Yazidi Plight Brought to UN by Amal Clooney

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Yazidi Plight Brought to UN by Amal Clooney

Amal Clooney delivers rebuke to UN human trafficking panel.Yazidi

As follow-up to our very own Valerry Mannarino’s article from 22 August 2016 “Girl on Fire”, we needed to share the continuing efforts of Beirut, Lebanon born Amal Clooney as she fights for the rights and very existence of the Yazidi people in Northern Iraq.  Ms. Clooney is a 38 year old activist and attorney who has taken up the mantle of the Yazidi’s very fight for existence, through ISIS kidnap and sex slavery survivor Nadia Murad Basee Taha.  Ms. Basee Taha, a beacon of hope for the Yazidi people, has been appointed as the UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s Goodwill Ambassador.

The two ladies also attended the Women In The World reception and are being featured in an interview with NBC’s Cynthia McFadden.

During her speech at the United Nations, Ms. Clooney share her disgust because the UN is “failing to prevent or even punish genocide because they find that their own interests get in the way.”  Amal continued, “I am proud to know you, Nadia, and I am sorry that we have failed you.  I hope that your appointment today can be a turning point for all victims of sexual violence and human trafficking.”

You can see portions of the full interview here: Amal Clooney NBC News Interview.

For more information about the ongoing fight being waged against tyranny by the Yazidi Women, and humanitarian and educational projects to support the Yazidi People, visit Yazda – A Global Yazidi Organization.

“Ground truth…”





RTS Global Consulting LLC





Girl on Fire – Women Fighters Take on ISIS


Women Freedom Fighters Take on ISIS

By Valerry Mannarino

(Editor’s Note: Please join us in welcoming guest blogger and author Valerry Mannarino.)

In many ways, the actions of the women of Yazidi – who have taken up arms to enact revenge on ISIS for the kidnapping, rape, and murder of thousands of Yazidis – mirror challenges I am managing in my own life.  Having survived several toxic relationships, including one with my father, I vividly recall the time when I made the decision to reclaim my life.

When I was asked to write an article about these women freedom fighters in Iraq I, at first, said, “MaybGirl on Firee.”  Not because I couldn’t connect, but because I knew I’d connect at such a deep level that I wasn’t sure I could remain impartial.  I did a number of searches, watched videos about the plight of the Yazidis, and then I saw the image to the right.  Now it really did become very personal.  The young girl in this photo resembles my own daughter.  I couldn’t help but think to myself that while my daughter is at cheerleading camp, this child, this beautiful blue eyed angel is running for her life.  I suspect it’s images like these that haunt the Yazidi women and give them the fuel – the platform based in justice and revenge – to fight back.

Who are these women?  They are the daughters, the sisters, the cousins, the nieces, and the mothers’ of the thousands of Kurdish people being targeted by ISIS jihadists.  The Yazidis are regarded by some as “devil worshipers” on account of some of their unusual beliefs.  One part of their religious background includes an ancient faith called Zoroastrianism, one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions.  Zoroastrians believe that the elements are pure and that fire represents God‘s light or wisdom.  Fire is seen as the supreme symbol of purity, and sacred fires are maintained in “Fire Temples”.  This sect believes in dualism, cosmic dualism, and moral dualism.  Dualism in Zoroastrianism is the existence, yet complete separation, of good and evil.  Cosmic dualism refers to the ongoing battle between good and evil in the universe.  Moral dualism refers to the ongoing battle between good and evil in the mind of man.  As the people of Yazidi watch their men executed, their women kidnapped and sold as sex slaves, and their children left to die of starvation and thirst – from an objective point of view – I can’t help but ask, are the Yazidi people wrong?

In the summer of 2014 ISIS stormed into the northern Iraqi community of the Yazidi people, killing thousands and sending thousands more into the Sinjar Mountains seeking refuge.  The brutality of the IS militants, whose organization is founded on incredibly corrupt ideology, prompted many to take up arms and to fight back, including many women.  Today the PKK, (Kurdistan Worker’s Party) which is actively engaged against ISIS, is made up of over 40% women who prepare, train, and fight alongside their male comrades.  Many of the women are survivors of captivity by ISIS and have now joined forces to drive ISIS out of Sinjar and surrounding areas.  In many cases, they are volunteers who simply have the foresight to sacrifice the now for the liberation of the future.  [Editor’s Note: The PKK (Kurdistan Worker’s Party) has been directly implicated in continued civil unrest and an attempted military coup in Turkey.  The Sinjar Resistance Units, to which this article refers, are “a non-political Yazidi militia formed in Iraq in 2007 to protect the Yazidi community in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan in the wake of attacks by Iraqi insurgents.”]

