Friday, May 1, 2015

Afghan War News Snippets (May 1, 2015)

Two Kabul Police Officers Killed. A group of unknown gunmen opened fire on a police checkpoint in Kabul city late Wednesday night killing two police officers and wounding another. (Tolo News, April 30, 2015).

Afghan Media Day Off. No Afghan newspapers were published on Tuesday, April 28th in observation of Mujahidin Victory Day - a national holiday.

Afghan Air Force is Busy. The start of the 2015 fighting season sees the AAF very busy supporting operations in four different provinces (Zabul, Ghazni, Kunduz, and Badakhshan) this week. Read more in "Afghan Air Force Provides Cover for Troops in Four Provinces", Tolo News, April 29, 2015. Of course, the U.S. Air Force isn't exactly cooling its jets on the ramp - read "US continues airstrikes in Afghanistan", The Boston Globe, April 30, 2015.

Taliban Atrocities. A blogger explores the Taliban's admission that they recently committed atrocities (beheading ANA soldiers). Read "Taliban admit they committed atrocities"afghanhindsite, April 28, 2015.

Four Romanian Soldiers Injured. The Romanian defense ministry says that four Romanian soldiers were injured when a booby-trapped car exploded in Afghanistan. They were deployed south of Kandahar. Romania has 625 troops currently serving in the NATO mission in Afghanistan and thus far 23 have been killed in the conflict. (ABC News, April 30, 2015).

NDS Officer Killed in Kandahar. An officer from the National Directorate of Security (NDS) was killed by unidentified gunmen in southern Kandahar province on Thursday. A few days before the public health director of Kandahar province was also attacked. (Khamma Press,  April 30, 2015).

Warlords and Provincial Politics and Power. Rebecca Zimmerman, an associate policy analyst at the RAND Corporation and a doctoral candidate at John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and a Truman National Security Project fellow describes "MK" the warlord of Uruzgan - Matiullah Khan was recently assassinated in Kabul. (His successor was also assassinated). She describes the pros and cons of provincial warlords in her article "The Afghan Warlord With a Cheshire Grin", Newsweek, April 29, 2015.

Advisor Training for Resolute Support Mission in Poland. The next advisor training event for the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan will take place in the summer at Bydgoszcz, Poland at the NATO Joint Force Training Center (JFTC). The training program is excellent - in the past few years I have participated in two of the training events as a "trainer SME". The dates for the initial, main, and final planning conferences are listed at this link.

EU and Corruption. The European Union is calling for concrete steps against corruption in Afghanistan. (Radio Free Europe, May 1, 2015).

ISIS vs. Taliban. The Taliban are apparently in a Catch-22 over the emergence and rise of the Islamic State in Afghanistan. Some fighters of the Taliban are switching flags. Read more in "Afghan Taliban Scrambling with the Rise of the Islamic State", Gandhara Blog, April 30, 2015.

ICRC and Afghan CIVCAS. The Director of Operations at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Dominik Stillhart, has expressed concern at the growing number of civilian casualties in the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. (ICRC, Apr 30, 2015).

Afghan Civilians at Risk. Read more on civilian casualties in "Afghanistan fighting season could kill record number of civilians: aid agencies", Thomson Reuters Foundation, April 30, 2015.

Farkhunda's Death & Self-Reflection. The Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR) weighs in on the killing of the Afghan woman by a male mob. (IWPR, Apr 30, 2015).

Military Aid Programs. The State Department has eight military aid programs and the Defense Department has 71. The State Department's programs receive intense Congressional scrutiny while DoD's seem to get a pass. Read more in a post on the Security Assistance Monitor, April 27, 2015.

RS HQs Gets Bad Report Card. SIGAR has issued its 27th quarterly report to Congress and the news isn't great. Read "Another Damning Afghanistan Reconstruction Report", The Diplomat, May 1, 2015.

Peace in Afghanistan. To bring peace to Afghanistan, President Ghani has to overcome domestic barriers and regional controversies. Read more in "Afghan Peace: Between a Rock and a Hard Place", Foreign Policy, April 30, 2015.

USA - Being Played by Pakistan. An observer makes note of the U.S. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) to Pakistan for the AH-1Z Viper Attack Helicopters and AGM-114R Hellfire II Missiles as part of a $1-billion deal. This, despite the fact that the Taliban and Haqqani Network enjoy the support and sanctuary of Pakistan. Go figure. Read more in "The Afghanistan-Pakistan Map is About to Get a Make Over", By Vikram Sood, Eurasia Review, April 30, 2015.

How to Hack Military Drones. The information necessary to hack a military drone is freely available to the public, in academic publications and online documents. (Eurasia Review, Apr 30, 2015).

