Sunday, November 19, 2017

Afghan War Blog Weekly Newsletter - November 19, 2017

Welcome to the Afghan War Blog Weekly Newsletter. Articles are posted online on the blog and sent out via email newsletter on Sunday morning. We welcome comments, ideas for stories, contributions, and guest writers! Visit our website at www.afghanwarnews.info, follow us on Twitter at @AfghanWarBlog, and on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/afghan-war-news.


Asia Foundation's "Survey of the Afghan People 2017"


The Asia Foundation conducts an annual survey of the Afghan population and publishes a report on its findings in the fall of each year. The report covers several topics to include the National Mood, Security, Economy, Development, Governance, Politics, Media, Women in Society, and Migration. This years 267-page report is based on interviews of over 10,000 people across many ethnic groups from all 34 Afghan provinces.

Here is an abstract of the report provided by The Asia Foundation:

"Survey of the Afghan People polled 10,012 Afghan respondents from 16 ethnic groups across all 34 provinces, including insecure and physically challenging environments. The annual survey is the longest-running and broadest nationwide survey of Afghan attitudes and opinions. Since 2004, the Survey has gathered the opinions of more than 97,000 Afghan men and women, providing a unique longitudinal portrait of evolving public perceptions of security, the economy, governance and government services, elections, media, women’s issues, and migration."

You can download the report at the link below:

https://asiafoundation.org/publication/afghanistan-2017-survey-afghan-people

Analysis and Commentary on the Survey of the Afghan People:

Asia Foundation Survey 2017 - Security Highlights of Report, SOF News, November 14, 2017
www.sof.news/afghanistan/asia-foundation-survey-2017/


UH-60 Black Hawks for Afghan Air Force


Training Program for Afghan UH-60 Pilots Explained. The first batch of the Afghan UH-60 pilots are almost finished with the first stage of their training. Mi-17 pilots are transitioning from the Russian helicopter to the U.S. utility helicopter. The training consists of classroom work and hands on training in the Black Hawk. The three phases of training cover many weeks. The first phase covers the basics. The second phase (10 weeks long) introduces the pilots to the mission tactics employed by the UH-60. The third phase completes the training.

Video - First Afghan Black Hawk Pilots to Graduate, Resolute Support HQs YouTube.com, November 16, 2017. (2-minute video on the UH-60 program for the AAF).
www.youtube.com/watch?v=k882GyV_pi8

UH-60 Black Hawks - Saving Afghanistan One Helicopter at a Time. The United States military and Resolute Support Headquarters are really pushing the narrative that the UH-60 Black Hawk will be a 'game changer' for the conflict in Afghanistan. However, there are some problems with that story line. Read an informative article on this topic by Pamela Constable entitled "U.S. wants to build 'tsunami of air power' in Afghanistan, but impact is years away"The Washington Post, November 12, 2017.


Train, Advise, Assist, Accompany, and Enable (TA3E)

HIMARS firing in Afghanistan in support of ground troops.
(Photo by U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean Furey)

Marines Providing "Assist" to 215th ANA Corps with HIMARS. The Marines of Task Force Southwest are providing fire support to the Afghan National Army in Helmand province. Of course, the advanced rocket system also provides a degree of security to the Marine advisor teams working across Helmand province at the tactical (kandak) level. The M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System has a range of about 300 kilometers - depending on the type of munition being fired. Read more in "Marines bring HIMARS to Helmand to beef up security", Military Times, November 12, 2017.

1st SFAB 92Y Likes Her Job. The 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade will soon deploy to Afghanistan. Like many units, the SFAB needs a variety of support MOSs to function. Read on how one Unit Supply NCO likes her new job with the 1st SFAB in "Combat Service Support Soldiers take pride in building the 1st SFAB", DVIDS, November 9, 2017.

ATP 3-96.1 SFAB. The army is scheduled to publish Army Techniques Publication (ATP) 3-96.1 in January 2018. It provides doctrinal guidance and direction on how the Security Force Assistance Brigades plan, prepare, and executes operations globally. Could be useful to the 1st SFAB due to deploy to Afghanistan in early 2018.

DoD IG Report on Child Abuse by ANDSF. The U.S. Department of Defense Inspector General's office issued a report on November 14th highlighting the history of U.S. military reporting cases of child abuse by members of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.

SFABs and Governance Advising. Do they have enough CA expertise? Three U.S. Army Civil Affairs officers provide some advice for the 1st SFAB on the art of governance advising. Read "A Governance Advising Framework for the Security Force Assistance Brigade", Small Wars Journal, November 18, 2017.

U.S. Special Forces and Training up the ANASF. Periodically throughout the year a graduation ceremony is held for a group of Afghan Commandos who have successfully completed the ANA Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC). To even apply to the ANASF an Afghan soldier must have served some time in the Afghan Commandos. Read more in "I Serve Afghanistan!: Afghan Soldiers Graduate to the Elite Ranks of Special Forces"Task and Purpose, November 12, 2017.


40th Division to Take Over TAAC South



The California Army National Guard's 40th Infantry Division will soon be in charge of Train, Advise, Assist Command - South (TAAC South). The 40th ID (Mechanized) is preparing to deploy in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel (OFS) and will be taking operational command of the southern part of Afghanistan. In preparation elements of the division staff participated in exercise Allied Spirit VII at the U.S. Army's Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) in Hohenfels, Germany in November. Read more in a news report by the U.S. Army. (DVIDS, Nov 18, 2017).


Commentary on Afghanistan


Peacekeeping Interventions and RoL. Peacekeeping practitioners work with complex systems - namely systems that are disorderly, irregular, and unpredictable. A report by USIP suggests that practitioners may be better at managing confusion and uncertainty by adopting a more flexible approach. Read "Systems Thinking for Peacekeeping and Rule of Law: Supporting Complex Reforms in Conflict-Affected Environments", United States Institute for Peace (USIP), October 23, 2017.

Developing an Afghan Policy. Shazar Shafqat provides his perspective on the situation in Afghanistan. Read "Afghanistan policy is puzzle of unfriendly pieces", The Hill, November 17, 2017.

Absence of an Afghan Strategy. Gerald F. Hyman writes "Trump's New Afghanistan Strategy Isn't Really a Strategy", The National Interest, November 17, 2017. Hyman is a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars.

