Sunday, March 25, 2018

Taking a Knee



The "Afghan War Blog" will be taking a pause in activity. For the immediate future there will be no posts and the "Afghan War Blog Weekly Newsletter" will not be sent out. A big writing endeavor, work projects, travel, and a vacation are the culprits. Our extremely small staff has learned the hard way we can only do so many things well. If there is too much to do the quality of work goes down. We should resume our publishing efforts in the later part of 2018.


"Afghan War Blog Weekly Newsletter" - March 25, 2018



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.


SIGAR Report - Review of ANA Blood Collection and Screening Procedures



The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has released a report that reviews the collection and procedures for screening the blood of Afghanistan National Army personnel. SIGAR-19-33SP published in March 2018 is 14 pages long. Knowing the blood types and screening for infectious disease is critical to the sustainability of the ANA, as receiving blood that has not been correctly typed or screened may be life-threatening.

Some key points in the report:

In January 2017 the ANA stopped collecting and testing blood, or validating test results, from new recruits. The blood type of at least 9 percent of the total ANA force currently remains unconfirmed. The Afghan National Army Recruiting Command (ANAREC) did not have the necessary supplies and equipment to collect the blood. Some ANA soldiers have been killed from receiving the wrong type of blood when injured or wounded in combat. The ANA is not required to input blood type into the Afghan Human Resource Information System (AHRIMS) during the medical accessions process.

www.sigar.mil/pdf/special projects/SIGAR-18-33-SP.pdf


ETIM in northeast Afghanistan? Hmmmm


Map of Badakhshan Province Afghanistan

In February 2018 Resolute Support pushed out some news releases and videos describing an increase in air strikes against insurgents in Badakhshan province in northeast Afghanistan. The RS HQs and DoD news releases stated that the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) was operating in the region and reportedly using some Taliban camps for training.

"U.S. Forces Strike Taliban, East Turkestan Islamic Movement Training Sites", Defense Media Activity, February 7, 2018.

"New U.S. air campaign expands to the North", Resolute Support Afghanistan, February 6, 2018.

The researchers at Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) took a closer look at the RS HQs claims of ETIM operating in Badakhshan and find the RS HQs claims about ETIM activity are slightly exaggerated.

Read more in "Tilting at Windmills: Dubious US Claims of Targeting Chinese Uyghur Militants in Badakhshan", Afghanistan Analysts Network, March 19, 2018.


Training the Afghan Security Forces - TA3E


1st SFAB HQs at Advisor Platform Lightning after uncasing colors ceremony.
1st SFAB HQs company after uncasing colors ceremony at Advisor Platform Lightning.
(photo by Maj Matthew Fontaine, 1st SFAB, Mar 18, 2018)

TAAC South HA/DR Exercise. Members of Train, Advise, and Assist Command - South along with folks from Resolute Support hqs recently held a humanitarian assistance / disaster response exercise on March 18-19, 2018 in Kandahar. The two-day course consisted of scenarios involving floods, drought, earthquakes, and mass refugee crisis. The course was led by senior Afghan leaders and planners who recently graduated from the first NATO Operational Planner's Course. TAAC-SOUTH is comprised of members of the 40th Infantry Division of the California Army National Guard and the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division. (DVIDS, Mar 19, 2018).

'Big 5' For Advisors. The 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment has identified lessons from mentoring the Philippines Armed Forces and compiled them into a paper. The authors hope that the many observations collected over months of training, will serve as an aid to anyone deploying, or currently deployed to, an advisor mission with foreign forces. Read Operating as an Australian Army Training Advisor 'Big 5' - The Philippines, The Cove, March 23, 2018.

A Little Something about Gender Advisors. Deanne Gibbon - of the Australian Defence Forces - recently served in Afghanistan from August 2015 to May 2016 as NATO's Senior Gender Advisor. She writes about the role that gender advisors play within military organizations - especially when deployed in peacekeeping, humanitarian, or military operations. Read "WPS 2018: Navigating the operational gender agenda", The Strategist, March 23, 2018.

Photo Story - Marines in Marjah District. RS HQs, DVIDS, March 9, 2018.
www.dvidshub.net/video/591268/photo-story-marines-marjah-district

101st Abn Div to Head up USFOR-A. Major General Andrew Poppas, an Army officer with considerable Afghan experience, is once again heading to Afghanistan. This time he will be the U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) deputy commanding general for operations and the Resolute Support deputy chief of staff for operations. In the past the 101st was focused on the eastern region of the country (the old RC East hqs). With this 9-month long deployment the 101st will oversee NATO's train, advise, and assist mission nationwide. Read "101st Airborne Division Headquarters to case colors for Afghanistan deployment", Clarksville Now.com, March 22, 2018.

A Grain of Salt Please. Army BG Michael Fenzel, the chief of plans (Director CJ-5) for the Resolute Support mission, is quoted in a DoD news release as saying "We are more capable as an advisory force than we've ever been before, and the Afghan fighting forces are more effective than they have ever been before."

Things that make you say 'Hmmm'. Perhaps he missed the time frame of 2012-2014 when NATO and the U.S. had hundreds of advisor teams (SFAATs) deployed with MoI organizations from district center level up to MoI and MoD organizations from kandak level up to MoD. In RC East alone there were a couple of hundred advisor teams plus company and battalion combat formations conducting the 'partnership' mission. More effective now as an advisory force? I think not. We would have to provide advisor teams (or to use the new term - Combat Advisor Teams or CATs) to every district center and kandak as we had in the past.

If the ANDSF is more effective than they have ever been before why does the Taliban control more territory than at any period in the conflict since the fall of 2001?

Read more in "Officials Note Progress in Afghanistan, Difficulty for Taliban", by Jim Garamone, Defense Media Activity, March 20, 2018.

DoD IG Report on CSTC-A Oversight. A new report by the Department of Defense Inspector General's office finds that there are systemic challenges associated with the Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan's (CSTC-A's) oversight of U.S. direct funding provided to the government of Afghanistan. It specifically finds that the Bilateral Financial Commitment Letters may not be the most effective method to manage and oversee the administering and expending of U.S. direct funding to the Afghan MoD and MoI. Of course, looking back over the past few years, these commitment letters were to be the management tool to ensure that the MoD and MoI would decrease corruption and implement reforms. Hmmmm. See "Summary Report on U.S. Direct Funding Provided to Afghanistan", DoD IG Report 2018-090, March 21, 2018.

