Seth Jones, Baluchistan, & Disclosure

Eyyo, don’t miss the update at the end…

Seth Jones writes an op-ed advocating the expansion of the Afghanistan war into Baluchistan, home of the Quetta Shura Taliban. Who’s Seth Jones? Dude was at Rand for awhile; wrote a book on the deterioration of the Afghanistan war; the book has come under furious attack for being what Ann Marlow calls a “foolish, ignorant and careless work of faux scholarship.” But that’s not all!

I read from Danger Room:

Seth Jones is a RAND Corporation analyst who now works in Kabul for Brigadier General Edward Reeder, the head of Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command[-Afghanistan]

This is about to get wonky, but here’s how Gen. McChrystal described his command role with CFSOCC-A (you can call it “Siff-sockay”) in his confirmation hearing:

COMISAF [that’s McChrystal] has no command relationship [with the commander of the Special Operations Task Force in Afghanistan, or CJSOTF], other than a coordinating role through the DCOS Operations. However, as CDR of USFOR-A [that’s the U.S. military in Afghanistan, which is also under the command of McChrystal, much like how the U.S. military in Europe and the NATO military command is all led by the same dude], the forces assigned to CJSOTF-fall under the command of Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command – Afghanistan (CFSOCC-A) which falls under the tactical control of USFOR- A. This allows COMUSFOR-A to integrate the Foreign Internal Defense (FID) tasks planned and executed by CFSOCC-A  with the COIN plans and tasks executed by ISAF.  Since Counter-Terrorism (CT), Foreign Internal Defense (FID) and Counternarcotics(CN) must be integrated with COIN for operations in Afghanistan to be successful, having CFSOCC-A under the tactical control of USFOR-A helps him synchronize the COIN fight successfully.

In other words, if the war expands into Baluchistan, Jones works for a guy who might be involved in executing how that works — or at the very least, would be McChrstal’s liaison into the command that would run it. (Well, I guess it could go exclusively CIA.) But how does the New York Times ID Jones?

Seth G. Jones, the author of “In the Graveyard of Empires: America’s War in Afghanistan,” is a civilian adviser to the American military.

What the hell? The military has tons of civilian advisers. Very few of them are advisers who are pertinent to precisely the issue Jones is writing about. Why in the world do I have to rely on Noah Shachtman’s eagle eye to learn about Jones’ affiliation with CFSOCC-A? And there isn’t even the typical tagline caveat that “So-and-so is expressing his own opinions and not necessarily those of the Department of Defense.” So am I to presume that Jones is representing Gen. Reeder here?

Update: I emailed Seth Jones about this and he was nice enough to reply. “I was speaking for myself — and am no longer at CFSOCC-A,” he writes. No longer a government adviser, he’s affiliated with RAND still, and will teach at Georgetown University. But why the New York Times didn’t identify him accordingly — that I cannot answer…

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Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman

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