RECCA & Heart of Asia. The Director-General of Policy & Strategy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, M. Ashraf Haidari, has penned an editorial that informs us about the importance of two Afghan-led regional conferences that aim to provide for greater security and stability in Afghanistan and the greater region. The Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA) meets in mid-November and the 7th Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia meets in December. Read more in "Afghan-Led RECCA and Heart of Asia Processes Can Bolster Regional Stability and Prosperity", Eurasia Review, November 13, 2017.


Afghan Governance News

CEO Visits U.S. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Afghanistan, Abdullah Abdullah, paid a visit to the United States in November 2017 While in the U.S. Dr. Abdullah met with the U.S. National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster - discussing the mentoring, training, and equipping of the Afghan security forces. Read more here (Voice of America, Nov 15, 2017).

RoL Discussion. On November 8th, Ambassador (former) Karl Eikeberry visited Stanford Law School to share his perspective on the new U.S. policies toward Afghanistan. (SLS Blog, Nov 18, 2017).

Loya Jirga? Former President Hamid Karzai has said that Afghanistan should convene a Loya Jirga to consolidate and strengthen national consensus and to get the country out of its current security and political crisis. But . . . current President Ashraf Ghani says "not so much". Read "Calls for Loya Jirga Contravenes the Law: ARG", Tolo News, November 16, 2017.

IEC Chairman Fired. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fired Najibullah Ahmadzai, the chairman of the country's Independent Election Commission, on Wednesday, November 15th. The move raises concerns over whether the parliamentary and council elections scheduled for 2018 will take place. Presidential elections are scheduled for 2019 and the 2018 parliamentary elections were seen as a 'dry run'. International donor countries are placing heavy pressure on running safe and legitimate elections. Five members of the seven-member IEC wrote to Ghani this week accusing Ahmadzai of incompetence. (Reuters, Nov 15, 2017).


Afghan Security News


Photo: A U.S. F-16 Fighter Falcon is refueled by a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, above Afghanistan, November 5, 2017. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Patrick Evenson).

Afghanistan's Elite Police - the GCPSU. The four-year plan for re-energizing the Afghan army and police includes the doubling of the Afghan Special Security Forces (ASSF). This includes the units assigned to the General Command of Police Special Units (GCPSU). Currently the GCPSU is comprised of three operational units - CRU 222, CF 333, and ATF 444. The best known is the CRU 222 based in Kabul that responds to high-threat events. By 2020 the GCPSU will double in size with the creation of National Mission Units 555, 888, and 999. Read more in an article by Marty Skovlund entitled "This Elite Police Force is Afghanistan's Secret Weapon Against Violent Extremists", Task & Purpose, November 15, 2017.

14K the New Number. According to the Pentagon (Nov 14th) there are now 14 thousand U.S. military personnel deployed to Afghanistan.

Drop in Personnel in ANA. The Afghan National Army (ANA) has a significant turnover of personnel each year. Some soldiers opt not to re-enlist, some desert, many are wounded or killed. To replenish the force the ANA relies on a robust recruiting effort. But . . . now it must deal with another factor. The Taliban have refined their ability to intimidate the families that have sons serving in the Army - and forcing the families to call on their sons to desert the army. Read more in "Afghan Army Recruitment Dwindles as Taliban Threaten Families", The New York Times, November 18, 2017.

Senior Enlisted Forum held at RS HQs. Senior enlisted Afghan National Defense and Security Force members met in a forum with U.S. counterparts at Resolute Support HQs for a few days in November to discuss current challenges (and solutions) in their respective units. (DVIDS, Nov 17, 2017).

Taliban Using High Tech NVGs. There are some reports that Taliban fighters are using advanced night vision goggles in their fight against the Afghan government. (VOA, Nov 17, 2017).

Building the Afghan Air Force Inventory. The AAF is increasing its inventory of aircraft while  - at the same time - it grows the number of pilots and maintainers. See "Inside the US military's plans to double the Afghan air force's aircraft inventory", Defense News, November 10, 2017.

Retiring Old, Broke, and Useless Generals. President Ghani is approving the retirement of more Afghan senior officers. The Afghan Army is bloated with old generals who don't even show up for work and it is time to get rid of a few of them! A new plan has 70 % of the Afghan Army generals getting the boot in the next two years. (Ariana News, Nov 18, 2017).

Haqqani Network - Friends and Enemies. Tom Davis, a veteran of two deployments to Afghanistan writes on the international backers and supporters of the Haqqani Network in "The Haqqani Network: International Friends, Local Enemies", Small Wars Journal, November 12, 2017.


Videos and Movies about Afghanistan




First Afghan Black Hawk Pilots soon to Graduate, Resolute Support Hqs, posted on YouTube.com, on November 16, 2017. (2-min video explains the training program for AAF pilots).
www.youtube.com/watch?v=k882GyV_pi8


News Snippets on Afghanistan




Book Review. Melissa Kerr Chiovenda reviews Losing and Winning in Afghanistan: An Obituary for the Intervention Noah Coburn. The author of the book is an anthropologist who spent some time in Afghanistan. The book provides key insights into how the western world's foray into Afghanistan took place - from the standpoint of various actors. The key informants used by the author include a former U.S. ambassador, a former Navy SEAL, an development worker, and an Afghan businessman. Read Melissa Chiovenda's take on the book in "Book Review: Losing and Winning In Afghanistan", Gandhara RFE, November 13, 2017.



Drone Warfare. An article tells the story about the men and women behind the remote-controlled fighting that employs Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPAs). Here is an article that details the costs to the operators and the conditions that increase the risks to their well-being. The two authors of the article, the widow of a Special Forces Soldier and a former AC-130U pilot, offer important recommendations for how to make drone warfare more suitable for the operators. Read "Avengers in Wrath: Moral Agency and Trauma Prevention for Remote Warriors"Lawfare Blog, November 12, 2017.

Trade and Afghanistan's Growth. The World Bank has published a report entitled Trade as a Vehicle for Growth in Afghanistan: Challenges and Opportunities, November 16, 2017. This 94-page report presents four key findings and provides three recommendations.

Gas Turbines to Increase Afghanistan's Power Supply. The Siemens SGT-A45 aeroderivative gas turbine is designed to be set up in two weeks and can supply immediate power to the electrical grid. The turbine is ideal for developing regions or in areas where power is needed after a natural disaster. Siemens has signed a MOU with the Afghan government to provide the turbines for a three-phase energy project in Afghanistan. (Power Engineering, Nov 14, 2017).