News & Info about the 1st SFAB

1st SFAB Uncases Colors. The 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade HQs and its six battalions are now stood up in Afghanistan. The brigade hqs is co-located with the 203rd ANA Corps. Its six battalions are spread across Afghanistan. Read more in "1st SFAB uncases colors, begins partnership with ANDSF across Afghanistan.", Resolute Support HQs, March 18, 2018.

1st SFAB at Camp Buehring, Kuwait. The advisory brigade, on its way to Afghanistan, stopped off in Kuwait. While they some of the brigade soldiers went through some pre-deployment training to include MRAP, SUAS, and CUAS. Read more in "1st SFAB Enters Theater", 1st Theater Sustainment Command, March 16, 2018.

Gen Dunford to Meet with 1st SFAB. A recent DoD news release says that General Dunford traveled to Afghanistan to do an assessment of the situation. In addition, he wants to meet with soldiers of the 1st SFAB which has just deployed for a nine-month rotation to conduct a Security Force Assistance mission. See "Dunford Arrives in Afghanistan to Assess Campaign Plan", Department of Defense Media Activity, March 19, 2018.

Dunford "Enthusiastic" about SFAB. General Dunford met with members of the 1st SFAB this past week and was encouraged by how the combat advisors are fusing the pillars of the ANDSF to work together in the conduct of combined operations.  Read "Chairman Expresses Enthusiasm about Military Dimension in Afghanistan", Defense Media Activity, March 21, 2018.

Assessment and Training for SFAB Soldiers. BG Mennes, director of force management (G-3/5/7) for the U.S. Army, provides info on the assessment, selection, and training of Soldiers for the Army's SFABs. (Army News Service, Mar 19, 2018).

References

Read more about the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade - SFAB.

Read recent news reports about the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade - SFAB.

Read about the Army's newly established Military Advisor Training Academy (MATA).


Commentary on Afghanistan



Taliban and Peace Talks? Antonio Giustozzi, a long-time observer of all things Afghanistan, comments on the prospects of the insurgents engaging in peace talks. Many observers think the Taliban are not accepting President Ghani's latest proposals because of the recent success the insurgents have had in the rural areas of Afghanistan. But Giustozzi points to a number of other contributing factors. Read "Do the Taliban Have any Appetite for Reconciliation with Kabul?", Center for Research & Policy Analysis, March 19, 2018.

Pentagon Propaganda. A columnist for Task & Purpose throws the red BS flag out on recent news reports by the Department of Defense about progress being made in Afghanistan. Paul Szoldra says "the flaks in the Pentagon's press office seem to be working overtime to convince you that everything is fine, remain calm in the dumpster fire that is the War in Afghanistan". Read The Pentagon is Really Ramping Up the High Quality Bullsh*t About AfghanistanTask & Purpose, March 23, 2018.

Why Peace Talks are the Way Forward. Vikram J. Singh, a senior advisor for national security and international policy at American Progress, says the U.S. can't continue down the same failed path. His first three paragraphs sum up the current situation in Afghanistan quite adequately; although I am not sure I agree with the conclusion. Read "Why Peace Talks Are Washington's Best Bet in Afghanistan", Foreign Affairs, March 21, 2018.


Afghan Security News


TAAC West advisors discuss operations with ANDSF
TAAC West Advisors discuss operations with ANDSF
(photo RS HQs Feb, 21, 2018).

Gen Dunford Visits Afghanistan. General Joe Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited Afghanistan to conduct an assessment of how the war is going. Of particular interest is the advisory effort - the general indicated that he wanted to personally talk with advisors on the ground. (Military Times, Mar 20, 2018).

South Asian Strategy has Improved Afghan Security Prospects. General Nicholson believes that the military parts of of President Trump's strategy are now in place and they are making a difference. The strategy calls for more military advisors working with lower-echelon Afghan units. It also calls for more enablers - including air support and ISR. Read more in "Nicholson Says Situation in Afghanistan Has Fundamentally Changed", Defense Media Activity, March 22, 2018.

Bombing in Kabul. A suicide bomber killed at least 26 people near a shrine in the Afghan capital on Wednesday, March 21st. At least 18 were wounded as the Afghan capital celebrated the Nawruz holiday marking the start of the Persian new year. (Reuters, Mar 21, 2018).

Estonia Troops for Afghanistan. Members of the Estonian Defence Force's professional Scouts Battalion will soon begin a deployment for the Resolute Support mission. 35 members of the EDF will deploy for six months to the Kabul region. (ERR.ee News, Mar 20, 2018).

AAF's Black Hawks Need to Get Ready. New sanctions against Russia will likely affect the availability of spare parts for the Afghan Air Force's (AAF) Mi-17 helicopters. This will put pressure on the program to field UH-60 Black Hawks to the AAF - to include, not only helicopters, but the training of its pilots and maintainers. (Stars and Stripes, Mar 24, 2018).

AAF's Blawk Hawks Mission Ready by Summer 2018. The AAF is expected to start flying missions with its new fleet of UH-60s within months. As of now the fleet numbers eleven. Learn more about the training program for its pilots in "Afghan UH-60 Black Hawks will be mission ready this summer", RS HQs DVIDS, March 14, 2018.

Czechs Increasing Numbers. The Czech Republic's defense ministry is planning to deploy more soldiers to Afghanistan. (ABC News, Mar 21, 2018).

Afghanistan's Female General. Khatol Mohammadzai has served in the Afghan army for more than three decades, served as a commando, and did nearly 600 parachute jumps. She is a role model for many of the 1,700 women who serve in the Afghan National Army. Read "Afghan Women Work to Increase Military Presence", Voice of America, March 23, 2018.

Women in the SMW. Read an article about female members of the Afghan Special Mission Unit. The SMW is the Afghan SOF aviation unit that supports the Afghan Special Security Forces (ASSF). See "Women of the SMW - Afghan Special Mission Wing", SOF News, March 24, 2018.

