advising at the ministerial level," said Col. Paul B. Riley, director of JCISFA. "We focused on developing a solution to integrate U.S. advisors deploying to Afghanistan, identifying the necessary core requirements, and standardizing the necessary training and education to support the required objective of the mission."
The DoD identified short-term and long-term problems with current senior-level advisor programs, which were found to not adequately train senior advisors prior to deploying to Afghanistan.
"A year ago when visiting the NATO Joint Force Training Center at Bydgoszcz, Poland, I made several observations of the Advisor Training Program," said Command Sgt. Major David M. Clark, the senior enlisted leader of RS/USFOR-A. "Eighty percent of the U.S. military advisors processing through the JFTC were not participating in any preliminary training or education in the U.S. prior to deploying. Military personnel receiving orders for the advisor mission are not receiving enough notification to participate in stateside pre-deployment training."
The attendees formed working group and conducted several break-out sessions, which focused on three topics: Resolute Support coordination and integration; institutional considerations; and standardization of curriculum.
"There is a difference between the skills required to advise at the tactical level and those skills required to advise at the ministerial level,' said Maj. Gen. Richard Kaiser, who was the commanding general of Combined Security Transition Command -- Afghanistan. "You must be able to convince people at the ministerial level versus telling them at the tactical level. The senior advisor needs to understand the complexities of the ethical challenges within the national government. The Afghan central government is not the United States government."
The work groups recommendations were presented to Air Force Maj. Gen. Thomas H. Deale, vice director for Joint Force Development on the Joint Staff. Deale will take the recommendations to J7 for further review and refinement.
"Security Force Assistance is a critical aspect of our overall security efforts," Deale said. "When you look at our national military strategy the center of gravity is our allies and partners. When you look at the line of efforts of Security Force Assistance, this is how we prevent wars. I look forward to getting feedback from RS on the proposed language presented here."
In the long-term, the Senior Advisor Training Working Group (WG) seeks to codify the lexicon for advisors at the ministry and component levels assisting a foreign government supported by a Security Force Assistance effort, and standardize training requirements for these advisors-in-training and better structured education platforms. The recommendation also included updated training guidance and blended training models.
On December 17, JCISFA will present the recommendations at the IW SFA Working Group for further refinement, which will then be presented to IW SFA Executive Steering Committee members on January 18.
"The greatest challenge for senior advisors is when they try to stamp the U.S. model for operating onto the Afghanistan model, but not fully appreciating it's the Afghanistan model that the Afghans can support," Kaiser said. "This is not a short-term mission, but a long-term commitment to build capacity. Recognizing this purpose will allow the services to better support the training requirements for advisors with the understanding it is not a short term mission."