Sunday, January 10, 2016

Helmand Province at Risk

Map WikipediA - Creative Commons
The Taliban have passed on their usual winter break in Helmand province. Usually the TB fighters head to their homes or cross the border to their sanctuaries in Pakistan - returning in the spring for the start of the new fighting season in the April or May time frame. This year has been different. Many of the districts of Helmand province are under the control of the Taliban. Although the Afghan government claims to control some of the districts - this control is usually just the district center . . . a group of government buildings within a walled compound with 30 to 60 Afghan National Police (ANP) protecting it. The roads and countryside outside of the district center is a no-go area for government troops and police unless in large convoys. Helmand province is sometimes referred to as the birthplace of the Taliban. There are many observers who see the fight in Helmand as one between tribes over control of the drug trade and not so much as one between insurgents and government forces. Listed below are a number of recent news stories about the current security situation in Helmand province.

"Utah soldiers under fire in latest Afghanistan fighting"The Salt Lake Tribune, January 7, 2016. Teams from the Army National Guard's Special Forces are in Afghanistan. The death of an SF Soldier prompts questions on the U.S. role in Afghanistan. Are they doing "Train, Advise, and Assist" or conducting combat. The Pentagon says that the troops are in a 'combat situation' but not 'a combat role'. Read more in "Pentagon: US troops in 'combat situation' in Afghanistan", The Hill Blog, January 7, 2016.

"Washington Policy Leaves Special Forces Soldiers Flapping in the Breeze in Marjah, Afghanistan"SOFREP, January 7, 2016. Questions surface about the air support and quick reaction forces timeliness to relieve the surrounded SF team in Marjah district. See also "Congressman questions if Army Special Forces denied rescue force, fire support"The Washington Post, January 7, 2016. And, of course, the official party line is provided in "CENTCOM: AC-130 'absolutely did fire' in Marjah battle against Taliban", Stars and Stripes, January 8, 2016.

"Bagram F-16s Support Helmand Province Operations"DVIDS Video (2 mins), January 6, 2016. Aircraft based at Bagram Air Field provide CAS across the country.

Losing Marjah District to the Taliban. In 2010, the U.S. Marines, supported by other services and Coalition members mounted a huge offensive - called Operation Moshtarak - to take Marjah district, Helmand province from the Taliban. The Taliban fought but were defeated and moved on to other sanctuaries to continue the fight. The attempt to establish governance by the Afghan government in Marjah district - which the U.S. was calling 'governance in a box' - failed miserably. A misunderstanding of Afghan ideology is key to the coalition's failure to maintain control of the district. After the pullout of the U.S. Marines a few years back the Taliban returned. Read more in "A look at how the US-led coalition lost Afghanistan's Marjah district to the Taliban", by Heath Druzin, Stars and Stripes, January 16, 2016.

"A critical Afghan town, once secure, is now a Taliban hotbed again", by Max Boot, Business Insider, January 6, 2016. Max reports on a place that was hard-fought for by the Marines and others. See also "Much Sacrifice, Little Progress", by Max Boot, Commentary, January 6, 2016.

"Taliban Tactics Hinder Special Operations Forces", by Mark Moyer, Military History in the News,  Hoover Institution of Stanford University, January 7, 2016. Moyer explains how the irregular tactics of the Taliban have confounded U.S. security forces.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.