Friday, March 20, 2015

Afghan War News Snippets (Mar 20, 2015)

Afghan PCoP Killed. Mattiullah Khan, the Provincial Chief of Police (PCoP) for Uruzgan province in central Afghanistan was killed while visiting Kabul on late Wednesday by a bomber dressed in women's clothes and a burqa according to the Ministry of Interior (MoI). The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. Mattiullah, considered by many to be a warlord despite his official title, was a favorite of U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan. The general, a member of the Popalzai tribe, served as PCoP since 2011. He was the cousin of former Uruzgan Governor Mohammad Khan - a good acquaintance of Hamid Karzai. Prior to that he was involved in providing route security and was the beneficiary of lucrative convoy security contracts. He also was the head of a fairly competent armed force (call it a militia) that was far more reliable than the Afghan National Army or Afghan National Police. Read more in a news report (ABC News, Mar 19, 2015).

Police-e Mardume. One of the major goals of the Police-e Mardum (Community Policing) Department within the Ministry of Interior (MoI0 is how to ensure that all provinces have community policing teams. Read more in "Police-e Mardume needs to cover all the provinces", European Union External Action, March 2015.

Pakistan & Afghanistan: Can they be Friends? President Ghani of Afghanistan is trying hard to improve relations with a nation that has a long-term policy of supporting insurgents who attack the Afghan government and its security forces. Ghani hopes the Pakistanis will abandon their support to the Afghan Taliban and pressure them to sit at the negotiating table. The resulting peace talks would diminish the conflict and open the door to economic prosperity. Not likely. Read more in "Ghani's Gambit: Can Afghanistan and Pakistan Ever Get Along?", The New York Times, March 18, 2015.

Ghani to visit U.S. President Ghani of Afghanistan will soon be on U.S. soil. This will be his first official U.S. visit - issues to be discussed include troop levels (U.S.), peace talks, and economic assistance. Not the first trip to the U.S. for Ghani - he taught at a U.S. university for years. Read "Afghan President Ghani set to embark on key US visit", Deutshe Welle, March 19, 2015.

TAAC East Encouraged by Police Training. The Train Advise Assist Command - East folks seem to be encouraged with the progress that the police Regional Training Center (RTC) located in Nangarhar province is making in training the Afghan National Police (ANP). Read more in "US Advisors see progress in Afghan police training", DVIDS, March 19, 2015.

Predicting Violence in Afghan Villages. A common refrain of "Population Centric COIN" is protecting the population in order to sway the community away from the insurgents and get them to support the government (and the counterinsurgents). Researchers at Yale University have developed a data project that forms a relationship between villages that supported the counterinsurgents and the levels of violence those villages experienced. The news is not good. Read more in "Violence Is More Likely To Occur in Pro-US Villages in Afghanistan", Defense One, March 18, 2015.

UK Policy on Interpreters Questioned. A former leader of the Liberal Democrats (I guess these folks can be found in other places besides the U.S.) has questioned the government's policy on allowing Afghan interpreters to resettle in the United Kingdom. Read more in a news report on Forces.TV, March 19, 2015.

Canada - "Relentless Boosterism". A correspondent provides us his view of Canada's role in Afghanistan in "From Afghanistan to Iraq, the perils of overconfidence", CBC News World, March 19, 2015. 

Afghan Women Worry about NATO Withdrawal. A report in Newsweek by Christina Lamb entitled "Afghan Women Dread Departure of U.S. Forces" (March 18, 2015) says that while things have improved dramatically for women - progress may well be reversed.

Taliban - Fragmenting or Re-consolidating? It must be tough being an Intel Analyst and trying to track which insurgent group is associated with others, what their ties are, and how much they coordinate and cooperate with each other. Some open source press accounts say the Taliban are fragmenting while others say they are consolidating. Put into the mix that you have the "Afghan Taliban" and the "Pakistan Taliban" - not to mention ISIS associated groups - and you have quite a task connecting the dots in your link analysis database. Read more in "Splinter Militant Groups Reunite with Taliban for 2015", The Diplomat, March 16, 2015.

Japan Pledges Aid for Refugees. A recent news report says that Japan has pledged $16 million in aid for Afghan and Pakistan refugees. (Japan Times, Mar 19, 2015).

M4A1 Carbine May get Upgrades. The U.S. Army is considering several upgrades to the M4A1 Carbine that will improve its performance and accuracy. Read more in a news report (, Mar 18, 2015).

Laser Guns and Microwaves. The U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) is considering how to integrate emerging technologies such as laser guns and high-powered microwaves onto its AC-130J Ghostrider gunship. It is still a concept for the distant future. Read more in "Laser Weapons Could be Outfitted on Special Ops Aircraft", National Defense Magazine, March 18, 2015.

Retrograde in Afghanistan. The movement of personnel and equipment out of Afghanistan - known as retrograde - over the past few years has been a tremendous accomplishment for the logistics organizations of the Army and the U.S. Air Force. Beginning in 2012 thousands of pieces of equipment had to be moved or disposed of. Read more in "Afghanistan Retrograde: Materiel Command's Logistics Feat Like No Other", Army Magazine,  March 12, 2015.

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