Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Afghan Daily News Snippets (Mar 25, 2015)

Ghani Visit to Pentagon - Video. President Ghani visited the Pentagon and addressed service members and veterans to thank them for their contributions to Afghanistan's security. In attendance was John Kerry (DoS), Ash Carter (DoD), John Brennan (CIA), and others. You can watch his address in a video posted on the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS). (35 minutes).

More on Ghani Visit. The New York Times (Mar 23, 2015) provides us with a news story on how Ashraf Ghani thanked the U.S. LTG (Ret.) David Barno (former cdr in Afghanistan) and Nora Bensahel wrote a column about resetting U.S. and Afghan relations in War on the Rocks (Mar 24, 2105). A bipartisan group of Senators send a letter to President Ghani asking him to prioritize women's protection and participation in political, peace, and security processes (Sen Barbara Boxer website, Mar 23, 2015). Kate Brannen writes in The Cable Blog on Foreign Policy (Mar 23, 2015) about Ghani's pledge to curb corruption in Afghanistan.

NPR Interview with Ghani. National Public Radio (NPR) interviews President Ghani during his U.S. visit to D.C. NPR Morning Edition host Renee Montagne asks questions and gets answers about corruption in Afghanistan, U.S. troop levels, Bilateral Security Agreement, ISIS in Afghanistan, and more. (Mar 23, 2015, 10 minutes).

Background Briefing on High-Level Afghan Meetings. The U.S. Department of State has posted a background briefing about high-level discussions with Afghan officials (March 23, 2015). Some of the topics include the "Bilateral Commission", "Security Consultative Forum", "funding request to Congress for 353,000 level of ANSF", "attrition of the ANSF", "agreement with the Ministry of Finance", "Financial Action Task Force", and "New Development Partnership".

Stay In or Get Out. Stephen Biddle writes in Defense One that "withdrawal timetables only delay failure; the U.S. should stay in or get out now". (March 24, 2015).

Rising Violence. There is concern about the rising violence in Afghanistan from an Indian perspective. Read "Afghanistan: Rising Violence, Uncertain Peace", Eurasia Review,  March 24, 2015.

13 Passengers Killed on Bus. Gunmen killed at least 13 bus passengers traveling through Wardak province on their way to the southern part of the country. Read more in a news report. (Voice of America, Mar 24, 2015). 

The Taliban - Infographic and Video. The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has published a very informative article (complete with graphs and tables) about the Taliban. View the CFR InfoGuide presentation at this link. (March 2015). This is an in-depth article along with a 10 minute long video.

CTC Sentinel - Latest Issue. The March issue of the CTC Sentinel published by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point is now on line. This issue covers the emergence and growth of jihad movements in the Middle East, North Africa, and AfPak region.

Parameters - Latest Issue. The U.S. Army War College quarterly Parameters is now posted online (Winter 2014-2015, Vol. 44, No. 4). One article "Considering Why We Lost" challenges assertions made in the book by LTG (Retired) Daniel Bolger's book Why We Lost. In addition, there are four articles about China on the topics of strategy, power projection, and military mercantilism. Two articles discuss the Islamic State, two articles discuss Hamas, and a few more.

Kabul Police Chief's Spokesman Sacked. It appears that spokesman Stanikzai has been sacked by MoI over his endorsement post on Facebook about the Farkhunda killing. The Afghan woman, killed by a mob for a crime she apparently did not commit has become an object for women activists in Afghanistan. (The Washington Post, Mar 23, 2015). The Guardian (Mar 23, 2015) reports that the family of the woman murdered has taken comfort from the "tide of outrage" about the incident.

Aid Groups Want Inclusion into Development Decisions. A group of international civil aid groups want to be included in government decisions about aid provided to Afghanistan for development. Read more in "10 civil society networks call for action ahead of major Afghan meeting", British & Irish Agencies Afghanistan Group (BAAG), March 23, 2015.

Tracking IED Data. The Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) organization posted an article (Mar 3, 2015) by Jane Hunter entitled "Tracking IED Harm: IED data collection, and why it is crucial". Around 50% of the casualties of the Afghan National Security Forces are from IEDs.

Army Officer Likes the Sound of A-10 Above. A career Army officer and strategist with multiple combat tours writes in an article entitled Smoke and Mirrors of the folly of the Air Force in retiring the A-10 Thunderbolt II without having a adequate replacement to provide close air support. (John Q. Public Blog, Mar 23, 2015).

Road Maintenance Study. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is funding several programs to assist the Afghan Ministry of Public Works (MoPW) to develop a sustainable approach to road maintenance in Afghanistan. Two delegations of Afghan transportation officials recently completed visits to India, Kenya and Tanzania to gain a better understanding of how road maintenance institutions were developed in those countries. Read more in a USAID press release dated March 24, 2015.

Roads to Stability. Many observers believe good roads will lead to economic prosperity and security. Read more in "The Surprisingly Mundane Key to Afghan Stability: Roads", The Diplomat,, March 25, 2015.

16 New Nominees for Afghan Cabinet. Shortly before his departure for the United States President Ghani submitted 16 new names for cabinet positions. The Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) gathered biographic information on the new nominees and provides us with their perspective on the selections. (AAN, Mar 24, 2015).

U.S. Ignores Afghan Human Rights Problems. The international organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the United States to address the human rights situation in Afghanistan by sidelining strongmen, pay attention to women's rights, close Guantanamo, and get a handle on the CIA. Read more in "US: Rights Should Top Afghanistan Summit Agenda" (March 23, 2015).

Podcast on ANSF and Abuses. National Public Radio has posted a podcast entitled "U.S. Weighs Its Responsibility When Afghan Forces Commit Abuses", March 24, 2015. RS commander John Campbell, Afghan expert Carter Malkasian, and SecDef Carter soundbites are included. (4 minutes).

Afghanistan Week in Norway. One of the long-term troop contributing nations (TCN) in the Afghan conflict has been NATO member Norway. The Norwegian Red Cross, Norwegian Afghanistan Committee, and Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), and other NGOs are hosting and sponsoring this week-long event to inform the public about Afghanistan during Afghanistan-uka 2015 (Mar 24-29, 2015).

DCGS-A Increment 2 Draws Near. The very expensive and (at one time) very ineffective computerized intelligence system known as DCGS-A is getting an upgrade that will be released soon. When first deployed to intelligence units and organizations in Afghanistan is was spurned by Intel analysts as 'broke'. Hopefully it has gotten better since then. (C4ISR & Networks, Mar 23, 2015). 

Video - Kabul Security. Kabul's security advisor to the MoI Col John Graham is highlighted in this video about Kabul security. (NATO Channel, March 24, 2015, 4 minutes).

Video - Dr. Barnett Rubin. Dr. Rubin presents talk about understanding the political economy on state-strengthening in Afghanistan 2001-2014; and how to improve state-building interventions in general. (USIP, March 20, 2015, 38 minutes).

Video - Ministerial Advisor to MoI. A Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Interior, USAF Capt. Brandon L. Sanders, is interviewed about his career, being an Afghan Hand, and his job as an advisor. This video is entitled "Resolute Support Advisor Profile Series #1". (DVIDS, March 24, 2015, 14 minutes).

U.S. Silk Road Needs Attention. The U.S. Department of State rolled out its New Silk Road Strategy (NSRS) a few years back to develop the Central Asian states economic situation in hopes that improvement in the economic sector would transfer into economic improvement in Afghanistan. However, some feel that the NSRS is hurting. Read more in US New Silk Road Initiative Needs Urgent Renewal, by Richard Weitz, International Relations and Security Network (ISN), March 24, 2015.

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