Thursday, March 19, 2015

Afghan War News Snippets (Mar, 19, 2015)

U.S. Defense Budget. The military brass seemed somewhat pleased with the proceedings thus far in the House. Read more in "Military brass endorse boost in war funding", The Hill Blog, March 17, 2015.

UN e-Guide. The United Nations Departments of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and Department of Field Support (DFS) has published (January 2015) an e-Guide. It is a resource for new staff joining DPKO. The e-Guide was developed in recognition of the steep learning curve new personnel experience. It provides basic information on peacekeeping and links to online UN courses on peacekeeping. The document is posted on the website.

Paper - "Political Parties in Afghanistan." The United States Institute of Pace (USIP) has published a report entitled Political Parties in Afghanistan (Mar 11, 2015). This report assesses their history, role and activities over the last decade and how their future might unfold under and contribute to the country's new unity government (NUG).

Future Issues of UK's Combat Vets. Air Vice Marshal David Murray, the Chief Executive of forces charity SSAFA, has penned a piece entitled "The Full Impact of Afghanistan Is Yet to Be Seen", The Huffington Post Blog (UK), March 13, 2015.

Drones and Bad News. Andrew Cockburn recounts the story of a drone attack in support of a Special Forces detachment in Afghanistan that turns out bad. It is the story of how twenty-three innocent Afghan civilians were killed by mistake; but also sheds light on how drone operations are conducted. Read "Drones and the rise of the high-tech assassins", Boing Boing, March 11, 2015.

Drone Payloads. The drones are here to stay. One big development in drone technology is the ability to vary the payloads - whether it is sensor equipment or ordnance. Read more in "Are High-Tech Sensors the Answer to the Pentagon's Drone Demand?", Defense One, March 2015.

Drugs Flying Out of Afghan Airports. The United Nations reports a sharp spike in drugs being smuggled out of Afghanistan on commercial airline flights by passengers. (Reuters, March 17, 2015).

Talks with the Taliban? Thomas Ruttig of the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) writes a dispatch on the buzz and rumors of peace negotiations. (AAN, Mar 17, 2015).

Truck Bomb in Helmand. A Taliban attack targeting senior provincial officials in Helmand province killed at least seven civilians and wounded around 40. It exploded near the compound that houses the governor, the head of the provincial council, and the deputy provincial police chief. (Gandhara Blog, Mar 18, 2015). See also a news report by Military Times (Mar 18, 2015).

PowerPoint Rangers. There are many good uses for PowerPoint but sometimes it can become a problem. As in when a 45 page CONOP is needed for a routine troop movement from point A to point B. Or when a PowerPoint presentation replaces a concept paper. Read more in "Why the Pentagon Needs a War on PowerPoint", Cicero Magazine, March 18, 2015.

ACCI Training Program for Women. The Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce & Industries (ACCI) reports that 24 business women graduated from a unique ten-week business course that took place in Kabul in partnership with other organizations. (ACCI, Mar 18, 2015).

Dostum Sidelined? According to a report in The New York Times (Mar 18, 2015) First Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum is being benched on the sidelines by President Ghani and the National Unity Government (NUG).

Political Leadership in Afghanistan Needed. A recent commentary by Jack Detsch in The Diplomat (Mar 18, 2015) says that the Coalition is making good strides in the training of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) but that the weak link now appears to be the inability of the government to take charge. Although President Ghani is a robust politician he still (after six months) does not have a fully-formed cabinet in place. In another news report, Tolo News (Mar 17, 2015) says that the remaining nominees for the cabinet may be introduced before, during, or just after the meeting with U.S. officials in the states and President Ghani.

TAPI Pipeline Meeting. There will be another summit meeting on the TAPI gas pipeline project in Kabul this week. Read more in a news report (Khaama Press, Mar 18, 2015).

2015 U.S. Army Posture Statement. The posture statement " . . . is the written expression of the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff of the Army to Congress for the annual posture hearings. The Army Posture Statement informs Congress on the state of the Army and outlines the Army's accomplishments, initiatives, and priorities for Congress to consider when reviewing the President's budget for the upcoming fiscal year".  Read a news report in Stand-To@, March 18, 2015.

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