The Kabul Cable was born out of a desire to contribute to the ongoing discussion about Afghanistan and the US involvement there. While at the Naval Postgraduate School I co-authored a couple of pieces on Taliban innovation and adaptation and Pakistani civil-military relations that really got me thinking critically and sparked some good debate in class and conversations with professors. All of these articles are still mired in the peer review process–which means nobody has read them. The war in Afghanistan won’t be over by the time the Taliban innovation and adaptation paper goes to print and the state of Pakistan’s civ-mil relations may or may not change before the sun comes up in Islamabad. However, the information in both of these articles will certainly be dated and of less operational utility than it might otherwise have been if I had posted it on a blog and sent out a tweet and that bothers me a little bit. I want to have these conversations now–not years down the road.
I volunteered for the CJCS directed Afghanistan-Pakistan Hands (AFPAK Hands) program for several reasons, but primarily it’s because I want to go to Afghanistan on my terms. Experience suggests that volunteering is the easiest way to get what you want or at least to get what you’ve asked for. I did a stint as a Combat Aviation Advisor with AFSOC’s 6th Special Operations Squadron and it was an experience that fundamentally changed my outlook on conflict. To be sure, there is a need for kinetics in conflict, but there is also a need for building both the capability and capacity of other countries. After all, if they can mitigate, suppress or defeat internal problems on their own I say all the better. Advisory work is about what’s over the horizon and that’s what I’ve become interested in, winning or better yet averting the next war. It’s the ultimate long game.
Over the next few months you’ll see a mix of things on the Kabul Cable as I go through language school and complete my pre-deployment training. Much of it will be issues that I am reading and thinking about as I get ready for my deployment. Later this fall I’ll head downrange and the blog will shift at that point and take a new course, one that I haven’t been able to completely sort out yet. The goal will be for the Kabul Cable to serve as a portal into the current events affecting Afghanistan and as a resource for scholars, students, researchers, diplomats and practitioners of war. The blog will focus on the US led effort to transition both the responsibility and authority for control of the country back to Afghans with a focus on the issues that I am working on. As an embedded advisor I’ll have unique insights into the evolving situation in Afghanistan and I want to share it with you.
I intend on writing as frequently as possible downrange and will have updated analysis, daily observations and think pieces from my experience in Afghanistan, inputs from academics, other bloggers and practitioners in the field as well. I’ve got a number of contributors lined up and as the summer moves along you’ll start to see a few pieces from other AFPAK Hands show up. I hope you’ll add The Kabul Cable to your favorites tab, sign up for email notifications and follow me on Twitter at @tyrellmayfield. I look forward to you joining the conversation and the year ahead.