Uruzgan Governor Pleads for Australian Help. The province where the Australian training and reconstruction effort in Afghanistan was centered is in a dire situation. The Taliban are steadily making progress and have the Afghan government security forces on the defensive. Of late, the provincial capital - Tarin Kot - has been threatened by the insurgents. Deaths and desertions have taken their toll on the ANP and ANA. The provincial governor is urging the Australians to return to the province with combat troops and helicopters. Read more in "Afghan Governor pleads for Australian help as soldiers defect to Taliban", ABC News, November 7, 2016.
UN Investigating Airstrikes. The United Nations says it is investigating U.S. airstrikes that killed over 30 civilians. The United States is conducting its own investigation. The airstrikes were targeting senior members of the Taliban. Afghan security authorities say the civilians were most likely family members of the slain Taliban leaders. Read more in "U.N. says investigating Afghanistan air strike deaths", Reuters, November 6, 2016.
COMRS Visits Georgia. The country of Georgia has been a staunch ally of the United States and the many other nations participating in the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan. The Resolute Support commander - General John Nicholson - recently visited Georgia to discuss issues pertaining to the country's engagement in the RS mission. Read more in "US Commander of NATO Resolute Support Mission Visits Georgia", Georgia Today, November 7, 2016.
RS Senior Enlisted visits Bagram Units. Command Sergeant Major (CSM) David Clark visited units based at Bagram Air Field. (DVIDS, Nov 6, 2016).
C-RAM Units Exchange Responsibility. One Air Defense Artillery unit is headed home while another has taken its place at Bagram Air Field. The Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar (C-RAM) mission provides critical early warning and takes steps to defeat the insurgent's rockets, artillery, and mortars that fire onto the air field and base. Read "Air Defense Artillery Transfer of Authority Ceremony", DVIDS, November 5, 2016.
Paper - Islamic State in Afghanistan. Casey Garret Johnson, writing for the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) has penned a 16-page report that details the structure, composition, and growth of the Islamic State's so-called Khorasan province.The report is the result of more than sixty interviews with residents of Nangarhar - and provincial and national Afghan security officials. Read The Rise and Stall of the Islamic State in Afghanistan, USIP, November 3, 2016.
Sunday, November 13, 2016
Sunday, October 9, 2016
"Afghanistan: The Australian Story documentary gives insight into military involvement", ABC News (Australia), October 2, 2016.
Sunday, March 13, 2016
Worries on Afghanistan. Manoj Joshi writes about the current situation in Afghanistan. The Taliban's recent refusal to participate in peace talks has serious implications for the security and stability of Afghanistan. The Taliban clearly feel that time is on its side - and given its recent gains on the battlefield - that there is little point in engaging in peace negotiations with the Kabul regime. Read more in "Worrying signals from Afghanistan", ORF Online, March 8, 2016.
Developing Emotional Calluses. Nathan K. Finney has wrote a short essay on how military members, as a result of their exposure to years of direct and indirect trauma, develop emotional calluses to the world around them. Read "Consequences of Fear: Callousness", Consequence Magazine, March 6, 2016.
Too Much Mandatory Training. While senior leaders of the military recognized that there are too many mandated training activities it would seem that little is done to lighten the load. Read more in "No Time, Literally, For All Requirements", by Maj. Crispin J. Burke, Army Magazine, March 8, 2016.
Mandatory Training - Part II. There is no doubt that the training requirements for the U.S. Army far exceed the time available to train. Many Soldiers would cut much of the training they receive. For instance, do Soldiers really need to endure a class presentation where they learn that American society attaches privilege to being white, male, and heterosexual. Yep, it happened. Read more in "U.S. Army Lectured Soldiers on Dangers of "White Privilege", Fox News, March 10, 2016.
Do We Need Better Generals? Michael Vickers, the former under secretary of Defense for Intelligence seems to think so. Read "Vickers: Fastest way to improve strategy is to prepare and pick better generals", Foreign Policy, March 9, 2016. See Mike Vickers testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee entitled Improving the Pentagon's Development of Policy, Strategy and Plans, December 8, 2015.