APPF to be Part of MoD. The Afghan Public Protection Force will fall under the Ministry of Defense (MoD) - moving from the control of the Ministry of Interior (MoI). In all, about 13,500 APPF personnel will make the move. See "PPF Officially Handed Over to the Defense Ministry", Tolo News, March 21, 2018.

ASSF Increases in Strength. The Afghan National Army Special Operations Command (ANASOC) recently graduated 828 Commandos from its 14-week long course. Additionally, over 300 special police officers graduated from the 26-week Special Police Qualification Course. The Afghan Special Security Forces continue to grow. (RS HQs, Mar 20, 2018).

19th SFGA Members Honored for Valor. Members of a Utah National Guard Special Forces unit were awarded medals for their valor during a 2017 deployment to Afghanistan. Four Green Berets received Silver Stars. (The Seattle Times, Mar 17, 2018).

CA Guard Trains in France for Afghan Deployment. Some units go to NTC, JRTC, Fort Bliss or other prime locations to train up for a rotation in Afghanistan. The 200 members of California Guard's 40th Division is training in France - drinking French coffee eating eating multicolored, pillowy macarons. Hmmm. How do you get that gig? (Stars and Stripes, March 22, 2018.) See also a news report about members of the 40th Div heading to Kandahar (Stars and Stripes, Mar 23, 2018).

1st BCT 82nd Ends Deployment. Members of the 1st Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division have returned home to Fort Bragg, North Carolina after a nine-month long deployment to Kandahar, Afghanistan. (The Fayetteville Observer, Mar 19, 2018).

ASSF to Double Size. The Afghan Special Security Forces (SOF units) will be doubling its size over the few years. Read more in a Resolute Support news release. (Mar 20, 2018).

Non-Pursuit into Pakistan. A U.S. military spokesman said it is U.S. policy not to pursue Taliban fighters that flee from Afghanistan into sanctuaries located in Pakistan. (FDD's Long War Journal, Mar 20, 2018).

Pressuring the Taliban. General Nicholson, the commander of Resolute Support in Afghanistan, says a combination of religious, diplomatic, military, and social pressure on the Taliban will result in the insurgents coming to the negotiating table in the near future. (Voice of America, Mar 19, 2018).


Government and Politics


Afghanistan election ballot


Call for Timely and Credible Elections. Donor nations from the international community are encouraged by the progress being made in implementing reforms in the election system of Afghanistan. However the Election Support Group of Ambassadors warned that any changes in the electoral system at this stage would delay parliamentary and district council elections beyond 2018. (Tolo News, Mar 20, 2018).

Security Key to Safe Elections. During a visit to Afghanistan General Dunford (Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff) said that securing key areas of the country during the election will be the key to a successful, secure, and credible election. (AP, Mar 22, 2018).

Ghani Meeting with IEC. President Ghani recently chaired a special meeting with the Independent Election Commission, government agencies, and members of the international community for a session on the upcoming 2018 parliamentary elections. He said he that transparent elections was a top priority after security.

Governor Atta Noor Drama Resolved? It appears a deal has been struck between the Afghan president and Balkh province governor that has resolved a months-long conflict that has deeply affected the standing of the central government in Kabul. A number of political concessions were granted to Atta Noor. Read "Powerful Afghan governor defying President Ghani agrees to go", Reuters, March 22, 2018.


Economy, Development, and Humanitarian News




Slow Progress in Badghis. Officials in this northwestern province of Afghanistan are warning that there will likely be public protests if there is no significant progress on a number of long-delayed development schemes. There is a lack of safe drinking water and reliable electricity. Read "Anger Over Slow Progress in Afghan Province", Institute for War & Peace Reporting, March 19, 2018.

Badakhshan Mines. The lapis mines of this area of Afghanistan is one of the richest assets of the Afghan people but the Taliban and other crime groups are the organizations receiving benefit from the mining of these gems. Read more in "Gemstone Smuggler Says Badakhshan Mines Out of Govt Control", Tolo News, March 21, 2018.


News Snippets about Afghanistan - A Little of This and That





Kabul's Mobile Library. A bus converted into a reading room for children is traveling the streets of the capital city. Read "Climb on Board: Afghan woman brings stories to Kabul's children", Reuters, March 21, 2018.

U.S. Role in Taliban Reconciliation. Lolita C. Baldor of he Associated Press reports that General John Nicholson (RS Cdr) says the U.S. has a role to play in setting the conditions for members of the Taliban to lay down their weapons and move back into Afghanistan's society. A lot of this 'reintegration' is taking place behind the scenes - with smaller groups of insurgents. ISAF and now RS has always attempted to reintegrate and reconcile insurgents as a method to reduce the conflict. The programs thus far have been largely unsuccessful. We shall see if the generals optimism is misplaced in time. Read "US will have role in Afghan reconciliation with Taliban", ABC News, March 22, 2018.

Afghan Interpreter Now in Air Force. An Afghan citizen worked for years as an interpreter at a U.S. military base in Shindand, Afghanistan. Read his story on life as an interpreter, his journey to the United States, citizenship, and now military service - "Face of Defense: Afghanistan Native Now Serves as U.S. Airman", DoD, March 22, 2018.


Recently Released Books, Movies, and Videos about Afghanistan




Video - Progress on Peace and Stability in Afghanistan. The United States Institute for Peace (USIP) held a panel discussion with Afghan National Security Advisor Mohammad Hanif Atmar on Thursday, March 22nd. The one-hour long video provides an Afghan perspective to the security challenges in Afghanistan and the path to peace. Very informative.
www.usip.org/events/progress-peace-and-stability-afghanistan

Video - On Standby: Preparing the U.S. Military in Afghanistan to respond to humanitarian operations, Resolute Support HQs, March 22, 2018. A short 1-min video about USAID's Joint Humanitarian Assistance Course (JHOP) taught to U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgJdG1F70XU

Video - Lethal Advantage: Afghan Air Force is ready to strike, Resolute Support, March 22, 2018. This two-minute long video showcases aircraft of the AAF and the munitions personnel that keep the MD-530 and A-29 armed.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFmushfxQQQ

Video - Great Teamwork in the First EAP in Northern Afghanistan, Resolute Support YouTube.com, March 24, 2018. TAAC-North provides an Expeditionary Advisory Package (EAP) to a brigade of the 209th ANA Corps located in Faryab province in northern Afghanistan.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrjDU1NJF84

Video - Increasing the lethality of the ANDSF from above with support from below, Resolute Support, March 22, 2018. One-minute video highlighting aircraft maintenance workers in AAF.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Boc4bRwgqoo

Video - 205th Cdr Visits A-10 Unit. MG Eman Nazar, the commander of the 205th Corps (based in Kandahar), recognized eight airmen from the 303rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron.
www.dvidshub.net/video/590234/afghanistan-maj-gen-eman-nazar-visits-303rd-efs-airmen

Video - Happy Naw Roz 1397. Resolute Support Commander General John Nicholson wishes the Afghan people a happy Naw Roz. (RS HQs, Mar 20, 2018, 1 min).
www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPCetW24pcw

View a list of videos about Afghanistan.


