tv Victories CSPAN November 16, 2013 8:00am-9:01am EST
that is why a clear statement rule or the like would make perfect sense, to make sure congress doesn't exercise police power when all it thinks it is doing is implementing a treaty. the last thing to say about state department -- >> the statement about the treaty -- i am sorry. >> thank you. the case is submitted. >> every weekend since 1998 booktv brought you the top nonfiction authors including hanna rosen. >> increasingly women's identity is tied up to their work in a way we may not like. which we may find disturbing and unnatural but when i look at the mayor who was recently chosen to be the ceo of yahoo! when she was visibly pregnant and was asked how much maternity leave she wanted to take and said basically none, the fact that such women exists is not the way
-- i took plenty of maternity leave but i feel like that is the kind of woman there can be space for and the fact that there are some who are happy, do not entirely live in portland, oregon is okay too. >> we are the only national television network devoted exclusively to nonfiction books and throughout the fall we are marking 15 years of booktv on c-span2. here are some programs to watch this weekend on booktv. ..
>> then at 8 p.m. eastern, deborah solomon recounts the life of artist norman rockwell from her book, "american mirror." visit booktv.org for this weekend's television schedule. >> linda robinson is next on booktv. she talks about the role of u.s. special operations forces in the world today and argues that they will be this country's primary military force for many years to come. she was embedded with special ops in afghanistan in 2011. this is about an hour. >> so, ladies and gentlemen, good evening. so i'm the croatian a ambassador. i'm just -- my role tonight is just a host and nothing else.
i'm happy to have for another time in nine, ten months women in foreign 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. and, well, i will, i will say no more except that we are happy, also, that a the embassies -- b that the embassies keep open in washington. [laughter] and, well, my pleasure and honor to have ms. linda robinson here, so -- whom i met at georgetown. we had, we shared one evening, and i must say that probably i was the most attentive of all listeners at your part of the
presentation which has to do with what you are going to talk about tonight. so that much from me. i'm sorry we have drag you from the food so quickly, but time is running. so, patricia. [applause] >> well, thank you so much, ambassador, for having us back again, for opening your beautiful 'em bass a si. -- embassy. we had a wonderful time last year, and we know that this will be another wonderful evening here. >> [inaudible] [laughter] >> we're really, we're truly grateful to be back again, and so good evening and welcome to all our members and guests. thank you all for braving the rain and for joining us for tonight's author series program with linda robinson on her new
book, "100 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 potential -- by the special operations forces and in somalia by the navy seals. and, of course, there's been a lot of discussion and aftermath. most recently to date the kidnapping and release of the libyan prime minister. so i know that you are all eager to hear from linda, so i'm going to be brief. i'm patricia ellis, president of the women's foreign policy group, which promotes women's voices and women's leadership on pressing issues of the day. we, in addition to our author series, we have many other internationallish sues rams --
issues programs and mentoring activities. we highlight senior women officials, experts, diplomats, journalists, all of whom are involved in shaping foreign policy. so our next event, another very timely event on october 15th, will be about syrian refugees, and we hope that you can all join us. before i introduce our speaker, i'd like to extend a warm welcome to all the diplomats here and, of course, to recognize the wfpg board member, sarah khan, of dla piper who is here with us this evening. so it's now my privilege and pleasure to welcome back my friend linda robinson. she's been very generous with us every time she has a book, she comes and speaks to us. and we love having her. we've had her speak in both washington and new york. i'll just give you a few be highlights of -- a few
highlights of her very impressive career. so linda is a very accomplished journalist, author, and currently she's a senior international policy analyst at rand. she has covered wars in iraq, afghanistan, latin america. when she was a senior writer for "u.s. news & world report". she's also been a senior editor of foreign affairs, an adjunct senior fellow at the council on foreign relations, public policy scholar at the wilson center, and this is her third book. so 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'd like to turn the program over to linda. after she speaks, i'll open up
the discussion, and then we'll turn it over to you for your questions. we look forward to a very rich and interesting discussion. so, please, join he in welcoming linda -- join me in welcoming linda robinson. [applause] >> thank you, pat. i'm delighted to be here. and thank you, ambassador parro and mrs. parro, it's just a delight to see you again. and i certainly recognize some faces in the audience here. so i would like to leave enough time to have a conversation about the aspects of my book and this topic that interests you and, of course, subject myself to the grilling by pat, a fellow journalist from latin america days. but i thought i better lay the groundwork with, because this is a, it's a complex topic, and i've been very involved in research on special operations forces for many years.
