Sunday, October 11, 2015

Afghan War News Snippets

Australians Drawing Down Troop Levels. Australia has been a staunch ally of the U.S. and other NATO countries during the entire Afghan conflict. However, as with other nations, it is slowly drawing down its forces. See "Australia ends Afghan advisory mission", 9, October 7, 2015.

Nobel Prize for Author of Zinky Boys. Svetlana Alexievich, a Belorussian, has won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Zinky Boys was published in 1990 and is based on interviews with former Soviet soldiers and their relatives. The book revealed Soviet atrocities in Afghanistan and more. Read about Alexievich in a news article by Thomas Ruttig of Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN).

Taliban Spokesman Captured? An unconfirmed rumor on Twitter says that the Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Majuahid was arrested at Hamid Karzai International Airport (hate that name). If true, it would be a big ANDSF morale boost.

Marines Stiffen Physical Requirements. The Marine Corps has increased the physical fitness requirements for 29 different occupations in anticipation of gender-neutral physical requirements. The new standards will take effect before the integration of women in many or all of the job specialties is mandated by Congress. A recent nine-month long study has prompted some of the changes. The Marine Corps experiment integrated women into combat formations and the results were monitored. Female Marines were found to ". . . sustain higher injury rates, but were also slower, fired weapons with less accuracy than men, struggled to clear walls, and sometimes failed at simulated casualty evacuations". Read more in "Marines unveil new gender-neutral standards for 29 jobs", Marine Corps Times, October 5, 2015.

Campbell Visits India. A few weeks back the top US commander in Afghanistan made a rare visit to India. I wonder what Pakistan thinks about that? Talks were held with senior Indian leadership on the country's role in the war-torn Afghanistan. I am sure that China and Pakistan were also topics. (NDTV India, Oct 9, 2015).

NATO Willing to Stick It Out. It appears that some of the NATO countries are going to stay in Afghanistan a little longer. Read more in "U.S., NATO signal willingness to slow Afghan drawdown", Reuters, October 8, 2015.

Rakkasans Return Stateside. 3rd BCT, 101st Abn Division has left Tactical Base Gamberi in eastern Afghanistan. Their 9-month long Train, Advise, and Assist (TAA) mission is over in the TAAC-East area. They were advising the Afghan 201st Corps as well as police headquarters in eastern Afghanistan. 3rd BCT, 10th Mountain Division is replacing the Fort Campbell Soldiers. (Fort Campbell Courier, October 8, 2015).

Fort Stewart Troops Return Home. A few dozen 3rd Infantry Division have returned from their tour with TAAC-East. See "Fort Stewart families welcome troops home from Afghanistan",, October 9, 2015.

Afghans Leaving Home. The number of Afghan refugees streaming out of the country has increased dramatically over the past year. One observer provides us with the reasons for the departure in Hurting the Host: The Rationale of the Afghan Exodus, E-International Relations, October 8, 2015.

Cost of Leaving? Traveling from Afghanistan to Europe (if you are an Afghan) can ". . . take over three months . . ." and cost more than $5,000. The trip ". . . is one of hidden costs, shady characters, and dangerous passages across borders and waterways." Read "This is What It Costs A Migrant To Get To Europe", Radio Free Europe, October 10, 2015.

METIS Solutions - Firm Engaged in Afghan Projects. METIS Solutions, LLC announced last week that it has made the 2015 Inc. 5000 list as the 661st fastest growing company in the U.S. with a three-year growth rate of 685%. Some of the work by METIS Solutions takes place in Kabul - working with advisors in the the MoI and MoD. (PR Web, Oct 7, 2015).

TAAC-Air Guardian Angels. The threat of an insider attack has caused advisors to take extra precautions for their safety. Read more in "Extra pair of eyes: Guardian Angels support TAAC-Air mission", DVIDS, October 8, 2015.

Supply Airmen Keeps AAF C-130s Flying. The Afghan Air Force has four C-130 Hercules airplanes and members of TAAC-Air work hard to ensure they keep flying. Read more in "Supply Airmen helps keep Afghan Air Force C-130s Flying", DVIDS, October 8, 2015.

Afghan Police Officer Works in "Valley of Death". Not far from Green Village, an enclave where contractors live who support the Resolute Support mission (I lived there for several months, nice place) works an Afghan police officer with a dangerous job. Read more in "Afghan police commander faces threat of suicide bombers with guns, prayers and soda", by Peter Holley in The Washington Post, October 7, 2015.

Anatomy of an Airstrike. There are two types of airstrikes - "pre-planned" and "time-sensitive targeting". A recent news report explains the difference in detail. Read "How it Works: A U.S. Military Airstrike", Popular Mechanics, December 2011.

Gen Milley - Three Goals. General Mark Milley, the new Chief of Staff for the Army and former commander of the ISAF Joint Command (IJC), has established three goals for the force - readiness, modernization, and taking care of Soldiers. Read more in "US Army's New Chief Sets Three Goals", Defense One, October 8, 2015.

Village Context. The Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU) has published a paper entitled Taking village context into account in Afghanistan, Briefing Paper 18, September 2015. It provides info on the 'good' and 'bad' elites in villages, the processes by which newly introduced organisational structures (such as the National Solidarity Programme) are incorporated into older customary arrangements, and that villages all have differing characteristics.

USAID & Licit Agriculture. Our favorite government agency provides us with a press release about how Afghan farmers are modernizing with methods and equipment. (USAID, September 2015).

NGOs and Danger in Afghanistan. The airstrike at the hospital in Kunduz killed a number of medical workers from the NGO MSF. However, medical NGOs have faced growing danger long before the MSF hosptial tragedy. (Reuters, Oct 8, 2015).

Army's Green Service Uniform. The green service uniform has been retired after 61 years of service. As of October 1, 2015 it is no longer permitted for wear. The "Green Class A's" were adopted in 1954 and brought a ". . . sharp, classic, and dignified look . . . " to Soldiers. It has since been replaced by a very ugly, dowdy, shapeless blue uniform designed for fat Soldiers so they can look good. Read more in "The end of the Green Service Uniform: 1954-2015", Army Times, October 1, 2015.

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