A.L.L. is live and operational

It started as a lengthy phone call between Old Blue and myself. Thanks to a private online chat group that a whole bunch of us milbloggers talk on, it grew to include Vampire 6 and WOTN. Four veterans of Afghanistan, Four milbloggers, Four guys who care about passing on the Afghanistan Lessons Learned (A.L.L.) to others that are deploying. 2009 is going to be challenging enough for this country in regards to Afghanistan and even more challenging for those that are heading over to risk their lives and spend a year away from home.

The last thing they need to do is worry about a lengthy ramp-up period to learn the unique challenges that the war in Afghanistan has to offer. They need to hit the ground running, which means having all the lessons learned already in their head.

This is where we come in. We call it A.L.L. and it is for all going to Afghanistan. We foresee this blog becoming the one-stop shop of knowledge needed in order to step into the country knowing all there is to know without having physically been there.

You can find it at http://afghanlessons.blogspot.com/

Go there to check it out, and if you know anyone heading to the “Popular, Forgotten War” tell them to check it out too.

7 thoughts on “A.L.L. is live and operational”

  1. Honestly the most important thing that I believe would directly effect the success of anyone going to Afghanistan is crew serve weapons proficiency. M2, M19, M240’s will be used by all, as you know. There seemed to be a large amount of soldiers that werent capable of using those weapon systems.

    Also, drivers training. This might be tough to get accomplished stateside due to the fact that the vehicles used over there are not readily available here for training purposes.

    Honestly in the SECFOR / PMT world these were the two biggest issues that I encountered.

  2. To add to Mr. Sharples’ comments, I would also suggest COMMO as a deficiency in the skillset of those preparing for Afghanistan.

    The lack of familiarity with loading COMSEC with ANCD/SKLs and operating PRC-152’s, PRC-117s and MBITRs is detrimental to a unit’s overall effectiveness. Especially when you’re getting shot at and trying to contact higher for CAS/Fires. Commo is a combat multiplier and it gets us the MEDEVAC/CASEVAC assets we need to save our buddy’s life or limb.

    Everyone from E-1 up to O-9 needs to be able to re-load COMSEC on the fly or understand how to employ TACSAT and load frequencies. Too often units depend on a handful of COMMO “smart” guys to take care of their vehicle and hand-held radios, but when those experts are on R&R, another mission or get injured it becomes a huge problem when you’re getting shot at.

    Everyone needs to be cross trained to take care of their radios. Also, its important to have an effective PACE plan and an Afghan cell phone as a backup(or primary means of communication in some cases when your higher HQ can’t seem to operate/maintain their own TACSAT radio).

    Often I would be sitting in a chow hall listening to someone complain and whine about their radios not working, but when asked pointed questions about their troubleshooting procedures to correct the problem they give you a blank stare and a response like, “well our RTO checked everything and did commo checks before we left the FOB!”

    That’s a cop out, answer. Everyone knows that some of the older HMMVWs have radio mount issues that cause outages when you least expect it. Also, I’m sure we’ve all accidently hit the wrong button or dialed the wrong knob on our hand held while adjusting gear or laying in the prone position.

    EVERYONE needs to know how to look at their radio configuration and get it up and running again on the fly.

    I can honestly state that 95% of the radio issues that were brought to my attention during 12 months in Afghanistan were operator error and not a mechanical failure.

    We need to do a better job of training the commo skillsets in our Soldiers to a finer degree of detail.

    1. Nemesis, funny you should mention that. I have done a lot of mentoring and teaching of future ETTs and I always tell them to focus on the 4 fundamentals, SMCM: Shoot, Move, Communicate, Medical. Sharples (who was one of my soldiers for several years) talked the shoot part, and you talked the Communicate part here. You will see a blog this weekend both here and on ALL that talks to these 4 fundamentals in detail.

  3. Yeah I completly agree with you Bouhammer. The medical can’t be overlooked, but often we settle for a “good enough” solution.

    Again you can’t rely on one medic and a handful of CLS qualified Soldiers. EVERYONE needs to be CLS qualified and SOPs need to be rehearsed and established, especially need to take a look at MASCAL procedures and CLS bag setups. Its good to have a fully loaded CLS bag, but sometimes its best to have a smaller bag or package that has just the items needed to conduct a particular procedure because when you’re under fire or duress it’s easy to forget where you put everything in that fully loaded CLS bag.

    One of my medics put together Grab-and-Go IV packages that had all the items needed to do an IV put together in the order they would be pulled out and used. We had these in our trucks and it was great. I look forward to seeing what you put together on the topic.

  4. Movement would be the other part of this. We worked with several different countries while we were there. The Canadians were the biggest help for us. We changed some of our SOPs because of some tips we picked up from them. We also talked with our Afghan counterparts to find out where some of the trouble spots were, so knowing how to communicate is also a must. Hope this helps some.

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