so i can go down rabbit holes. what i'd like to do tell you a little bit about the book, how i researched it and the specific subject matter of the book but then broaden out to some of the future of special operations issues, the policy issues and the institutional changes that are going on within the special ops community. and that may get a little bit wonky, but i think this is a pretty wonky crowd. [laughter] so to start 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 country-wide effort to raise civil defense, civilians who volunteered to be defenders of their villages. and as part of a broader 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 would 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 12-14 member teams spread out all over afghanistan. but as you know the if you've followed that war at all, the taliban and the l al-qaeda-related threat is really on the east and the south. so i decided i needed to focus in those areas even though these teams were spread out in every part of the country. i picked three provinces, kunar, paktika and kandahar. and then i drilled down even further because they had assigned one team per district in the key districts that they 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 homes that encompass their livestock yard, and it's really an enclosed living area. i spent very little time in kabul, although i did visit the commands on each visit and sort of worked my way down so i understood what the various the diplomatic side and the high command level was saying and thinking about b the war effort. but i really concentrated my time and my focus on this village level. so i have some broader comments i can make about the war, am happy to do that. but what i was really looking at after ten years of a very heavy focus in the special operations community on what is called the kill and capture aspect, the
direct action, the kinetic activity going after enemy elements; terrorists, insur p gents -- insurgents, armed elements. 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 trying to go into a village, understand what their issues were, understand why the taliban had sunk roots into that area and help hem work through some -- them work through some of those problems. so i can go into greater depth about the various stages, but the nutshell of the defense program was 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 about this and referred to these groups as militias. but militias in the afghan context really connote those 10,000 and larger groups that were formed in the era of the
soviet occupation earlier, and that is how i use militias. 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 going off and becoming rogue elements was to tie them into the formal government structure, the district chief of police, the provincial chief of police and the ministry of interior which has the formal purview over police in afghanistan. now, that ladder connectivity is -- was and still is a work in progress, because afghanistan has never had government that has reached all the way down to the district level, much less the village level. so it was a -- the concept of this initiative was first and foremost trying to get the locals who wanted to defend their villages against the taliban to do so. give them training and give them
arms, small arms to do that, but make sure they were picked by the village elders and overseen by the elders. then in the cases where you had district chiefs of police who were not corrupt, who were wanting to do their jobs and who were willing and competent enough to help insure a flow, because all of this -- their pay, the ammunition -- all of the supplies, the vehicles, they had trucks and later they got motorcycles, all of this was flowing through the afghan channels after the initial start-up. so it was really an incredibly difficult program to try to make this whole system work. and i have to say this is what i call the hard work of 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 and go and railed a compound -- raid a compound, but that is not all they do. and what i've really tried to investigate in my career and in this latest project is that other side. and they really emphasize how do we help the people in those countries take care of themselves, defend themselves, build up their own security structures and connect their country? it is not and i don't want you to take away from this that i am a polly ana, that it's easy and that a they did it with no -- and that they did it with no problems. if you read the book, you will find they encountered problems every day; small problems, big problems. in fact, the first commander when i went in to begin this project, the special ops general that was then in charge of it -- and he's actually back there now, general scott miller -- he said, he just 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 worked. and in regards to what worked, you know, people are very pessimistic about the future of afghanistan, and i actually think the afghans are probably going to surprise us all with their will and ability to defend their country. they will just probably to it more if their own way than an american-style way. and where i think in this program had the most impact included a couple of very, very critical areas. kunar province -- and particularly southern kunar province which is the most heavily populated area of that key province right along the border with pakistan -- and paktika province, another province where i spent a lot of time, that province had very little emphasis by the u.s. forces and the coalition forces. they, there were some afghan national army units there.
