tv Victories CSPAN November 10, 2013 11:00pm-12:01am EST
>> ladies and gentlemen, good evening. i am the ambassador. my role tonight is just to host and nothing else. i am happy to have for another time in nine, ten months the women policy group at the croatian embassy. i'm very happy to have you here as frequently as possible, because these events are really very nice. i will say no more except we are happy also the embassies keep open in washington. [laughter] and while my pleasure and honor to have ms. linda robinson whom i met at georgetown?
we shared one evening -- and i must say that probably i was the most attentive of all the listeners at your part of the presentation which has to do with what you are going to talk about tonight. so, that much for a knee. i am sorry that we have bring you from the food so quickly, but time is running. [applause] >> thank you so much, ambassador, for having us back again for opening your beautiful embassy. we had a wonderful time last year and we know that this will be another wonderful evening here -- >> [inaudible] >> we are truly grateful to be
back again. so good evening and welcome to all of our members and guests. thank you all again for braving the rain and for joining us for tonight's author series program with linda robinson on her new book, "one hundred victories: special ops and the future of american warfare." tonight's discussion could not be more timely given last weekend's events, the raids in both libya by the special operations forces and in somalia by the navy seals. and of course there's been a lot of discussions and aftermath most recently today the kid napping and release of the libyan prime minister. i know that you are all eager to hear from linda, so i'm going to be brief. i am patricia ellis of the
foreign-policy group that promotes women's voices and leadership on pressing issues of the day. we -- in addition to our author series we have any other international programs and then touring activities -- we highlight of senior women officials, experts, diplomats, journalists, all of whom are involved in shaping foreign policy. so our next event, another very timely event, october 15 will be about theory and refugees. and we hope that you ca you can. before i introduce the speaker i would like to extend a warm welcome to also diplomats here, and of course to recognize the double you fpg board members sarah: and paper who is here with us this evening. so it is now my privilege and pleasure to welcome back my friend linda robinson.
she has been very generous. every time she has a book she comes and speaks to us and we love having her. we spoke in both washington and new york. i will just give you a few highlights of her very impressive career. so linda is a very accomplished journalist, author and currently senior international policy analyst at rand. she has covered wars in iraq, afghanistan, latin america. when she was the senior writer for the u.s. news and world report. she's also been a senior editor of foreign affairs and adjunct senior fellow's council on foreign, public policy scholar at the wilson center. and this is her third book. the first one was about the war in iraq, another one on special operations, and for which she
has received many accolades and several awards for her journalism. i could go on but i would like to turn the program over to linda. after she speaks, i will open up the discussion and then we will turn it over to you for your questions. we look forward to a very rich and interesting discussion. so please, join me in welcoming when robinson -- linda robinson. [applause] mac thank you pat. i'm delighted to be here. and thank you ambassador. it's a delight to see you again. i certainly recognize some faces in the audience here. i would like to leave enough time to have a conversation about the aspects of my book and this topic that most interests you, and of course subject myself to the fellow journalists
from latin america days. but i thought i better leave the groundwork because this is a complex topic, and i've been very involved in research on special operation forces for many years. so i can vote down rabbit holes. what i would like to do is tell you a little about the book, how i researched it and be specific subject matter of the book but then broaden out to some of the future special operations issues, the policy issues and the institutional changes that or going on within the special ops community. and that may get a little bit wonky but i think this is a pretty wonky crowd. to start out with the book, i spent two years coming and going from afghanistan to follow what was their largest initiative since vietnam in terms of the number of special operations forces devoted to a countrywide
effort to raise civil defense of civilians who volunteer to be defenders of their villages. and as part of a broad village stability operations initiative. so, this was a very extensive effort spread out all over the country. i had to focus on certain areas so that i wind up with a coherent story. so, i looked at the map and i looked at how they were planning to use these special operations teams. at the peak there were 52, 12 to 14 member teams spread out over afghanistan. but as you know if you follow the war at all with the taliban and al qaeda related threat is on the east and the south. so i decided that i needed to focus in those areas even though the teams were spread out in every part of the country. i picked three provinces kumar, paktika and kandahar.
