Showing posts with label CSTC-A. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CSTC-A. Show all posts

Sunday, July 23, 2017

New Commanding General for CSTC-A

U.S. Army Major General Robin Fontes is now the commander of the Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan (CSTC-A). She assumed command on July 15, 2017. Read some news reports on the new commander responsible for working with senior Afghan leadership in the security force assistance mission. The outgoing CSTC-A commander, MG Kaiser, says gender issues remains one of the biggest challenges but he believes progress will be made under MG Robin Fontes. The TwitterSphere is alive with robust statements about how the new commander is the highest ranking female general officer in Afghanistan.

"First Female Commanding General at Resolute Support, Afghanistan", DVIDS, July 15, 2017.

"New Commander is Highest-Ranking Woman Officer in Afghanistan",, July 16, 2017.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Videos on Afghanistan

Video on UH-60s for AAF. The Deputy Commander of the Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan (CSTC-A), MG Neil Thurgood, does a good job in explaining the need for an increase in the number of rotary-wing aircraft for the Afghan Air Force (AAF). Of concern is the move to supply the Afghan Air Force (an organization with poor maintenance skills) with the very complicated and maintenance-intensive UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter. What is good for the politicians and businessmen (Sirkorsky) of Connecticut isn't necessaryily good for the Afghan Air Force. Watch the 3-minute long video produced by Resolute Support Headquarters published on July 10, 2017.

Video Explanation of CSTC-A. This one-minute long video by Resolute Support Headquarters published on July 11, 2017 explains the role of the Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan (CSTC-A). Major General Richard Kaiser - the Commanding General of CSTC-A - provides an explanation of how CSTC-A helps the Afghan security institutions.

Peace Process and Participation of Women. Resolute Support has released a video (July 13, 2017) featuring Maria Bashar - an activist for human rights who believes that a peace and reconciliation process cannot be successful if half of the population is left out of it.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

"Assist" Part of "Train, Advise and Assist"

The two-part mission of the United States in Afghanistan consists of 'counterterrorism' and 'train, advise, and assist'. An example of 'training' is where instructors and trainers are assisting the Afghan National Army (ANA) to employ and maintain the recently field ScanEagle UAV to the ANA corps. An example of 'advising' is where advisors work with senior members of the Ministry of Defense (MoD) to reduce the number of ANA checkpoints across the country so that offensive power can be generated. An example of 'assist' is where the U.S. provides funding or equipment to the ANA. Pictured above is one type of assistance - the providing of weapons and ammunition to the ANA by the Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan Security Assistance Office (CSTC-A SAO). The photo shows CSTC-A members in the process of receiving, inventorying, and transferring rifles and ammo to the ANA at the international airport in Kabul. The transfer is part of SAO's Foreign Military Sales process. (Photo by Lt. Christopher Hanson, RS HQs, Sep 17, 2016.)

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Women in Afghanistan

International Women's Day. The world recognized the annual International Women's Day this past week. All the major players provided news releases on the progress and obstacles in advancing women's rights.

CSTC-A and Women. The Combined Security Transition Command j- Afghanistan (CSTC-A) recently celebrated International Women's Day. A keynote speaker (see photo above) was Maj. Gen. Gordon "Skip" Davis, Jr. Every photo I ever see of this guy has him smiling! There is something seriously wrong here. Doesn't he know that he has three very good reasons not to be so jolly? 1) He lives and works on that small postage stamp of real estate in Kabul known as Camp Resolute Support, 2) he is in a war zone, and 3) he is tasked with training up the ANA and ANP. Hmmmm. Read more in a news press release by DVIDS, March 9, 2016.

AAF and Women. The Afghan Air Force hosted an International Women's Day conference on March 6th at the Kabul Air Wing. Approximately 200 AAF and Train, Advise, Assist Command-Air (TAAC-Air) military men and women attended the event to include guest speakers from the AAF commander to a young Afghan girl reading poetry. (DVIDS, Mar 8, 2016).

Role of Afghan Women. Laura Bush (former 1st Lady) is an honorary co-chair of the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council and chair of the Women's Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute. She has penned an opinion piece about women in Afghanistan where she explores the progress made for women in Afghanistan over the past 15 years and identifies the areas that still need further advances. Read "How Afghanistan's women are helping the country move forward", The Washington Post, March 7, 2016.

Book - We Are Afghan Women. The George W. Bush Presidential Center is publishing a book about Afghan women. The book is being released . . . timed with International Women's Day. "The book spotlights the stories of 29 inspiring and heroic Afghan women in their own voices and records their extraordinary struggles, resolve, and will to triumph in present-day Afghanistan." Read more about We Are Afghan Women: Voices of Hope.

Former Female Afghan War Vets Import Saffron. Members of the Harvard University community who are also veterans of the Afghan conflict have been importing saffron from Afghanistan. They operate a firm called Rumi Spice. The founders of the firm are a unique group of people - male, female, route clearance, Cultural Support Team, etc. Read more in "Veterans behind Rumi Spice source saffron directly from Afghan farmers", Food Navigator, March 9, 2016.