there were some afghan police units there. from what i could tell, the afghan army, they were -- the commanders and the soldiers -- were largely from other parts of afghanistan, and they largely stayed in their posts. so these local defenders as they grew became really, i think, the gru of that profits -- the glue of that province. and they wound up sort of in a series of building blocks. as villagers came out from their towns and said we want to be part of this, and they wanted to build their little op or outpost, their watch towers outside 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, because 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
the capital, the area started becoming secure. and the villagers would tell me, and the special operations teams just concluded it was as much as anything psychological, they were saying we now have this territory, and the taliban would go back into some still very conflicted areas. but one reason why i'm lingering for a moment on paktika is because the provincial chief of police there, he's from a tribe which is where the base of the haqqani network is. so that is one of the key insurgent networks that's both allied with the al-qaeda and part of the that'll a ban. so the -- the taliban. so the fact that you have a provincial chief of police from that tribe willing to stand up and use these local defenders to help secure that province, that's why i'm at least modestly optimistic about the future. now, we know as anyone who's followed this war, there are tons of problems with
corruption, there are a lot of problems with the future of the u.s. commitment there, and even though we have built a 300,000 -- 350,000-strong afghan security forces, it is not clear if we abruptly pull the rug out from under in terms of aid, continued advisory assistance and so forth, the whole thing could go poof. so i don't want to be taken as a pollyanna in that regard either. but i think with a small, continuing advisory presence -- and i want to say advisory i with some emphasis because if we just leave a small element of special ops guys there to do counterterrorism raids, that is not going to hold it together, in my personal opinion. because that will not give confidence to the afghans and support these afghans that are out there willing to do the main job of securing their territory. so as you can see, i'm pivoting
a little bit more to the broader policy implications. what does this mean for the future of special operations and for tear use elsewhere -- 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 soft units. there were almost 15,000 special operators in afghanistan, which is a huge number. that also includes the aviators, all their support element. so that was an enormous special ops 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 terrorists threats and the problems, by and
large, many of them have rural hinterlands that are beyond the reach of or their own government. and if their populations that want to defend themselves, these special operators really are trained, and now they are, i think, retrained in the arts of engaging with villagers and 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, the talented team leaders that i saw would go into these village shuras and these meetings, and they wouldn't say a word. they were just sitting along the wall, and they were observing, and they were listening. they gave all of their advice before the meeting, after the meeting, behind closed doors. it was all about trying to help those people figure out what was going to serve their interests. and i know this is really contrary to a lot of the unilateral direct action image. and i have to say in some places, probably a combination. i know pat will probably get
into the tool kit of the special operators. yes, there are drones, yes, there are raids, and i'm really just trying to emphasize the partnering aspect. because for my research on the command and, you know, all know admiral bill mcraven who's the four-star commander now of the special operations command, even though he led the operation neptune spear that wound up with the demise of bin laden, he is very, very strong on this need to work through the partners and the partner countries. and even though there are, i think, some people in this town that really believe you can solve these problems by sending in seal team six in the dead of night and taking out a few high-valued targets, he -- believe me, he really understands that you can't get to the finish rhine from there -- line from there. that may be part of the formula this some cases, but i think that the wave of the future you'll see is much more of sending these teams out at what
level and where. we can talk about that. somalia is one case, actually, where there's been a surprising partnering role that special ops have been training kenyan and ugandan units along with a broader effort that includes african union, conventional forces training african union member countries, and the state department has a program of coda that has been supporting training and capacity building. so that may not be be as exsi in -- sexy in people's playbook, but in my view, that's how you 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'm just give a -- i'll just give a quick other reference. i did a report for the council on foreign relations this spring that goes into great depth, it
recommends 16 institutional changes that from my research would most help this community move, kind of pivot away from the direct action focus to enhancing their or ability to work through partners. so, pat, with that, i'm going to hand it off to you. >> please. thank you so much. >> sure. [applause] >> so, linda, i think before i start on the newsy issues relating to last saturday and use that as a vehicle for getting into what those raids in somalia and libya tell us about the lessons we can learn about the evolution of the special ops and also the challenges that they face and their relations with other branches of the military, i'm just wondering if you could tell us a little bit
about the special ops, how large they are, you know, things like that? what kind of people, how has it changed from the vietnam days? their age, how long do they stay in? just things like that, because i think that would be with a great place to start, and then we can get into the sexier issues of the day. >> good. absolutely. now, this is important, a baseline, who, what we're talking about. currently, there are 33,000 badged, uniformed special operators s and many people are shocked to find out they're that numerous because, again, they think of this very small, you know, unit, seal team six and so forth. but there's actually a large community. the navy seals are, in fact, one of the smaller elements of it. they're quite small. the largest, comprising almost 50%, is army special forces. army also has civil affairs, what used to be called psychological operations.