"Silk Road" and Afghanistan. China is pushing the integration of China economic interests into the Central and South Asian regions. Expanding China's direct interests in Afghanistan would open new avenues for U.S.-China cooperation. Hmmmm. Okay, but I say "Advantage China". Read what Andi Zhou has to say in "Can China's 'One Belt, One Road' Save the US in Afghanistan?", The Diplomat, March 11, 2016.
Australian Documentary. "In their own words and their own extraordinary, never-before-seen helmet-cam battle footage, Australia's fighting men and women lay bare their hearts in an epic series - not just how they waged a war, but why and to what end." If you live in Australia then you can watch "Afghanistan: Inside Australia's War", ABC.net.au, March 8, 2016. Unfortunately, unless posted on YouTube.com, the rest of us can't.
Movie Review - A War. Several weeks back I reviewed the newly released Danish movie A War. Since then numerous reviews have come out. The latest that I have read is by David Franke - who manages to input a bit of commentary at the end of his review. Read "The Danes in Afghanistan", The American Conservative, March 11, 2016.
Recalibrating ROE. In past decade the Rules of Engagement at theater level have seen some changes. Some believe the rules are too tight; sacrificing safety of military members in order to avoid civilian casualties and unfortunate situations that will explode in the world's media. Others see the tightening of ROE necessary in a counterinsurgency environment. Not my favorite topic, but if you are a lawyer you might be interested in a 57-page paper on SROE /SRUF by Colonel Gary P. Corn and published in the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Vol. 49:1, 2016.
Panel - "What to Do About Afghanistan". The Council on Foreign Relations hosted a panel discussion on the security situation of Afghanistan. Former ISAF commander General (Ret) John Allen, Former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James B. Cunningham, and Mary Beth Long - a former Assistant Secretary of Defense and President of Metis Solutions were on the panel. You can watch the one hour long video at the link below.
Hybrid Warriors. The military community (uniformed, academic, think tanks, included) has been struggling with defining the new era of warfare since 2011. The crux of the matter is how to attach a term to the space between peace and war. Lots of terms are out there: unconventional warfare, Gray Zone, Hybrid Warfare, political warfare, etc. One security observer and commentator - Douglas A. Ollivant - has penned a paper that sees past the terminology and concentrates on the participants of this new type of conflict. Read "The Rise of the Hybrid Warriors: From Ukraine to the Middle East", War on the Rocks, March 9, 2016.
Understanding COIN. Dr. Geraint Hughes, a student of counterinsurgency and formerly of the London Regiment of the Territorial Army, writes that the terminological distinctions between COIN, PSO, 'stabilisation', and 'major combat operations' are potentially becoming increasingly less relevant. Read "Uncertain Coinage", Defense-in-Depth, King's College, London, March 7, 2016.
Sunday, February 28, 2016
On "Strategic Withdrawal" from Musa Qala. The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) have pulled out of two districts in Helmand province - one of them Musa Qala district. The power of the Afghan central government is on the decline and the Taliban is winning on the battlefield in many cases. Read "The retreat from Musa Qala is not 'strategic withdrawal'", Prospect Magazine, February 25, 2016.
Thoughts on U.S. Return to Helmand. One two-tour veteran of the Afghan conflict wants to know why we are putting 500 Soldiers back into a province that 10,000 Marines and others had great difficulty in security. Read "I see my old battalion assigned to Helmand again and I wonder: What is the point?", The Washington Post, February 27, 2016.
U.S. Options in Afghanistan. Anders Corr writes that America has three options in Afghanistan. Read his thoughts in "Afghanistan: Western Curse Worse Than Taliban Disease", Forbes.com, February 24, 2016.
How to Pack for Helmand Province. A Marine veteran who served in Helmand lays out his suggested packing list for those heading there for the first time in "5 Things To Pack If You're Deploying to Helmand", Task & Purpose, February 25, 2016.
