I Built an African Army – By Sean McFate | Foreign Policy

Today the stage is Afghanistan — a near-failed state controlled by a weak central government, essentially devoid of basic infrastructure. The lessons of Liberia may help. Both countries are relatively underdeveloped and have a war-ravaged modern history. What's more, Afghans and Liberians both lack a sense of national identity as such and often identify first by ethnic group and second as Afghan or Liberian. These factors are challenges for creating a national army in a place where the majority of the population is illiterate, tribal or local loyalties trump patriotic allegiance, and ethnic blood feuds are ancient and deep.

Here, then, is an account of some of the decisions and obstacles we wrestled with in Liberia — an experience that taught me the challenges of creating soldiers and policemen whom children run toward for protection, rather than away from in fear.

Source: here

Network Enabled Capability: Promise and Practise

There’s a great, short article hereRUSI- Network Centric Operations Today: Between the Promise and the Practice that looks at some of the findings the US military (and others) are making trying to put Network Enabled Operations into practice.

A coupe of things caught my eye. (Emphasis mine) In Afghanistan,

improved headquarters performance was reported (after a period of adjustment and with strong command support for the new system), including a dramatic change in how people spent their time � shifting from briefing preparation to thinking about the substance of their jobs. Field reports from Afghanistan also indicate that coalition forces were able to create non-doctrinal linkages to pass intelligence and control air strikes because they found ways to get on to the same networks. However, despite a great deal of press reporting about the �marvellous� networks and communication systems available, most of this work was accomplished with high levels of human ingenuity with relatively modest amounts of new technology.

… and from the conclusion

NCO is, at its heart, about people sharing information, collaborating, and working synergistically. The human element remains paramount.

Metaphors seem to be going full circle here: if business is war and war is conversation then business is conversation.

[Update: Martin has a great quote about network centric organisations here]

[Update 2: Network Centric – hmm – much prefer Network Enabled :)]

Networks and the Military

Martin has pointed, via Ray Ozzie, to “A MUST READ for all knowledge managers”. It’s called Power to the Edge and has been produced by the US’s CCRP (Command and Control Research Program). In fact, there seems to be a goldmine of van Riper style potentially interesting pieces to have a look at.

Anyway, Martin seems to be sold, which is a good enough reason for me to have a read. Will report back. Sir.

[And sorry for all the trackbacks Martin – don’t know what happened]