Red King Chess Piece

Jones/West Point on Afghanistan Challenges

David Jones, a career military officer who now teaches “character development” at West Point, was in Green Bay last week to speak at the annual ethics banquet chaired by the American Foundation of Counseling Services … and he also spoke to a group at St. Norbert College.
Recently, he spent a year in Afghanistan working with the officials there who are trying to create that country’s version of a military academy.  Previously we did that for Iraq.  His reflections aren’t positive:

  • The country is full of bribery at all levels … from within families clear up to the highest levels.  Indeed, he couldn’t trust the academic transcripts of applicants because they were often changed due to payoffs … and he could observe cheating on the military academy entrance exams themselves. There were 2700 applying for 400 spots.
  • We asked our interpreters, “What percent of the national police force do you believe is corrupt?”  The responses ranged from 60% to 80% … in THE institution which should have NO corruption.  Indeed, Jones said that the military considers that they will obtain the equivalent of 25% of their salary from bribery.
  • Here’s one form they don’t consider bribery.  Military officers will stop people on the sidewalks and prevent them from passing.  The expected payoff is the equivalent of $10.  They don’t consider it bribery because they didn’t ask for it; the payoff just happens when they stop people.

How do you deal with that?  Somehow, he said, you have to figure out how to teach within their culture and expectations.  Otherwise, they won’t accept your messages.