To the Islamic State, women are nothing more than objects to be used for a man’s pleasure.  Many videos can be found showing IS fighters sitting around discussing the buying and selling of Yazidi women (for a price as little as a pack of cigarettes), the brutal murder of women who refuse to have sex with ISIS fighters, and Yazidi women and children being burned alive by their ISIS captors.  Blonde haired Yazidi girls, from a minority group of Aryan decent, are especially hated by Daesh (ISIS Arabic acronym).  To ISIS these women must be impregnated, to smash this bloodline.  How does the mind of man reach such a place where human life is to be bartered and so brutally destroyed?  The answer to this question is so simple, yet so complex.  It has been studied by the world’s leading psychological experts and scientists for centuries, the answer lies in the belief system of the mind.

Too many of us wander around our lives going from one activity to the next, having one conversation after another, but giving little thought to what is actually happening around us.  We’ve been trained to unreservedly trust everything that comes through our sensory filters.  If it looks right, sounds right, smells right, tastes right, and feels right, then it must be right.  Until.  Until you have that moment in your life when something happens.  That moment that clearly reveals evidence your sensory filters are corrupt and that you’ve been lying to yourself all this time.  That moment that you realize your mind is in fact being controlled by something or someone other than yourself.

What many don’t understand is that there are actually two minds in operation within every human body.  The subconscious mind, otherwise referred to as our unconscious mind is responsible for the automated functions we engage in every day.  This part of our mind is being downloaded with information about our identity, our family, our cultural and moral values, and our place in the world from conception to around the age of seven because during this time our brains are operating mostly in the theta wave brain state.  Much research has been completed and published on the theta state, also known as the hypnotic state.  It enables every word, every action, every event, and every person that is operating within our reality to implant suggestions that will take root and by which 95% of every decision or choice we make from that point on in our lives to be directly controlled from this “place”.  If our subconscious mind has been filled with hate, bigotry, emotional neglect, and a myriad of other dysfunctions, as in the case of many terrorists, we will likely go into the world providing it for others and looking for it for ourselves.  We will cause pain, even if it’s unintentional.  No matter how much logic we attempt to engage when making decisions and choices, the subconscious mind will dictate how we experience that choice.

The importance of this understanding is, quite simply, that the jihadists are asleep.  They are walking, talking, breathing manifestations of a horribly immoral belief system that was downloaded into their subconscious minds, probably since birth, by the very people they call family and friends.  They lack the awareness, ability, or even desire to engage in objective consideration of their own actions.  This begs the questions:  What would it take to “make the unconscious conscious”?  Would it be possible to “armor them with awareness?”  What would happen if an Islamic terrorist called up his higher mind – the conscious mind – and asked it a question like; if my religion is the righteous one and founded on a God of compassion and mercy, what sense does it make for me to engage in the slaughter and exploitation of innocent people?

The women of Kurdistan have come to realize that psychological warfare is on their side.  To an ISIS fighter, being killed by a woman negates their ever being able to enter heaven.  Simply seeing women in battle fatigues and carrying assault weapons approaching, has them retreating like frightened dogs with tails between legs.  These women know they are fighting the walking dead.  Empty shells of empty bodies whose souls have been destroyed by runaway egos, a very long time ago.

The nearly incomprehensible tragedy is that there are still thousands of women being held captive by Daesh fighters and the money to locate and rescue them is running out.  Non-profit NGOs (non-governmental organizations) from all over the world are attempting to aid the refugees.  We live during a time in history and human evolution where it is now more important than ever for people to wake-up and join the fight.  While there is much being done through organizations like USAID, UNHCR, and UNICEF, there is so much more that ordinary people can do to support victims of oppression in our World.  The big charity groups are well-knownMedicines Sans Frontières, Doctors Without BordersOxfam, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, and Save the Children, just to name a few.