then i drilled down even further because they had a signed one team per district in the key districts that they all felt there were villagers that wanted to stand up and defend against the taliban and areas that were of some consequence strategically. so i spent most of that two years in the mud walled collapse, which is the mud walled homes that encompass their livestock yard and it's really an enclosed living area. i spent a little time in kabul, although i did visit the command on each visit and sort of worked my way down as a way understood what the various -- vot both ofe romantic side and the high command level -- diplomatic side and high command level. i really concentrated my time and my focus on this village level.
so i have some broad comments i can make about the war and i'm happy to do so. but what i was really looking at after ten years of a very heavy focus of the special operations community on what is called with a kill and capture aspect. the direct action, the candidatc activity going after enemy elements, terrorists, insurgents, arme or in the elem. this was a turn to working with civilians. this was a turn to working with tribal elders. this was a turn really away from that heavy focus on combat to try to go into a village understand their issues were, understand why the taliban have some routes into that area, and help them work through some of the problem. so, i can go into greater depths of the various stages. but the nutshell of the defense program is that it was to be kept small. no district was to have more than 300 of these defenders.
so, you may have seen or read some articles and refer to these groups as malicious. but malicious in the afghan context really to note the 10,000 larger groups that were formed in the era of the soviet occupation earlier and that is how i used malicious. these were really local defenders that were responsible to and answerable to those local village and district elders. now, another step taken to prevent these groups from becoming rogue elements was to type into the formal governmentr which has a formal purview over the police in afghanistan. now, that latter collectivity was and still is a work in progress because afghanistan has never had a government that has reached all the way down to the
district level, much less the village level. so it was the concept of this initiative was first and foremost trying to get the locals who want to defend their villages against the taliban to do so. give them training and give them arms, small arms to do that. but to make sure that they were picked by the village elders and overseen by the elders. then in the cases where you have the district chiefs of police who were not corrupt, who are wanting to do their jobs come and who were willing and who were competent enough to help ensure the flow because all of this, the pay cut ammunition, all of the supplies, the vehicles and truck and later they got motorcycles, all of this was flowing through the afghan channels after the initial start up. so it was an incredibly difficult program to try to make this whole system work.
i have to say this is what i call the hard work of the special operations. there are so many popular images out there that really equate special ops with the call of duty video games and yes they do sometimes jump out of helicopters at night into the compound but that is not hard to do. and what i have really tried to investigate in my career and in this latest product is that other side and we really emphasize how do we help the people in those countries take care of themselves, defend themselves, vote up their own security structures and connect to their country? it is not and i do not want you to take away from this idna pollyanna that it's easy and that they did it by no problems. if you read the book you will find they encountered problems every day. small problems and problems. the first commander when i went
in to begin this project did special ops general then in charge of it and he's actually back there now. general scott miller he shook his head like the weight of the world was on his shoulder and he said there are problems every day. every day. and i will tell you about some of those problems but i also want to tell you about what's worked. and in regards to what worked, some people were pessimistic about the future of afghanistan. and i think the afghans are probably going to surprise us all with there will and their ability to defend their country. they would just probably did dot more in their own way done in an american-style way. and where i think this program had the most impact included a couple of very critical areas. kumar province and particularly southern kunar province right alongside the border with pakistan and paktika province,
another area where i spent a lot of time. that's province had very little emphasis by the u.s. special forces and the coalition forces. there were some afghan national army units. there were some afghan police units. from what i can tell, the afghan army -- the commanders and the soldiers were largely from other parts of afghanistan. and the largely stayed in their posts. so, these local defenders as they grew, they became really i think the glue of that province. and they wound up sort of in the series of building blocks as the villagers came out from their towns and said we want to be part of this and they wanted to build their little outpost. the watch towers outside of the village. and they would run shifts and guard these areas and they were just very simple rudimentary
