Posted By Grim • [March 18, 2010]
Major General David Hogg spoke on the subject of training the Afghan National Army in accord with the standards of Professional Military Education. Transcript is here.
I wasn't able to attend, but I sent in a question by email.
The next question I have was submitted online by Grim from BlackFive.net on the topic of professional military ethics education for the Afghan army. And I'll read this verbatim.
"Specifically, I'd like to know how they are adapting our own military ethics, which are rooted in just-war theory, which is itself rooted in Catholic teachings, to the Islamic culture of Afghanistan's military. Have we tapped any of our Muslim chaplains to try to find an Islamic root for these principles?"
GEN. HOGG: We actually, within the Afghan army, they have the ministry of cultural affairs -- religious and cultural affairs -- that are part of the army itself. And so we're not -- we're not inserting our values -- we're basically the golden rule values and the standards of what a professional military is all about. You know, it's having standards. It's attempting to eliminate the corruption. It's attempting to put in a merit-based system for promotions versus nepotism.
And then so, you know, the basic standards that we expect of a professional officer, that the international world kind of expects as an international standard, is what we're using in conjunction with the Afghans. And that's kind of the direction that we're going there. But we're not putting in -- we don't do the -- we do it based on standards -- standards and discipline and what an armed force is supposed to be able to do. And the rule of law is preached.
The rule of law is important. And it's an international standard. And most of the Afghans that we deal with in the leadership, they understand that. And so it's just a continuous training like we do with our own force.
It's obvious the question was uncomfortable, which is understandable. That wasn't the intent. BLACKFIVE loves ya'll. Still, in formulating your Professional Military Ethics Education (PMEE), you might want to look into these standards. They're pretty good standards, rooted in Islamic jurisprudence.* An ANA equipped with PMEE on these grounds will be hard to beat.
As we discussed yesterday, al Qaeda -- and indeed, the Taliban to a large degree -- violate these standards daily. It's a powerful force multiplier for your military ethics education if the ANA can show the people of Afghanistan that the enemy are bad actors by the standards of Islam. You can't expect, though, that your average ANA soldier will have the theological training or background to make that argument. Our chaplains, or local religious leaders you've found to be expert in the matter, would be of tremendous use to them.
There are strategic effects possible here well beyond the realm of Afghanistan.
* I realize some of our readers will want to comment on the doctrine of taqiya, which is a kind of deception practiced on your enemies. The standards here seem to have been enforced at times within Islam, though, not merely asserted to 'enemies of Islam.' There's nothing in taqiya that would endorse lying to fellow Muslims.