Afghan Security Forces delivered humanitarian aid to remote villages and police outposts cut off by heavy snow storms and deadly avalanches. Read more in a news report by Stars and Stripes on February 28, 2015.
The U.S. Army has announced new deployments for Afghanistan. The 7th Infantry Division HQs goes to TAAC-South, 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division to TAAC-South and the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade heads to Bagram? Read more in a news report by Army Times, Feb 27, 2015.
The TAAC-Air commanding general - BG Michael Rothstein - recently visited Moody Air Force Base, Ga to check on the training for the A-29 Super Tucano training program. The Afghan Air Force will receive 20 of these aircraft at some point in the next year or so. Read more in a press release by Moody AFB, Feb 26, 2015.
President Ghani will visit the United States in late March. There are plans for Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah to visit the White House on March 24, 2015. Some observers believe Ghani will ask for the U.S. troop withdrawal time frame to slip to the right. Read a statement by The White House on the visit (Feb 27, 2015).
Five of Karzai's Mistakes Ghani Can Avoid, Foreign Policy, February 18, 2015. Karzai's administration made many mistakes, let's hope Afghanistan's new government can avoid these five.
1. Not having a clear domestic policy
2. Refusing to define a regional foreign policy
3. Unequal allocation of aid across provinces
4. Sidelining competent Afghans
5. Ignoring women
Afghan- Pak Optimism. Some observers believe that diplomatic ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan are improving. President Ghani is re-setting the relationship and observers are hoping that Pakistan will stop supporting the Afghan Taliban. Time will tell. Read "New Signs of Optimism for Afghan-Pakistan Relations", Voice of America, February 27, 2015.
James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee says the Taliban is set to gain control of more territory in Afghanistan this year. The Taliban insurgency is getting increasingly aggressive. Read more in a news report (Bloomberg, Feb 26, 2015). You can read his statement for the record in "Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community".
The U.S. State Department is offering rewards for information on two associates of the extremist group Hezb- Islami Gulbuddin (HIG). HIG is an offshoot of Herb-e Islami (Party of Islam) - and active in Afghanistan. (DoS, Feb 26, 2015).
COIN in Afghanistan Examined. Lillian Figg-Franzoi, a member of the United Nations Officer for Project Services, has penned an article where the tactic of counterinsurgency employed in Afghanistan is closely looked at. An interesting article with many valid (and some not so valid) points to consider. Read the article in "Learning How Not to Scare People: The Paradox of Counterinsurgency", E-International Relations, February 20, 2015.
An Army Medal of Honor recipient, William Swenson, was spied upon by military investigators after he was mentioned online in an Amazon book review by another soldier who was a subject of investigation. His home was put under surveillance, his neighbor and girlfriend questioned, and his trash was searched. See "Army Spied on Hero Solider Over a Book Review", NewsMax, Feb 26, 2015.
2nd Brigade 10th Mountain Division will deploy in the spring and summer as part of the Resolute Support Mission. (Syracuse.com, Feb 26, 2015).
A suicide bomber, in a white Corrolla, attacked two vehicles belonging to Turkish members of the NATO force in Kabul. One Turkish soldier was killed in the attack. (Stars and Stripes, Feb 26, 2015).
Can China help with Afghanistan's peace process?, Deutsche Welle, February 18, 2015. Concerned about an Islamic insurgency (the ETIM) in Xinjiang province, China has offered to assist in the Afghan peace process. But experts say China lacks direct access to the Afghan Taliban and relies on its clout over Pakistan. Hmmmm.
Renewed Peace Talks with Taliban. The news media is buzzing with the prospects of peace talks with the Taliban. Learn more in "Talking to Taliban might help U.S. stabilize Afghanistan", Chicago Tribune, February 24, 2015.
Rula Ghani, First Lady of Afghanistan, was interviewed by Nina Easton of the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) on February 18, 2015. You can listen to her at the podcast at the link below. One interesting comment was concerning corruption. An AfPak Hand who will deploy to Afghanistan in mid-summer 2015 was in the audience. During the question and answer period he asked Mrs. Ghani if she had any advice to him once he started his job of advising with the MoD (or MoI - he wasn't sure). She responded with "If you see corruption, don't look the other way. Unfortunately, advisors tend to look the other way when . . . " confronted with corruption.
Two U.S. Army general officers with a recent (or current) assignment in Afghanistan have received new assignment orders. BG Douglas M. Grabram, the former commander of Train, Advise, and Assist Command South (TAAC South) will become the deputy chief of staff at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. BG Mark C. Schwartz, currently the deputy commander of Special Operations Joint Task Force - Afghanistan (SOJTF-A) will soon be the deputy commander of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas. See news report "2 generals receive new assignments", Fort Hood Herald, February 18, 2015.
Afghan Surge and Counterinsurgency. About 30,000 additional troops surged into Afghanistan over five years ago in an attempt to reduce the violence in the country (especially the south) and give the Afghan military time and space to recruit, train, and deploy additional security forces. Five years later the troop levels are down from a high of 100,000 to just barely over 10,000 and the ANSF are in the lead for security all across Afghanistan. One thing has not changed. The Taliban are still out there and pose a significant threat. So despite the surge and the employment of counterinsurgency doctrine, strategy, and tactics the Taliban have not been defeated. As a result some observers would like to discredit the doctrine of counterinsurgency. John Ford writes in a recent column - not so fast - see what he has to say in "Reading Galula in Afghanistan", War on the Rocks, February 25, 2015.
SOCOM Operators Suffering 'Burnout' from Repeated Combat Zone Deployments. Special Operators are constantly deploying causing 'burnout' and personnel leaving after ten or more years being constantly deployed. Read more in "Special Operations: The Revenge of the Bureaucrats", Strategy Page, February 17, 2015.
"Colonels without Patches". A cute cartoon from "Doctrine Man". After 13 years of war in two countries . . . how did you accomplish that?
The staff of the Spin Boldak branch of Da Afghanistan Bank have taken the banks money and fled to Pakistan. Read more in a news article by Khaama Press (Feb 19, 2015).
A Wisconsin-based National Guard artillery unit has returned home after a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan. Soldiers of Battery A, 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery provided fire support for combat operations in Afghanistan. Read more in "FA Battery returns home from Resolute Support", Fort Bliss Bugle, February 19, 2015.
Train, Advise, and Assist Command - East (TAAC East) is seeing a rotation of units for its area of operations. The "Brave Rifles" of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment is leaving Afghanistan and the 3rd "Rakkasans" Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division are now arriving. TAAC East is located at Tactical Base Gamberi in Laghman province; located adjacent to the base where the Afghan National Army (ANA) 201st Corps is headquartered. Read more in "3rd CR transfers duties in Afghanistan", Fort Hood Herald, February 18, 2015.
Afghanistan Campaign Medal. Troops who have participated in Operation Freedom's Sentinel now qualify for award of the Afghanistan Campaign Medal. Campaign stars will be used on the Afghanistan Campaign Medal to recognize a service member's participation in multiple campaign phases in country. Read more in a Stars and Stripes news report.