By Brendan Hall, Center on Irregular Warfare and Armed Groups (CIWAG)
July 3, 2013
NEWPORT, R.I. -- U.S. Naval War College (NWC) faculty conducted on site pre-deployment
training for 40 members of the Rhode Island Air National Guard Special Operations Group (RIANG SOG) at Quonset Air National Guard Base in North Kingstown, R.I., on May 21-23.
SOG’s commanding officer, Col. Chris Burns and Maj. Mike Manning, a Naval War College graduate, invited the professors to share their expertise and research with the SOG to help them prepare for their upcoming advisory roles in Afghanistan.
Strategy and Policy Department professors Marc Genest and Andrea Dew kicked off with a one-day workshop on political and strategic developments in Afghanistan. The afternoon session included an in-depth discussion on armed groups and the Pashtun way of warfare.
Genest and Dew, who are also the co-directors for the Center on Irregular Warfare & Armed Groups, finished the day with a simulation exercise on advising local Afghan police forces during the spring fighting season in Northern Afghanistan.
“The RIANG unit is being deployed to Afghanistan at a time of great uncertainty, with ISAF (International drawing down, Afghan elections in April, and the Taliban remaining a deadly threat,” said Genest. “It was an honor to be asked to brief these remarkable professionals. We had a frank and productive discussion about the challenges and opportunities they will face during their deployment to Afghanistan.”
During the second day, professors Derek Reveron and James Cook, National Security Affairs, both veterans of Afghanistan, discussed how the SOG’s mission supported U.S. goals in Afghanistan.
Cook, who served as a plans and operations officer in Regional Commands East and South in Afghanistan, provided a strategic and operational overview that focused on transitioning security responsibilities to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and the importance of the upcoming Afghanistan presidential election as major events during the SOG’s deployment. Cook also emphasized the importance of supporting the RIANG soldiers as they prepared to deploy.
“It is truly rewarding to help these soldiers prepare for their upcoming deployment,” said Cook. “[The soldiers] will play a critical role in advising and assisting the ANSF to provide security and stability that the Afghan population deserves after more than 30 years of continuous fighting.”
Reveron, who led intelligence operations at the NATO Training Mission, discussed efforts to build the ANSF and emphasized the importance of sustained commitment to support geographic and institutional transition and the importance of the SOG soldier’s mission.
"It's a privilege for a War College professor to assist soldiers going to war," said Reveron. “The special operations soldiers will focus their efforts on training and advising Afghan commandos later this summer.”
As the final event, Capt. Perry Yaw, director of NWC’s Naval Command College (NCC), accompanied six senior students from the NCC class of 2013. The students, representing Canada, Bulgaria, Albania, France, and Germany, shared their perspectives on what it takes to succeed in a multinational coalition and the importance of seeking out alternative perspectives.
“Our senior international students were delighted to help,” said Yaw. “We were also impressed that the special operations guys were leaning so far forward and trying to get it right before they arrived in theater. In my view this kind of cooperation is the epitome of how we all make this work together.”