Sunday, January 10, 2016


"War of Ideas". Retired General Eric T. Olson explains the importance of the war of ideas when confronting the Taliban and the Islamic State. He believes the 'human terrain' is an important part of the conflict in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Read "Wars of Ideas" From the Taliban to the Islamic State", War on the Rocks, January 6, 2016.

2015 Success & Failures. Aziz Amin Ahmadzai says that "2015 saw Afghanistan face several challenges, but the National Unit Government (NUG) saw modest success as well." Failures include the Taliban's fragmentation, fall of Kunduz, NUG's ineffectiveness, rise of Islamic State, and migration of Afghan's young people to Europe. Successes are the regional approach to peace, security, and stability, India's support of the Salma Dam, and forward movement of the TAPI pipeline. Read "Afghanistan's Successes and Failures in 2015", The Diplomat, January 4, 2016.

C-SPAN2 Panel Discussion on Afghanistan. On January 4, 2016 a panel discussion took place, hosted by the Brookings Institution, on the Future of Afghanistan. The panelists (Vanda Felbab-Brown, Che Bolden, Jason Cone, Ann Vaughan, and Michael O'Hanlon) talked about the status of the war in Afghanistan and the efforts to stabilize the country. This 1 1/2 hour long video can be watched at the following link.

Reasons for a Resurgent Taliban? Dawood Azami of the BBC World Service tells us why the Taliban are resurgent in Afghanistan. He cites three factors. First is the withdrawal of the bulk of the international forces from Afghanistan to include a significant reduction in advisors and air support. Second is the Pakistan military operation in 2014 that dislodged many Uzbek, Arab, and Pakistani militants from Pakistan area sanctuaries into Afghanistan. The third reason is the lack of capability of the Afghan security forces in air support, intelligence, and command and control. Naturally there are other factors as well. (BBC, Jan 5, 2016).

RoL & Afghanistan. Greg Klepois served as Senior Advisor to the Afghan Deputy Minister of Interior. He has penned a paper about the importance of understanding local legal structures and traditions before attempting to re-establish the Rule of Law and Police Reform. Posted on Small Wars Journal, December 31, 2015.

China & Afghanistan. China is participating more and more in activities relating to Afghanistan to include economic development and the pursuit of peace talks. Read China and Afghanistan After the NATO Withdrawal, Jamestown Foundation, Richard Weitz, November 2015.

"Red Teaming" - But Just Tell Me Good News! One of the unique endeavors of the Afghan War was an attempt by the U.S. military to look at different aspects of the conflict. The intent was to provide an alternative perspective to courses of action developed as a result of the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP) and other staff processes used by many U.S. military staffs. The establishment of "Red Teams" (and there was an 18-week long course run by the Army to train up individuals in this job) at major headquarters went a long way to analyze operations (and their effects) from an different point of view. However, the 'bad news' was not always well-received. Read more in "Red Team: A tale of how a general didn't listen to internal criticism in Afghanistan", Best Defense - Foreign Policy, January 7, 2016.

Bloody Transition. The results of the past year of transition looks pretty grim with both Afghanistan's political condition and its security having sharply deteriorated. Read an analysis entitled "A bloody year of transition", The Economist, January 9, 2016.

Central Asia - Future Outlook. Fatemeh Safavi writes about the security prospects in the future for West and Central Asia in a report posted by Euroasia Review, January 5, 2016.

IR Theory and Gray Zone. USSOCOM has rolled out a concept called the "Gray Zone" in an attempt to inform government leaders and senior ranking military officers on the current and future nature of conflict in the space between peace and war. Many critics and observers are taking stock of this new term and providing their comments. The latest is from Stephen Okin in his blog post entitled "IR Theory and the Gray Zone", January 2, 2016.

Asia Expert Speaks on Afg. Andrew Wilder, vice president of Asia programs at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), speaks with National Public Radio's Scott Simon about why the war in Afghanistan intensified in 2015. He does mention state corruption under Karzai as one of the failures of Afghan leadership. Read "Asia Expert: Taliban's Resergence Threatens Afghanistan's Stability", NPR, January 2, 2016.

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