I remember the exact moment I woke up. It was a watershed moment that suddenly, clearly showed me that I had been living in a matrix.  A matrix designed to keep me scared, small, and silent.  Once I saw the truth of life, of how our society operates in a similar matrix, only on a collective plane, I learned that what my captors truly wanted was my true nature.  My nurturing, my compassion, my generous spirit, and the unscripted goodness within me.  When I realized those attributes were my keys to liberation, I was boggled that it took me well over two decades to solve the puzzle.  I didn’t have to launch a counter attack.  I already had the power to unlock my cage.  I just had to start being me. The Yazidi women are the most effective weapon, just themselves.

Darkness cannot exist where there is light.  I imagine the women of Yazidi had a similar awakening.  It’s simply being a woman that scares the militants.  It’s time for society to hang up the neurotic naiveté and when trying to decide which side you belong to, ask yourself, which side feels better?  I’m with the women of fire and my hope is that they continue to send evil back to its rightful place in this universe, the burning depths of hell.

For more information about the plight of the Yazidi, the ongoing fight being waged against tyranny by the Yazidi Women, and humanitarian and educational projects to support the Yazidi People, visit Yazda – A Global Yazidi Organization.

“Ground truth…”





RTS Global Consulting LLC





Source and Background Information

Yazidi Women






Biology of Beliefs


Theta Brain Waves/Hypnosis/Trance State




Mind of a Terrorist Publication







Several paragraphs were from material that wasn’t a singular publication or article.  It was a compilation of many hours of research in studying how one becomes and remains captive, psychological slavery, even when logical and rational thought processing is engaged.  Then on the flip side, what is the psychological and emotional composition of the perpetrator.  I did a deep dive into the making of a victim, and conversely the making of a dangerous person by understanding the childhood environment, life events, cultural loading and other factors in which the person was raised.  Knowing that children are in a theta (hypnotic) brain state in their early years, one can deduce the composition of the family of origin, their behaviors and personality characteristics, and come to a fairly accurate profile of the person that child becomes simply by understanding what was downloaded into them early on.  This is to varying degrees, of course, and no one can properly diagnose a single person or an entire group of people as A, B, or C unless they have been observed by experts over a period of time.

Also, there will be exceptions.  There will be people whose will to do what’s right, is stronger than their will to remain engaged in wrong-doing, for example.  However, what can be determined by the overall actions of a “system” of people, is what the core beliefs of their leaders are.  Leaders in any social system are known for their ability to charm, persuade and at times convince entire nations that something many or most other people would find appalling, is just and sensible.  We only need read a history book to see this concept (Hitler, Stalin, etc.), repeated time and time again.

So the creative interpretation on the profile of a terrorist’s mind in this article is founded on knowing that psychologically and emotionally, there is a break in the psyche of the perpetrator.  Do they actually have awareness of what they are doing?  The short answer is yes, but not in the same way a neuro-typical individual has awareness.  Do they feel guilty?  Yes, it is likely that they do.  However, and again, they do not enjoy a feeling of guilt in the same way a “normal”, healthy individual may feel it.  Their guilt is being felt from a place of shame, and because that shame essentially makes them feel the guilt at a raw, visceral level, it actually causes them to act more atrociously.  The thought process is “how dare you make me feel this and I don’t like it, you must be punished.”  They are not able to understand that the victim they are experiencing reality with right now, is not the person responsible for perpetuating the feelings of guilt and shame that are causing them to act out.  In this scenario, the terrorists have essentially dehumanized a sect of people based on religious views that they themselves hold in their paradigms as heretical and hold the Yazidis in contempt for it.  When you are the target of contempt, you have essentially been dismissed.  That is an extremely dangerous place to live in…

Referenced Field Experts

Robert Hare

Sam Vaknin

Richard Grannon

Melanie Tonia Evans

Craig Malkin

Ross Rosenberg

Lisa Romano

Sigmund Freud

Carl Jung

Viktor Frankl

Pittsburgh Comic Thrives on Success

Comic Shaun Blackham Finds SuccessComic

Once again, we do LOVE everything Pittsburgh!  Most especially when we’ve got something clearly positive — a success story — about a friend from Kiski Area.  The Pittsburgh Tribune article about local comic talent and fellow KA Cavalier Shaun Blackham written by  explores:

Q: So you weren’t the class clown?

A: I was very quiet in school. A few years back, I did a local show, and the guidance counselor from my high school was there.  She came up to me and said she was amazed and shocked at how great the show was because I was one of the quietest people she ever met.