Baluchistan. The low grade insurgency in of one of Pakistan's provinces (Baluchistan - just south of the Afghan border) has taken its toll on its residents. Read more in "Pakistan's Invisible Baluch Displacement Crisis", Gandhara Blog - Radio Free Europe, February 24, 2016.
Post Cards from Afghanistan. Showing the personal side of the Afghan conflict, Robert Cunningham, provides us with photos of the battlefield in a photo gallery by Foreign Affairs, February 24, 2016.
Pakistan Cooperative? Secretary of State John Kerry says that Pakistan has been 'very cooperative and very engaged in the fight against terrorism'. Ummmm. Okay, take that with a grain of salt. Kerry is either naive or thinks we are really stupid. Read more in an analysis by Bill Roggio of The Long War Journal (Feb 25, 2016).
Afghan Analysis by CSIS. Anthony Cordesman, one of the more astute observers of the long Afghan conflict, has updated his analysis of the security situation in "Afghanistan: The Uncertain Impact of a Year of Transition", Center for Strategic & International Studies, February 22, 2016.
"Where We Went Wrong". Mark Moyar tells us that when a military wins tactically then strategic failure is usually the result of poor civilian leadership. Read more in "Where We Went Wrong, From Afghanistan to ISIS", Newsweek, February 21, 2016.
Australia: No Afghan Strategy. According to former Army chief Peter Leahy, Australia had no strategy in Afghanistan. The security situation is sliding backwards and the U.S.-led coalition is struggling to find an exit strategy. (The Sidney Morning Herald, Feb 23, 2016).
Australian Press and Armed Forces. A war correspondent, Thom Cookes, says that it is disingenuous of the ADF to claim the story of soldiers serving in Afghanistan is largely untold when it's the ADF that has kept journalists at bay. Read more in "Afghanistan: the war they hid for too long", The Age, February 26, 2016.
Sunday, January 24, 2016
Petraeus to be Demoted? It appears that SECDEF Carter is going to weigh in on the General Petraeus case. It appears that he is leaning toward a demotion. Evidently it is okay to pass thousands of emails containing classified information over an unclassified non-government email server using your private email account while Secretary of State; but you can't pass a few small notebooks with your notes in them to an officer (LTC) in the U.S. Army Intelligence Corps with a Top Secret clearance (who happens to be your biographer). Hrrrrummmmppph. See "Exclusive: Pentagon May Demote David Petraeus", The Daily Beast, January 18, 2016.
SIGAR Report on TFBSO. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) testified before Congress on January 20, 2016 on the failures of the DoD Task Force for Business and Stability Operations in Afghanistan (TFBSO). The preliminary results show serious management and oversight problems. You can read a transcript of the testimony posted on the website of SIGAR.
TFBSO and Goats for Afghanistan. Read "How the US Blew Millions of Dollars, Airlifting Cashmere Goats to Afghanistan", Mother Jones, January 21, 2016.
GPS Data and USAID Medical Centers. "The geospatial coordinates for a number of Afghanistan medical clinics are incorrect in data shared between the U.S. and allies in the region. In a report published earlier this month by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), some 10 of the 32 medical clinics set up by the U.S. Agency for International Development in the Kabul region have incorrect GPS coordinates . . . " Read "GPS data failing USAID hospitals in Afghanistan", C4ISR & Networks, January 19, 2016.
Taliban Telecom Tax. Looks like the Taliban have continued their practice of running a 'protection racket' for operators of Afghan telephone companies and tower operators. Read "Afghan Taliban flex muscles with new telecom tax", Yahoo! News, by Anuj Chopra, January 18, 2016.
Periodical - Military Officer. The January 2016 edition of the magazine by the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) is available online. Good interview of General Colin Powell (retired) on the 25th anniversary of Desert Storm.
PM Australia Commits More Troops. The prime minister for Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, has committed an extra 20 troops to the mission in Afghanistan to assist in the training of Afghan troops. He met with service members at Qarga - the Afghan national army's officer training academy. (The Chronicle, Jan 18, 2016).
