Sunday, February 21, 2016

News Snippets

CoC RS Commander.  March 2nd will be the change of command from General John Campbell to recently promoted General John Nicholson. Gen Campbell will retire from the Army. Read "Pentagon Sets Date for Change of Command in Afghanistan", Voice of America, February 18, 2016.

Social Media and Young Afghans. Younger Afghans are increasingly finding marriage partners online using social media. This method allows them to circumvent the strict segregation of the sexes in this deeply conservative society. Read more in "Afghans skirt strict rules to find love on social media", CNS, February 14, 2016.

Skiing in Afghanistan. Some day, many years from now, people will fly to Afghanistan to ski the mountains. But for now, the skiing opportunities are primarily limited to the central province of Bamyan. However, it is a work intensive sport. No ski lifts. So you trudge up a mountain for almost an hour for a couple of minutes of downhill pleasure. I will pass for now. Hopefully, if peace comes to Afghanistan . . . and if I live long enough . . . I too will ski the slopes of that picturesque country with beautiful mountains. But for now I must be content to watch this 3-minute long video entitled "Ski Afghanistan: A Challenge Unlike Any Other", Radio Free Europe, February 15, 2016.

Poker on Friday Nights. So how do the Resolute Support soldiers sequestered at "Camp Kabul" spend their free time? Evidently some try their hand at the card game of poker. Learn more by reading "Poker in Afghanistan: Strategy and Tactics at the NATO Base in Kabul", Poker News, February 15, 2016. The article also provides insight about life confined to a small base with lots of people.

Afghan Refugees / Migrants. According the the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Afghans represent 26% of the Mediterranean sea arrivals to Europe.

Child Soldiers. According to the Human Rights Watch (HRW) organization the Taliban are training Afghan children in Madrasas to fight and plant IEDs. Read Afghanistan Taliban Child Soldier Recruitment Surges, HRW, February 17, 2016.

Video - ANA's Med Ctr Gardez. Watch a 2-min YouTube video posted by Resolute Support HQs on the ANA's regional medical center located in the 203rd ANA Corps region. Not in English!

Corruption . . . and more Corruption. Transparency International (TI) has release a report about one of Afghanistan's most serious problems - corruption. Read National Integrity System Assessment Afghanistan 2015, February 16, 2016.

FORSCOM CG visits BAF. General Robert Abrams, the commander of Forces Command, visit Bagram Air Field.  Read more in a news release by DVIDS, February 12, 2016.

Bergdahl Probe. The Justice Department is considering whether to review allegations that the U.S. paid for SGT Beau Bergdahl's freedom and what the role the FBI played in his release. Read more in "Justice Department May Probe Alleged Bergdahl Ransom Payment", The Daily Beast, February 19, 2016.

Afghan Journalists Fleeing to Europe. So the people that report the news in Afghanistan have been making their way to Europe. Some are paying big money to make that dangerous trip. Many do it for economic reasons but some are in fear for their lives - as a result of their reporting corruption in Afghan society. Read more in "Hundreds of Afghan Journalists Have Fled to Europe", Gandhara Blog, February 18, 2016.

Afghan Interpreters - State Dept Folly. A recent rule change by the U.S. Department of State has left over 3,000 Afghan interpreters stranded in Afghanistan. These faithful interpreters who served the U.S. military in Afghanistan have already submitted their requests for U.S. visas so they can escape retaliation by the Taliban. However, the State Dept is once again doing everything they can to ensure they can't flee a dangerous situation. Read more in "Rule Change Dashes Hope for Afghan Military Allies Seeking Refuge in U.S.", Free Beacon, February 16, 2016.

Federal Court Rules on Afghan Interpreters. A federal district court in Washington, D.C. has ruled in favor of Iraqi and Afghan interpreters who are suing the U.S. Government over failure to act on visa applications. The decision reaffirms the government's obligations to thousands of U.S. allies trapped in life-threatening circumstances as a result of their service to the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan. Read more in a news release by the Urban Justice Center (Feb 16, 2016).

Another Afghan War Film. As is the case with many conflicts as they start to wind down Hollywood begins to crank the movie machine up. There are good, bad, funny, sad, accurate, and inaccurate movies about almost every conflict the U.S. has been in. We are now starting to see an increase in the frequency of films being released about the Afghan War (or so it seems to me). Just last week I reviewed a Danish film about Afghanistan - see movie review of A WarA new film soon to be released is about an Afghan interpreter. These folks are the unsung heroes of the Afghan War - without them the U.S. military was very ineffective. Read more about the new film in "Why a US Army Vet Cast a Muslim-American Woman to Lead His Afghan War Movie"Defense One, February 15, 2016.

Soviet Union Departure - Anniversary. February 15th was the 27th anniversary of the exit of the former USSR Red Army from Afghanistan.

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