Court Reduces Sentences in Mob Killing of Farkhunda. Four men sentenced to death for the killing of a woman named Farkhunda (which received widespread international attention) have had their sentences reduced to as little as ten years in prison. (The New York Times, Mar 9, 2016).

Short Film - Masculinity in Afghanistan. The Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU) conducted some research titled The Other Side of Gender Inequality: Men and Masculinities in Afghanistan. A film based on this research was filmed. It has English subtitles and is 20 minutes long, and posted on on March 9, 2016. A little bit of culture about being a man and a women in Afghan society.

IDLG Wants More Women in Govt. The Independent Directorate of Local Governance has called for a stronger presence of women in local governance across Afghanistan. (Tolo News, Mar 7, 2016).

Radio Shaesta - Back on the Air. An Afghan women's radio station was put off the air as a result of the Taliban attack and subsequent occupation of the Kunduz city this past fall. The radio station was ransacked and the broadcasting equipment was confiscated or destroyed. But . . . they are back up and running. Read "Afghan Women's Radio Returns After Taliban Attack", Voice of America, March 8, 2016.

Women Reporters in Afghanistan. There are some difficulties and cultural barriers that women journalists face when reporting from Afghanistan. Read the story of two women reporters that were in northern Afghanistan in late 2001 in "No Woman's Land: On the Frontline with Female Reporters", International News Safety Institute, March 7, 2016.

Sunday, December 6, 2015


The Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan (CSTC-A) has published its November 2015 issue of DIVIDEND$. Topics this month include blurbs about the "Oversight and Coordination Body", an "Environmental Conference", and an "Inspector General Forum".

Sunday, October 4, 2015

CSTC-A Dividend$ Newsletter - Sep 2015

The September 2015 CSTC-A Dividend$ newsletter is out. A one-page PDF providing information on three topics. The Afghan Airfield Economic Development (AAED) conference was recently held in Dubai that highlighted opportunities for the private sector to acquire key military airbase properties and assets including Kandahar, Herat and Mazar-e Sharif. CSTC-A announced in a press conference that $200 million will be spent enabling the ANDSF to transition from expensive, unreliable diesel-generated fuel to the more cost-effective electrical grid. Essential Function Three (EF3) advisors have coordinated a Mobile Training Team (MTT) through the ANA Legal School that will travel the country and target senior leaders and Corps Rule of Law trainers to promote and teach a transparent Rule of Law process.

Afghan War News Snippets

Resolute Support Annotated Bibliography Updated. The AWN RS Bibliography has been updated as of 1 October. Over 200 pages of links to websites and publications about the war in Afghanistan.

High-Level UN Event on Afghanistan. The U.S., China, and Afghanistan co-chaired a "high-level event" on Afghanistan on September 26, 2015 in New York City. Participants included regional neighbors of Afghanistan, key donors to Afghanistan, and other UN member nations. Some of the event 'themes' included the constructive actions of China, the importance of the peace process (as if Pakistan and the Taliban really care about peace), donor fatigue, etc. Sounds to me it was just a mutual patting of the back by nations eager to convince themselves they are doing the right thing in Afghanistan. Read a "backgrounder" by the state department on the event (U.S. Department of State, September 26, 2015).

DSPO Not Getting it Done for Veterans with Problems. The Pentagon's suicide prevention office ". . . lacks clear guidance and authority to develop and execute effective programs . . . " Read more in "Report: Pentagon suicide prevention office in disarray", Military Times, October 2, 2015.

Golden Hour Policy in Afghanistan. A recent study says that adoption of the 'Golden Hour' for MEDEVAC saved lives. (Military Times, Sep 30, 2015).

ANA to Receive Commando Select Vehicles. Textron Systems Marine & Land Systems has received a contract to supply additional Commando Select four-wheeled armoured vehicles to the Afghan National Army (ANA). (, Sep 30, 2015).

ANA Officer Academy - Good and Bad News. Danielle Moylan, a freelance journalist living in Afghanistan, provides us with an account of her visit to the ANA's Officer Academy (ANAOA -also called Sandhurst in the Sand) located just outside of Kabul. In addition, she paints a less than rosy picture of how well prepared the Afghan army is in facing the Taliban insurgency. Certainly not an endorsement of Resolute Supports efforts thus far. (, Sep 30, 2015).

Visit to 1st AD Sustainment Brigade. The cdr of the 1RSSB provided tour to senior army leaders visiting Bagram. (DVIDS, 19 Sep 2015).

Wounded Georgian Soldier Recovering. A Georgian soldier who was seriously injured in an attack in September is responding well to treatment at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. Read more in a news report (, Sep 28, 2015).

