Swedish Committee for Afghanistan" says that two patients and a boy were taken away by Afghan forces and later killed on the night of February 17, 2016. The Non-Governmental Organization believes that foreign troops were involved in the operation. A spokesman for the U.S.-NATO mission in Afghanistan, Army Colonel Mike Lawhorn, says an investigation into the incident has begun. (SCA, Feb 24, 2016).
Security Assessment. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has published an updated security assessment on Afghanistan. The lead sentence of the four-page document (with map) is "Security in Afghanistan has been deteriorating since U.S. force levels dropped from a high of 100,000 in 2011 to the current force size of 9,800 they reached in June 2014." Read Afghanistan Partial Threat Assessment: The Taliban and ISIS, ISW, February 25, 2016.
Getting Off the Checkpoints. One of the tactics we taught the Afghans early on is the use of checkpoints to "disrupt Taliban movement". Of course, static road checkpoints are usually easily skirted by foot, donkey, motorcycle, and sometimes automobile. However, these same static checkpoints are ideal for harassing civilians for money to allow them to pass. So we have a problem. The Afghan army and police like checkpoints - which means they are on the defense (not offense) and they are easy targets for the Taliban. Now we (the western military) are trying to get the ANDSF off the checkpoints and on the offense. One question comes to mind: "Does getting off the checkpoints also mean abandoning district centers?" Hmmm. Two were recently vacated in order to free up security forces in a defensive mode so as to reinforce areas around the provincial capital of Helmand - Lashkar Gah City. I wonder what advice the U.S. is giving the Afghans on this topic. Read more in "Huge Afghan offensive brewing as troops urged to leave bunkers and crush Taliban revival", Express (UK), February 23, 2016.
Desertions Plague ANP. Thousands are deserting the Afghan National Police in the face of increasing Taliban attacks and poor leadership. More than 36,000 police quit the service in 2015. The U.S. will introduce a new payment system that should make it easier to eliminate 'ghost policemen'. Read more in "Afghan Police Force Struggling to Maintain Membership", The Wall Street Journal, February 26, 2016. (Paywall subscription).
SIGAR Report. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction has submitted a new 16-page report to the U.S. Senate entitled "Challenges to Effective Oversight of Afghanistan Reconstruction Grow as High-Risk Areas Persist", SIGAR, February 24, 2016.
Renewed Offensive by Dostum. The Vice President of Afghanistan, Abdul Rashid Dostum, is on the warpath again in northern Afghanistan - supposedly with over 10,000 fighters. It appears that there is a clearing operation underway in the Qush Tapa district of northern Jawzjan province. It appears that the operation (as many are in Afghanistan) was telegraphed and the Taliban have melted away to return once the "clearing operation" is complete. Same-o-Same-o. Read more in "Taliban flee as Dostum arrives in Jawzjan's Qush Tapa", Pajhwok Afghan News, February 24, 2016.
News of Another Warlord. General Abdul Raziq has brought stability to what was once one of Afghanistan's most lawless provinces. The question is will it last and at what cost? Read "Kandahar's Enforcer Fights Evil with Brutality", Foreign Policy, February 26, 2016.
Eight Taliban Blow Themselves Up. The insurgents were killed in a blast in a mosque in central Ghazni when a bomb they were constructing exploded. Sometimes you win. (Tolo News, Feb 25, 2016).
Bomb Attacks Kill 15. Two bomb attacks killed 15 people in northern Afghanistan. One was a suicide blast in Parwan province that killed 14 - including six police officers. Sometimes . . . . (UPI, Feb 23, 2016).
Bombing in Kabul. A suicide bomb went off in Kabul on Saturday in front of the Ministry of Defense gate in PD2. At least two killed and 12 wounded.
Bombing in Kunar. A suicide bombing took place in Asadabad that likely killed at least 13 people on Saturday. Reports indicate that as many as 37 were wounded.
Window Tint in Kabul Cars. Plastic window tint is used by many officials to shield its passengers from view but it is also a security concern. Read more in "Refusal to Remove Window Tint Leads to Gun Fight in Kabul", Tolo News, February 21, 2016.
Zurmat, Paktia. An Afghan army base was overrun by the Afghan Taliban this past week.
Abducted Afghan PGov Recovered. The former governor of Herat province, Afghanistan - Fazlullah Wahidi - who was abducted in Islamabad, Pakistan two weeks ago has been recovered according to family sources. He had traveled to Pakistan to get a visa to travel to the UK. Three unidentified gunmen have been arrested.
Hostages Recovered. The National Directorate of Security (NDS) reported that 35 people (some civilians) were freed from a Taliban jail in Nad Ali district, Helmand province this past week. Seven armed insurgents were also detained. (Tolo News, Feb 27, 2016).
Intel & EUPOL. Various intelligence and police agencies attended a one-day seminar on intelligence. Something about sharing intelligence between agencies . . . a thing not really done well in Afghanistan. Read more in a news release by the European Union External Action (Feb 24, 2016).
Females & AAN. "More women are becoming officers in Afghanistan's male-dominated army. . . " Read more in "Changing Perceptions: Afghan army makes room for more female officers", Stars and Stripes, February 26, 2016. Read another extensive article about Afghan women serving in the military in "Afghanistan's Women: Keeping the Peace", Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Security Community Issue 3-4/2015. See also a transcript of a speech by Baroness Anelay on the topic of women's rights in Afghanistan (Feb 26th, UK government posting).
Dunford: ROE Okay. General Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff denied that President Obama's rules on the use of force is endangering troops. Read "Dunford: Engagement rules not threatening troops in Afghanistan", Stars and Stripes, February 25, 2016.
Russia and Small Arms for Afghanistan. Afghan officials took delivery of 10,000 automatic rifles and millions of rounds of ammunition on February 24, 2016 from Russia. (Reuters, February 24, 2016).
Russia and the U.S. On another note, it appears that the Russians are not working well with the United States in regards to Afghanistan. Read "Russia Pulls Back from Cooperating with U.S. on Afghanistan", The New York Times, February 20, 2016.