that's now been renamed military information support operations. terrible acronym, miso. everyone thinks it's a japanese soup. [laughter] so, of course, there are aviators, and there are both army and air force aviators. and the newest component of this special operations committee is the marines, the marines special operations command. and they actually have been out there, all of them, there's a chapter in my book on the navy seals doing this partnering activity. because a lot of them, they're very proud of their public image as being direct action guys. but they have been doing in africa, a lot of places, they've been doing this partnering mission. i was very interested in the repeat visits to the province in afghanistan where the seals were for the two years i was following the effort and also zabul. and these are two of the toughest areas in terms of
terrain. and i would hear many of them joking that they picked that area because it was the hardest. well, it was given to them, but there's an amazing picture in the book that shows some of the terrain, and tear getting air -- they're getting air dropped into their little mud-walled compound of the supplies, and the snow is piled high. it was really quite a challenge for them to get those supplies dropped into that tough terrain. so the force has grown. it's about doubled. it's more than doubled in size. since 9/11. the operational tempo has increased, about tripled. of course, it's going down now. we came out of iraq. they had anticipated staying on there, but there was no follow-on agreement negotiated. the other thing that's occurred is the increase if in rank. -- in rank. they now have about 70 generals and admirals which is
extraordinary. they used not to have that high command. and this is indicative, again, of how their use is 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 a sustained effort. it may still be a small number, but you now have a leadership cadre. and i'd say they're still really growing into this new mindset of thinking in terms of what is a long duration campaign. how do we connect with the state department? before they didn't want anything to do with anyone else. they were in their own little bubble, they'd go out and do their thing, come back. and be often that caused friction. so now there's a big emphasis on these senior leaders understanding how the rest of the government works, how they have to sell what they want and that, oh, by the way, the
ambassador is in charge of any u.s. person that comes into that country. so that's been one of the steep learning curves that they now like, got it. we're not going in there without the ambassador's approval. >> how do they relate and possibly compete with the cia? >> well, there are, i think, in the very beginning as some of you may have read the books of the early days in afghanistan after 9/11, the first people in were cia with special forces teams. and they worked, and they brought back a number of old-timers from the cia who had experience there and a lot of the operators, the special operators told me they got along great with them. then, of course, what happened after 9/11, there was a huge expansion of the cia's operatives because they hadn't had that many. and so they hired a lot of young
people, put them through training, put them through their boot camp and field training. so now there's a whole new generation out there. and i think -- and they've grown enormously. and there's some overlap in what they're trying to do. and there's some friction. now, you will hear -- i would say i heard 50/50. some people were complaining, whose lane, are you in my lane, you know, bureaucratic frictions, but there were also people that had come under fire together, grown very close, mourned each other's losses. and so i would say they're 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 and this is not something that a military command can resolve, 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 there's been, you know, i think if you look back at john brennan's hearings, the current cia director, his confirmation hearings, i think, were very instructive about looking at some of that, how do you draw the lines about who's doing what, and i think they still have to work that out. >> so one more question on the overview. could you just give us a typical profile of who these special ops are? >> yes. as a -- right. on the individual level. and they used to average about 30 years of age, but that age, yes -- and this is especially in the army special forces, because you get these senior sergeants that comprise ten of the twelve-man teams. and this is one reason why there is friction always with the big army or the conventional army, because they look at this special forces sucking away so many of their senior sergeants and many of their talented
senior sergeants. and they say your gain is my loss. so i think it's quite understandable that there's some inherent friction there. but because of the growth -- now, i told you about the expansion to 33,000 overall -- the growth has meant the age has dropped. and they did, in order to expand the ranks of the special operations forces, today began taking in what they call -- they began taking in what they call direct accession or initial accession green berets who could apply right off the street. they would be sent to basic training, and then they would come into 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. and i mentioned that there were some downsides.