Why Georgians are in Afghanistan. The country of Georgia has a significant troop presence in Afghanistan as part of the global anti-terrorist campaign. A recent new report explains why in "Georgians in Afghanistan Defending Their Country", Georgia Today, October 1, 2015.

Termez No Longer A German Stop-over. The German air base in Uzbekistan is now used only as a backup facility and is manned by a skeleton crew. The Uzbeks raised the rent for use of the base so high that the Germans have opted for other means. Termez was, since Feb 2002, a rear logistics and transit base for its military mission in nearby northern Afghanistan. Read more in "Germany No Longer Using Uzbekistan Air Base", Eurasia Net, October 2, 2015.

Germany Staying a Little Longer? According to some German newspapers we may see German troops at Camp Marmal for at least one more year. Seems their work is still not finished in northern Afghanistan. Perhaps they will reopen their Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Kunduz? Until October 2013, two years ago, a PRT operated in Kunduz province. The PRT's overall tasks were to improve security, extend the authority of the Afghan government, and facilitate reconstruction - all things that still need doing. You can read an account of the German-led PRT in The PRT Kunduz: An Unsuccessful Command Structure, by LTC Lars Werner, German Army, posted on the Global ECCO website. 

Former ANA Officer Now a Refugee. A former Afghan soldier's refugee trek to Europe is provided to us in this news report. His journey through Iran, Turkey and finally to Europe proper where he is now seeking refuge is documented. (CNN, Oct 1, 2015).

Pakistanis Executed by Taliban. Six abducted Pakistanis were killed in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan recently. They had been kidnapped by the Taliban and a video of their execution was released. 

How Much Have You Paid for the Afghan War? The 14+ year long war in Afghanistan has cost almost $1 trillion. Divided equally among Afghanistan's 30 million citizens the trillion dollars amounts to some $33,000 per head. Read more in a news report by Reuters, October 1, 2015.

New CSTC-A Cdr. MG Todd Semonite is leaving and MG Gordon Davis is arriving to take over the Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan (CSTC-A). Read a news release (CENTCOM, Oct 1, 2015). Watch a video on the same topic where Gen Campbell says nice things about Todd and Gordon. (Resolute Command, Oct 1, 2015, 1 min).

CSTC-A Not Only DoD Entity Having Trouble with SFA. It appears that the U.S. military and its allies are not the only organization having trouble with the Security Force Assistance mission (Kunduz - just saying). Read about the troubles the U.S. is having in its Iraqi army training program. (The Washington Post, Oct 1, 2015).

Joe Dunford - former ISAF Cdr - and Women in Combat. The former ISAF commander is now the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - a relatively important position within the U.S. military establishment. He could be at odds with public opinion, the Obama administration, the SecDef, and the civilian head of the Navy (and Marines) on the topic of total integration of women in combat units. With he hold his ground like a true warrior or fold? Read more in "Dunford Deserves Credit for Sticking to His Guns on Women in Combat", Task & Purpose, September 30, 2015.

"Bulldogs" Return Home. 1st Bn, 327th Inf, 1st BCT, 101st Airborne Division has returned to Fort Campbell after a seven-month long deployment in southern Afghanistan. Read more in a news report by the Fort Campbell Courier, Oct 1, 2015.

JIEDDO 2.0. JIDA explained in a new report by Defense IQ, October 2, 2015.

Story on Route Clearance Company. The threat of IEDs is prevalent in Afghanistan and has causes numerous casualties to U.S. forces in the past. IEDs remain one of the biggest killers of members of the ANDSF as well. However, route clearance companies mitigate the IED threat. One such company is located at Bagram Air Field - A Company, 21st Brigade Engineer Battalion. Read more in "Company clears more than 5,000 miles in Afghanistan",, September 28, 2015.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

"DIVIDENDS" by CSTC-A - a Monthly Newsletter

The Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan (CSTC-A) is now publishing a monthly update in the form of a newsletter entitled "DIVIDENDS". The update from CSTC-A is on current fiscal accountability and transparency efforts in Afghanistan. The July 2015 inaugural issue covers "Electronic Funds Transfer", "Afghanistan Divestiture Strategy", and "Conditionality".

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

CSTC-A Has New Commander

The Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan (CSTC-A) conducted a change of command ceremony on October 4, 2014. The outgoing commander, MG Kevin Wendel, passed the baton to the incoming commander, MG Todd Semonite. CSTC-A is responsible for training, advising, and assisting (SFA) the Afghan national security organizations as part of the current ISAF mission and upcoming Resolute Support mission. (Source "CSTC-A welcomes new commander", ISAF NewsI, October 4, 2014.) Read more about Major General Todd T. Semonite in this biography posted on the website of the US Army Corps of Engineers. In looking at his biography it doesn't appear he has a previous tour in Afghanistan. Hmmmm . . . I wonder if that makes a difference? If he hasn't been to the wonderful country of sand and corruption then his staff will have to school him up on some basic stuff - like what the difference is between and "Afghan" and "Afghani".