Friday, October 21, 2011

Spirit of America Commander Support Program

forwarded note from Gen (ret) McChrystal
I'm on the Board of Advisors for the organization below - Spirit of America - which is an innovative approach to providing support to our units forward as they conduct COIN.  Its a fascinating approach, and as you can see from the description of a Field Rep position, you can see that they approach how they partner with the force in a unique manner.   Would appreciate you pushing the job description below out to your networks to see if we can help connect the right veteran with this.

We’re looking for candidates for our Field Rep position. This is essentially an “embedded NGO” role – working within and alongside military units in RC-S, RC-E and RC-SW. Former military background required.
 -----------------------------Commander Support Program 
Job Opportunity: Afghanistan Field Representative

Spirit of America’s Commander Support Program seeks an exceptional individual with a US military (E-5 or higher) or a US civil service (i.e., USAID/OTI, USAID implementing partner, US Army Human Terrain System, etc.) background to serve as an Afghanistan Field Representative. Our Field Rep will work in close cooperation and coordination with US Soldiers, Marines and US Government civilians and will be responsible for two main functions: 1) providing rapid humanitarian aid and development assistance for needs identified at the local/village level and 2) facilitating Spirit of America’s School Partners Program. 

This is an opportunity to see immediate results from one's work and to directly impact progress on the front lines in Afghanistan. The Field Rep will improve the safety and success of our troops, the well being of the Afghan people and the outcome of the war. 

The SoA Field Rep must have direct counterinsurgency field experience in Iraq or Afghanistan combined with optimism, patience and a great sense of humor in the face of adversity. The 8-month assignment supporting US Marine and Army units deployed to Regional Commands Southwest, South or East will include 3.5 months in Afghanistan, a 2 week leave, then 3.5 more months in-country, followed by 2 weeks of leave. Multiple Assignments are possible. 

The Position & Responsibilities 
The Afghanistan Field Rep will work at the Battalion, Company and/or Platoon levels with direction and guidance from the Regional Command, Brigade/Regimental Combat Team. The Field Rep will be on constant look out for what is needed at the local level. They will work in close coordination with US military and civilian personnel to identify local/village needs; needs where the support of Spirit of America and the American people can make a rapid and important impact, as well as complement, or fill gaps in, military and US Government programs. 

The Field Rep will: 
- Coordinate the delivery of donated goods to ensure they are used where needed. 
- Manage local projects supported with Spirit of America cash, including negotiating, budgeting, handling and documenting the use of cash payments and keeping records in accordance with industry-standard practices. 
- Plan, coordinate and execute Spirit of America’s School Partners Program with US military units in Afghanistan. The School Partners Program helps US troops assist the Afghan education system and improve relations with Afghan youth. US schools are paired with Afghan schools. American students learn about Afghanistan, donate items needed by their partner school and videoconference with Afghan students via portable satellite. - Serve as a conduit for American private-sector expertise to provide input to, and to help develop solutions for, local projects (agriculture, irrigation, economic development, etc.) when needed. 
- Identify questions that need to be answered and solicit a range of input to develop answers. 
- Write up the results and lessons learned of projects supported by Spirit of America. 
- Continuously seek the input and advice of US military and civilian personnel and coordinate and de-conflict potential redundant efforts. 
- Keep senior officials at the Regional Command, RCT and/or Brigade informed of Spirit of America projects and activities. 
- Document with photos, video, blog posts and stories the results from Spirit of America-supported projects. 
- Communicate and closely coordinate activities and projects with all levels of US military and civilian personnel – from Platoon to Brigade to Regional Command. 
- Work closely with Spirit of America staff in the United States to develop creative ways that the support of the American people can be used to make a rapid, tangible difference on the ground in Afghanistan. 
- Engage journalists in covering Spirit of America's work. 

Experience and Qualifications 
SoA's Afghanistan Field Rep with a US military background will have combat, intelligence, and/or civil affairs experience at the Battalion, Company or Platoon level in Operations Enduring and/or Iraqi Freedom. SoA’s Afghanistan Field rep with a US civilian service background will have experience managing civil assistance programs in support of Operations Enduring and/or Iraqi Freedom. Experience in, or with, the private sector will be very useful. Program/project management experience for small- to medium-scale projects ($5,000 - $50,000) is also relevant. 

The Field Rep must instinctively look beyond their own expertise to solve problems, asking "who knows more about this than me" and listening patiently to understand what local Afghans and military personnel know. They must tap into and rely heavily upon local military and civilian know-how. With the help of Spirit of America staff in the US, the Field Rep will look to private sector expertise in the US to help address local needs. The Field Rep must be good at synthesizing different inputs in determining a course of action. Thus, they must have an outstanding sense of the "art of the possible." 

Excellent written and oral communication skills, a strong attention to detail and excellent organizational skills are required. 

Personal Qualities 
The Field Rep's personal qualities are as important as his prior experience. They must be friendly, outgoing, natural relationship builders. The Field Rep needs to have exemplary patience and outstanding listening skills. They must understand that personal initiative, optimism, smiling and a good sense of humor are "secret weapons" that they must in abundance. They must combine a keen intellect with genuine humility and understand that "we" is smarter than "me." "Know-it-alls" need not apply. Neither should those who like to work at a desk. The Field Rep will have very high personal initiative. They will spend the majority of their time interacting with the troops and the Afghan people. Success is measured partly by the number of boots that the Field Rep wears out. 

The Field Rep must build and maintain highly positive relations with military host units and servicemen and women at all levels. They must take direction from US military and civilian leaders regarding where they can/can't go and which projects are not advisable. They need to be able to communicate easily and credibly with all levels of the military chain of command, civilian personnel and journalists. 

The Field Rep will not only be a representative of Spirit of America but an Ambassador of the goodwill of the American people. They must operate with the highest levels of integrity and cultural sensitivity. The Field Rep must also have a deep understanding and appreciation of Spirit of America's decentralized, non-bureaucratic approach for rapid local progress in Afghanistan. 

Compensation will be based, in large part, on the 2011 Military Pay Scale and related to the candidate’s experience. 

Spirit of America
Spirit of America, a 501c3 nonprofit charity, has supported the humanitarian and counterinsurgency efforts of American military personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2003. With contributions from thousands of Americans, and at the request of American Soldiers and Marines, Spirit of America has provided sewing machines, tools, irrigation equipment, school and medical supplies, shoes blankets and more--all for the benefit of local people. This support provides fast, flexible and decentralized improvement at the local level, improves relations and saves lives. 

Interested candidates: please take the time to understand Spirit of America and this position. Then, in an email explain your interest in this position and provide your resume. Also, please describe your field-level counterinsurgency and combat, civil affairs or intelligence experience in Afghanistan and/or Iraq. Contact: Matt Valkovic, Manager, Commander Support Program at

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