Some of the tribal areas of Pakistan are a haven for Taliban (the good and the bad). Insurgents living and working in these areas are subject to drone attacks by the United States and attacks by ground and air from the Pakistani military. Most observers of the AfPak conflict misunderstand the politics, demographics, economy, social, and cultural aspects of people who live in the tribal areas. One news article provides us with a perspective on this misunderstanding. Read "Caught between drones and army raids, Pakistanis in 'tribal areas' feel betrayed", The Conversation, November 17, 2014.
The Taliban, a Cow, and Social Media. Only a small proportion of the Afghan population has access to the Internet. However, social media is growing rapidly. A lot of politics is discussed as well as fun stuff that brings enjoyment (as in the recent escapades of two Taliban having a romantic relationship with a cow in the northern province of Badakhshan). Read more in "How the Taliban and a cow prove Afghanistan loves social media", Global Post, November 16, 2014.
Over the past few decades the number of veterans in Congress has dropped dramatically. However, there may be a trend in an increased number of Iraq and Afghan War veterans being elected. Some of these veterans are applying their experience and lessons learned in the combat zones to their own electoral districts.See "Afghan War Veteran Elected to Congress Promises New Mosques, Civil Affairs Projects", Duffel Blog, November 17, 2014.
A video about a Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha (SFODA) serving in Afghanistan. A number of interviews of the SF team members explaining their jobs and the mission in Afghanistan. See "The Last Commando: A Modern Day Green Beret", circa 2014, (40 minutes), posted on YouTube.
The 10th Sustainment Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division has returned home to Fort Drum, New York from its deployment to Afghanistan. During their 9-month long deployment the Soldiers were not allowed to go on rest and recuperative leave (R&R) so they were happy to be reunited with their families. (European Soldiers usually serve a 6-month long deployment with an R&R break after 3 months). There are still about 130 Soldiers from the unit still deployed but most of them should return prior to Christmas.
The retrograde operation in Afghanistan is a tremendous undertaking - sorting through equipment to be shipped home, transferred to the ANSF, destroyed, or sold to the Afghan civilian sector takes time and energy. One way of getting equipment off the books is through the Federal Excess Personal Property Program (FEPPP). One example of the FEPPP is the recent transfer of a fire truck to the ANSF at Bagram Air Field.
The Afghan drug trade is a booming industry and employs a lot of people. However, it is a major contributor to crime and corruption. Read more in "Afghan Opium Production Hits All-Time High", Eurasia Review, November 17, 2014.