Friday, December 12, 2014

Daily News Snippets (Dec 12, 2014)

The United States has released the final detainees from the Parwan Detention Center in Afghanistan ending the U.S. operation of any prisons in Afghanistan. The final three detainees have been released. Two were transferred to Afghan custody for possible prosecution and a third is seeking resettlement in another country. (AP News, Dec 10, 2014).

John Sopko (SIGAR) released a new report entitled High-Risk Areas (Dec 10, 2014) where he outlines seven major problems of the Afghan reconstruction effort. 1) corruption still rules, 2) Afghanistan is a narco state, 3) ANSF is still weak, 4) Afghan government lacks funding, 5) contracts and oversight are a mess, 6) Afghan officials can't manage US aid, and 7) war and reconstruction don't play nice. Read all about the SIGAR report in "7 Ways Afghanistan is a Total Mess", Mother Jones, December 10, 2014. See also "SIGAR: Major investments in Afghan security at risk", Stars and Stripes, December 11, 2014.

Korea will provide over $12 million to the World Food Program to build a soy milk factory in Afghanistan. Learn more here (World Food Programme, Dec 11, 2014).

A major clash occurred between the ANSF and the Taliban in the Shindand district bazaar, Herat. As of late Dec 11th the operation was still ongoing.

Five (maybe six?) ANA soldiers were killed in a suicide attack in Kabul early on Thursday, 11 December 2014. Reports indicate that over ten others were wounded. The attack was against an MoD van. The attack took place on Jalalabad highway - the suicide bomber, a 16-year-old boy, approached the van on foot. (Gandhara Blog, Dec 11, 2014).

An explosion took place in a secured part of Kabul on the morning of December 11th. It was very near the French Cultural Centre. Reportedly at the Lycee Istiqial High School. There are varying reports on deaths; some sources say one French national was killed while other sources say one German national was killed; many more injured. At the time of the attack, the cultural center was hosting a musical play entitled "Heartbreak: Silence After the Explosion". The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack; saying the play was immoral and held under the shadow of foreign invaders. The school was established in 1922 but is now administered by the Afghan Ministry of Education.

A large number of Afghan officers have completed military training at the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun, India. (Khaama Press, Dec 11, 2014).

Khaama Press is reporting that a NATO airstrike killed 17 suspected militants in two separate incidents in northern Parwan province. (Khaama Press, Dec 11, 2014).

NATO ISAF has posted a video on Vimeo (think YouTube for film makers). It features photographs and video of Slovenia and its contribution to the ISAF mission in Afghanistan. The music will make you want to march around the ISAF HQs compound - without stopping at the Milano for coffee.

Want to know more about President Ashraf Ghani? CNN World has put together a web page with some info. See "Ashraf Ghani Fast Facts" (Dec 8, 2014).

Up to 100 Lithuanian troops will remain in Afghanistan in 2015. Currently there are about 70 Lithuanians in Afghanistan - many of them personnel of the Aitvaras Lithuanian Special Operations Forces Squadron that are conducting reconnaissance tasks and training the Special Rapid Response Company of the Afghan National Police in Kandahar. (The Baltic Course, Dec 9, 2014).

Winters are harsh in Afghanistan. They are even more severe if you are homeless and poor. Hundreds of thousands of Afghans have been displaced (IDPs) by the constant fighting in the countryside and they have fled to some of the major cities such as Kabul and Herat. Watch a video about some displaced families near Herat (Radio Free Europe, Dec 11, 2014, 4 mins).

Army MG John M. Murray, Deputy Cdr for Support for USFOR-A, is interviewed by DoD News about the upcoming Resolute Support mission. He says that the new mission will cement the security gains attained thus far in Afghanistan. Read more of his comments in the news article (DoD News, Dec 10, 2014).

With the draw down of troops in Afghanistan the support structure is also down-sizing. The Army Material Command (AMC) is reducing its numbers as well. The new structure for support to the Army is the Army Field Support Battalion Afghanistan. Read more in a news article by DVIDS (Dec 11, 2014).

The chief of police for Kabul was recently the target of a suicide bomber. The attack killed some police but not the chief. The chief is interviewed about the attack in "Afghan attack: Anatomy of a suicide blast", BBC News Asia, December 10, 2014.

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