Internet Resources for the Afghan Conflict



Afghan War News Site Map
www.afghanwarnews.info/sitemap.htm

Glossary of Terminology Used in Afghanistan
www.afghanwarnews.info/glossary/afghanglossary.htm

Afghanistan: Annotated Bibliography for Resolute Support
www.afghanwarnews.info/pubs/RSM-Bibliography.htm


Guest Bloggers Welcomed

The Afghan War Blog Weekly Newsletter encourages those who have an opinion or story to tell about Afghanistan to share it with our audience. Topics can be wide-ranging as long as it relates to Afghanistan. Writings on issues concerning security, governance, politics, development, gender, culture, history, society, peace negotiations, corruption, and more are welcomed. Our newsletter subscribers are a varied group of individuals from around the world with an association with many different organizations to include the military, government, NGOs, and academia. Our editorial staff will work with you to polish up your article should your writing or English skills need some assistance. Send your ideas to staff@afghanwarnews.info.


Track the News about the Conflict in Afghanistan

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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Afghan War Blog Weekly Newsletter - March 18, 2018



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.


Is Peace in the Air for Afghanistan?



In the past few months there have been several initiatives for peace in Afghanistan. First there was the 'Taliban letter' to the American people. President Ghani then followed up with his peace initiative during the Kabul Process. In mid-March U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis flew to Kabul for discussions on the overall security situation and current prospects for peace negotiations. Read some recent articles on this topic.

March 16, 2018. "A peace deal with the Taliban would be pure folly", by Sandeep Gopalan, The Hill.

March 14, 2018. "The Folly of Peace Without Victory in Afghanistan", Conservation HQ.

March 13, 2018. "Mattis in Kabul: We look toward a victory in Afghanistan - not a military victory", by AP, Politico.com. The SECDEF is thinking a victory in Afghanistan is possible by facilitating a Taliban reconciliation with the government. He believes that the Afghan government may be able to 'peel off' those fighters who are tired of the long war.

March 13, 2018. "U.S. detecting Taliban interest in Afghan peace talks", Reuters.

March 11, 2018. "The Afghan Taliban's Deceptive Peace Initiative", by Marvin G. Weinbaum and Samad Sadri, The National Interest. The author's believe that cautiousness if not cynicism is in order.


TA3E - Training the Afghan Security Forces

Cdr of 5th Bn 1st SFAB conducts an aerial survey of Kabul.
(1st SFAB photo Facebook, March 15, 2018)

Reporting on the 'Train, Advise, and Assist' Mission. The renewed emphasis and modest increase in the advisory effort with the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) will not win the war; however, it is an important component of the U.S. and NATO strategy for Afghanistan. For that reason, the Afghan War Blog will continue to report on Security Force Assistance efforts by NATO and other Coalition / Partner nations.

Training Afghan Aircraft Mechanics. Currently 80% of the maintenance done on Afghan aircraft is performed by contract mechanics. Only 20% is done by Afghan Air Force maintenance personnel. Train, Advise, and Assist Command - Air (TAAC-Air) is attempting to flip the number. Read more "US Advisors: Training Afghan Aircraft mechanics vital to country's military independence", Stars and Stripes, March 16, 2018.

4th ID at TAAC-South. The 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division has deployed to Kandahar to conduct the Train, Advise and Assist mission. (DVIDS, Mar 14, 2018).

AC-208 Eliminator for AAF. The Afghan Air Force will be receiving a number (?) of AC-2018 Eliminator aircraft through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program (in this case funded by the U.S.). The aircraft has an armed-ISR configuration well-suited for counterinsurgency operations. Read "Orbital ATK contracted to provide AC-2018 armed ISR aircraft to Afghanistan", Janes.com, March 11, 2018. See "Afghan AF getting New Hellfire-Shooting Planes: More Airstrikes Coming", Breaking Defense, March 13, 2018.


News & Info about the 1st SFAB

Setting the 1st SFAB Up for Success. Soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade (RSSB) have set the stage for the successful arrival of the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade into Afghanistan.  (DVIDS, Mar 17, 2018).

Organizational Changes for the SFABs. The Army is continuing to evaluate how to organize for the Security Force Assistance mission. Read "The Army is looking to stand up divisions for its new security force assistance brigades", Army Times, March 16, 2018.

References

Read more about the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade - SFAB.

Read recent news reports about the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade - SFAB.

Read about the Army's newly established Military Advisor Training Academy (MATA).


Commentary on Afghanistan



Iran's Hand in Western Afghanistan. The western province of Farah is experiencing significant security problems. The province shares a border with Iran. Some Afghan's are blaming Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) for aiding the Taliban insurgents in western Afghanistan. Apparently it is believed that Iran does not want to see certain construction projects succeed and it wants to diminish U.S. influence in western Afghanistan. For instance, the TAPI project is a rival to Iran's own regional pipeline project and would increase the influence of Arab Gulf states. Read "Afghans see Iran's hand in Taliban's latest gains in western Afghanistan", Middle East Institute, March 14, 2018.


Afghan Security News


Member of 455th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron
attends to patient during mission in Feb 2018 in Afghanistan.
(Photo by SSgt Divine Cox, USAF)

455th EAES - Saving Lives in Afghanistan. Based at Bagram Airfield, the 455th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron is tasked with transporting injured, sick, and wounded personnel to a medical facility.  The unit will transport (and provide medical care to) patients from medical treatment facilities within Afghanistan to specialty treatment facilities. Read "AE team cares for patients in the air", DVIDS, March 12, 2018.