Sunday, October 4, 2015
Certainly a noble objective yet a hard task to accomplish. The plight of women in Afghanistan is among the worst in the world - although since 2001 there has been some significant improvement. Part of ISAF's (and now Resolute Support) mission has been to integrate women into the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF). This has been a slow and sometimes frustrating process. Resolute Support has a gender advisor to help this process along. A five-minute long video by Resolute Support HQs featuring Col. Deanne Gibbon of the Australian Air Force (filmed in the Destille Garden with birds chirping in the background) explains the importance of gender issues in the counterinsurgency fight.
Monday, December 29, 2014
Monday, November 24, 2014
A paper published early in 2014 (April) provides us with some background information on the Australian Special Operations Forces. Contents of the paper includes who they are and what they do, future tasks for Australia's special operations capability, allied special operations forces, capability development, and some recommendations. Read Strategy: A Versatile Force - The future of Australia's special operations capability, Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), April 2014. Authors are Dr. Andrew Davies, Peter Jennings, and Dr. Benjamin Schreer.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
This paper explains the principles and consideration for the employment of Australian Special Forces. Read Australian Special Operations: Principles and Considerations, The Australian Army, by Ian Langford, 2014.
Friday, November 14, 2014
A LTC in the U.S. Army who is currently a visiting fellow at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) has penned an article that provides an analysis of the Australian Special Operations Forces. Very interesting reading on Australian SOF and their ability to conduct special operations and special warfare. See "Australian SOF: enthusiasm and talent don't equal capability", ASPI Blog, 11 November 2014.
Thursday, November 6, 2014
It seems that Afghanistan is a less dangerous place and the Australian combat troops will get their combat pay cut after 2014. Read more in "Defence says Afghanistan 'less dangerous' so cuts Australian military's pay", The Sydney Morning Herald, October 31, 2014.
Monday, October 20, 2014
Thursday, October 16, 2014
An inquest is underway in Australia concerning the death of three Australian military members on Patrol Base Wahab in Afghanistan. The soldiers were killed by an Afghan soldier in August 2012. This time period was plagued by a rash of insider attacks - killings of ISAF military members by personnel in the Afghan National Security Forces. Read more in "Diggers ill-prepared for Afghan attack, inquest told", The Australian, October 15, 2014.
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
"Afghan work continues for Aust SF", News.com.au, September 28, 2014.
Saturday, September 27, 2014
It appears that a long-time ally of the United States in Afghanistan is willing to commit troops for an additional two years. Current plans include the stationing of about 600 Australian military members in Afghanistan for a two-year period during the Resolute Support Mission (RSM). The troops will remain in non-combat advisory roles. Read more in "Residual force for Afghanistan", The Australian, September 24, 2014.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Australia's objectives in Afghanistan were broad and deep but as time went on the expectations of establishing a modern democracy diminished. Now as it looks to become engaged in Iraq it wonders what lies down the road. The author of this news article compares Australia's involvement in Afghanistan and how hopes and dreams were dashed to the Australia's future involvement in Iraq. Read "Get ready to be mugged by complexity", The Age, September 19, 2014.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
"Australian Troops in Afghanistan Could be Granted Immunity", Radio Free Europe, February 19, 2014.
A video documentary chronicles Australia's commitment to Afghanistan. It details the deaths, injuries, and money involved in the 12-year long Afghan War. However, the conclusion is not encouraging. Read (view) "Australia in Afghanistan: 12 years of futile efforts", Typewriter.org, February 25, 2014.
Thursday, February 13, 2014
"Australia's Role in Afghanistan Shifts to Advisory", Defense News, February 10, 2014.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
The Australians have provided combat troops to the Coalition in Afghanistan since early in the war starting in 2001. Although Australia will leave some advisors (about 400) in place it has withdrawn the last of its combat troops. Much of the Australian effort was in the Uruzgan province in south central Afghanistan. Read more about the Australian withdrawal in this news report from BBC.