outposts. but it seemed to almost have a psychological effect. this was a very heavily taliban dominated area. but once these outposts were built all along this main artery from the pakistan border up to sure on in the capital, the area started becoming secured him and the villagers with tommy in the special operations teams just concluded that it was as much as anything psychological. they were saying that we now have this territory command the taliban would go back into some still very conflicted areas but one reason why i'm leaving for a moment on paktika is because the provincial chief of police, his name is dallek on the -- dallah where the network is, so that was one of the key insurgent networks that both allied with the al qaeda and part of the taliban to the fact you have a provincial chief of police from
the tribe went to stand up and use these local defenders to help secure the province that's why i'm at least modestly optimistic about the future. now, we know as anyone that followed the war there are problems with corruption and a lot of problems with the future of the u.s. commitment. and even though we have dealt a 350,000 strong afghan security forces, it is not clear if we pulled the rug out from aid and continue to be advisory assistance and so forth it could go proof so i don't want to be taken at with a pollyanna either. with a small continuing advisory presence -- and i want is a to y advisory with some and desist because if we just leave a small element of the special ops to do counterterrorism that is not
going to hold it together in my personal opinion. because that will not have confidence to the afghans and support these afghans that are out there and willing to do the main job of securing their territory. as you can see i am pivoting a little bit more to the broader policy implications. what does this mean for the future of the special operations and for their use elsewhere? i do not believe that the u.s. is going to be putting 52 special ops teams in any country anytime soon. so, the number one thing is we will not see an operation of this scale, including nato, east european, some middle eastern d. were almost 15,000 special operators in afghanistan, which is a huge number. that also includes the aviators and all of their support elements you need so that was an enormous special office footprint in afghanistan.
i do though think that the model is exportable in a much smaller scale and the reason i think that is because there are still the countries with the terrorist threat and the problems by and large many of them have the rural hinterlands that are beyond the reach of their own government. and if their populations that wants to defend themselves, the special operators were trained, and now they are i think we trained in the arts of engaging with villagers in figuring out how to help them how to motivate them but at the end of the day follow their lead. i can't tell you that the talented team leaders that i saw would go into the villages meetings and they wouldn't say a word. they were just sitting along the wall observing and listening. they gave all of their advice before the meeting and after that meeting, behind closed doors. it was all about trying to help those people figured out what
was going to serve their interest and i know that this is contrary to a lot of the unilateral direct action image and i have to say in some places probably a combination. i know that path will probably get into the toolkit of the special operators. yes there are drones and i am really just trying to emphasize the parts nothing aspect because for my research on the command -- and you all know admiral bill mc raven at the special operations commander even though he led the operation neptune sphere that wound up with the demise of bin laden, he is very strong on his need to work through with the partners and partner countries. and even though there are -- i think some people in this town that really believe that you can solve these problems by sending an seal team six in the dead of night and taking out a few high-volume targets.
he, believe me, he really understands that you cannot get to the finish line from there. that may be part of the formula in some cases, but i think that the way that -- the wave of the future is sending the teams out at what level and where? we can talk about that. somalia is one case actually where there has been a surprising partnering role that the special office have been training in kenya and uganda units along with a broad effort that includes african union, conventional forces training african union member countries and the state department has a program of code that has been supporting the training and capacity building. , that may not be as sexy in many peoples playbooks but in my book that is how you really get to a sustainable solution. i think probably this is a good point for me to pause. we can talk more about some of the institutional changes that
are underway in the special ops command. i will give a quick other reference. i did a report for the council on foreign relations this spring that goes into great depth and recommends a 16 institutional changes that for my research would most help this community moved kind of pivot away from the direct action focused enhancing their ability to work through partners. so, pat, with bat and going to hand it off to you. [applause] >> linda, before i start on the issues and use that as a vehicle for getting into what the raids
tell us about the lessons we can learn about the evolution of the special ops and also the challenges that we face and their relations with other branches of the military, i'm just wondering if you can tell us a little bit about the special ops how large they are and things like that, what kind of people -- how has it changed from vietnam, their age, how long do they stay, just things like that because i think that would be a great place to start and then we can get into the sexier issues of today. select this is important to define who and what we are talking about. currently, there are 33,000 batch u-uniform operators and many people are shocked to find out they are the numerous because they think of this very small, you know, seal team six and so forth but there is a large community.
