RAND Paper on Security Cooperation. Christopher Paul (of RAND) has published a transcript entitled What Works Best When Conducting Security Cooperation?, CT-441, October 2015. The pub is the testimony presented before the House Armed Services Committee on October 21, 2015. Some important points outlined for the committee include aligning "with partner nation security forces' baseline capabilities and their ability to absorb training and technology", "relationships matter, and they can take time to establish", "characteristics or features of partners improve prospects for security cooperation success", and "consistency and sustainment are key".
Russia Revisits Afghanistan? Recent security reverses in Afghanistan, the resurgence of the Taliban, large swathes of terrain in northern Afghanistan under the control of the Taliban, and other factors have Central Asian states and Russia deeply concerned. Khyber Sarban explores this in depth in his article entitled "Russia in Afghanistan: Past as Prologue?", The Diplomat, November 4, 2015.
The 'Forever War'. Ann Jones, book writer, columnist, feminist, and former Afghan expat writes about the hopeless situation in Afghanistan in "Afghanistan 'After' the American War", Huffington Post Blog, November 5, 2015.
A Tale of Two Afghan Armies. Lemar Alexander Farhad examines the performance of the former Afghan Communist Army with today's Afghan National Army using two decisive incidents. The Battles of Jalalabad 1989 and Kunduz 2015 illustrate the comparative capabilities of the two Afghan armies. The author also explores the ANA's motivational belief system, what motivates them (nationalism vs. ethnic / tribal affiliation), and lack of will to fight. Read the report in Small Wars Journal, November 3, 2015.
What Should U.S. Do in Afghanistan? The decision by Obama to stop the flow of U.S. troops out of Afghanistan allowing them to continue the Counterterrorism and Train, Advise, and Assist mission at current troop levels is an important step to halting to slide into deepening instability in that country. However, that is not enough. More needs to be done on the political front. 1) improve the constitutional process and fix the problems generated by the NUG, 2) help reform the electoral processes, 3) help in building the relationship between the central government in Kabul and the re-emergence of sub-national power brokers, and 4) assist in the negotiations with the Taliban. At least, that is what Rebecca Zimmerman of the RAND Corporation thinks has to happen. Read her article in "Saving Afghanistan: More Than Just Troops", War on the Rocks, November 5, 2015.
Lessons from Afghanistan. Janine Davidson, a Senior Fellow for Defense Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, is interviewed about Iraq and Afghanistan. Read (or listen to the podcast) in "Lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan: Facing Future Defense Challenges", Council on Foreign Relations, November 4, 2015.
Political Centralization in Afghanistan. Ahmad Murid Partaw writes about the costs of political centralization in Afghanistan and how the highly-centralized political system has deepened the country's problems. (Foreign Policy Journal, Nov 4, 2015).
Ashraf Haidari on US-Iran Nuclear Deal & Afghanistan. Haidari, a former high-level Afghan national security official, provides his view that the JCPOA is a win-win situation for the Middle East and believes that similar negotiation efforts concerning Afghanistan will be of great benefit in the future. Read "Afghanistan after the US-Iran nuclear deal", Observer Research Foundation (ORF), November 4, 2015.
The U.S. Military's Broke Personnel System. One need only look at how the U.S. Army and other services assigned personnel to work at the Afghan Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defense as advisors to realize that the military's personnel system is very broke. Air Force Colonels were assigned as advisors to the MoD's Ground Force Command (GFC), Navy logistics officers to advise ANCOP kandaks, and a reserve logistics Navy officer (06) who specialized in computer software in her civilian occupation was assigned as the principal advisor to the Afghan Public Protection Force (APPF). But the problem is much bigger than that and it is resulting in the loss of valuable people. Read more in "Can the U.S. Military Halt its Brain Drain?", The Atlantic, November 5, 2015.
Millennium Challenge (MC-02) - a Lesson in Red Teaming. Shortly after the invasion of Afghanistan and less than a year prior to the invasion of Iraq the U.S. military conducted one of the largest and most integrated military exercise ever - Millennium Challenge. The exercise was to be transformational - introducing concepts such as Effects Based Operations (EBO) and other advanced ways of thinking about military operations. The exercise was deemed a success or failure (depending on who you listened to). Read more in "Millennium Challenge: The Real Story of a Corrupted Military Exercise and Its Legacy", by Micah Zenko, War on the Rocks, November 5, 2015. On a related note, the Center for Strategic Leadership Newsletter (Carlisle Barracks, PA) has a number of articles about conflict simulation and wargaming.