Defense task force on Afghanistan development unravels


The director of the task force, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Paul A. Brinkley, has decided to quit on June 30, a move that has prompted several key members of his 100-person team to announce their departures as well. The exodus has alarmed senior U.S. military officials, including Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, who view the group’s job-creation efforts as an important component of the overall U.S. counterinsurgency mission. The resignations are a result of a few paragraphs tucked into the massive Defense Department authorization legislation Congress approved in January that will cut off funding for the task force on Sept. 30 and direct the Pentagon to transfer its functions to USAID. The move was driven by a handful of key Democrats, then in the majority, who decided that Brinkley’s business-development activities, which are largely focused on civilians, should be overseen by the State Department, not the Pentagon.
Brinkley, a former Silicon Valley executive who joined the Defense Department six years ago to help rebuild businesses in Iraq, contends that shifting his group’s work to USAID will smother an entrepreneurial organization in a risk-averse agency that is more oriented toward providing development assistance than brokering business deals.
“We do capitalism. We’re about helping companies make money,” Brinkley said in an interview. “That mind-set cannot exist in a humanitarian organization. It’s like asking General Motors to make potato chips.”

Read More: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/defense-task-force-on-afghanistan-development-unravels/2011/03/22/ABe2PHSB_story.html

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