Sunday, March 29, 2015

Afghan War News Snippets (Mar 29, 2015)

Afghan Goodwill Tour Successful. President Ghani and Dr. Abdullah made big points in their smoothly choreographed week-long blitz of D.C. Lots of good press, a reset of Afghan-U.S. relations, and renewed commitments by the U.S. to continue support for Afghanistan. Read more in "A New Day in US-Afghan Relations, But for How Long?", Defense One, March 26, 2015.

Abdullah at Brookings. Afghanistan's Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah recently attended a session at the Brookings Institute where he discussed a number of issues. See a report by the Brookings Institute (March 27, 2015) on his visit.

American Folly and Afghan Gratitude. A commentator, Steve Chapman, writes in The Chicago Tribune (March 27, 2015) that the Afghan leader(s) visit to the U.S. was refreshing in that they expressed their thanks for the sacrifice U.S. troops have made in Afghanistan (and the bags of money we have handed over) but he fears that we are stuck in Afghanistan for the long haul with doubts on the success of establishing a stable Afghanistan.

"Afghanistan's Next Chapter". The New York Times has published an editorial about the "Afghan Tour" recently completed by Ghani and Abdullah. There are two major challenges for Afghanistan - The Afghan Army needs to stem the attrition and turnover of it Army and the endemic corruption must be significantly cut back.

Generals Fired. President Ghani fired over 60 Afghan general officers in recent weeks. Many were forcibly retired - and they, for the most part, won't be missed. Among the 60 plus generals there were no doubt some that didn't show up for work or they did not have any real job. This move should save a lot of money and create a less bureaucratic security structure.

Video - Professor Tom Barfield. An expert on Afghanistan and book author speaks about state building in Afghanistan. Additional topics is state building mixed with counterinsurgency and counterterrorism. Dr. Barfield is a professor of anthropology at Boston University and president of the American Institute for Afghanistan Studies. (posted by the United States Institute for Peace on, March 20, 2015, 31 minutes).

Presentation on Central Asia at Brookings. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken will give remarks on current priorities and future prospects for U.S. engagement in Central Asia at the Brookings Institution on Tuesday, March 31, at 3:30 p.m. He will discuss how the U.S. plans to deepen our partnerships in the region to enhance regional security, economic integration, and address common foreign policy challenges. 

Hazara Captives. It has been almost one month since 31 Hazaras were taken captive by unknown gunmen in Zabul province. Still no resolution.

Zulfiqar Operation Ongoing. The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are still conducting their operation in Helmand province. It is an attempt to shape the environment prior to the start of the 2015 fighting season and put the insurgents off balance.

Farkhunda Case to AGO. The Ministry of Interior Affairs (MoI) has sent the cases of 28 suspects involved in the killing of the woman named Farkhunda to the Attorney Generals Office (AGO).

Turkmen-Afghan Border. Turkmenistan is increasingly worried about its border with Afghanistan and the threat posed by ISIS. Read "ISIS and Turkmenistan's Border Worries", The Diplomat, March 28, 2015. Turkmenistan has asked the U.S. for military aid to address Afghan border instability. Read more on this topic in "Turkmenistan Asks U.S. for Military Aid to Address Border Instability",, March 27, 2015.

South of Afghan Border. In Balochistan, a part of Pakistan south of Afghanistan, the Chinese have a major development project ongoing. Pakistan is preparing to hand over its deep sea Gwadar port to Chinese interests in the next month. However, it appears that Baloch insurgents are targeting Chinese interests in the area. In an attack on Monday at least five oil trucks were set on fire and some drivers abducted. Insurgents accuse multinational firms of looting Balochistans natural resources - little gain is seen among the Balochs of the large enterprises operating in the Baloch region. The internal strife has prompted many Balochs to resettle in southwestern Afghanistan - an area where some Balochs live. Read more in "Chinese Operations in Balochistan Again Targeted by Militants", The Diplomat, March 27, 2015.

Karzai on ISIS. Former President Karzai is visiting Australia. He was recently interviewed by CNBC where he made some comments about the presence of the Islamic State in Afghanistan. He says ISIS lacks the necessary support to make gains and that there is a lot of media hype going on. He was also very critical of the U.S. and the Coalition's efforts in Afghanistan - saying that not much was accomplished over the past 13 years. He accused the U.S. of having a flawed policy with Pakistan - who he considers at fault for its support of the Taliban. Read more in "Karzai: Islamic State is not in Afghanistan", CNBC, March 28, 2015.

White House and Bergdahl. The Army's decision to charge Beau Bergdahl with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy is not a good move for the White House. It was just ten months ago that the White House made a big deal of the release of Bergdahl by the Taliban in exchange for five high-level Taliban fighters to include a ceremony on the White House lawn. The White House celebration seems a bit misguided and inept. Read more in "How the White House bungled the Bowe Bergdahl case", LA Times, March 28, 2015.

Indiana NG MPs Afghan Bound. Members of the 939th Military Police Detachment are heading to southern Afghanistan. (, Mar 28, 2015).

Move Toward Parliamentary System? One observer of the Afghan governmental system thinks that Afghanistan should move from a centralized governmental system (where the President has lots of power - such as appointing all 34 provincial governors) to one based on parliamentary procedure that is more decentralized. It would appear, based on comments made during his U.S. tour, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah (CEO) is in agreement with this idea as well. Read more in "Afghans in America: Takeaways from Ghani and Abdullah's US visit", The Diplomat, March 27, 2015.

Postes Afghanes. Learn about the 'snail mail' service of Afghanstan before the 1980s. Thomas Ruttig of Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) looks back on 135 years of Afghan postal service and provides a first-hand view of 30 years of personal experience with the Afghan postal service. Read "Post Runners, Aerogrammes and the Big E-Mail Challenge: Scenes from 135 years of Afghan postal service". (March 29, 2015).

Team Shield Police Advisory Team. Read a short story on how TAAC East police advisors are assisting the Afghan police. (, Mar 28, 2015).

Task Force Corsair. TF Corsair is a multifunctional aviation task force that aids Afghan forces by providing full-sprectrum aviation support in TAAC South. Read "Task Force Corsair assists from above", DVIDS,i March 28, 2015.

AP Journalist Killer Sentenced. The killer of an AP journalist was sentenced to 20 years of prison by an Afghan court. (Stars and Stripes, Mar 28, 2015).

Keep the A-10. The Huffington Post Blog has published an article by Robert Slayton (Professor of history at Chapman University) saying the U.S. Air Force has to keep the A-10. He says "Simply put, the A-10 is the best plane ever designed to support troops in combat. By any nation, anytime." Read more in "Protect Our Troops", Huffington Post Blog, March 27, 2015.

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