The Pentagon isn’t the only group trying to help Afghan farmers; and the U.S. military, owing to the fact that it also spends a lot of time launching raids and drone strikes, does not always have the best access to skeptical Afghan civilians. This clearance requirement creates a new barrier between the military and civilian effort, making their joint mission to help Afghan farmers more difficult.
This is more true than he realizes. Overnight, I had the thought: where the hell is the USDA? They have agricultural specialists throughout the country (pdf), and more specialists working in Kabul. USAID, too, has a fairly robust agricultural development program in Afghanistan. I am not arguing that either agency is effective at what they try to do—I really don’t know—but what concerns me is the blithe assumption that the Pentagon should just step in and fund its own agricultural development program.
I thought, in COIN, we’re supposed to have a unity of effort. Does the DOD ever try to deconflict its programs with USAID or other agencies of the U.S. government? Because sometimes I get the impression they don’t.