SIGAR Report on Waste in Afghanistan. The DoD and State Department - along with the U.S. Agency for International Development - have failed to develop comprehensive sustainment plans for expensive development projects. (Stars and Stripes, Nov 15, 2017).

A Restrained SIGAR? A provision in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) could potentially put some restraints on the reporting activities of SIGAR. See "Defense bill leashes Afghanistan watchdog" Politico,  November 17, 2017.

AWOL Afghan Soldiers. More Afghan troops have disappeared in the United States while attending training from the Joint Base San Antonio. (My San Antonio, Nov 18, 2017).

Agricultural Sector - Good News, Bad News. The good news is that crop cultivation for a significant part of the agricultural sector is at a record high. The bad news is that more opium was grown in Afghanistan in 2017 than in any year since the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) began monitoring in 1994. (Afghanistan Analysts Network, Nov 15, 2017). See more about the UN report in a story by the UN News Centre (Nov 15, 2017).

Good News Report on Corruption. Is it possible? Some good news about the reduction of corruption in Afghanistan? According to an article posted on the website of the World Bank there appears to be some progress in reducing the stealing of money by Afghan elites. Although the country remains among the top 10 most corrupt countries in the world and reforms are fleeting some steps in the right direction are taking place. Read more in "Afghanistan's Public Procurement Racks Up Victories Against Corruption", The World Bank, October 31, 2017.


Subscribe to the Afghan War Blog Weekly Newsletter

You can receive the Afghan War Blog Weekly Newsletter by email. It should arrive in your e-mail inbox at 0500 U.S. East coast time or just after lunch (1330) in Kabul every Sunday. It is easy to subscribe. To submit your subscription request go to www.afghanwarnews.blogspot.com and enter your email in the "Follow by Email" dialogue box at the top of the right hand column. The only info needed is your email. No personal data, no forms to fill out, and no passwords needed. You will receive a confirmation email asking you if you want to subscribe. Just confirm and you are done. It is also easy to unsubscribe. At the bottom of the newsletter click "unsubscribe" and you will be automatically unsubscribed.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Afghan War Blog Weekly Newsletter - Nov 12, 2017

Welcome to the Afghan War Blog Weekly Newsletter. Articles are posted online on the blog and sent out via email newsletter on Sunday morning. We welcome comments, ideas for stories, contributions, and guest writers! Visit our website at www.afghanwarnews.info, follow us on Twitter at @AfghanWarBlog, and on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/afghan-war-news.


Train, Advise, Assist, Accompany, and Enable (TA3E)

Members of 1st SFAB conducting a meeting with 'Afghan counterparts'
during advisor training at Fort Benning, Georgia.
(Photo from TRADOC pub, November 1, 2017).

1st SFAB. The 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) is ramping up its training in preparation for its upcoming deployment to Afghanistan in early 2018. One of the adjustments the SFAB is making is the increase in personnel from 529 to over 700. This will allow the Combat Advisor Teams (CATs) to be augmented with intelligence and medical specialists. Read more in "Combat and cultural readiness key for new Army trainers", San Francisco Chronicle, November 7, 2017.

SFAB Seeking Tactical Leaders. The U.S. Army is seeking tough and experienced tactical leaders from many occupational specialties to serve as combat advisors in the Army's newest expeditionary force. Read more in "Security Force Assistance Brigade" XVIII Airborne Corps seeks tactical leaders", Fort Campbell Courier, November 9, 2017.

1st SFAB in the News. The Army's grand experiment in forming up an institutionalized advisor unit is well on its way to proving itself in combat. The unit will deploy to Afghanistan in early 2018. Read some recent news stories about the 1st SFAB.

In Afghanistan - More Troops Outside the Wire. Several years after pulling back, American troops will head outside the wire to battle the Taliban and turn up the air war. Read more in an news report by Foreign Policy, November 10, 2017.

TAAC-North Conference. Members of the Train, Advise, and Assist Command - North met in Brussels to discuss regional challenges and make plans for future peace activities. The defense ministerial was organized by Germany's Defence minister. Germany is the lead 'framework' nation for TAAC-North. (Agenda.ge, Nov 11, 2017).

NATO Troop Increase. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization says it will increase troop levels to 16,000 to enhance the 'train, advise, and assist' mission in Afghanistan. Read a brief news release by NATO posted on 9 November 2017. See also "NATO Plus-Up Will Give Afghan Forces an Offensive Boost, Nicholson Says" Department of Defense, November 11, 2017.

Canada Taking a Pass. Canada is not participating in the NATO troop increase for Afghanistan. While it made significant contributions for over a decade it is passing on the renewed training effort of NATO to enhance the capacity and capability of the ANDSF. (Ottawa Citizen, Nov 8, 2017).

DoD Sending More Troops. One news report (by Adam Linehan) says that the Department of Defense will be adding more troops to Afghanistan - with the troop level meeting 16,000 by early 2018. See "The DoD Is Sending More Troops to Afghanistan Than Previously Announced", Task & Purpose, November 9, 2017.

Article on the "Accompany" Part of TA3E. A British military blog writes on the importance of "Accompany" in the "Train, Advise, Assist, Accompany, and Enable" mission. Read "Accompany" - That Third Myth, Wavell Room, November 9, 2017.

Language and Culture Training. Robert R. Greene Sands, the CEO of LanguaCulture, LLC, writes about how the U.S. Department of Defense can improve language and culture training. (Rosetta Stone Blog, October 19, 2017).


APPF and ABP to Fall Under the MoD

APPF unit assigned to guard the Tarakhil power plant
(Photo DVIDS, March 201@)

The Afghan Public Protection Force (APPF) and Afghan Border Police (ABP) will no longer be part of the Ministry of Interior (MoI). The organizations will now fall under the Ministry of Defense (MoD). A Defense ministry spokesman says they will receive more equipment and better training. The APPF and ABP will take on new missions. They will be part of the 'Hold' phase of 'Clear', 'Hold', and 'Build'. 4,000 members of the ABP will remain under the MoI to secure borders, airports, and custom stations. Read more in "Public Protection Forces And Border Police to Join the Army", Tolo News, November 6, 2017.