Well.  We DON’T remember things that way at all Shaun!  Hmmm…

As always,  “Ground Truth…”






Leah Smith — Excellence

Leah+Smith+Olympic+Gold+MedalA Pittsburgh Native’s Commitment to Excellence

A March 2013 Athlete of the Week television spot from WTAE, features now Olympic Bronze and Gold Medal winner Leah SmithWTAE’s Mike Clark again featured Leah in an interview only a few weeks ago that moved us to throw in our 2 cents as well!  At RTSGC we feel it is important to seek out and laud Commitment to Excellence wherever we find it!  In this case, Leah is extra special to us because she is not only a Western Pennsylvania native with extremely deep roots but also an Oakland Catholic High School graduate (GO OC!).  We LOVE everything Family and everything Pittsburgh!!

Leah’s focus on excellence comes, in great part, from her family.  In only her second year at the University of Virginia, her commitment and that special excellence derived from her family resulted in the continuation of a family legacy at UVA.  Her finishing time in the 500 freestyle at the NCAA Championships set a collegiate record and her time in the 1,650 freestyle set UVA and ACC records as well.  This is follow-up to her father’s silver medal winning pole vault in an ACC Championship match.

From her “All in the Family” article in UVA MAGAZINE, Errin Whack wrote:  Competing at the highest level might be in Smith’s DNA.  Because of his competitive streak, Smith’s great-grandfather Jimmy Smith, who was an infielder for the Cincinnati Reds, holds the distinction of being the only player ejected from the 1919 World Series, for tirelessly heckling White Sox second baseman Eddie Collins.  Smith’s great-uncle, boxer “The Pittsburgh Kid” Billy Conn, fought Joe Louis for the heavyweight championship twice.  In his first fight he lost by a knockout in the last round, even though he was well ahead of Louis on points.  His second challenge to Louis, a knockout loss in the ninth round, was the first televised heavyweight championship.  Smith recalled being inspired as a young girl by her relatives’ athletic feats, poring over old newspaper clippings, and admiring trophies – including those belonging to her father, Dan.  “I definitely think it made me want to be like my dad and have the same success that he did,” Smith says. “I used it to motivate me in the pool.”

What greater testament to her father and her family could Leah possible be?!  We salute her, her accomplishments, and her family.  Congratulations Leah Smith!

“Ground truth…”



RTS Global Consulting LLC




Management Consulting Group – Planning

Management ConsultingStrategic

Strategic and Tactical Planning


As an ethos, Management Consulting is at the very heart of who we are and what we’re about.  After all, bringing together the highest quality deliverables to address engineering needs, develop process auditing,  manage risk, or guide your project is meaningless if we don’t already have set in place a bullet-proof management plan that will ensure success.  Because of our 70+ years of combined experience in these areas, our Client Family is assured of comprehensive guidance.  In today’s post we’ll focus on one area we absolutely love and thrive upon – Strategic and Tactical Planning.


Strategic and/vs. Tactical

First off, let’s recognize that there is a difference between the two.  Strategic refers to long-term, broad-based business goals, objectives, and even wishes.  The Tactical Plan feeds from the Strategic and is much more short-term (even immediate) and normally narrowly focused.  Finally, a strategic plan is more concerned with the future while the tactical is concerned with the here and now.  To be even more specific, it is possible to have a Strategic Plan without a Tactical Plan but, in the strict interpretation, you cannot have a Tactical Plan without a Strategic Plan.  Why?

For those familiar with the strategic planning/project management process, the creation of action items and assignment of individuals or groups to complete them is a sign that you are nearing the “end of the beginning” in creating your strategic plan.  Many times those responsible for completion are key-persons involved in plan creation resulting in no “trickle-down” to management at other levels – NO Tactical Plan.  In others, the direct result of action item creation is the Tactical Plan and assignment of action items (the tactical plan itself) to management staff at lower levels who have a better understanding of day-to-day mechanics and are more in-tune with “how” as opposed to the “what”.


