Friday, March 13, 2015

AWN Snippets (March 13, 2015)

female Afghan lawmaker who ran for President is found dead. Shahla Atta was found dead in her home on March 12, 2015. She was 52 years old and ran for president in 2009 - she was also an independent lawmaker in parliament. (Gandhar Blog, March 12, 2015).

More on Peace Talks. A recent news article suggests that a rift between two top leaders of the Taliban is preventing forward progress in the Afghan peace talks. One leader favors negotiations with the Afghan government while another wants to continue the fight unless the United States conducts direct talks with the Taliban. This news article explains some of the background to the current attempt to get peace talk negotiations started. Read more in "Secret meetings in Pakistan expose obstacles to Afghan peace talks", by Jibran Ahmad and Mehreen Zahra-Malik - Reuters, March 12, 2015.

The U.S. Army has released an updated publication about engineering. ATP 3-34.40, General Engineering, February 2015 can be read online or downloaded at the link below.

The Department of Defense has issued a new instruction on the withholding or distribution of unclassified GEOINT produced by the NGA or derived from NGA materials. A GEOINT product that is unclassified may not be suitable to be released to the general public as it may contain some info that shouldn't be "Cleared for Public Release". This could be a method of releasing info (Google Earth products produced by NGA?) to the ANSF that controls distribution yet avoids the Foreign Disclosure Officer rules and regulations that restrict the ability of RS advisors to share information with their counterparts. You can read or download DoDI 5030.59 (Mar 10, 2015) at the link below.

Exchange Officers (USA and UK). In an opinion piece a writer, Scott Smitson, states that the U.S. and the UK should exchange military officers at the strategic level (DoD and MoD). He believes that there is great interoperability at the tactical and operational level as the result of the Afghan War but we miss opportunities to continue the 'special relationship' at the higher level. Read "An American in Her Majesty's Ministry of Defence", War on the Rocks Blog, March 12, 2015.

Delayed Deployment Uniforms for AF in Afghanistan. Airmen who are heading to Afghanistan (and the Middle East and Africa) will not receive their new combat uniform (fielded by the Army) until later this year. Read more in a news article by Air Force Times (March 12, 2015).

ALP. Pajhwok Afghan News reports that two Afghan Local Police (ALP) members who were kidnapped by militants have been killed in Shah Joi district of Zabul province. Pajhwok Afghan News news article (March 12, 2015).

Bombings. A series of bombings across Afghanistan killed at least 13 people. (The Washington Post, March 10, 2015).

Biometrics on the Afghan battlefield played an important role (supporters of biometrics will say). Detractors say that the compulsory recording of fingerprints, facial images, and iris scans went a long way to alienate the Afghan population - especially when conducted by American troops. However, those involved in the attacking of the IED networks found the biometric database very helpful. However, it appears that the biometric technology of the private commercial sector is far ahead of that of the DoD. Read more in "Can the Pentagon keep pace on biometrics?",, March 11, 2015.

The Human Terrain Teams (HTTs) deployed to Afghanistan were a tremendous asset to the infantry units spread out across Afghanistan. I worked with several of them during my time in-country and I found the vast majority of the personnel very smart and knowledgeable. I do think they were underutilized by battalion and brigade commanders and staffs. The debate on the HTTs will go on forever - with supporters and detractors commenting for the next twenty years. Here is a link to one commentator's thoughts on the use of social scientists in a counterinsurgency. Read "We weaponized anthropology. Why didn't it work?", Fabius Maximus, March 11, 2015.

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