Commentary on Afghanistan


The Afghan Diversion. Jill Aitoro, editor of Defense News, has penned an opinion piece about how Afghanistan caused the U.S. Department of Defense to take its eye off other pressing national security concerns. She believes that we need to re-focus our efforts back on technology and we need to regain our technological edge. Read "Afghanistan sucked the oxygen out of the room - at the worst time", Defense News, November 4, 2017.

Update on Afghanistan. Thomas Ruttig provides a good overall update on the conflict in Afghanistan. Read "Conflict Portrait: Afghanistan", PRIO Blogs, November 1, 2017.

U.S. and Pakistan - Spawned the Current Problems of Afghanistan. "Operation Cyclone" was the name given for the campaign against the Soviets in Afghanistan where the U.S. supported the Afghan Mujahadeen. Later, when the CIA and the US abandoned Afghanistan, the Pakistan ISI picked up the remnants of the Afghan resistance. Read an interesting editorial on this past history and current conflict in "The Warring Lovechildren of Cold War era", Deffan Chronicle, November 11, 2017.
.
The Way Forward for Peace Talks. Abdul Rahman Rahmani is an Afghan Army aviation pilot who is currently a student at the Expeditionary Warfare School, Marine Corps University in Quantico, Virginia. He outlines the past attempts by the Afghan government to engage in peace talks with the Taliban and offers some recommendations for future courses of action on this topic. See "A Peace Dilemma: Afghan Peace Talks Require a New Approach", Strategy Bridge, November 7, 2017.


Afghan Governance News



Reducing Voter Fraud. Elections in Afghanistan are continually held in low regard by the Afghan population and the international community. Almost all elections in Afghanistan have been marred by massive election fraud and malpractice. The next elections are scheduled for 2018 but it is very doubtful that these elections will be any different from the past elections. Duplicate and fake voter registration is one of the constants in an Afghan election. The country's Independent Election Commission (IEC) has introduced a new, high-tech biometric system that uses fingerprints and digital photos to eliminate duplicate and false voter registration. However, time is short and the IEC needs to implement an equipment distribution and training plan for the biometric system to make a difference. Read more in "Reducing Voter Fraud in Afghanistan", United States Institute for Peace (USIP), November 2, 2017.

Anti-Corruption Officials Under Attack. Several investigators for the Anti-Corruption Justice Center (ACJC) have been murdered. Indications are the murders are a result of public hearings of high-level cases of corruption in Kabul. The anti-corruption center was established in June 2016 but security measures to protect its officials and investigators are lacking. Read more in "We don't feel safe: Afghan anti-graft officials demand protection", France 24,  November 11, 2017.



Afghan Security News

ANA Commandos receive training from ANA instructor.
(photo form RS HQs video posted Nov 11, 2017) 


U.S. Casualty. On Saturday, November 4, 2017 SFC Stephen Cribben died from wounds sustained during a combat operation in Logar province, Afghanistan. He was a member of the 10th Special Forces Group.

CRS Report. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has published a report entitled "Afghanistan: Post Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy", dated November 7, 2017. This 78-page report provides a historical background to the conflict in Afghanistan as well as up to date reporting on the current security situation.
https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL30588.pdf

Pakistan


Pakistan Still Not Helpful. General Nicholson, the commander of NATO's Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan says there has been no change in Pakistan's support of the Taliban. (CNN, Nov 9, 2017).

Pakistan's Wire Fence. The erection of a wire fence along the Afghan - Pakistan border is really not going to stop terrorism. The Taliban will continue to cross the border at will. What the fence will do is increase the hostility between the two countries and separate the Pashtun people who live on each side of the border. Read more in a article by Gandhara Blog, November 8, 2017.

Taliban


"Taliban Can't Win". General Nicholson, the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, says the Taliban can't win on the battlefield. The general sounds upbeat on the prospects of pressuring the Taliban into reconciliation. Of course, it is common knowledge to many counterinsurgency gurus that insurgents don't need to win on the battlefield . . . they just need to wear down the opposition over time. But, according to Nicholson, we are turning the corner in the long conflict.

October 2017 - a Wave of Violence. While the 2017 fighting season was not the Taliban's best effort in recent years the group still managed to attain a high level of violence and continues to grow its control over rural areas of Afghanistan. The month of October was especially active with several truck bomb incidents causing hundreds of casualties. Read more in "The Humvee Bomb Series: The October wave of Taleban attacks in 2017 context"Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN), November 7, 2017.

Turmoil in Jawzjan Province? A Taliban commander has separated himself from the Taliban movement and declared allegiance to the Islamic State of Khorisan Province (ISKP). The Taliban are struggling to regain control. Read more in "Qari Hekmat's Island: A Daesh enclave in Jawzjan?", by Obaid Ali of Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN), November 11, 2017.

Afghan Media Targeted. The attacks against the Afghan media by the Taliban and other insurgent and terrorist groups is on the rise. "In Afghanistan, Militant Groups Unite Against a Common Enemy: Journalists"Gandhara Blog, November 11, 2017.

Getting the Taliban to the Negotiating Table. NATO and U.S. officials are expressing hope that regional engagement, pressure on Pakistan, and battlefield reversed suffered by insurgents will get the Taliban to the negotiating table. Wishful thinking. Read more in "Afghan plan focuses on pushing Taliban to the bargaining table"Military Times, November 9, 2017.


Miscellaneous


SIGAR Report - Some Analysis. The Department of Defense classified much of the data used to measure the development and progress made by the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) that one usually finds in the quarterly report to Congress by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. This quarter the SIGAR report dated 30 October was missing some key ingredients. Read more in "Secrecy shrouds US development of Afghan security forces", FDD's Long War Journal, November 4, 2017.

Finland Asked to Send More Troops. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis recently visited Finland and discussed the possibility of Finland sending more troops to Afghanistan. Currently there are 30 military Finns serving in Afghanistan. ( Helsinki Times, Nov 7, 2017).

Black Hawks to Save the Day? The U.S. is abandoning the Mi-17 helicopters that do the brunt of the air support for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) and going with a more expensive and complicated flying machine known as the UH-60 Black Hawk. Naturally it is a U.S. aircraft which satisfies the political objectives of many members of Congress. Read more in "US, Afghans hope new Black Hawk Squadron will help turn tide against insurgents", Stars and Stripes, November 5, 2017.

