Building Afghanistan's Security
By Maj. Audra Flanagan, 148th Fighter Wing
/ Published December 08, 2010
AFGHANISTAN -- Earlier this year, Joint Force Headquarters' Vice Chief of Staff and former 148th Fighter Wing Vice Commander, Col. Paul Cummings served as a Senior Advisor to the Deputy Minister of Interior for Administration and support during a 7-month deployment to Kabul, Afghanistan. In this capacity, Col. Cummings worked to increase the capability of Afghan Police Forces to take charge of their country by advising and coordinating with the Deputy Minister of Interior.
Col. Cummings was the team leader for Coalition Advisors assigned to Logistics, Procurement, Personnel, Medical, Facilities, Information, Technology, Finance, Force Management and Medical. His counterparts included Active Duty Marines, Army, Italian Carabineri, London Police and Canadian Mounted Police. Most of the Coalition Forces spoke English. Col. Cummings noted that "even though we were from different countries and backgrounds, being military members everyone had a sense of purpose and mission and worked effectively together as a team. If Afghanistan does not turn out the way we wanted, we have proven through this exercise that NATO forces can combine and work together effectively."
Col. Cummings worked with the Afghan Police six days per week. Afghanistan is the second poorest country in the world, with a 60% illiteracy rate and average life expectancy of 44-years. Despite their challenges, Col. Cummings said "the Afghans were very hospitable, always treating me like a welcome guest in their country".
Col. Cummings noted that Afghans are culturally different than Americans. "For example, in a meeting they do not start talking business immediately, they ask how you are, about your family; have a cup of tea, then start the meeting". American media has widely covered Afghanistan's political, economic, educational, corruption, challenges. Col. Cummings stated that "the young Afghan officers he worked with had the education and determination to overcome these problems and do not want to see a Taliban resurgent".
This was Col. Cummings' second overseas deployment. In 2008, Col. Cummings served as the Senior Air Reserve Component Advisor, United States Air Forces Central Command at the Combined Air and Space Operations Center, Southwest Asia. Immediately after September 11th, 2001, Col. Cummings was mobilized with the 148th Fighter Wing in support of Operation NOBLE EAGLE.