SEC DEF in Afghanistan. While enroute to Afghanistan Secretary of Defense Mattis held a 'press gaggle' with reporters traveling with him. His forecast for Afghanistan? (DoD News Transcript, March 12, 2018).

"We do look towards a victory in Afghanistan. Now, what does that victory look like? It's a country with its own people, and with their security forces, and won law enforcement. Any threats, using their own security forces; certainly, with international support for years to come. As they get better, obviously, the international support will be moderated, as the Afghan forces are able to do more. We see that already, when you compare the number that we have there today to the number we had there years ago."

TIP and Taliban Working Together. The Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), a largely Uighur jihadist group affiliated with al Qaeda, seems to be working alongside the Taliban in northern Afghanistan. The group recently released a video highlighting its activities. TIP is also known as the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM). The group has been known to operate in Pakistan, China, Central Asia, Pakistan, and Syria. The TIP has utilized Taliban training camps in Pakistan to train their fighters. See "Turkistan Islamic Party highlights joint raids with the Afghan Taliban", LWJ, March 12, 2018.

"Not a Forever War". The U.S. Ambassador to the United States has a very optimistic view on the current situation in Afghanistan. "Afghanistan Is Not A Forever War, Its Ambassador Tells T&P", by Jeff Schogol, Task and Purpose, March 14, 2018.

Guardian Angel Team for Afghan PR Mission. The Army and the Air Force are working together in a joint venture to provide the capability to conduct personnel recovery (PR) missions in Afghanistan. (DoD, Mar 9, 2018).

Organizational Change. The U.S. Forces - Afghanistan's (USFOR-A) National Support Element (NSE) based at Bagram Airfield has transitioned to the Deputy Chief of Staff - Operations headquarters. (DVIDS, Mar 9, 2018).

A-29 Crash Investigation. The U.S. is providing A-29 Super Tucanos to the Afghan Air Force. In addition, pilot training is taking place in the U.S. A year ago one of the A-29s crashed in the vicinity of Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. The Afghan student and U.S. instructor pilot were able to eject safely (at 300 feet). Read "A-29 Crash at Moody Was Result of Abrupt Engine Malfunction: Report"Military.com, March 8, 2018.

Airstrikes in Helmand - Mixed Results. Despite a huge increase in the number of Coalition and Afghan use of air power in this southwestern province of Afghanistan the Taliban still control, contest, or dominate 12 of the 14 districts. While the bombing attacks will help defeat the insurgents in a battle with the ANDSF the insurgents will rebound and occupy the areas cleared. Read "Airstrikes Deliver Mixed Results in Frontline Afghan Province", Gandhara, March 16, 2018.

Building up the AAF. An informative article about how the U.S. plans to increase the size of the Afghan Air Force. "CENTCOM Aiming to Build Afghan Air Force Into a Key Offensive Capability", Air Force Magazine, March 13, 2018.

U.S. Miliary Increases Kabul Presence. The Afghan capital has seen a significant increase in urban attacks over the past few years. The ANDSF seem to have problems coping with the terrorist bombings that kill scores of people each time. General Nicholson, Cdr of RS, says that the ". . . leadership element is key because what we found is many failures at the local level in terms of local security." Some members of the 1st SFAB are being assigned to the Kabul area to mentor Afghan police. Read "US focusing anti-Taliban effort inside Kabul", Military Times, March 14, 2018.

NATO's Annual Report for 2017. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization released its annual report that provides an overview of how NATO has become more agile and innovative in the face of a complex and evolving security environment. Part of that environment is Afghanistan. The report is 120 pages long; the Afghanistan annex is found on page 102.
www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/opinions_152797.htm

Anar Dara District Falls to Taliban. On Monday, March 12th, insurgents attacked a district center in Farah province and took control of the district headquarters. Some press reports says that remnants of the ANDSF were holding out in some district government and military buildings awaiting relief from the Afghan security forces. Farah province has seen a steady decline in security over the past two years. In January the governor of Farah province resigned citing deteriorating security; blaming the problems on political interference and corruption. See "Taliban Overruns Afghan District Near Iranian Border", Voice of America, March 12, 2018.

Battle for Faryab Province. The Taliban control the majority of the 15 districts in this northern Afghan province. The provincial capital is also being threatened by the insurgents. Government and international troops (SOF) are currently in operations to push the insurgents away from the capital city and to clear the major roadways. The capture of the provincial capital - even for a short time - would be a propaganda victory for the Taliban. Read a detailed report on the security situation in Faryab province by Kate Clark of the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN), March 12, 2018.


Government and Politics




Noor-Ghani Dispute. The dispute between President Ghani and Governor Noor has receded from the front pages but it is not likely over. Noor is positioning himself for a run for the presidency while Ghani tries to maintain his political apparatus for his re-election. The TAPI project, potential peace negotiations, and start of the fighting season have pushed the Noor-Ghani drama to the sidelines but it isn't over.

Turmoil Within Hizb-e Islami. The leaders of an Afghan Islamist political party are in a state of disagreement. Read "Leadership Divide Threatens Afghan Islamist Party", Gandhara,  March 14, 2018.

Mattis-Ghani Meeting. During his brief visit to Kabul Secretary of Defense James Mattis visited with a host of people to include Resolute Support leaders and staff, embassy personnel, and President Ghani. Not much news came out of the visit with Ghani. The U.S. once again affirms its support to the Afghan government and cautions the Taliban that peace negotiations is the only way to end the conflict.


Economic, Development, and NGO News




NGO Meeting in Kabul.  A meeting was held presided by the Afghan government with representatives from Non-Governmental Organizations that work in Afghanistan. The conference was held to evaluate NGOs work in Afghanistan in terms of helping with economic development and poverty alleviation. President Ghani said that NGOs have not always implemented projects in an effective manner. He is stressing more interaction and cooperation with the Afghan government. Read more in "Ghani Says NGOs Will Have to Report to Govt", Tolo News, March 12, 2018. See also "Abdullah Wraps up Two-Day NGO Conference in Kabul", Tolo News, March 13, 2018.

