Afghan Air Force has posted two A-29 Super Tucano Light Attack Aircraft to the northern Balkh province of Afghanistan. Many parts of Afghanistan has seen a deteriorating security situation and this includes northern Afghanistan. The A-29s can carry heavy weapons to target anti-government armed militants. The aircraft is a multi-role, fixed-wing aircraft that provides a air-to-ground capability and aerial reconnaissance capabilities IOT support the country's counterinsurgency efforts. Read more in "Afghan Air Force receives light attack aircraft in Mazar-e-Sharif", Khaama Press, March 7, 2016.
AAF - Full Strength in 2020? The outgoing Resolute Support commander, Gen Campbell, recently said that the Afghan Air Force won't receive all of its aircraft until 2018 and that it won't be fully effective until 2020. No worries, the aircraft will still have plenty to do in 2020. This war will continue for several more years. Read "Afghan Air Force To Reach Required Strength Levels by 2020", Tolo News, March 12, 2016.
TAAC-Air & AAF. The advisors from the Train, Advise, Assist Command - Air are working 'shoulder to shoulder' with the AAF to build a sustainable air force. Read more in a press release by DVIDS, March 10, 2016.
Govt Retreat from Shahidid Hassas District. On March 1st Afghan government troops abandoned a district in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan. See "Afghan forces withdraw from district in Uruzgan", Threat Matrix, March 9, 2016.
Kabul Fire Dept Targeted. A suicide bomber attacked the Kabul Fire Department on Wednesday afternoon (Mar 9th) in Kabul city. (Tolo News, Mar 9, 2016)
Suicide Blast in Kabul. A heavy explosion rocked Kabul city on March 9th (Wed) after a suicide bomber detonated his explosives in PD 2. The bomber was the only fatality as he experienced a premature explosion. The incident happened near the Ministry of Finance. (Khaama Press, Mar 9, 2016).
Taliban Infighting in Herat. There are reports of fierce clashes between Taliban factions in the western province of Herat, Afghanistan. It appears that two top Taliban leaders have been killed, over 60 killed, and more than 60 wounded. (Khaama Press, Mar 9, 2016). See also "Scores of Taliban Fighters Killed in Infighting", Gandhara Blog, March 9, 2015.
Premature Withdrawal? The outgoing commander of U.S. Central Command told lawmakers this past week that it may be prudent to reconsider the plan to reduce the American military forces presence in Afghanistan. Given the recent increase in the Taliban's activity it is likely that the reduction from 9,800 to 5,500 by the start of next year is going to be delayed. Read more in "Planned Drawdown of US Forces in Afghanistan May be Premature: Centcom", Military.com, March 8, 2016.
More Authorities Needed in Afghanistan? According to one news report General John Campbell, prior to his departure as the Resolute Support commander, was seeking a modification of authorities for U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Although he recognized he would not see an increase in troops he was able to get the Obama administration to slow down the withdrawal rate of troops. What is unclear is if he was able to loosen up the Ruled of Engagement (ROE) for air support (air strikes) and the levels that U.S. troops could conduct the Train, Advise and Assist mission. Currently advisors are located at the MoI, MoD, and the the Afghan National Army corps (although two corps - 201st and 203rd - see part-time advisors) and SOF troops are advising at the kandak level for the Afghan special operations units. We certainly pulled our advisors off the 201st and 203rd corps way too early; and it probably was inadvisable to take them off the brigade hqs as well. Read more in "U.S. general sought greater powers in Afghanistan before exit", Reuters, March 11, 2016.
China Offering Military Aid. One news report indicates that the deteriorating security and emergence of the Islamic State in Afghanistan has prompted China to deepen its engagement. Read more in "China Offers Afghanistan Army Expanded Military Aid", The Wall Street Journal, March 9, 2016. (requires subscription).
Ireland Ends Mission. Resolute Support Headquarters held a ceremony a week ago to observe the completion of the Irish Defense Forces military mission in Afghanistan. Following fifteen years of unbroken service with both the NATO ISAF and RS missions the final contingent will redeploy to Ireland. See "Ireland commemorates end of military mission in Afghanistan", Khaama Press, March 12, 2016.
Video - Gurkhas Training Up. A unit of the UK is going to deploy to Afghanistan. Naturally the soldiers will do some predeployment training. We get to view (in five quick minutes) some of that training in No Rest for Gurkhas On Intensive Afghanistan Training, Forces TV (UK), March 10, 2016. www.forces.tv/72138100
Fractured Taliban? One defense official says that ISIL is contained in Afghanistan and that the Taliban is fractured. Sounds almost optimistic. Read more in a defense press release by DoD News, March 10, 2016.