there were some frictions putting conventional infantry squads together in these mud-walled areas because these were young kids. i'm old enough, i can say kids. these were young men. and you just have to have a certain level of maturity out there to be able to handle that long tour. the longest tour was 31 months -- 31 months. -- 11 months. that's a long and torturous tour to be on. >> so turning to the raids in libya and somalia this past weekend, what kind of lessons can we learn from this? are we going to be seeing more of these operations? are these substitutes for drones? why was one successful, why wasn't the other successful? and in terms of partnerships, part of the flap was that one government was denying that they knew in advance that this was
going to go on and things like that. so if you could tell us, you know, 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. >> from yes. and i think i'll take your last point first, because i think that's so important. obviously, in the case there was a protest from the libyan government of the raid that had gone this there to capture al-libi who was indicted in the 1998 embassy bombings in kenya and tanzania. and in the case of somalia, that government had supported that attempted raid to capture another, a member of al-shabaab who is allegedly involved in some plotting of attacks out in the broader east africa area as well as potentially an embassy bombing connection as well. and i want to note, you know, we've had, for example, with the government of pakistan this kind of two-step thing where they
would protest drone strikes, but they'd actually given tacit consent reportedly. so sometimes a government will protest because it wants to maintain that ability to do so and say we're protecting our sovereignty. i actually think it's extremely critical to try to always gain the consent of that host nation government because it presents a united front. and the whole -- i think the success or failure of any kind of counterterrorism initiative really rests on having a solid coalition that is a rule-based coalition and that counters the image of groups that prosecute their campaign by killing civilians, essentially. wanton acts of terrorism. so i think the more you can make that contrast clear and the more you go away from a unilateral
we're invading your sovereignty, we're coming in to get this guy because we think we should get them, you know, i just think it helps us down the road toward making clear who are the good guys, who are the bad guys. now, there are rationales, and i think the standard that's developing and that is perhaps going to be increasingly observed is the use of unilateral direct force is reserved for clearly dire and imminent threats to vital national interests. and that's easy to say, but i would, 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 restricted use of drones. so i look at the special operations tool kit as really comprising three main elements; drones, raids and partnering. now, raids can be done in a partnered fashion and, again, if you have that that participation
of the host country, that takes you a long way down the road, i think, toward an acceptable use of force. but 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 units, kenyan and ugandan as i mentioned, were instrumental in pushing al-shabaab out of mogadishu and retaking an important port city in the south. and so i think that kind of helps somalia, if you like. they're not being attacked so much as helped. and i think that's really the critical distinction. yemen is a case where, actually, president hadi has publicly accepted unilateral drone strikes, you know? if he deems the threat sufficient that he's willing to allow this, you know, essentially violation of
country's sovereignty for the purpose of getting after the threat, you know? but that may not necessarily be how the population feels. so i think even if you have a held of government accepting unilateral use of force, you really have to look very carefully at what's happening with the population sentiment, and you can find that really becomes a recruiting tool for the terrorist, insurgent or opposition networks. >> last question from me, 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 or -- >> from well, and this -- i just recently since we're on the 20th anniversary of black hawk down and, actually, those special operators just met for their very first recognition of the anniversary. so that was a very painful
experience for those individuals as well as one that had major repercussions on u.s. policy not just in somalia, but i was in haiti at the time, and it really led to a pullback of the effort there, and it led to, i think, a general sense that the u.s. wasn't going to be willing to take risks. but be i would like to point out, i think raids are always intelligence based. you may have good intelligence, you may not. situations are fluid. and the fact that that was a tactical failure 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's much better that they extract themselves, get out, not get their target. they can follow him and try again another day. so to me, i don't think it's necessarily catastrophic that a raid is attempted and doesn't