Nimruz Water Project. The residentes of Nimruz have high hopes about the dramatic differences a major dam project will have on life in the semi-arid province. Safiullah Amiri writes "Hopes Overflow for Afghan Water Project", Institute for War and Peace Reporting, March 18, 2018.

Pipeline Hopes. The TAPI project was first proposed in 1995 in an attempt to get Central Asian energy to markets in South Asia. However, once the Taliban took power the venture was dropped. Since 2001, with the demise of the Taliban regime, efforts have been made to revive the project. Hopefully the TAPI project will bring increased prosperity to Afghanistan, improve Afghan's confidence in its government, and play a part in reducing insecurity. "A Pipeline for Landlocked Afghanistan: Can It Help Deliver Peace?", The Asia Foundation, March 14, 2018.


News Snippets on Afghanistan




AREU - Human Trafficking in Afghanistan. A recent study by the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU) recommends that the trafficking law of 2017 should be reviewed to identify and remove all contradictory statements or redundancies within the penal code. Read more in "A Mapping Study: Institutional Mechanisms to Tackle Trafficking in Persons in Afghanistan", AREU, March 5, 2018.
https://areu.org.af/archives/publication/1803

Norouz Boycott. Facebook accounts have begun to show up calling on Afghans to refrain from celebrating Norouz because it is un-Islamic. (Gandhara, Mar 12, 2018).

Getting Ready to Deploy to Afghanistan. An Intelligence Officer is interviewed about her upcoming deployment on the Resolute Support Mission. (PRI.org, Mar 14, 2018).

Pakistan Support for Insurgents. According to General Votel, the commander of Central Command, the Taliban are still receiving support from Pakistan. He was testifying before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee. (The Washington Times, Mar 14, 2018).

U.S. Dept of State - Trafficking. The U.S Department of State has released a report on human trafficking entitled Trafficking in Persons Report 2017. Afghanistan is covered on pages 57-58.
www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2017/index.htm


Movies, Books, and Videos about Afghanistan




A State Built on Sand: How Opium Undermined Afghanistan, SOAS University of London, September 7, 2017. The lecture is given by Dr. David Mansfield, at the Centre of Contemporary Central Asia & The Caucasus. The role of rural communities in Afghanistan is explored as well as how local politics shape the political terrain.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=foWqSptszPs

Podcast - Johnny Walsh on U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan, United States Institute for Peace (USIP), March 14, 2018. An 'Afghan expert' provides his perspective on the current attempts to establish a peace negotiation process in Afghanistan. Walsh has a lot of experience with Afghanistan to include time spent with the U.S. Department of State.
www.usip.org/publications/2018/03/johnny-walsh-us-strategy-afghanistan

Women are Making a Change in Afghan Media, Resolute Support, March 16, 2018. A one-minute long video features a media analyst at the Bayan Media Center in Mazar-e-Sharif.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IsFutH88H4

Wpns Training for Mobile Strike Force, Resolute Support, February 28, 2018. (2 mins).
www.dvidshub.net/video/589506/afghans-graduate-mounted-heavy-machine-gun-course-ready-teach-their-soldiers

SFAB - "Everyone is an Expert in Their Field". Colonel Scott Jackson, 1st SFAB Cdr, is interviewed about his unit and their upcoming Afghan mission. (US Army Facebook, Mar 14, 2018, 2 mins).
www.facebook.com/USarmy/videos/10155766554323558/

AAF Strike Story for AFN, Resolute Support, March 6, 2018, 1-min long.
https://www.dvidshub.net/video/588948/aaf-strike-story-afn

Security Force Assistance Brigade Buzz, U.S. Army, March 11, 2018 (1 min). SFABs are specialized conventional units built to train, advise, assist, accompany, and enable our multinational partners.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlJdAzUxEL8

Collaboration and Professionalism at Bayan Media Center. Afghan media professionals work closely with advisors from the Train, Advise, and Assist Command - North in supporting the ANDSF in their mission for a secure and stable environment for northern Afghanistan.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dwo_qRtU6wA

View a list of videos about Afghanistan.


Internet References for Afghan Conflict



Afghan War News Site Map
www.afghanwarnews.info/sitemap.htm

Glossary of Terminology Used in Afghanistan
www.afghanwarnews.info/glossary/afghanglossary.htm

Afghanistan: Annotated Bibliography for Resolute Support
www.afghanwarnews.info/pubs/RSM-Bibliography.htm


Guest Writers Welcomed

The Afghan War Blog Weekly Newsletter encourages those who have an opinion or story to tell about Afghanistan to share it with our audience. Topics can be wide-ranging as long as it relates to Afghanistan. Writings on issues concerning security, governance, politics, development, gender, culture, history, society, peace negotiations, corruption, and more are welcomed. Our newsletter subscribers are a varied group of individuals from around the world with an association with many different organizations to include the military, government, NGOs, and academia. Our editorial staff will work with you to polish up your article should your writing or English skills need some assistance. Send your ideas to staff@afghanwarnews.info.


Stay Current on Afghanistan

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, March 11, 2018

"Afghan War Blog Weekly Newsletter" - March 11, 2018



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.


SIGAR Report - District Control




The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) January 2018 Quarterly Report to the United States Congress was heavily edited by Resolute Support Headquarters which resulted in key data relating to security in Afghanistan being deleted from the report. Resolute Support and the U.S. Department of Defense took a considerable amount of 'heat' over the omission and this was quickly reversed.

A new 17-page addendum to the latest quarterly report has now been published that includes data originally missing. For the most part this addendum includes information on territorial and population control. One of the metrics used in assessing the success or failure of the Resolute Support Mission and that of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) is to measure that percentage of population under the control of the government and the amount of territory under the control of the government.

It is a little bit more complicated than that - as different criteria are used. For instance a district can be under insurgent control or influence. A district can be contested. Or a district can be under government control or influence. And it matters on whether you are measuring population or territory. Much of the Afghan population lives in district capitals, provincial capitals, major cities, and Kabul. Most of these major towns and cities are firmly under the control of the Afghan security forces. So using a percentage of the population as a measurement is probably (from the Afghan government or RS viewpoint) better than the number of districts (as many districts are in rural areas). USFOR-A and RS use a RS District  Assessment Methodology that is described in the SIGAR report.

