Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Afghan War News Snippets (Apr 8, 2015)

Hostage Beheaded by IMU. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a group allied with the Taliban and which operates in Uzbekistan, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, released a video depicting a beheading of one of its Afghan hostages. A news report from BBC (link provided) says militants had kidnapped 31 Haraza's off buses in Afghanistan in February as they traveled from Iran to Kabul through Zabul province. There has been much speculation as to who controls the hostages with some saying the Islamic State has a hand in the situation. Other news reports see (NDS statement) say the beheaded hostage was NOT one of the 31 Hazara hostages.
(BBC News, April 5, 2015,

NDS Vows to Pursue Beheaders. The National Directorate of Security (NDS) vowed to identify and arrest the militants who beheaded an ex-member of the Afghan National Army (ANA). In the video the IMU pledges allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS). (Khaama Press, Apr 7, 2015).

Six Insurgents Killed in Paktika. According to a recent news report a well-known Haqqani commander and five other insurgents were killed in an Afghan National Army operation in southern Paktika province on Monday afternoon. (Tolo News, Apr 7, 2015).

Kabul - Everyday Game of Life and Death. A news correspondent recounts his experience filming in Kabul. He says that Afghanistan remains a dangerous place for locals and visitors. (Channel Asia News, Apr 7, 2015).

EU in Afghanistan. The European Mission (EU) is playing a big role in assisting Afghanistan during its 'transformation decade'. Read more in "EU-Nato coordination key to advancing Afghan transition", The Parliament Magazine, April 7, 2015.

U.S. Fusion Cell for Hostages? The U.S. is thinking about establishing a fusion cell involving subject-matter experts from agencies including the FBI, DoD, DoS, and intelligence community. The cell will review hostage policies and recovery strategies. (The Washington Post, Apr 6, 2015).

Taliban to Outlast Coalition. The international Coalition, along with Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), have been fighting the Taliban for 13 years. Last fighting season (2014) the Taliban inflicted great casualties on the ANSF and the prospect is the same for this year. The 2016 deadline for the withdrawal of the 12,000 international troops is not far off and there is very little prospect for the defeat of the Taliban before the deadline. There is little hope for a diminishing of the insurgency unless Pakistan takes concrete steps to reduce its support of the Afghan Taliban. Read more in "Afghanistan, the US, and the Taliban", by Aryaman Bhatnagar, Observer Research Foundation, (India), April 7, 2015.

Afghan Interpreter Refused Asylum by UK. An Afghan interpreter who worked for the British army claims he has been targeted by the Taliban but the UK Home Office says it does not believe he would be in danger if he returns to Afghanistan. (The Guardian, Apr 7, 2015).

Tom Ricks on Afghanistan. Tom Ricks, writing in Foreign Policy,  tells us "Why I remain more optimistic about Afghanistan's future than about Iraq's" in his April 6, 2015 column. He sees a way forward for Afghanistan. He thinks that Kabul needs to find ways of living with regional overlords, keep the ring road safe for transit of goods, keep the Taliban out of Kabul (but let them have Oruzgan), don't worry too much about the hinterland, and encourage the Iranians to build some railroads in Afghanistan.

Military Review. The March-April 2015 edition of Military Review is now posted online. Articles include topics of "The Army Operating Concept", "SHARP Realities", "Women in Combat", "Women in the Infantry", "Female Engagement Teams", "Art of Command and the Science of Control", "The Ignorant Counterinsurgent", "Anbar Awakening", "Retaking a District Center - A Case Study in the Application of Village Stability Operations", and more.

IO Weaknesses Identified in DoDIG Report. In a recently released (March 27, 2015) report the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Defense identified some Information Operations (IO) challenges and weaknesses in operations conducted in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Africa. The report covers IO activities from 2006 through 2013. Some of its findings include "communication activities that were not optimal at the operational level in Afghanistan", a lack of a fully integrated IO capability in Afghanistan", and "the need for strengthened controls over IO assessments in Afghanistan". The report is Information Operations in a Contingency Environment: Summary of Weaknesses Identified in Reports Issued from October 6, 2006, Through November 7, 2013, DoDIG-2015-100.

Sleeping Badly and the Military. "Given the unprecedented demands placed on U.S. military forces since 2001, there has been growing concerns about the prevalence and consequences of sleep problems for servicemembers. Sleep problems often follow a chronic course, persisting long after servicemembers return home from combat deployments . . ." Read more about a military deprived of sleep and recommendations for better sleep in "Sleep in the Military: Promoting Healthy Sleep Among U.S. Servicemembers", The RAND Corporation, April 2015.

Soldiers Sleep Tips. The Defense Health Agency offers Soldiers some sleeping tips for the sleep-deprived military culture. (, Mar 16, 2015).

The Afghan Diaspora. An extremely informative article about the impact that out-migration of Afghans has had on education in Afghanistan and more. Read "Diaspora and Knowledge Societies in Making: individual challenges and communal opportunities", by Dr. Yahia Baiza, posted on Afghan Professional Network (APN), April 7, 2015.

Pashtun Diaspora Women and Marriage. A writer examines the situation of Pashtun women living abroad and the prospects for marriage. Read "The Changing Face of Marriage for Pashtun Diaspora Women", Gandhara Blog - Radio Free Europe, April 7, 2015.

Report - Afghan Women Abandoned. Amnesty International has released a report (Yahoo! news report, Apr 6, 2015) saying that the government of Afghanistan and the international community have abandoned Afghan women. Afghanistan has regularly been named as one of the worst places to be born female. Afghanistan: Their lives on the line: Women human rights defenders under attack in Afghanistan, Amnesty International, April 6, 2015.

Afghan Women's Poetry. A recently released collection of poetry, Load Poems Like Guns: Women's Poetry from Herat, Afghanistan, brings together a selection of works from eight Afghan women. Read more in "Darkness and Hope in Load Poems Like Guns", By Catherine Putz, The Diplomat, April 7, 2015.

Photo Essay on Afghan School. National Geographic has published a photo essay on an Afghan school - a yearbook of the school's students. (April 6, 2015).

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