succeed. but i do think it's important -- and i know a lot of people say, well, these countries don't have capable forces, etc. i have seen capable forces develop over a number of years, and i would say i think the afghan commandos are coming along. we've spent a lot of time with the colombian forces, over a decade plus. so i would just say that people shouldn't think that the only capable forces are u.s. forces. >> let's open it up and take some questions. >> yes. >> and if you could just stand and identify yourself, please? no, just speak up. >> [inaudible] formerly u.s. naval intelligence. my question is, you've been mentioning the kind of new -- [inaudible] partnering, the special forces partnering in larger operations and strategies.
i think hillary clinton generally started the new silk road infrastructure boot strapping program for -- [inaudible] but relevant to all of the -- [inaudible] in the southern tier between the middle east and south asia and russia. how do you think the special forces operating parameters may be able to help or buttress or complement the whole silk road which is more of an economic infrastructure and, you know, bringing all the towns and villages into a broader market economy? >> yes. thank you. that's a great question. and i think it's been pretty clearly established that afghanistan has tremendous mineral wealth and natural resources. but to exploit them, they need two things; enough security to build the infrastructure that
will then allow their extraction and export. and that's why i think it's very critical that the u.s. find in its pocketbook and find in its political will enough staying power to keep a small advisory cadre that will also have psychological effects. i mean, the afghans don't want to feel abandoned, and we -- i know that we have left kosovo, we left a brigade there for a decade, you know? it's doing advisory work. it's not, i think, going to be subject to a lot of casualties. it's 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 we have gone too heavy and too big in of our endeavors. and the trick now is how to do things in an economical way. i would like to say what i -- i followed a very microcosmic
example of the special operators trying to do their bit with development of minerals. in kunar province there's a mineral called chromite, and they have been mining it and sending it across the border to pakistan. and these special operators got this vision, and a lot of support from the population there, to do some modest processing of the chromite so it would be value added, so they would be able to sell it across the border at a higher rate. so they were thinking about the economy as well as the threat level. and that's, i think, emblematic. when you hear the term stability operations, that sort of connotes they're looking beyond just the enemy-focused aroach and really trying to find out how can they help these villagers. but there was a big with, you know, after us pouring a lot of development aid in into that country, you get that kind of
donor, that dependency cycle. so i saw a lot of villages just waiting for a handout. so it's that whole trick, and there are probably some development experts here in the audience, how do you help them but not spoon feed them? you help them find their own way toward the livelihood. >> yes, other questions? well, i'm going to ask you one about partnerships. since we are in the croatian embassy, a new member of the e.u., i'm wondering what type of partnerships are there between the special operations and europeans? >> from well, there is a very robust relationship between u.s. special operators and a host of european nations' special operations forces. in fact, there is in belgium a nato headquarters that is a training center, training and education center that the u.s.
spearheaded, but it's really designed to be a hub for regional cooperation. and nato, nato plus 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. you know, lithuania. of course, we've always had australia, new zealand, british, these countries and the u.s. have historically worked very closely together. the french. but these involved a host of new partners from all around europe. also i think i mentioned before some arab countries, jordan, uae. they are valuable to have muslim countries joining in. they were very effective in
interacting with the village mullahs and so forth. so it's kind of becoming the fad to have a united nations of sof. and i know this is a big moment for admiral mcraich, but you can't really exhort the model to the rest of the world -- export the model to the rest of the world. some countries in a given region may want to cooperate with each other, others may not. some may wish to go and help in another part of the world, not just necessarily be employed in that region. colombia was engaged to some degree this afghanistan, also in africa. salvador went over to help in iraq. so you can have all kinds of coalitions developing. >> yes. other questions? okay. yes. stuart? >> stuart -- [inaudible] george washington university.