The RS methodology has some built in faults. For instance for a district to be under insurgent influence there has to be no government or security presence in the district center. A district center is usually a walled compound with 3 to 8 buildings where the district governor (DGov), district chief of police (DCoP), and other government representatives (MRRD, MAIL, etc.) have offices. By this criteria, even if the security forces cannot venture out of the gates of the compound, the DGov (and other government ministry representatives are not present - and who determines whether they report to work or not), and the district center is resupplied by helicopter with fuel, food, ammunition, and more; the district is considered not under insurgent influence. The insurgents may roam freely throughout the district with firm control of the roads, market, and outlying areas but they still do not have district influence. A more accurate picture of district control is provided by the Long War Journal.

Learn more about district control.
www.afghanwarnews.info/districts/district-control.htm

Read the SIGAR addendum.
www.sigar.mil/pdf/quarterlyreports/Addendum_2018-01-30qr.pdf


TA3E - The Security Force Assistance Mission

Advisors using translation kits
(photo by Afghan GMIC July 13, 2017)


Reporting on the 'Train, Advise, and Assist' Mission. The renewed emphasis and modest increase in the advisory effort with the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) will not win the war; however, it is an important component of the U.S. and NATO strategy for Afghanistan. For that reason, the Afghan War Blog will continue to report on Security Force Assistance efforts by NATO and other Coalition / Partner nations.

NODs and the ANDSF. One one of the more important pieces of equipment when trying to 'own the night' is access to night observation devices (night vision goggles or night vision goggles). Attempts in the past to equip Afghan forces with NODs were half-hearted and lacking accountability. At one time, the issue of NODs was suspended because the ANDSF couldn't track the whereabouts of the NODs. The fear was that they had fallen into the hands of insurgents. In addition to the accountability problem (halting the provision of NODs) there is the bureaucracy and cost involved. So the simple solution of "Just give them NODs" is actually very complicated. Read more in an article by Sunny Petzinger - a member of the Civilian Expeditionary Workforce detailed to the Army to work as a Political and Civil Affairs Advisor based in Kandahar from 2016-2017. Read "When Made-in-the-USA isn't Afghan-Good-Enough", Small Wars Journal, March 5, 2018.

"Temporareality" and Advising. Greg Kleponis, is a retired USAF Colonel who has served in advisory capacities in both Iraq and Afghanistan during the last 10 years. His most recent post was as Senior Advisor to the Deputy Minister of Interior (Afghanistan) where he served as an advisor on security, anti-terror, and rule of law programs. Read his very interesting article entitled "Temporareality: Permanent Contingency Operations and the Pervasive Influence it Has on Military Operations & Culture and the Afghan Perceptions of Commitment", Small Wars Journal, March 7, 2018.


News & Info about the 1st SFAB

Video about 1st SFAB. On March 5, 2018 the U.S. Army published a video about the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade - now on deployment to Afghanistan.
www.sof.news/video/video-1st-sfab/


References

Read more about the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade - SFAB.

Read recent news reports about the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade - SFAB.

Read about the Army's newly established Military Advisor Training Academy (MATA).


Commentary on Afghanistan




General Nicholson - In Too Deep? Wesley Morgan, a defense journalist, examines the RS Cdr's track record over the past two years and wonders if the commander is 'sugar coating' how well the Afghan security forces are doing. Read "Is the top general in Afghanistan in too deep?", Politico, March 5, 2018. See also (posted in last weeks newsletter) "General John Nicholson - Two Years as RS Commander", SOF News, March 2, 2018.

Catch 22. One writer's perspective on Afghanistan sees the global war on terror which began in 2001 heading nowhere. "Afghanistan's Catch-22", Indian Defence Review, March 2, 2018.
"For Afghanistan, there is nothing different about the year that has just begun except that there is more violence, increasing political fragmentation, a slowing economy, and rising discontent amongst the domestic population".
Protracted Stalemate. Ali Wyne, a policy analyst at RAND Corporation, provides his perspective on the current security situation in Afghanistan. He believes that the ANDSF won't be 'turning the corner' any time soon and the Afghan government will only stay in power so long as the U.S. and its allies remain in Afghanistan. (The RAND Blog, Feb 26, 2018).

More Dialogue Needed. Adam Weinstein writes that "An end to the war in Afghanistan lies in dialogue and if Washington doesn't adapt it will soon get left behind". Weinstein is a veteran of the Afghan conflict, a former Marine, writer on national security issues. See his article in "Dialogue With Taliban the Only Way Out of Afghanistan"The American Conservative, March 5, 2018.


Afghan Security News


Afghan Soldiers at the Artillery School Working on D-30
(photo DVIDS, December 2010)


German National Captured with Taliban 'Red Unit'. On February 27th Afghan special operations forces captured a German national who was acting as an advisor to the Taliban's 'special forces'. (Long War Journal, March 6, 2018).

Afghan Commandos Suffer Casualties. Initial news reports in Afghan media say that Afghan SOF endured some heavy losses in Farah province (western Afghanistan). The province has seen a rapid deterioration in security over the past two years and a growth of the insurgency's strength. According to one news report a Commando element was in an engagement where it suffered 35 KIA and 17 WIA on / about March 10th. Over the past several days ASSF have conducted a number of offensive operations against the Taliban, Tehrik-I Taliban, ISIS-K, and Haqqani. Read a recent new release by Maj Anthony Mayne of NATO Special Operations Component  Command - Afghanistan (NSOCC-A) in "Afghan SOF raids and U.S. airstrikes target weapons facilitators", DVIDS, March 9, 2018.

Afghan SOF Aviation Host Conference. The Afghan Special Mission Wing (SMW) recently held a two-day ISR conference in Kabul to improve ISR procedures within the ANDSF. (RS HQs, Mar 9, 2018)

Female Police Officers. Read the story of a women who works as a police officer in southern Afghanistan. When her husband, a police officer, was killed by the Taliban she needed a way to support her family (four small children). Read "Female police officers help security on Afghan front line", Reuters, March 8, 2018.

