Sunday, November 19, 2017

News Snippets on Afghanistan

Book Review. Melissa Kerr Chiovenda reviews Losing and Winning in Afghanistan: An Obituary for the Intervention Noah Coburn. The author of the book is an anthropologist who spent some time in Afghanistan. The book provides key insights into how the western world's foray into Afghanistan took place - from the standpoint of various actors. The key informants used by the author include a former U.S. ambassador, a former Navy SEAL, an development worker, and an Afghan businessman. Read Melissa Chiovenda's take on the book in "Book Review: Losing and Winning In Afghanistan", Gandhara RFE, November 13, 2017.

Drone Warfare. An article tells the story about the men and women behind the remote-controlled fighting that employs Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPAs). Here is an article that details the costs to the operators and the conditions that increase the risks to their well-being. The two authors of the article, the widow of a Special Forces Soldier and a former AC-130U pilot, offer important recommendations for how to make drone warfare more suitable for the operators. Read "Avengers in Wrath: Moral Agency and Trauma Prevention for Remote Warriors"Lawfare Blog, November 12, 2017.

Trade and Afghanistan's Growth. The World Bank has published a report entitled Trade as a Vehicle for Growth in Afghanistan: Challenges and Opportunities, November 16, 2017. This 94-page report presents four key findings and provides three recommendations.

Gas Turbines to Increase Afghanistan's Power Supply. The Siemens SGT-A45 aeroderivative gas turbine is designed to be set up in two weeks and can supply immediate power to the electrical grid. The turbine is ideal for developing regions or in areas where power is needed after a natural disaster. Siemens has signed a MOU with the Afghan government to provide the turbines for a three-phase energy project in Afghanistan. (Power Engineering, Nov 14, 2017).

SIGAR Report on Waste in Afghanistan. The DoD and State Department - along with the U.S. Agency for International Development - have failed to develop comprehensive sustainment plans for expensive development projects. (Stars and Stripes, Nov 15, 2017).

A Restrained SIGAR? A provision in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) could potentially put some restraints on the reporting activities of SIGAR. See "Defense bill leashes Afghanistan watchdog" Politico,  November 17, 2017.

AWOL Afghan Soldiers. More Afghan troops have disappeared in the United States while attending training from the Joint Base San Antonio. (My San Antonio, Nov 18, 2017).

Agricultural Sector - Good News, Bad News. The good news is that crop cultivation for a significant part of the agricultural sector is at a record high. The bad news is that more opium was grown in Afghanistan in 2017 than in any year since the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) began monitoring in 1994. (Afghanistan Analysts Network, Nov 15, 2017). See more about the UN report in a story by the UN News Centre (Nov 15, 2017).

Good News Report on Corruption. Is it possible? Some good news about the reduction of corruption in Afghanistan? According to an article posted on the website of the World Bank there appears to be some progress in reducing the stealing of money by Afghan elites. Although the country remains among the top 10 most corrupt countries in the world and reforms are fleeting some steps in the right direction are taking place. Read more in "Afghanistan's Public Procurement Racks Up Victories Against Corruption", The World Bank, October 31, 2017.

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