CIVCAS in Kunduz. The United States military is investigating reports that as many as 13 civilians may have been killed in airstrikes in the northern region of Kunduz province. The U.S. confirmed that an operation did take place in the area but offered no further details. (Reuters, Nov 5, 2017). However, it subsequently released a statement saying that no civilian casualties took place. (Military Times, Nov 6, 2017).


Videos and Movies about Afghanistan




"A Game Changer". In this 30-second video posted by Resolute Support on their YouTube.com account General Nicholson, the commander of Resolute Support, says 2018 will be different. He states that the ANA Commandos, Special Police Units, and the Afghan Air Force will be taking the fight to the Taliban. Published on November 11, 2017.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIe1YDUYM_I

"No Greater Love". A documentary directed by an Army chaplain who served in Afghanistan provides a look at the members of a U.S. Army battalion and their experiences during a 2010-2011 deployment to Afghanistan. (Variety, Nov 9, 2017).

NATO JTACs. A French Joint Terminal Air Controller describes how she calls in fire support for ground troops in "She Has the Firepower", NATO, November 6, 2107.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=n01QT4c9Pz4

"Special Operations Soldiers". The U.S. Army has posted a video (Nov 6, 2017) about U.S. Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF) on its YouTube.com site. A 1 1/2 minute long video with some great shots of ARSOF conducting training events.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-pIdRvXCa4


Afghan War News Snippets




Afghans Wary of Trump Plan. While the Afghan elite in Kabul applauded the roll-out of Trump's strategy for Afghanistan and his tough stance on Pakistan - others are not so keen on Trump's plan. Read "Afghans Wary of Trump's Pledge to Challenge Terrorists & Islamabad", The Cipher Brief, November 5, 2017.

Farsi or Dari? There is a language dispute going on in Afghanistan. An interesting article on how the BBC changed the name on its website from Farsi to Dari and how it ignited a political storm. (Radio Free Europe, November 7, 2016.

Regional Security Conference. At a conference held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan the main topic was Afghanistan. The conference ended up with speeches and discussions about who is the main cause for instability in Afghanistan with fingers pointed in almost every direction. Read Catherine Putz's description of the event in "At the Samarkand Conference, Bilateral Bad Blood and Mistrust Loom Large", The Diplomat, November 11, 2017.

Friendly Fire Incident of June 2014. A few years back five U.S. Soldiers and an Afghan soldier were killed when a B-1 bomber dropped ordnance on their position. An Air Force investigation blamed the Special Forces team on the ground but members of the SF community say that the B-1 was the wrong aircraft for the close air support mission. Read more in "The Afghan War's Deadliest Friendly Fire Incident for U.S. Soldiers", CBS News, November 9, 2017.

Rochester, NY Army NG Aviation Unit Completes Deployment. Members of Company B, 3rd Battalion, 126th Aviation has returned from an 8 month long deployment to Afghanistan. The aviators flew the CH-47 transport helicopter - a workhorse for the Afghan conflict. (DVIDS, Nov 8, 2017).

Climate Change and Afghanistan. The agriculture sector in Afghanistan is deeply affected by weather and climate. Afghan farmers, for the most part, do not have a good understanding of how climate change is affecting their livelihood. Read "For Afghan farmers, climate change is 'god's will'", Deutsche Welle, November 11, 2017.

Afghanistan NOT Banning WhatsApp and Telegram. The popular messaging services will not be banned by the Afghan government. The two mobile apps are popular among smartphone users in Afghanistan. Of course, the Taliban also use the service as well. Some say a temporary ban was implemented because the Taliban militants use the encryption service with the apps. (Radio Free Europe, Nov 7, 2017).

Privatizing the Afghan War. Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, believes that eventually the Trump administration will move to privatized elements of the Afghanistan war. (Washington Examiner, Nov 6, 2017).



Stay Abreast of all the News on the Afghan Conflict! Subscribe.

You can receive the Afghan War Blog Weekly Newsletter by email. It should arrive in your e-mail inbox at 0500 U.S. East coast time or just after lunch (1330) in Kabul every Sunday. It is easy to subscribe. To submit your subscription request go to www.afghanwarnews.blogspot.com and enter your email in the "Follow by Email" dialogue box at the top of the right hand column. The only info needed is your email. No personal data, no forms to fill out, and no passwords needed. You will receive a confirmation email asking you if you want to subscribe. Just confirm and you are done. It is also easy to unsubscribe. At the bottom of the newsletter click "unsubscribe" and you will be automatically unsubscribed.


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Welcome to the Afghan War Blog Weekly Newsletter

Welcome to the Afghan War Blog Weekly Newsletter. Articles are posted online on the blog and sent out via email newsletter on Sunday morning. We welcome comments, ideas for stories, contributions, and guest writers! Visit our website at www.afghanwarnews.info, follow us on Twitter at @AfghanWarBlog, and on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/afghan-war-news.


U.S. Casualty in Logar Province on Sat, Nov 4, 2017

Logar province, Afghanistan

On Saturday, November 4, 2017 a U.S. service member died of wounds from an operation in Logar province, Afghanistan.  The Soldier was a member of the 10th Special Forces Group based at Fort Carson, Colorado and identified as SFC Stephen Cribben.


SIGAR Quarterly Report - October 30, 2017



The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) Quarterly Report to Congress dated 30 October 2017 has been published. It appears that some significant information that used to be in previous reports is no longer available. Some of the missing information includes key figures about the growth and progress of local security forces.

Of note is the diminishing numbers of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF). In 2017 the Afghan National Army (ANA) shrank by 5,000 troops while the Afghan National Police (ANP) suffered a net loss of 4,000. The decrease in numbers was attributed to combat casualties, defections to the Taliban, and desertions.

'Green on Green' attacks are up since January 2015.

News stories on the SIGAR report:

October 2017 SIGAR Report, SOF News, October 31, 2017

"Afghanistan Stares Down the Barrel of the Long Defeat", The Diplomat, November 4, 2017.


An Insider Attack: FOB Connolly (Feb 2012)

One of the principal threats to a U.S. military advisor providing training, advise, and assistance to a foreign military force comes from that force itself. An 'insider attack' is when a member of the foreign force being advised turns his weapon on a U.S. advisor. Sometimes called 'green on blue' - these insider attacks cause great harm to the advising effort.

