COIN Violated

I have had the pleasure of talking and corresponding with Canadian Army Lt. Col. John Malevich, who is the head of the Counterinsurgency Branch at the U.S. Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Center, Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Malevich, a tanker by trade, has two years in Afghanistan under his belt. His entries in the Combined Arms Center blog are always worth the read, but this one takes the reader into a dark world already known to many. His straightforward style coupled with compelling content make for an interesting journey and lively discussion.


In his “Winning the War through Power Point: Dilbert Leads the COIN Fight,” Malevich singles out a recent Power Point presentation that was forwarded to him covering operations in Afghanistan. The content is so outrageous Malevich wonders if it might be a joke. The presentation took some effort: It is 30 pages of complex, tangled labels and lines to nowhere. We have finally met the clichéd “Death by Power Point.” See Slide 22 above or view the full presentation, “Dynamic Planning for COIN in Afghanistan“.

Malevich stays on topic discussing the presentation’s content, faux or otherwise. We will wander a bit. Note the “PA Consulting Group”  in the bottom left corner. It appears to be a British firm headquartered in London. Its Washington, D.C.-area office sits in Arlington, Va. PA Consulting seems to be heavy into management and IT consulting, so while Afghanistan can be viewed as a resource management issue, it appears, well, who knows? On the one hand it seems a sad testament if allied leaders are pulling in consulting firms for counterinsurgency advice. On the other, outside opinions can be valuable. Our take: Either it’s Armageddon, or this presentation has been fabricated.

May we suggest a Tarot Card Reader?

Malevich sums it up:

I think the author of this Robert McNamara plan should spend some time in Afghanistan. If there are any officers out there that are salivating over this fantasy they should get outside the wire and actually talk to an Afghan.
Personally, I’m taking this power point to the range. The circles and colors make nice targets.

What do you think?

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