they are in fact one of the smaller elements. they are quite small. the largest comprising almost 50% is the army special forces. the army also has through the affairs which used to be called psychological operations that's now been renamed military support operations. terrible acronym. everyone thinks it is a japanese soup. there are aviators and they are army and air force aviators and the newest component of the special operations community is the marines of the marine special operations command. and they actually have been out there. there's a chapter in my book on the navy seals doing this partner activity because a lot of them they are very proud of their public image of the direct action but they have been doing in partnering mission. i was very interested in the
repeat business in afghanistan where they were for the two years i was following the effo effort, and if these are two of the toughest areas in terms of the terrain i would hear many of them joking they picked the area becausthatarea because it was t. it was given to them, but there is an amazing picture in the book that shows some of the train and they are getting airdrops into their little compound of the supplies and it's quite a challenge for them to get the supplies dropped into the top terrain. so the force has grown. it's about more than doubled in size since 911. the tempo has increased and about tripled. it of course is going on now.
they had anticipated staying on but there was no follow-on agreement negotiated. the other thing that has occurred is the increase in the rank. they now have about 70 generals and admirals which is extraordinary. they used to not have that high command. and this is indicative again of how they are changing because it used to be tactical teams that were sent out as small teams and employed for very limited and limited duration efforts. now you have a higher-level command overseeing the sustained effort. it may still be a small number, that you now have a leadership cadre. and i think they are still growing into this new mindset of thinking in terms of what is a bold duration campaign. how do we connect with the state department? beforauthority didn't want to he anything to do with anyone else.
they were in their own little bubbles and they would often come back and that causes friction so now there is a big emphasis on the senior leaders understanding how the rest of the government works and how they have to sell what they want and that go b zero by the way, e ambassador is in charge of any u.s. person that comes into that country. so that has been one of the learning curves that they now got it. we are not going in there without the ambassador's approval. >> how do they relate and possibly compete with the cia? >> there are -- in the beginning as some of you may have read the books of the earlier days in afghanistan after 9/11 they had the special forces teams and they worked and they brought back a number of old-timers from the cia who had experience of air and a lot of the operators,
the special operators told me they got along great with them and of course what happened after 911 as there was a huge expansion of the cia operatives because they haven't had that many. so they hired a lot of young people and put them through training and the boot camp in the training. as another ait's another is a ww generation out there. and i think -- and they have grown enormously. and there is some overlap in what they are trying to do. some people were complaining. are you in my lane or the bureaucratic friction but there were also people that have come under fire together, have grown very close, more of each other's losses. so i would say they are still having growing pains and i frankly think there's a problem that can only be solved in washington which is what is the proper division of labor?
and this isn't something that a military command can result because of course the cia is not in the military chain of command and it has to be done as a policy matter here in washington. and if you look back at the hearings the current cia director to the confirmation hearings i think were very instructive about looking at some of that how do you draw the lines about who is doing what and i think they still have to work that out. >> one more question on the overview. can you give us a typical profile of who these special ops are? >> on the individual level, they used to average about 30 years of age but yes this is especially in the army special forces, because you get the senior surgeons that come crying to the -- comprised of a 12 man
team and this is one reason that there is friction and a big army because they look at the special forces taking away so many of their senior sergeants and so many of the talented senior surgeons and they say that your game is my loss and so i think it is quite understandable that there is some inherent friction. because of the gross -- that will do the expansion of the 33,000 overall. the growth has met the age has dropped. they did to -- in order to expand the range of the special operation forces, they began taking what they called the direct assessment -- initial accession green berets who could fall off the street. they would be sent to basic training and coming to the special forces training. so they did not have that infantry background or that army background.