Sunset view of TOC at FOB Connolly, Afghanistan
(photo by SSG Christopher Allison, 17 July 2009)

In 2012 in Afghanistan there were a large number of insider attacks conducted by Afghan police or army members against U.S. and NATO forces. These attacks resulted in over 60 deaths that year - accounting for 15% of Coalition deaths. In the late summer and early fall of 2012 NATO and U.S. forces in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) significantly curtailed operations for several weeks to reduce tensions and decrease the number of deaths from these 'green on blue' incidents. 'Partnered' and 'advising' missions were put on hold. When missions did resume it was at a reduced pace with careful consideration given to the insider threat and mitigating measures that provided greater safety to advisors; but, in many cases, reduced the effectiveness of the advising effort.

Throughout the many years of the U.S. involvement in the Afghan conflict one can find cases of insider attacks but 2012 was a significant year. While the incidents of green on blue attacks peaked in the late part of 2012 the early part of the year saw a number of attacks as well.


One incident that illustrates how an insider attack can take place happened on February 23, 2012 on Forward Operating Base (FOB) Connolly in western Nangarhar province, Afghanistan. FOB Connolly was a small U.S. outpost located 1 1/2 hours drive southwest from Jalalabad. This was a joint base - with an Afghan kandak (battalion of about 400 men) and an American company-sized unit (Comanche Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment) with attachments - for a total of approximately 120 U.S. personnel. The attached units included MPs, EOD specialists, civilian contractors, a HUMINT element, and others. In addition, a 12-man Security Force Assistance Advisor Team (SFAAT) from the 101st Airborne Division was present on the small base. The Cav company was 'partnered' with the ANA kandak while the SFAAT was 'advising' the ANA kandak.

A few days earlier the Koran burning on Bagram Air Field took place that caused widespread discontent and demonstrations across Afghanistan. FOB Connolly was not spared the Afghan reaction to the burning. The small FOB saw crowds in the hundreds gathering outside its gates destroying structures and burning vehicles beyond the protective walls of the compound. It was during one of these demonstrations that two U.S. Soldiers from a military police platoon died in a attack by an Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier from within the FOB. Learn more about this incident in the online article and podcast below:

Memorial for two victims of insider attack FOB Connolly

Listen to a Podcast about the Green on Blue Attack at FOB Connolly:

The military police platoon leader, CPT Jannelle Allong-Kiakabana, is interviewed about the attack by The Spear - a podcast on military topics presented by the Modern War Institute at West Point. Listen to her account of the incident and the aftermath in Podcast: The Spear - Green on Blue, November 2, 2017.

https://mwi.usma.edu/podcast-spear-green-blue/

Read more about the Green on Blue Attack at FOB Connolly:

CPT Seth Hildebrand, "Insider Attacks: Repairing a Damaged Relationship", Infantry Online, Jan-Mar 2014. The XO of Comanche Troop describes the attack and the aftermath.


Update on Afghan Train, Advise, & Assist Mission



Marine Advisors at Kandak Level. The U.S. Marines in Task Force Southwest are pushing their advisors down to brigade and kandak level. According to one Marine advisor, the task force of roughly 300 Marines (augmented by other services to a larger number) have pushed about six teams to Afghan forward operating bases. The expeditionary advisor packages are made up of advisors, enablers, and security personnel. Read more in "Small teams of Marines advising Afghan brigades and battalions", Marine Corps Times, October 28, 2017.

1st SFAB and Their Beret. The 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) is gearing up for their Afghan deployment in early 2018. While they are participating in important pre-deployment activities and training they are surrounded with a bit of controversy. Seems that the Army leadership has decided to allow them to wear a distinctive beret. This, naturally, has inflamed past and current members of the Special Forces community. Read more in "Beret for Soldiers of 1st SFAB - Concern in SF Community", SOF News, October 29, 2017.

Canada Rejects NATO Invite for TAA Mission. Canada turned down an invitation from NATO to send troops to Afghanistan for the Train, Advise, and Assist mission. (CBC News World, Nov 3, 2017).


Deserter Beau Bergdahl Escapes Prison


Army Sergeant Beau Bergdahl escaped a prison sentence. Prosecutors had asked for a 14-year sentence but an Army judge let him go free. The deserter walked away from his post in Afghanistan and was subsequently captured by the Taliban. He was a captive for five years until he was released in a negotiated exchange for five high-level Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo. The judge reduced his rank to private and gave him a dishonorable discharge. News reports say that six Soldiers died during efforts to search and rescue Bergdahl. In addition, many others were wounded - many seriously.

One of Bergdahl's attorneys wants the deserter to receive the POW medal. It appears that the defense team will also appeal the dishonorable discharge penalty. (Military.com, Nov 4, 2017).


Commentary on Afghanistan



Gendered Approaches to Peace and Security. Jessica Zimerman writes that there is mounting evidence that gendered approaches to peace and security are more effective than traditional, militarized approaches. See "Lessons from the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda", The Diplomat, November 2, 2017.

Trump and Pakistan. Many have drawn the conclusion that Pakistan is of an immediate concern to the D.C. crowd. The visit by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Islamabad in late October was tense. Pakistan continues to, in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that there are no Taliban sanctuaries within its borders. The U.S. isn't buying that line. But the position of the U.S. is not without peril. Touquir Hussain, a former ambassador of Pakistan and Diplomatic Advisor to the Prime Minister, is now an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University. He believes that taking a tougher line on Islamabad without a clear strategy is a losing proposition. Read his article in "The Danger of Trump's Pakistan Approach", The Diplomat, November 4, 2017.


Afghan Governance News



NATO and Afghan Elections. A recent news report carried remarks by the NATO Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan, Cornelius Zimmerman, that stressed "timely holding of upcoming elections'. (Pajhwok.com, Nov 3, 2017).

Prison for Dostum's Bodyguards. Seven of First Vice President General Abdul Rashid Dostom's bodyguards were sentenced to eight years in prison for the illegal imprisonment and sexual assault of Ahmad Eshchi, the former Jawzjan provincial governor. (Tolo News, Nov 4, 2017).


Afghan Security News

ANA outpost, Pekha Valley, Achin district, Nangarhar province
(Photo CPL Mattew DeVirgilio, NSOCC-A, 19 Oct 2017)
Taliban and IS-KP Clash. Scores of fighters from the Taliban and the Islamic State Khorsan Province have been killed in fighting in the north and east of Afghanistan. The clashes have occurred in Nangarhar and Jawzjan provinces. Many civilians have fled their homes to escape the violence. Read "Taliban, IS Face Off in Afghanistan", Gandhara Blog (Radio Free Europe), October 30, 2017.

