Civilians are from Venus, Military are from Mars
The one issue that keeps raising its head in reconstructing Afghanistan is the need for a harmonization between civilian and military elements. This has been an challenge not only in Afghanistan but in Iraq and every other operation that we have undertaken in recent memory. It has been stated more than once that civilian organizations be it State, USAID or NGO’s operate very differently than the military. One Rand study comparison stated the military operates as a fire department whereas civilian agencies are more of a police model. The police have a steady state of operations, they patrol the streets everyday, they do community outreach , you simply see them out and about daily. The fire department on the other hand operates more in a crisis mode more reactive in nature. They wait for the emergency call and then respond. It is interesting to apply this to a military/civilian model because in many cases it mirrors the police/fire analogy. The military until recently have been more of a reactive force in Afghanistan responding to emergencies and “putting out the fire.” Civilian agencies have had more of that steady state presence always being visible on the streets and in the villages. This has slowly been changing over the past months with the new US commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal shifting the focus of forces to protect the population and not just hunting insurgents. This is the first step in securing the population and giving the Afghan people hope for a better life. Separating ourselves from the reason we are there will serve nobody’s purpose except the Taliban, the time for just sitting and responding to the alarm has passed-the alarm bell is now constantly ringing.