i think the -- [inaudible] but you were mentioning the navy, the army, the marines. is there any tension between the various branches and services in terms of who's in charge? >> well, the special operations command is a joint command, and the sof community is a joint community, so it means all four military services participate in it. they trace their roots, though, back to the osf of world war ii. so the cia, you know, and sof trace their lineage back to the same parent organization, and there are cases where operators are she cunded to work at the agency. so there is crossover, but these guys wear uniforms, and they're in the military. they're not in the cia. so that, i think, is important
to be very clear, that they are part of the military. now, what i think is, you know, we had goldwater/nichols, and there were forms that tried to enforce jointness, but there's always service parochialism. but i have a couple of chapters on the evolution of special operations command out in afghanistan. and they had 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, terrific guy who led the j2 section. so there's really a conscious effort for these guys to serve together and form these blended commands. and, again, admirable mcraven 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. i mentioned that the seals, you know, have this reputation of being only direct action guys. and some of them were clearly not terribly happy at being out helping villagers. they'd rather with jumping out of the helicopter or, you know, doing that. [laughter] but, frankly, their leaders understood this is the direction of the future, and basically, they're in the military. they're given orders, and they're told what to do. frankly, i found some very talented seals and very talented marines. i mean, the marines took to this mission very well, and they did it in the south, in the west, some of them in the northwest. so i think that it's important to look at it a as a work in progress. they also have seams or friction with the conventional forces, as i mentioned. and one of the big experiments that was undertaken there in afghanistan was assigning two army infantry battalions to the
special operations teams. and they chopped these infantry battalions up into squads and sent them out, as i mentioned, to these mud-walled communities, and that was very traumatic for the conventional forces to have their subordinate squads, these young guys, sent out. and, of course, the worst atrocity and crime of the war was sergeant bayles in kandahar, terrible massacre. you just -- horrific. i was actually flying to the neighboring district that morning. and i was actually -- we were shocked and surprised that the district i was going to didn't just, you know, erupt in, you know, outrage at this crime. and, obviously, that was a very special case. this individual was just, in my view, just completely off his rocker. but it is, i think, emblematic
of the kind of stressful situation that we put these guys in, and we have to make sure that they're ready, they're ready to do it. >> ambassador. >> returning to -- [inaudible] from patricia, so on croatia. well, given the fact that it is obvious that there is a good proportion in the development of special forces in favor of using soft power rather than just -- [inaudible] so could you elaborate on the role of women in special operation forces? because, obviously, we are -- 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, in the islamic world we will need to see the growth
of the women's role in meeting the threat. >> that's a great question, ambassador. and i first, my 2004 book, "masters of chaos," i wrote a bit about this, and i was prompted in part by the then-commanding general of the army special forces who said we have to find b a way to, in these countries, to connect with the female populations of these countries. i mean, they're roughly half of the world's 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 afghanistan. there were two things that went on. their cultural support teams, they go by different names. the marines called them 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 be, whatever branch. it didn't matter, whatever service, they tried out. they went through a pretty rigorous physical tryout and then went to a training course. and and the idea -- the csts, the acronym, were originally used because the special ops guys were focused on the raids, right? they were focused initially very much on the raiding. they'd get into these mud-walled compounds, and who's going to search the women? cause a big cultural, international incident. we need some women so when we go on target, someone can make sure that who's under that burka isn't a guy with a bomb ready to blow us up. this then evolved into what i saw out there was women going out, you know, with their