Civilians Killed in U.S. Airstrike in Kuduz. Unconfirmed reports in Afghan media say that 55-65 civilians were killed in U.S airstrikes in an eastern Afghan province on Saturday. The incident reportedly took place in the Char Dara district. 

160th SOAR Pilot Dies in Logar Crash. Chief Warrant Officer Jacob Sims of the 160th Special Operations Air Regiment (SOAR) died in a helicopter crash in Logar province on Friday, October 27th. (SOF News, Oct 29, 2017).

"Cat-and-Mouse Games for Afghan Districts". The conflict in Afghanistan shows little sign of dissipating. The armed opposition's ability to capture territory - even if on a temporary basis - shows that the insurgents have a strong foothold in the rural areas. (Think Progress, Nov 3, 2017).



Videos & Movies about Afghanistan



"The Breadwinner". US movie star Angelina Jolie is the producer of "The Breadwinner" - which premiered at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatre in Hollywood on Friday, October 20th. The film is about a young girl in Afghanistan who disguises herself as a boy to provide for her family. (Variety, Oct 21, 2017).


Afghan War Blog News Snippets



Refined Opium and the Taliban. The insurgents revenue stream has become more robust as the Taliban have developed the capability to refine opium into morphine and heroin. Read an article by Mujib Mashal entitled "Afghan Taliban Awash in Heroin Cash, a Troubling Turn for War", The New York Times, October 29, 2017.

WhatsApp and Telegram Banned? There are some reports that the government of Afghanistan has banned popular messaging applications. The move may have been a government attempt to prevent terrorists and insurgents from using the messaging service with its encrypted application. (BBC, Nov 3, 2017).

Human Terrain System - How to Preserve Capability.  Dr. Brian R. Price, an Associate Professor of History in the Department of History and International Studies at Hawaii Pacific University, advocates the sustaining of a 'human terrain' capability within the DoD. He offers possible avenues for this to include an organic team within BCTs, posting in embassies, or within SOF organizational structure. The Human Terrain System played an important role within Brigade Combat Team (BCT) staffs in the later years of the Afghan conflict. Read more in "Human Terrain at the Crossroads", Joint Force Quarterly 87, National Defense University Press, October 2017.



Subscribe to the Afghan War Blog Weekly Newsletter

You can receive the Afghan War Blog Weekly Newsletter by email. It should arrive in your e-mail inbox at 0500 U.S. East coast time or just after lunch (1330) in Kabul every Sunday. It is easy to subscribe. To submit your subscription request go to www.afghanwarnews.blogspot.com and enter your email in the "Follow by Email" dialogue box at the top of the right hand column. The only info needed is your email. No personal data, no forms to fill out, and no passwords needed. You will receive a confirmation email asking you if you want to subscribe. Just confirm and you are done. It is also easy to unsubscribe. At the bottom of the newsletter click "unsubscribe" and you will be automatically unsubscribed.


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Afghan War Blog Newsletter - October 29, 2017

Welcome to the Afghan War Blog Weekly Newsletter. Articles are posted online on the blog and sent out via email newsletter on Sunday morning. We welcome comments, ideas for stories, contributions, and guest writers! Visit our website at www.afghanwarnews.info, follow us on Twitter at @AfghanWarBlog, and on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/afghan-war-news.


U.S. Service Member Dies in Helicopter Crash in Logar Province, Afghanistan (Oct 27, 2017)

Map with location of Logar province
A U.S. service member died as a result of injuries sustained during a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. The incident occurred late on Friday night, October 27, 2017 in Logar province. Logar is the province to the south of Kabul. Resolute Support HQs issued a statement (see link below) that said the crash was not the result of enemy action. The crash site was secured and all personnel have been accounted for. A number of crew members were injured in the crash and they are receiving medical treatment. The Taliban released a statement saying they shot the chopper down and 48 peopled died in the crash.

"U.S. Service Member Dies in Helicopter Crash, Logar Province", Resolute Support, October 28, 2017.


Commentary on Afghanistan


Failure of SFA. Mara Karlin writes that the concept of training and equipping foreign militaries is not the big ticket item that many senior policy makers believe it to be. Read "Why Military Assistance Programs Disappoint" Foreign Affairs, Nov / Dec 2017.

Thinking about South Asia Strategy. Doug Livermore, a former Special Forces officer, writes up his thoughts on the new strategy of the Trump administration. In regards to Pakistan, Livermore believes that the new South Asia Strategy seeks to change Pakistan's destabilizing actions through punitive means
". . . that do not address the underlying causes that motivate Pakistan's behavior in the first place. By tackling the root causes that drive Pakistan's support for the Taliban and other groups, the US could fundamentally alter the course of the conflict and increase the likelihood of arrival at an acceptable and durable political arrangement."
Apparently, it is all about the Durand line. Read "Rethinking the South Asia Strategy - Addressing the Root Causes of Afghanistan / Pakistan Tensions", Georgetown Security Studies Review, October 23, 2017.

Keeping the Pressure on Pakistan. One commentator, Mohammad Taqi, says the US needs to continue putting pressure on Pakistan. (The Wire, Oct 24, 2017).

Afghanistan Still a Fragile State - Why? An analysis of what went wrong in Afghanistan over the past 16 years and the way forward is provided by Shahmahmood Miakhel. He is a former Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Interior (MoI) and is currently serving as the Country Director of the United States Institute for Peace in Afghanistan. Despite Enormous Support of International Community, Why is Afghanistan Still a Fragile State?, Afghanistan Diplomacy Studies Organization, August 30, 2017.

Analyzing R4S Plan. Earlier in October Secretary of Defense presented to Congress the new strategic plan for Afghanistan known by the acronym R4S - for regionalize, realign, reinforce, reconcile, and sustain. Daniel L. Davis, a retired Army officer with time in Afghanistan, provides his thoughts on how this strategy will fail in "The Afghanistan Illusion", National Interest, October 23, 2017.


Afghan Governance News

Photo by GoA, Oct 23, 2017

Tillerson Visit. The US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson paid an unexpected visit to Kabul on Monday, October 23rd to meet with President Ghani and CEO Abdullah. Some reports say the meeting took place on Bagram Air Base (north of Kabul by about 55 klics). Read a press release by the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan on the visit. There was a little bit of controversy about 'doctored' photos. Hmmmm.