"Great Northern Council". Local Afghan leaders in and around the Bagram Air Field area have joined together with Resolute Support representatives to enhance cooperation and security. (DVIDS, Mar 1, 2018).

Afghan Women in ASSF. The Afghan SOF are recruiting and training women to join the Afghan elite units of the MoI and MoD. Read "Afghan Special Security Forces Women: Pushing boundaries, Breaking barriers", by Martha Schaeffer, NSOCC-A Gender Advisor, March 8, 2018.

USAF Guardian Angel Team. The 93rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron stages Guardian Angel teams - consisting of pararescuemen and combat rescue officers - to conduct personnel recovery in Afghanistan. Read how they work with U.S. Army Chinook helicopters to accomplish their mission. "Joint Air Force, Army team enhances Afghanistan rescue mission", DVIDS, March 9, 2018.

Germany's Long Hard Slog. A new government report on military and civilian engagement in Afghanistan makes no mention of progress. The worsening security situation is severely hampering German efforts to assist the ANDSF and provide for reconstruction aid. (Deutsche Welle, Mar 6, 2018).

Germany to Raise Troop Level. The German cabinet approved plans to expand Germany's mission in Afghanistan - bringing the total number of troops to 1,300. Germany is the lead nation for the Train, Advise, and Assist Command - North (TAAC North). (Reuters, Mar 7, 2018).

US Granted Access to Kazakhstan Ports. Government officials of Kazakhstan say that the U.S. can ship material and equipment across the Caspian Sea to ports in their country. From there the goods can be shipped by rail or truck through Uzbekistan and then into northern Afghanistan. This will partially relieve the pressure of dealing with either the Russians, Pakistanis, or Iranians to ship material and equipment to support the war effort in Afghanistan. Using this route will provide relief from the problematic northern distribution network used in the past. (Tolo News, Mar 8, 2018).


Government and Politics




Political Crisis of NUG. Murid Partaw, an academic writer and researcher, writes about the continuing political crisis of the Afghan National Unity Government (NUG). He calls for the implementation of electoral reforms that can ensure free, fair, and transparent elections in 2019. Partaw served as the AFG senior National Representative (SNR) to the US Central Command for four years. Read "Afghanistan Braces for Its Next Political Crisis"The National Interest, March 1, 2018.


Development and Economic News about Afghanistan




Fiber-Optic Line. The Afghan Ministry of Communication and IT (MCIT) says that a fiber optic cable line streaming an Internet connection from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan is expected to run alongside the TAPI pipeline. (Tolo News, Mar 5, 2018).

India, Development, and Afghanistan. India has played a responsible role in Afghan economic development according to Alice Wells - the Acting Assistant Secretary of State of South and Central Asian Affairs. (The New Indian Express, Mar 10, 2018).

JHOC Taught by USAID. The United State Agency for International Development held a two-day course for U.S. military members at Bagram AF in January. The Joint Humanitarian Operations Course (JHOC) helps prepare military leaders and planners to work collaboratively with civilian agencies during international disaster relief and humanitarian assistance operations. Read "On Standby: Preparing the U.S. military in Afghanistan for humanitarian operations", Resolute Support, March 2018.


News Snippets




More Signal Resources Needed for Increase in Troops. The South Asia Strategy outlined by the Department of Defense over the past several months means more troops, vehicles, equipment, and logistics is required in Afghanistan. Included in this variety of material is signal equipment for the new aviation units (ISR, A-10s, etc.) and ground units (like the 1st SFAB). Read how the 355th Signal Command (T) Provisional is getting that equipment into Afghanistan. "U.S. Army Signaleers Vital to New Strategy in Afghanistan", DVIDS, March 6, 2018.

Cooperation between China and US is Needed. A recent 12-page report by David Rank, a 27 year veteran of the U.S. Department of State contends that meaningful cooperation between the U.S. and China is urgently needed to repair the frayed regional consensus on Afghanistan and set the country on a path to reconciliation and stability. (United States Institute for Peace, March 6, 2018).

Report - Insecurity in Helmand Province. According to one academic there are three important drivers of the conflict in Helmand - the influence of warlords, the factor of agricultural land rights, and the drug trade. He also offers some policy recommendations in his 16-page paper entitled Local Drivers of War in Afghanistan's Helmand Province. (By Qayoom Suroush, OSCE Academy in Bishkek, Policy Brief #47, March 2018).

Assessment of Norway's Engagement in Afghanistan. In 2014 the government of Norway completed an intensive study on Norway's commitment to the country of Afghanistan during the years 2001 to 2014. The study highlights three areas: the PRT in Faryab province, the combined effort of the Norwegian special forces and intelligence service, and Norwegian peace diplomacy. Read "A Good Ally: Norway in Afghanistan 2001-2014", Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2014, 238 pages.

Camp Buehring - Theater Gateway. Are you in the U.S. military and heading to Afghanistan soon? Odds are your unit will pass through Kuwait. Camp Buehring exists to streamline the deployment of units into Afghanistan as well as into other areas in the CENTCOM AOR. Read more in "Theater Gateway Now Open at Camp Buehring", DVIDS, March 8, 2018.


Books, Movies, and Videos on Afghanistan




Book Review - Blindsided by the Taliban. Steve Leonard, a former senior military strategist and now a writer on national security, has reviewed Carmen Gentile's book Blindsided by the  Taliban: a Journalist's Story of War, Trauma, Love, and Loss. This non-fiction book is the story of a war journalist hit in the head with an RPG in Kunar province and of his subsequent recovery from physical and emotional injuries. Read the review in "The Moments That Make a War", Modern War Institute, March 6, 2018.

TAAC-W Visited by SACEUR and US Rep to NATO. A 3-min long video features two high-level U.S. officials that visit Herat. (DVIDS, Feb 24, 2018).

Book - Caravan of Martyrs: Sacrifice and  Suicide Bombing in Afghanistan. David B. Edwards, a Professor of Anthropology at Williams College in Massachusetts, has written a book about Afghanistan (University of California Press, 2017) based on his previous life experience in Afghanistan and his continual specialization in the country. Edwards states that we need to understand the rise of suicide bombing in relation to the cultural beliefs and ritual practises associated with sacrifice. Read more about the book (or order online).
www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520294790

View a list of videos about Afghanistan.