and that dropped the age. they decided after the first couple of years to restrict the numbers that way because you just can't have these teams out there without sufficient experience. if i mentioned that there were some downsides to read there were some friction split conventional squads together in the mud wall because these were very young kids that i'm old enough i can see kids. these are very young man. and you just have to have a certain level of maturity out there to be able to handle that long to her. the longest was 11 months. if you are living out in the complete other side that is a long and torturous career to be. >> turning to the raid in libya and somalia past weekend, what kind of lessons can we learn? are we going to be seeing more of these operations? are these substitutes?
why was one successful and the other was not successful? and in terms of partnership, part of this is that one government was denying that he knetheyknew in advance that this going to go on and things like that. if you can tell us how you see this fitting into the evolution of the forces and what they might be doing in the future and the challenges they have. it's been a guy will take the last first because that is so important. in the case there was a protest from the libyan government that had gone in to capture who was captured in the bombings in kenya and tanzania. in the case of somalia, that government has supported that attempt to capture another member of al-shabaab who was allegedly involved in some plotting of attacks held in the
broad east area as well as potentially an embassy bombing connection as well. the -- i want to note, for example we have had with the government of pakistan this kind of two-step thing where they would protest the drought strikes but they would give consent repeatedly. so, sometimes the government will protest because it wants to maintain that the ability to do so and say we are protecting our sovereignty. i think it is extremely critical to try to always gain the consent of the government because it presents a united front. i think the whole success or failure of any kind of counter terrorism initiative really rests on having a solid coalition and that is a rule-based coalition that encounters the image of groups
that prosecute the campaign by killing civilians eventually. wanted acts of care was him. the more you can make that contrast clear and go away from the unilateral sovereignty coming in to get him a cause we think we should give them i just think it helps us down the road making it clear who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. now there are rationales and i think the standard that is developing is perhaps going to be increasingly observed is the use of the unilateral direct force is reserved for the imminent threat to the vital national interest. that is easy to say. but i would reference the speech that president obama gave back in may at the national defense university that was the beginning of the articulation of
a more restrictive use of drones. so i look at the special operations toolkit as really comprising three main elements. drones, raves and partnering. raids can be done in a partnering fashion and again if you have the participation of the host country, that takes you a long way down the road towards i think an acceptable use of force to be at and again, there may be circumstances in the case of somalia, there were reportedly some forces that were helping in some fashion. i've not been able to confirm their direct role but i can tell you this, special operations trained in the units, kenya and uganda were instrumental in pushing them out of mogadishu and retaking the city in the south. and so, i think that kind of helps somalia not being attacked so much has helped and i think that is the critical distincti
distinction. yeah man is a case where the president has publicly accepted the unilateral drum strikes. if he digs the threat that he is willing to allow this coming year essentially the violation of the country's sovereignty for the purpose of getting after the threat. but that may not necessarily be how the population feels. so i think even if you have a head of government accepting the ideological force, you have to look very carefully at what is happening with the population sentiment and you can find it becomes a recruiting tool for the terrorist insurgent opposition networks. >> is there a lesson to be learned? they said that there was an intelligence failure in terms of the somalia raid. is there a lesson to be learned here for the future? they said there were a lot of
civilians there that they didn't expect. spinet i just recently -- since we are on the 20th anniversary of black hawk down and actually the special operators just meant for the very first recognition of the anniversary. so, that was a very painful experience of those individuals as well as one that has major repercussions on u.s. policies, not just in somalia that i was in haiti at the time and it really went to a pullback. it led to i think a general sense that the u.s. wasn't great to be willing to pullout risks. if you made a good intelligence, you may not. situations are fluid. and if that was a tactical failure it is clear but it didn't turn into a strategic blunder and it would have if they had called in airstrikes and wound up killing a lot of civilians.