Fixing Afghanistan - Not So Much. Scott Guggenheim has spent a lot of time in Afghanistan and is a key advisor to President Ghani. He started his Afghan journey in 2002 very optimistic but now . . . well read more here - "The Man Who Thought He Could Fix Afghanistan"Politico Magazine, Nov Dec 2017.

Ghani in New Delhi. President Ghani spent a day visiting India where he met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 24, 2017. The purpose of the visit was to review bilateral relations between the two countries and discuss regional security and the fight against terrorism. See "Afghan President Reviews Bilateral Ties with India During New Delhi Visit", Gandara Blog, October 23, 2017. See a press release by the Government of India Ministry of External Affairs (Oct 24, 2017).

Karzai in Iran. The former president seems to take delight in criticizing U.S. efforts in Afghanistan. On a recent visit to Iran he took time to speak harshly about the U.S. counter-terrorism mission. He once again called for the convening of the traditional Loya Jirga to resolve the key issues facing the country. (Khaama Press, Oct 27, 2017).

Afghan Warlord on Political Scene. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar - a former ally of al-Qaida and notorious warlord from Afghanistan's past - has surfaced on the political scene in Kabul. Read "Kabul welcomes the Afghan warlord who once shelled its citizens", The Guardian, October 24, 2017.


Security News for Afghanistan

Afghan Commando instructor provides direction to
student at Camp Morehead, Afghanistan.
(Photo Senior Airman Xavier Navaro, NSOCC-A, Oct 4, 2017)


Security Incidents


Mosque Bombings. Ali M. Latifi writes on the recent bombings of Afghan mosques in "The Enemy is Everywhere: Afghans Mourn Dead as Attacks Mount"The Cipher Brief, October 22, 2017.

How the Taliban Have Evolved. The Taliban are reaching out beyond the Pashtun population, shifting and adjusting tactics, and advancing its political agenda. Part of this tactical shift is the increasing intimidation of government security forces (at the individual level) in the rural countryside. Read "How Taliban are evolving to compete in Afghanistan", by Scott Peterson (Istanbul Bureau Chief), The Christian Science Monitor, October 26, 2017.

ANA Killed in Farah. Nine ANA soldiers were killed by the Taliban on Wednesday, Oct 25th at a security post in the western province of Farah (Gandhara Blog, Oct 25, 2017).

Surge of IEDs in Afghanistan. According to a Pentagon report the use of roadside bomb attacks around the world are declining - except in Afghanistan. The report by the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization (JIDO) credits the IED increase to the current military stalemate that favors the insurgents. See "Pentagon Report: IED Casualties Surge in Afghanistan"Foreign Policy, October 20, 2017.

201st Corps. An Insider Attack took place on Sunday, October 22, 2017 in northern Afghanistan.

Some Successes?


Nad'Ali District Liberated from Taliban. The ANDSF have destroyed the Taliban during the recent Operation Maiwand 7 held in October. The clearing mission resulted in huge gains for the Afghan security forces. At least that is what a news release by Resolute Support HQs would have us believe. (DVIDS, Oct 25, 2017).

Rival Militant Groups Fight in Herat. At least 40 Taliban have been killed in clashes between groups in Shindand district, Herat province. (Voice of America, Oct 22, 2017).

Remote Town Haven Against Insurgents. An area in Nuristan province, Afghanistan has managed to keep insurgents at bay. Read "Afghans Turn Remote Town Into Safe Haven Against Insurgents", Gandhara Blog, October 23, 2017.

Train, Advise, & Assist


Six More A-29s for AAF. The Afghan Air Force will receive more A-29 Super Tucanos for its growing fleet of aircraft. The A-29 Super Tucano is ideally suited for the counterinsurgency fight in Afghanistan. (DoD Buzz, Oct 25, 2017).

SMA Dailey Addresses 1st SFAB. The members of the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade will soon deploy to Afghanistan. The Sergeant Major of the Army - Daniel Daily - provided his thoughts about the new SFABs to an audience at Fort Benning. Seee "SMA Dailey pays a visit to Army's 1st SFAB"DVIDS, October 16, 2017. See also a related article in "Combat engineer turned combat advisor in Army's 1st SFAB"DVIDS, October 19, 2017.

Afghan Trainees go AWOL. A recent report by SIGAR says that a high percentage of Afghan military members who go to the United States for military training go AWOL. Over half are never caught and some could pose a security risk. See "Training Afghan soldiers exposes the US to a huge risk", New York Post, October 28, 2017.

Marine Advisors in Helmand Province. The Marines of Task Force Southwest have been sending out small advisor teams to the brigades of the 215th ANA Corps. See "Small teams of Marines advising Afghan brigades and battalions", Marine Corps Times, October 26, 2017.

India to Provide Assistance? President Ghani recently visited India. He probably presented a shopping list of military, economic, and developmental assistance projects. See "India mulls security-related assistance to Afghan forces", Khaama Press, October 25, 2017.

215th Corps Artillery Training. Some members of the ANA in Helmand province recently graduated from an artillery course at Camp Shorabak, Afghanistan. U.S. Marine advisors with Task Force Southwest led the 8-week long course. Read "215th Corps soldiers building artillery skills during eight-week course"DVIDS, October 21, 2017.

RS Has New Deputy Commander. Lieutenant General Richard Cripwell is the new Dep Cdr of the Resolute Support Mission. Had conducted a change of responsibility with the out-going Dep Cdr on October 24th. Read a news release by RS HQs, Oct 24, 2017.

Afghan Commandos Graduate Course. Over 800 Afghan soldiers graduated from a 14-week long Afghan-led special operations course held at Camp Morehead (near Kabul). (DVIDS, Oct 25, 2017). 800 students is a lot of Joes to push through in 14-weeks. Is there a danger of producing quantity over quality? Hopefull SOF Truths numbers 2 and 3 were taken in consideration during the training course.

CIA and Pentagon's Omega Program. The Central Intelligence Agency will step up its use of paramilitary officers in Afghanistan in conjunction with US SOF operators from the Pentagon's Omega program. (NYT, Oct 22, 2017).

MI Unit Returns to FBNC. The 525th Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade returned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina after a nine-month long deployment to Afghanistan. (Stars and Stripes, Oct 24, 2017).