scarves on to engage with the women, visiting them in their home, offering them sewing classes, doing different things to try to engage with the women. now, in some cases, in the places that were the most conservative, culturally conservative parts of a very, very conservative country. and in some cases it did not work. these women 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. and also i just have to say, to me, i registered some amount of cultural shock just at these women who really, they'd never been out of their village, and of them not very far from their homes to see a foreign woman in a uniform with a gun, not something they'd ever seen on this planet before. and then they'd ask them questions. do you have children? no. are you married? no. and they couldn't fathom a woman
that wasn't married and didn't have children. so just the fact that you're a woman doesn't necessarily mean you're going to be able to connect with your, you know, your gender. the other thing i'd like to say, of course, is everyone is now mandated to be doing studies on can you incorporate women into your forces and. and special operations command is undertaking a huge study to see physically could they pass the and do it? what would happen to these small units occupant this these very austere -- out in these very austere purposes? would it work? and how would the force as a whole react to it? stay tuned. let's see what the recommendations wind with up to be. and i have to say, you know, obviously, i'm a female, i've been out there in the field with these forces, and i always try just as engaging with these populations to really, you know, maintain some proper distance but also negotiate my entree. so that i'm not causing a problem, but also so, you know, so i can get to do the research i need to. and i frankly think it's very
hard. these guys, by and large, they bent over backwards to make sure i could do the research, but i also encountered teams and circumstances where they did not want to see me. they did not want to have a thing to do with me. [laughter] >> great. okay. we have time for a few more questions. yes. lowell, could you identify yourself please? >> my name's lowell christie, cultural strategies institute. i'd like you to respond to a statement in light of your research over these years. the statement is, the worst, most corrupting lie is a problem poorly stated. i want 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 reflection of your time with the potential forces and -- with the special forces and the use
of empowerment inthe stead of power, what was the most corrupting lie that we had? and i just want to reference the difference between a state and a nation. burke said a nation was a combination between the living, the dead and the up born. it's an -- unborn. it's an identity issue. do we have different ways of approaching problems? did we misstate it? >> very thoughtful comment and question embedded there. i think that the, looking back and since i've spent so much time looking at afghanistan, i'll make the comment with reference to that country, but i think it's 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 is not to say afghanistan hasn't changed tremendously in this a decade.
i mean, i have many friends, and my interpreter -- wonderful guy who was a kabul university law graduate who's now the general counsel of the largest cell phone company, and he's part of this urban-educated, young generation that gives people great hope with regard to afghanistan, you know in they will -- if they will stay in the country and help take it forward. but the parts i spent my time in are going to change glacially, and we have to respect that, and we can't have that hubris of saying if we just pump enough money or enough troops or, you know, enough social scientists into the country that we can transform it. now, with regard to states or nations, you know, i have a little bit of a concern, you know? and backstopped by the amount of time i spent in iraq. and many people said, oh, that country's just going to fly apart because it's kurds and sunni and shia.
but there was also a state identity, and i think despite it being imposed through the colonial experience be, i think that i, you know, i'm a little bit more cautious about saying whether nations or tribal identity trump state formationings. and i do think -- formations. and i do think we have still a world that operates on the basis of states. that's not to say borders can't change, but i think that it's not an easy or quick thing, and i would be, in my -- i'd be very lost to see anyone say, well, pashtunistan is the solution for afghanistan. that would leave a very fragmented south asia, people were to start talking about carving that up. dividing afghanistan and pakistan is the world's largest, longest undemarcated border. so they still have issues to work out. so many places on the planet do. but i'm not one that would rush
to say let's foster the breakup of a bunch of states. >> well, okay. yes. be she's had her hand up. >> -- [inaudible] american islamic congress. in my time if -- in afghanistan several years ago, there was a very big divide between the capabilities of the afghan army and the police. and i wanted to draw you out a little bit on your comment about your optimism about the afghan security forces going forward, you know, given that, you know, if you dig a little bit deeper, there are a lot of differences within these groups. and, you know, i realize my information may be a bit old, but i just wanted to see -- [inaudible] ..