Freshman Congressman Moulton Slammed on anti-A-10 Proposal. Newly elected Representative Seth Moulton is from a liberal district in Massachusetts and is also a Marine Corps officer with one or two combat tours and six years experience in the military. He seems to think that he has the expertise, training, and experience to weigh in on the A-10 argument. Ummmm. Some folks think that an O-3 isn't that experienced. Go figure. Read more in "Moulton Moves to Gut A-10", Arizona Independent, April 29, 2015. See also "Moulton's 'Compromise'" Gut the A-10 for No Good Reason", John Q Public Blog, April 29, 2015.

The Killing of Warren Weinstein. Read David Rohde's article entitled "What the United States Owes Warren Weinstein", The Atlantic, April 28, 2015. Another article provides more info - read "U.S. Never Knew Where Warren Weinstein Was", Bloomberg View, April 23, 2015.

US Drones - Problems of Nebulous War. Daphne Eviatar writes that "US Drone Killings of Western Aid Workers Highlight Problems of Nebulous War", for Just Security, April 27, 2015.

Narratives Better than Drones. Two writers - Jim Sisco and Ajit Maan - feel that the 'kill or capture' approach isn't working and that a good narrative would accomplish much much. Read their article in Foreign Policy, April 23, 2015.

Two Great Afghan Values - Islam and Country. Learn more about Afghanistan in "For Us, Two Great Values", Khaama Press, April 30, 2015.

Kandahar Role 3. An article posted on (Feb 5, 2015) provides info on the Kandahar clinic that assists troops in fighting stress.

Who Is TAAC - South Cdr? BG Viet Luong of the 1st Cavalry Division and current commander of Train Advise and Assist Command South in Afghanistan came to the United States in the 1970s after his family fled Vietnam in the waning days of the war there. He is now leading the effort to train Afghan units to fight the insurgents in southern Afghanistan. Read more in a news story by National Public Radio, April 30, 2015.

CSTs Served with Distinction. Read a news release by the U.S. Department of Defense about three women who served in Afghanistan on Cultural Support Teams (CSTs) assigned to special operations units. (DoD News, Apr 29, 2015).

Vickers Stepping Down. Mike Vickers,the outgoing undersecretary of defense for intelligence, is stepping down. He became famous as a character in "Charlie Wilson's War" where he is depicted as an architect of the U.S. effort to arm and support the Afghan mujahideen in their fight against the Soviets. He got his start as an enlisted and then later officer in the U.S. Army Special Forces where he received extensive training in aiding insurgencies. Later as a CIA officer he worked with the mujahideen. Read a news story on Vickers (DoD News, April 30, 2015).

Military Review May-June 2015. The latest issue of Military Review is out. One article that is interesting is "Army Civilians and the Army Profession". Lt. Col. Robert Hynes, Ph.D., U.S. Army, Retired writes about the important contribution that civilians perform on the battlefield and in garrison.

40 Years ago - Vietnam. The war in Vietnam ended (for the United States) on April 30, 1975. Read about what the U.S. thinks about long wars in "Vietnam Showed the U.S. Has No Desire for Long Wars and Troubling Tactics", The New York Times, April 30, 2015. By Douglas Porch, professor at the Naval Postgraduate School. Read also a press release from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) entitled "The Last Days in Saigon", April 30, 2015 that describes the last days of South Vietnam and the evacuation from Saigon. I am sure our final departure from Kabul will be much smoother.

Interview w/ Dr. Rajiv Shah - Former USAID Head. Rajiv Shah is interviewed and chats about his five years as head of the United States Agency for International Develeopment in "A Conversation with Dr. Rajiv Shah", Asia Foundation, April 29, 2015. Both the foundation and agency played a leading role in Afghanistan reconstruction and development for many years. The interview focuses on Asia but very little on Afghanistan.

SF Cbt Dive Schools 50th. The Special Forces Underwater Operations School in Key West celebrates its 50th anniversary. (Fayetteville Observer, April 29, 2015).

Military Health System & Psychological Care. RAND Corporation has published a report entitled "Measuring the Quality of Care for Psychological Health Conditions in the Military Health System", April 2015. In the last few years the number of U.S. service members treated for psychological health conditions has increased substantially - in particular - post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive disorder (MDD). The RAND report includes key findings and recommendations.

USMC Cyber Task Force. The Marine Corps Cyber Task Force stood up in April 2015 to create courses of action to address manpower, organizational, acquisition and other problems for cyberspace operations. Read more in a news report by USNI News, April 28, 2015.

New Hostage Policy? The administration is under fire for perceived problems with its hostage policy. This perception is even stronger with the recent deaths of two Western aid workers in a drone strike in Pakistan. Read more in "New Hostage Strategy to Follow Interagency Review", Arthur D. Simons Center for Interagency Cooperation, April 28, 2015.

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