Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Afghan Daily News Snippets (Mar 31, 2015)

Bergdahl Desertion. Members of Bergdahl's platoon are undercutting his defense. Bergdalh claims he left his remote outpost in Afghanistan to meet with higher level ranking officers about abuses within his unit. However, his platoon was due to redeploy back to FOB Sharana the next day - which was the largest base nearby with high level ranking officers. Bergdalh's defense attorney has a tough fight ahead of him. Read more in "Some in Bergdahl's platoon undercut his emerging defense", CNN News, March 29, 2015. A military judge writes on the defense team's tactics in "Did Bergdahl's Defense Team Reveal Its Strategy Too Soon?", Task & Purpose, March 30, 2015. Meanwhile the Republicans are using the prisoner swap to mount an attack on President Obama's foreign policy - criticizing the exchange of a deserter for five high-level Taliban commanders who were imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay - see "GOP puts Bergdahl swap on trial", The Hill Policy Blog, March 28, 2015.

Five Passengers Abducted. Tolo News reported (Mar 30, 2015) that five passengers were abducted in Balkh province by unknown gunmen. The incident took place in the Sholgara district on Monday.

IMU and ISIS. A group of Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan claiming to be from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) says it is pledging allegiance to the Islamic State extremist group. (Radio Free Europe, Mar 30, 2015).

Suicide Attack in Kabul. An attack kills 3 people and wounds a lawmaker and seven others. Some reports say that a member of parliament was the apparent target of the attack. (Gandhara Blog, Mar 30, 2015).

Power Shortage Due to Clashes. Fights between the ANSF and Taliban have cut off the main supply of power from the Kajaki power plant in Helmand to consumers in Helmand and Kandahar provinces. Clashes have made it difficult to repair the cut power lines. (Reuters, Mar 30, 2015). In addition, Kabul is still suffering from power shortages due to extreme winter conditions and avalanches.

Medical Lessons from Battlefield. The first responder sector is benefiting from medical lessons learned from the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Read more in "Lessons from the battlefield are transforming emergency medicine in huge ways", Business Insider, March 29, 2015.

Ghani and CFR. President Ghani, during his U.S. tour, spent time with the Council on Foreign Relations discussing the many challenges that lie ahead for Afghanistan. Hannah Gais, reports on the address by Ghani in her column "How Ashraf Ghani's Government Will Address Afghanistan's Endemic Problems", The Diplomat, March 30, 2015.

Arming Police Militias. Arming vigilantes in places like Iraq and Afghanistan to work alongside struggling police forces isn't a solution - it's a time bomb. Or at least so says Hassan Abbas and Nadia Gerspacher - the authors of a news article entitled "The Irregulars", Foreign Policy, March 30, 2015. I can't say I agree with the authors and it is very likely they don't have a clue about the Afghan Local Police.

Desert Warrior Course. The Army is starting up a new school in Texas called the Desert Warrior Course where Soldiers will learn combat tracking, night land navigation, medical skills, basic desert patrolling, hazardous desert wildlife (can you say snakes?), and other skills. The 20-day long course will be filling a gap in small-unit tactics that have gone neglected. The school will be modeled after previous desert training events (such as the desert training phrase - BTDT - that Ranger School used to offer back when it was really hard). The first Desert Warrior Course starts in June 2015. Read more in "Army to launch new desert school", Army Times, March 30, 2015.

SF Recruiting Video. It looks like U.S. Army Special Forces has released a new SF recruiting video in an attempt to get folks to volunteer for SF training. Shooting skills, parachuting, fast-roping and more! A one minute long video posted on the USASOC Facebook site.

Women in Balochistan Suffer. Just south of Afghanistan is Pakistan's largest province - Balochistan. Life is grim for women living there - honor killings, acid attacks, maternal mortality and illiteracy. Read more in "Shocking Conditions for Balochistan's Women", The Diplomat, March 29, 2015.

Upcoming Event on Pakistan. The Wilson Center will hold a presentation by Pakistani journalist and security specialist Zahid Hussain who will provide an evaluation of Pakistani's countermilitancy efforts since last December on April 2, 2015 from 3:00 - 4:30 pm. The event is titled "Pakistan's Intensified Countermilitancy Push: Real Deal or False Hope".

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