RTSGC Planning Aspects

  1. We utilize your key personnel, and others, in the creation and facilitation of an Advisory Board.
  2. We guide a review of your company’s Goals and Objectives, Mission and Vision Statements, and previous elucidations (if any), in the strategic plan area.
  3. We arrange for and guide a complete evaluation of your organization’s Corporate (or Agency or Non-Profit) Structure and reassignment or modification of hierarchical metrics, as needed.
  4. We perform an in-depth analysis of Internal Operations, preparing and delivering a report, for the preceding 3 years, minimum.
  5. Following recognized best practices, we guide you in completing a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) Analysis, defining Core Purpose & Ideologies, identifying long-term goals and objectives, and completing an Environmental Scan.
  6. We facilitate the creation of a Media/Marketing/Advertising aspect of your Strategic and Tactical Plans.
  7. We aid your embedded HR department in full development of all key Position Descriptions.
  8. When appropriate we facilitate the process of converting Action Items to a geographically by department focused Tactical Plan.
  9. We annually direct the process of setting in place an operational work plan for the upcoming year based upon creation of the Tactical Plan.
  10. Annually we guide your CXO professionals in defining/redefining aspects of the strategic plan to be addressed in the Tactical (Operational) (Work) Plan.

The planning process is NOT just for large corporations.  In fact it can be especially beneficial for small, family run businesses and non-profit organizations because it brings experts with different perspectives to the table and requires a great deal of introspection from participants.  There are so many other areas in which a properly facilitated and executed plan can concern itself and most of these are specific to you, your company, and the industry in which you operate!  Reach out to us for more information Info@RTSGlobalConsult.com.

“Ground Truth”




RTS Global Consulting LLC


Overseas Contractor Complexities

(Editors Note: Please join us in welcoming guest blogger and author Valerry Mannarino.)

Overseas Staffing Complexities for Contractors

By: Valerry Mannarino

To remain competitive in today’s global economy, many U.S. companies have either expanded overseas or will in the near future.  When it comes to that expansion, few challenges are as immensely meticulous as navigating regulations, policy and culture in order to effectively staff the organization.  From language barriers to extraordinary insurance costs, a successful staffing plan is not a straightforward process.  The primary components that need to be included in establishing a strategy are resources, tax and employment regulations, cultural insight, and the time you’ll need to get the employees in place. It’s not the screen candidates, interview, and make an offer experience.  Yet with patience, perseverance, and some knowledgeable people on your side, it can be enormously rewarding.

Employment law in foreign countries is extremely complex and designed to protect the worker not the employer.  Take extreme care in deciding to hire independent contractors, also known as “service contractors”. An independent contractor may later be deemed an employee by the host country.  This can happen during or after the engagement and can lead to substantial penalties and fees that may outweigh the cost to hire.  Engage with professional assistance familiar with the employment laws of the host country.  Have formal policy in place and documented outlining your company’s position in engaging the independent contractor and any applicable tests to qualify them.  This reinforces your company’s intent to follow the employment laws of the host country in the event of an audit.

Employment tax laws vary greatly from country to country.  The responsibility of whether the paying agent or the independent contractor must make tax payments at the time of compensation, at the time of annual tax return preparation, or quarterly tax prep will depend on the regulations of the host country.  Understand the local income tax policy and both the company’s obligation, as well as the independent contractor’s, to both U.S. and local authority.  Keeping good records and tracking payments made to the independent contractor should be considered a best practice.  In addition all independent contractor expenses need to be charged to the appropriate project and document retention practices need to be adhered to.

In order for a company to be a successful global operation, they must think like global consumers.  While an office in another country may resemble the same environment you are used to seeing in the United States (or your home country), make no mistake there are explicit and implicit cultural differences at work.  Explicit cultural differences relates to the local customs, food, dress, entertainment and even their attitude about things such as work ethic and decision-making patterns.  Implicit cultural differences is in regards to how work relationships are defined in the host country.

Is the decision-making process a group or individual effort?  Should relationships be established before, during, or after entering into a project together?  Language and comprehension skills are daunting.  I recall a situation where I presented an offer to a candidate coming from India.  Throughout the entire acquisition process his response to every request was “sure, sure.”  Then he turned down the offer.  In diving deeper I learned that the culture in India sees it as disrespectful to disagree with a person they view in a higher level of decision-making authority.

Conclusion:  Resources to connect with can be found on websites such as the United States Department of State, on HR websites such as SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management), CEB (Corporate Executive Board), and many others such as LinkedIn groups dedicated to discussions on global hiring challenges.  U.S. Embassies and Consulates can also be of assistance in helping the worker and his or her family transition as easily as possible.  The value in understanding a host country’s employment processes cannot be understated as it can greatly impact the success or failure of your projects.

