China's 'Af-Pak' Dilemma. China's involvement in the affairs of Afghanistan has increased over the past few years. China wishes to bring stability to Afghanistan to ensure success for its "One Belt, One Road" strategy. But that means it must pressure Pakistan to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table. Read more in "China's Emerging Af-Pak Dilemma", by Michael Clarke of the Jamestown Foundation, December 7, 2015. (Posted on refworld.org).
Resolute Support Video Update #8 (Dec 7, 2015). This 3 minute long video provides content on human rights, rule of law, and Train, Advise, Assist Command - West in Herat, Afghanistan.
Petraeus - "No Further Punishment". The U.S. Army has decided not to pursue any further punishment for retired General Petraeus - former COMISAF and CIA Director. (The Washington Post, Dec 7, 2015).
Germany is Staying. The German defense minister recently visited Mazar-i-Shari - when the European nations are encamped at TAAC-North headquarters. The end result of the visit is an acknowledgement that mistakes were made and a commitment to increase the German troop presence. See "What'a going wrong in Afghanistan?", Deutsche Welle, December 12, 2015.
Gen Dunford Visits Afghanistan. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff visited Afghanistan on Dec 8th to meet with General Campbell and other senior military representatives. Dunford was the ISAF commander prior to Campbell. He made several comments on the current situation in Afghanistan. (Stars and Stripes, Dec 8, 2015).
Quarterly Parameters Autumn 2015. The US Army War College Quarterly Parameters is now posted. http://strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/parameters/
Korengal Valley - And Limits of Power. A Soldier writes of his time in the Korengal Valley in Kunar province and about how power projection has its constraints. (Best Defense - Foreign Policy, Dec 11, 2015). The Korengal Valley, an offshoot of the Pech River Valley was a hard-fought battle spanning a few years.
Photos from Khost. Sudarsan Raghaven provides us with a photographic view of Khost in eastern Afghanistan in "This is what the real Afghanistan looks like", The Washington Post, December 4, 2015.
Probe on Civilian Deaths at Mosque. A mortar attack by government troops on Friday, Dec 4th resulted in a number of civilian deaths near a mosque. The incident took place in Sayedabad - a district in central Maidan Wardak province. The Taliban issued a statement condemning the attack. (VOA, Dec 5, 2015).
UNAMA Report on Toll from Kunduz City. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan stated that the preliminary findings put the civilian casualty toll from the Kunduz city crisis two months (late September to mid-October) ago at 848 - 289 dead and 559 injured. You can read the UNAMA Special Report on Kunduz Province dated December 12, 2015.
Video - MG Buchanan visits TAAC-West. Italian forces have taken over responsibility for Train, Advise, Assist Command - West in Herat from the Spanish contingent. MG Jeff Buchanan comments on his recent visit to Herat in this short (2 min) video posted by Resolute Support HQs on DVIDSHUB on December 9, 2015.
Video - IED Training in TAAC-West. Resolute Support personnel provide counter IED training to members of the ANDSF in Herat. (2 mins, DVIDS, Dec 9, 2015).
German Defence Minister visits MeS. The Defence Minister of Germany recently paid a visit to Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan. The visit on Sunday, Dec 6th comes after a recent decision to enlarge the German contingent in Afghanistan. The message is "We're staying". (Tolo News, Dec 8, 2015).
Germany Contributes AFN 5 Billion. The Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund has received a pledge from Germany for a large contribution. (Khaama Press, Dec 10, 2015).
WTO Membership & Afghan Economy. Afghanistan 'imports' international aid and 'exports' opium but the international community is trying to change all of that. One step in that direction is providing membership to Afghanistan in the World Trade Organization. Read more in "Afghanistan Hopes W.T.O. Membership Can Reboot Its Battered Economy", The New York Times, December 9, 2015.
Heart of Asia Conference. Pakistan hosted the Heart of Asia conference which aimed to strengthen the peace process in Afghanistan and also improve economic and political cooperation in Afghanistan and among its neighbors. Twenty-seven countries participated. No word yet on whether Pakistan will pledge to stop supporting the Taliban with intelligence, training, support, money and sanctuaries. Read a news report on the conference by Deutsche Welle, December 9, 2015. The results of the conference were less than encouraging; with Afghan and Pakistan diplomats holding firm to previous positions. (Gandhara Blog, Dec 9, 2015).
EU, Afghan, and US Meeting. Representatives of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, European Union, and United States met in a side meeting during the Heart of Asia Conference in Islamabad to discuss preparations for future conferences (of course) and regional security and economic developments. See a press release by the European Union External Action dated Dec 9, 2015. See also a press statement by the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, December 10, 2015.