Sunday, July 26, 2015

Afghan War News Snippets

Article on SFA. The Joint Center for International Security Assistance (JCISFA) has posted an article entitled "Strengthening Security Force Assistance Joint Force Management Processes and Procedures" in the Peace and Stability Journal, Volume 5, Issue 4, July 2015 (see pages 32-36). The article is about the results of a working group that examined how the U.S. joint military forces could improve personnel assignments in order to get the right people in the right jobs to conduct SFA missions. One of the biggest obstacles to a successful SFA mission is the proper selection and training of SFA advisors. Hopefully the JCISFA working group can cobble together some good recommendations to address this problem.

AWG and Fighting ISIS. LTC Justin Sapp, a Special Forces officer and commander in the Asymmetric Warfare Group (AWG), provides us an update on how the AWG is assisting in the fight against the Islamic State. For those with some time in Afghanistan you may recall the occasional AWG advisors flying into small firebases offering advise and assistance to infantry units in remote areas. The AWG advisors - along with experienced CAAT COIN Advisors and Joint Expeditionary Team (JIEDDO) Advisors were invaluable in providing young officers and NCOs with timely and relevant advise. Read more in "Elite Army unit at Fort Meade searching for ways to fight ISIS", The Baltimore Sun, July 18, 2015.

Schools and USAID. Another article on wasteful spending on Afghan schools is provided to us by Public Radio International (PRI) in "Have we been duped? The successful building of schools in Afghanistan may be overstated", July 20, 2015.

Updated Requirements for Contractors in Afghanistan. The Resolute Support command has updated documents that outline some of the requirements of contractors working in Afghanistan to include business licences and visas. Documents include entry and exit requirements, contractor visas, NATO SOFA, Bilateral Security Agreement, and more. They have been posted by the Resolute Support Legal Advisor (RS LEGAD).

TAAC North Air Wing CoC. The Train Advise and Assist Command North has anew commander for the TAAC North Air Wing at Camp Marmal near Mes-e-Sharif. The Air Wing provides support to TAAC North as well as performing advisory missions. Read more in "New commander takes over Air Wing", RS News, July 19, 2015.

IPCB Transition. News on the transition of responsibilities from the IPCB to the Afghan Ministry of Interior Affairs (Jul 20, 2015).

UN Report on Afghanistan. A June 2015 quarterly report to the United Nations Security Council on the situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security.

RS Update Edition 1. Resolute Support headquarters has posted a 7 minute long video updating us on gender issues within the ANDSF, the SME program within the ministries, and General Campbell's disappointment in the Afghan parliaments refusal to approve any of President Ghani's choices for Minister of the MoD. (DVIDS, July 25, 2015)

Women's Mental Health in Afghanistan. The New York Times has published an article that profiles the work of a female therapist in Kapisa province, Afghanistan. She helps women with common problems to include post-traumatic stress, malnutrition, depression, and domestic violence. (NYT, Jul 15, 2015).

Paper - "Women in Combat". The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has published a paper for the U.S. Congress that outlines the issues about women in combat. It is posted on the website of the Federation of American Scientists.

More on Burn Pits. In a report posted by the Veterans Administration members of the military that served in Afghanistan have a higher rate of insomnia, high blood pressure, asthma, and emphysema. (Military Times, Jul 22, 2015).

Drones, Cheap Wars, and Dumb Decisions. A recent opinion piece by Benjamin H. Friedman explores how drones tend to encourage us to engage in seemingly risk-free conflicts but also tend to encourage the U.S. to engage in dumb military operations and enterprises. Read "How Drones Encourage Dumb Wars and Corrode Democratic Government", CATO Institute, July 24, 2015.

Video on Special Operations and Intelligence. Kim Dozier, a defense columnist, is the moderator for a one-hour long video posted on by The Aspen Institute entitled "Special Operators and Intelligence Analysts: the 21st Century's Lead Warriors" (July 2015). The panel includes Kathleen Hicks (long-time defense analyst and DoD bureaucrat), Eric Olson (former Commander of US Special Operations Command), and Michael Vickers (Former Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence).

Key Combat Trends in Afghanistan. Anthony Cordsman of the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) has provided us with a PDF entitled Key Combat Trends in Afghanistan: Violence vs. Population (May 18, 2015). You can view other assessments of the war in Afghanistan at this link.

Training FSF: Quality vs Quantity. War on the Rocks has posted an article by Rebecca Zimmerman that looks at the training provided to foreign military forces. (July 15, 2015). In Afghanistan over the past several years the push was for a large military and police force and the quality of training was less important than fielding numbers. We are paying the price for that policy now.

JIEDDO is now JIDA. The Pentagon's counter-IED group know as the Joint IED Defeat Organization is now know as the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Agency. Read more in "Pentagon's IED Office Reinvents Itself For a New War", Defense One, July 13, 2015.

Five Facts about CIA's Drone Campaign. A professor of Islamic Studies, Brian Glyn Williams, dispels some myths associated with the Central Intelligence Agency's drone campaign conducted in Pakistan. Read more in The Huffington Post, July 23, 2015.

Navy Reserve Forces Command Highlights RS Personnel. The TNR Magazine has highlighted the contributions of Navy personnel deployed on the Resolute Support mission. View the July 2015 issue.

New CSTC-A Cdr. MG Gordon B. Davis, Jr will soon be the commander of the Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan. He leaves his post as deputy chief of staff of operations at SHAPE (NATO) in Belgium.

BG Douglas Crissman Departs. Crissman leaves his post as deputy command, JTF 3, USFOR-A to be the DCG of 3d Infantry Division.

COL Patrick Frank Departs. Frank leaves his post as XO to Cdr RS to go to the 1st Infantry Division.

Lapis Lazuli. This precious stone is found in only a few sites around the world. One site is the Kokcha Valley of northern Afghanistan. Read more in a CIA posting.

Obama - Ghani Video Conference. Presidents Obama and Ghani had a video conference recently (July 22) where they discussed corruption, the economy, and improved regional economic connectivity, security, and regional cooperation. Read a State Department press release.

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