“Ground Truth”


RTS Global Consulting LLC


Pittsburgh Symphony Sensory Friendly


Sensory-friendly performances, at the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra are open to people of all ages and abilities but designed especially for individuals with autism spectrum disorders, sensory sensitivities, or other disabilities.  The symphony works closely with its Accessibility Advisory Committee and others in the Pittsburgh community to plan these performances, which give patrons the opportunity to enjoy symphony concerts together with family and friends in a welcoming, inclusive, and relaxed environment. Everyone is welcome to come and appreciate the music in his or her own way at our sensory-friendly performances!


We absolutely DO love everything Pittsburgh!

We at RTS Global Consulting applaud the symphony and most especially the work being done with children in our community.

“Ground truth…”





RTS Global Consulting LLC



Seven Virtues of Bushido

The Seven Virtues of Bushido

In consideration of the divisiveness created by the current U.S. Presidential race, we wanted to share something a bit more centered and uplifting, the virtues of Bushido.

The Bushido code is typified by seven virtues (as visioned by Nitobe Inazo):Bushido

  1. Rectitude ( gi) – morally correct behavior
  2. Courage ( yū) – strength in the face of fear and adversity
  3. Benevolence ( jin) – a disposition to do the good, right thing
  4. Respect ( rei) – actions and conduct to others reflecting esteem and deference
  5. Honesty ( makoto) – high principles in telling the truth
  6. Honour (名誉 meiyo) – quality of worthiness and respectability
  7. Loyalty (忠義 chūgi) – strong feeling of allegiance, support, and devotion

Nitobe Inazō (新渡戸 稲造, September 1, 1862 – October 15, 1933) was a Japanese agricultural economist, author, educator, diplomat, politician, and Christian during the pre-World War II period.  By published by 東洋文化協會 (The Eastern Culture Association) – The Japanese book “幕末・明治・大正 回顧八十年史” (Memories for 80 years, Bakumatsu, Meiji, Taisho), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32816856.

“Ground Truth…”





RTS Global Consulting LLC


RTS BLOG Post Inception and Development


How we create and Cultivate Blog Articlesblog

We begin our blog development process with a concise 5-Step Process that is grounded in company CEO Sam Miess’ long-time compelling need to research, develop, and share information –

  1. (Always) Do the right thing, tell the truth, (and for God’s sake) be nice!
  2. HUMINT is the most dependable form of information.
  3. (Whenever possible) share the HUMAN side of every story.
  4. (Lou says) Avoid hyperbole.
  5. Know your subject matter – Research, research, RESEARCH!

“What?”  (You question.)  “Research?  You mean you don’t just simply re-post or re-tweet a blog that someone else has put together?”

We rarely re-post.  Instead, we follow the money and the information to its logical conclusion, recognize our sources, and post what is most meaningful to us as a team.  This takes a LOT more time so we hope that you not only find real value in our posts but that you will also share with family and friends.  In fact, because we LOVE responsible dialogue, we hope that you will feel comfortable in sending us your thoughts, opinions, and questions about our company and our blog!

Finally, always remember…

“Ground truth…”

  RTSGC Logo



RTS Global Consulting LLC
 VE Cert SDVOSB Logo

Cultivate Female Afghanistan Leaders


(In)Effectiveness of Targeted USAID Afghanistan Program

In late 2014 the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced that it would be spending in excess of 400 million U.S. tax dollars on a program to “empower AfghanistanAfghan women”.  Called Promoting Gender Equity in National Priority Programs or “PROMOTE”, it “seeks to advance opportunities for thousands of Afghan women to help them become leaders in the political, private, and civil society sectors”.  Less than 2 years later the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR), expressed concern stating that “the Afghan women engaged in the program may be left without any tangible benefit upon completion” — which could be construed as the American taxpayer having squandered (potentially) hundreds of millions of dollars.