so, to me it is much better that they extract themselves, get out, not their target. they can follow him and try it again another day. so, to me i do not think that is necessarily catastrophic that it is attempted and it doesn't succeed. but i do think it is important -- and i know a lot of people say these countries do not have capable forces, etc. i have seen capable forces developed over a number of years and i would say i think the afghan commanders are coming along. we have spent a lot of time with the colombian forces over a decade plus. so, i would just say that it -- people shouldn't think that the only capable forces or u.s. forces. >> let's open it up and take some questions. yes? and if you could just stand and identify your soul, please. just speak up.
>> [inaudible] my question is do you mentioned the kind of partnering special forces partnering strategy and i think that given hillary clinton [inaudible] program inside afghanistan between the middle east and russia and how do you think the special forces operating parameters may be able to help or complement what is more of an economic infrastructure bringing all the towns and villages into the market. >> that is a great question.
i think that it has been pretty clearly established that afghan has a tremendous wealth of natural resources. but, to exploit them they need two things. enough security to build an infrastructure that would've been a lovely extraction and export and that's why i think it is very critical that the u.s. find in its pocketbook and find in its political will enough staying power to keep a small advisory rate that have psychological effects. and i know that we have left kosovo, we left a brigade. it's doing advisory work. it's nothing to be subject to a lot of casualties. if not, we are a very rich country -- it is not going to be anything like the cost of what we have been through. and i actually feel that we have
gone too heavy and too big in our endeavors and now the trick is how to do things in an economic way. i would like to say what i noted -- i followed a very microcosmic example of the special operators trying to do their bit with the development of minerals. in the kumar province -- kunar province there is a mineral they have been mining and sending it to pakistan. the special operators got a vision and a lot of support from the population they are to do some oddest processing of the chromite said it would be value added and they would be able to sell it at the border at a higher rate. so the working end about the economy as well as the threat level. and that is emblematic when you hear the term stability operation. that sort of connotes they are
looking beyond just the enemy approach and looking to tr worko find out how can they help these villages. but there was a lot of development in that country you get that kind of donor dependency cycles so i saw a lot of villages just waiting for a handout. so that whole trick and there are probably some development experts here in the audience how do you help them but not spoon feed? you help them find their own way towards the likelihood. yes? another question. >> i'm going to ask you one of partnership. since we are in the croatian embassy and a member of the eu i'm wondering what type of partnerships are there between special operations the european specs. >> there is a very robust relationship between the u.s. special operators and a host of european nations special
operations forces. in fact, there is indulge him a nato soft headquarters that is a training and education center that of the u.s. spearheaded it but it's really designed to be for the regional cooperation and nato saw a lot of other european countries went to afghanistan as much to work together as to help afghanistan frankly. so it's been a huge training ground for two dozen countries to pool their special operators. lithuania. of course we have also had australia, new zealand, british. these countries and the u.s. have historically worked very closely together. the french -- that these involved a host of new partners
from all around europe and also i mentioned before jordan, they are valuable to have muslim countries joining. they were very festive and interacting with the village and so forth. so, it's kind of becoming to have the united nations and i know this is a big deal for the admiral mccray then that you can't export the model to other places in the world and it has to be what is appropriate for that region and some countries in a given region they may want to cooperate with each other and others may not. some may wish to go and help in another part of the world, not necessarily just be employed in that region. within columbia was engaged to some degree in afghanistan and also in africa.
