Saturday, March 14, 2015

News Snippets (March 14, 2015)

ALP Killed. An Afghan official says that seven members of the Afghan Local Police were killed by the Taliban in the province of Ghazni at a police checkpoint. (Fox News, Mar 13, 2015).

President Ghani praised British troops for their contribution to the stability of Afghanistan. In a statement he made on March 13th he said that the British presence enabled Afghanistan to ". . . live in freedom, in hope for peace, prosperity, and dignity". The UK is holding a large "Afghan Service" parade along with some ceremonies. (Gandhara Blog, March 13, 2015).

Hazara hostages. It seems that negotiations are underway for the 31 hostages taken in southern Afghanistan. No news of the big ANSF operation mounted days ago to try and recover them. Relatives of the 31 hostages staged a protest in Kabul on March 12th calling for the government to do more. 

More Magnetic Bombs. A mag bomb was attached to a police vehicle in western Herat. Security officials say no one was injured in the blast on March 13th.

AAF and A-29. Franz-Stefan Gady provides us an update on the fielding of the A-29 Super Tocano close air support aircraft for the Afghan Air Force (AAF). The aircraft will be a cost savings for the AAF as one hour of flying time only costs $1,000. Compare that with the F-35 that the U.S. Air Force says will replace the A-10 Warthog (our CAS platform) that runs at $67,000 per hour. Looks like we bought the right aircraft for the Afghans. Read more in "When Will the Afghan Air Force be ready to Fight the Taliban?", The Diplomat, March 12, 2015.

A resident of Bamiyan remembers when the Taliban forced him to take part in the destruction of the two Bamiyan Buddhas in the spring of 2001. Read "Haunted by the Bamiyan Buddhas", Gandhara Blog, March 13, 2015.

The UK DFID has posted an infographic on Twitter providing facts and figures on the progress that has been made in Afghanistan since 2001. Girls in school, increased #s of schools, road construction, return of refugees, healthcare, doctors, and mine clearing facts. 

Border Corruption. Matthew Gault writes in War is Boring Blog on how much cash Kabul loses to crooked customs officials and how the American taxpayers make up for that lost money. Read "Border Corruption Costs Afghanistan a Quarter of its Budget", March 12, 2015.

Army Specialist Indicted For Afghan Bribes. A former specialist with the U.S. Army has been indicted for accepting bribes from Afghan truck drivers at FOB Gardez, Afghanistan. The drivers were allowed to take thousands of gallons of fuel from the base to sell on the black market. (U.S. DoJ, Mar 12, 2015).

Kabul Energy Shortage. Kabul is still experiencing electrical shortages. It is taking time to repair the transmission lines that were destroyed during recent avalanches.

Army Cyber Command (ARCYBER). The Army's computer whiz kids are expanding rapidly. Currently the Army has 25 of 41 Cyber Mission Force (CMF) teams that have reached initial operational capability. In addition, the Army Reserve is creating 21 cyber teams. Perhaps one of the CMF teams can deploy to Afghanistan to help get rid of the malware code the Chinese put into the Afghan government websites. Read more in "Army cyber force grows fast", C4ISR & Networks, March 12, 2015.

Sufi Killings. No suspects have been arrested for the Sufi sect killings at a spiritual center in Kabul last week. Reports say that eleven people were killed during a prayer session.

 Doug Beattie in a BBC News article reflects on war tours of duty in Afghanistan. The former Royal Irish Regiment soldier served three tours in Afghanistan. He discusses the human factors - feelings of pride, shame, and sadness.

ISIS is trying to establish a foothold in some Central Asian nations to include Afghanistan. With the splintering of the Taliban, uncertainty of continued Pakistan support to some Taliban insurgent groups, and other factors - the Islamic State feels the time is right to expand its influence. Read more in "ISIS' expedition into Central Asia: A spoiler or boon for the Taliban - Analysis", Eurasia Review, March 13, 2015.

Why Stay in Afghanistan. Yesterday I posted an editorial by The New York Times entitled "No Cause to Delay the Afghan Pullout". On March 13th the Times posted a letter to the editor with an opposing view. "Why We Need to Keep Forces in Afghanistan" is penned by Ms. Michelel Flournoy - a former under secretary of defense and Mr. Stephen Hadley a former national security advisor.

India - Pakistan - and Afghanistan. The dynamics between these three countries is the topic of many books, publications, papers and news articles. Yet one more is provided in "President Ghani: Stuck Between India and Pakistan", Foreign Policy, March 12, 2015. The author wonders, that as AfPak relations improve, will Indian support of Afghanistan wane?

Peace Talks. There are conflicting reports about peace talks between Afghanistan and the Taliban. Read more in "No Signs of Peace Talks as Afghan Fighting Season Nears", Voice of America, March 13, 2015.

Afghan Women's Cycling Team. The Afghan " . . . Women's National Cycling Team has been breaking new ground for women's sports and pushing the boundaries of what is - and is not - acceptable for young women in the conservative Muslim country". Read more in a news article by NBC News - March 13, 2015.

Bamiyan Women's Cafe. A gathering place for women that is usual to find in Afghanistan. Read more in a news article by The Diplomat (March 13, 2015).

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