One of the supported activities of PROMOTE is the educational workshop.  In a recent article by Dr. Cheryl Benard published via the National Interest, USAID’s design, staffing, and implementation of PROMOTE workshops was brought into serious question.  The author notes that the workshops are set-up specifically to not provide deliverables like educating attendees on increasing crop yields, basic how-to’s on identifying diseases, or teaching carpentry 101.  Instead they apparently are, “sessions in which women, mostly, and generally the same ones over and over again are informed by their trainers that they are equal, important, and born to be leaders.”  Dr. Benard goes on to explain that the reason why the same participants are seen continuously at these workshops is that, “those who speak good English and have the savvy to get themselves on the invitee list (are) recycled endlessly because that’s so much easier than looking for new candidates.”  Bernard also claims that the USAID trainers direct participants to “practice writing their ‘visions for the future’ on a whiteboard and giving fictitious radio interviews.”  Benard concludes by stating that, “if they play their cards right, (the women can move on) to the advanced class and the refresher workshop and the specialized class on how to run for office.  It can become something like a profession, with free meals, a stipend, days spent in nice hotels and for the especially lucky, conferences in Dubai or Europe or even the United States.”

We at RTSGC believe the PROMOTE program, while striking in planned scope and potential coverage, has fallen short of expectations most especially when it comes to implementation and gaining traction.  “Young Afghans are the future of their country, and our aim is for the young women who participate in this program to be the future leaders of all sectors of Afghan society.” – USAID Afghanistan Mission Director Bill Hammink.  An admirable goal to be sure, however only cursory research is required to find just how non-impactful the program appears to have become.

Created in 2008, SIGAR’s mission is to “promote economy and efficiency of U.S.-funded reconstruction programs in Afghanistan and to detect and deter fraud, waste, and abuse by conducting independent, objective, and strategic audits, inspections, and investigations to promote efficiency and effectiveness of reconstruction programs, and to detect and prevent waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars.  SIGAR also has a hotline that allows individuals to report suspected fraud”.  Unfortunately with little or no ability to affect and enforce change or at the very least to refer for accountable consequences, SIGAR’s exemplary reporting has resulted in limited meaningful action and is unlikely to do so unless the new U.S. administration follows-up to effect change and eliminate waste.  In fact in a December 18, 2014 report, SIGAR states, “the Defense and State Departments and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) were (in many cases) unable to identify the portions of programs that specifically related to Afghan women.”

So, all of this begs the question, “How do Afghan women benefit from this costly USAID program (PROMOTE)?  At RTSGC, this is of special concern to us as our CEO invested many years embedded in-country working with the very people, men and women, the PROMOTE program is attempting to educate and protect.  He witnessed first-hand the well documented physical and mental abuse and oppression of women.  In her National Interest Article, Dr. Benard opines that, “The challenges & atrocities that women in Afghanistan face in order to secure an income for her family to raising children amidst the harsh economic crisis are increasing and it is primarily because of the lack of political will and laws that perpetuate gender inequity at the national level.  When you are highly advanced and living in peacetime, and your switch turns on the lights, you can define “empowerment” as meaning that women should speak up more loudly in the next board meeting.  But when you are trying to dig out from over  forty years of war, and when you were one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world even before that, “empowerment” might (simply) mean: (a dam that brings actual power to your home).”

In a country so fundamentally different culturally from the US, we at RTSGC, agree fundamentally with Dr. Benard.  We believe a more appropriate course of action would be to focus first on completing “bricks and mortar” projects such as power generation and distribution, textiles, rare-earth mining, specialized agricultural development (e.g. saffron production), building new schools, road construction, providing safe drinking water, and other infrastructure type/impactful-on-the-LONG-TERM opportunities versus attempting to dramatically shift an existing culture to a more Westernized way of thinking.  Opportunities for such efforts could synergize with women-owned business development efforts.  In fact, we believe that a much more effective way to spend US tax dollars would be to focus on those ideas and projects that are going to have the most impact, over the longest period of time, impacting the greatest number of people.  Common sense?  You decide.

“Ground truth…”

To learn more…

  1. http://www.khaama.com/
  2. https://www.usaid.gov/afghanistan/promote/
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Inspector_General_for_Afghanistan_Reconstruction
  4. http://www.khaama.com/afghan-women-are-still-hopeless-8904
  5. https://www.usaid.gov/afghanistan/news-information/press-releases/usaid-awards-afghan-women%E2%80%99s-empowerment-program
  6. http://nationalinterest.org/feature/expensive-useless-americas-botched-afghanistan-aid-16491
  7. http://www.rand.org/pubs/authors/b/benard_cheryl.html




RTS Global Consulting LLC