salvador went over to help in iraq. so you can have all kind of collections developing. yes? other questions. yes. >> [inaudible] >> i think they were largely thanks to the cia. your mentioning the navy and the marines. was there any intention between the various branches and services in terms of who's in charge? >> the special operations command is a joint command, and the community as a joint community. so it means all four military services participate. they trace their roots back to the osf in world war ii. so the cia and soft trace back to the same parent organization and there are cases which
operators are to work at the agency. so, there is a crossover that they wear uniforms and they are in the military. they are not in the cia. that i think it's important to be very clear that they are a part of the military. now, what i think is -- we have the goldwater nichols and there were forms that tried to enforce straightness but there's always service provoked the al-isam. but i have a couple of chapters on the evolution of special operations command out in afghanistan, and they have the whole mix and menu. i mentioned general miller and his chief of staff was a navy seal captain. you had a marine intelligence officer, a terrific guy that led the session so there is a conscious effort for them to
serve together and in the form. again, admiral mccray then has been pretty ferocious on this and i think it's still a challenge. there is parochialism and you can hear people criticize so and so. they have this reputation of being only direct action. and a some of them were not terribly happy being out. they would rather be jumping out of the helicopter doing that. but, frankly the leaders understood this as a direction of the future and they basically -- they are in the military getting orders and they are told what to do and brinkley, i found some very talented seals and very talented marines. they took to this mission very well and they did it in the south end of the west at some of them in the northwest. so i think it's important to look at it as a work in progre
progress. one of the big experiments that was undertaken in afghanistan was assigning the army infantry battalions to the special operations team and they chop them up into squads and send them out as i mentione they meno these mud wall and that was very traditional for them to have their subordinates squads sent out, and of course the worst atrocity and kind of the war was the sergeant out in kandahar, terrible massacre just horrific. i was flying to the neighboring district of this morning. we were surprised the district didn't just a wrapped in outrage
at this crime. and obviously that was a very special case this individual was just in my view completely off his rocker but i think it is emblematic of the kind of stressful situation that we put them in and we have to make sure that they are ready to do it. >> ambassador? >> [inaudible] -- on croatia. given the fact that it is obvious that there is a good proportion of the developmental special forces in favor of using soft power rather than just make it force and progress. could you elaborate on the role of women in the special operations forces? because obviously the volume of
the special operations has to do with the asymmetrical threat all around the world. so i would expect that somewhere in africa and in the islamic world that we all need to see the growth of the women's role in meeting the threats. >> that is a great question, ambassador. and i first -- in my 2,004 book masters of chaos, i wrote a bit about this and i was opted in part by the then commanding general of the special forces who said we have to find a way to in these countries to connect with the female populations of these countries. roughly half of the worlds population and we need to be able to engage. we have to understand how to do so in a culturally appropriate
manner. so that brings us to afghanist afghanistan. there are two things that went on. there is the cultural support team that go by different names. they called and female engagement teams in the case of the special operations they called them cultural support teams. and these were women in uniform, many of them serving army air force, whatever branch. it didn't matter whatever service. they tried out, they went through a pretty rigorous tryout and then went to a training course. and the idea -- of the cst, the acronym, were originally used because the special ops are focused initially very much on the rating. they would get into these mud walled compounds and who's going to search the women? it would cause a big international incident so they said okay we need some wa womeno
when we go on target someone can make sure that who is under that burqa isn't someone with a gun ready to blow us up. this then evil into what i saw was women going out, you know, with their scarves on to engage with the women visiting in their home offering them sewing classes and doing different things to try to engage with the women. in some cases where i went with the most conservative, culturally conservative parts of a very, very conservative country. and in some cases, it didn't work. they were just please leave me alone. and they were nervous about it, and maybe their husbands were not happy about this. so, it was i would say a mixed success. also, i just have to say -- to me i registered cultural shock at these women who have never been out of their village and many of them not even very far
from their homes to see a woman in a uniform of a gun, not something they'd ever seen on the planet before come and then they would ask a question like do you have children tax though, and they couldn't fathom a woman that wasn't married and didn't have children so just the fact you're a woman doesn't necessarily mean that you will be able to connect with your gender. the other thing i like to say is everyone is now mandated to be doing studies on can you incorporate women into the forces and the special operations command is undertaking a huge study to see physically do they passed the test and do it? what would have been to the small units out i of these very austere place is? would've worked anwhat it's word the force as a whole react to it? so i would say stay tuned. let's see what the recommendations lined up to be. and i have to say obviously i'm a female. i've been out there in the field with these forces and i always try just engaging with the
populations to really maintain some proper distance but also to negotiate my own entrée so that i am not causing a problem but also so i can get to do the research i need to. and i frankly think it's very hard. by and large they've bent over backwards to make sure i could do the research, but i also encountered a teams and circumstances where they didn't want to see me or have nothing to do with me. >> okay. we have time for a few more questions. yes, could you identify yourself, please? >> my name is lowell. i would like you to respond to a statement in light of your research over the years. the statement is the worst most corrupt wh body is a problem tht is poorly stated and i want a particular reference with the unique use of the phrase failed
state because the problem and the solution are in the same phrase. you have to create a state. in the reflection of your time with the special forces and the use of empowerment was the most corrupt lie that we had? and i just want to reference the difference between the state and the nation. the nation was a conversation between the living and the dead and the unborn. it is an identity issue. do we have different ways of approaching problems? >> very thoughtful comment and question. i think that's looking back at afghanistan i will make the comment with reference to that, but i think it is true of many places. i think the u.s. really went
wrong in estimating how quickly a country and a culture can change because change is really very glacial and it really has to be motivated. that isn't to say that afghanistan hasn't changed tremendously in the decade. i have many friends and my interpreter, a wonderful guy at the university law graduate who is now the general counsel of the largest cell phone company he is part of this urban educated young generation that gives people great hope with regards to afghanistan if they would stay in the country and help take it forward. but the parts i spent my time in or going to change the racially. and we have to respect that and we cannot have that hubris if we just have enough money or you know, enough social scientists in the country that we can transform it. we can guard the states or
nations. i have a little bit of a concern backstopped by the amount of time i spent in iraq and many people said that country is going to fly in part but there was also a state identity, and i think despite of it being imposed for the colonial experience, i think that i am a little bit more cautious about saying whether the nations or tribal identities trumped the state formations. i do still think we have a world that operates on the basis of the states. that's not to say that workers can't change. but i think that it's not an easy or quick thing. and i would be -- in my -- i would be lost to say anyone say that pashtun is the solution for afghanistan. that would leave a very fragile and fragmented to south asia. if people were to start talking
about carving that place up. of course the line dividing afghanistan and pakistan is the largest and longest unbeaten arcade of the border. so they still have issues to work out. so many places on the border do but i'm not one to rush to say let's foster the breakup of a bunch of states. >> american islamic congress. in afghanistan several years a ago, there was a very big divide between the capabilities of the afghan army and the police. i wanted to draw you out a little bit on your comment about your optimism of the afghan security forces going forward given if you dig a little bit deeper there are differences bigger than these groups. otherwise my information may be little but i wanted to see what your comments are. >> thank you.
that would follow close behind this. let's not be optimistic about how fast the change occurs. number two whidbey we have always forgotten about the police. this is to say i think my biggest criticism of the u.s. military in general of the u.s. government in fact because when we don't have the military trying to train police we have the state department doing it with contracting firms that may hire very poorly prepared u.s. policemen who have no grasp of what these countries out there are like. so we are missing a big part of the problem in the country which is how you get the high-end police forces that are professionally competent but also community policing and i think that is a big gaping hole. there are heads nodding so there are people here that have studied this problem as well. and i just lament. still we are getting out of the big war and stability operations business right now. i don't see anyone saying that
we have cracked the code on that. and i do think i would like to make a distinction because i am a moderately optimistic that afghans want to defend themselves. now would be through a purely volunteer local defense force? that may be the case in some of these places, especially if this laboriously created a system for paying these guys breaks down and the u.s. goes away, which i think is right now looking at the headlines there is an equal chance that we are going to walk away from afghanistan and i just -- that really makes my blood run cold because there's been so much effort and sacrifice not just military. ..