Showing posts with label Canada. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Canada. Show all posts

Sunday, March 4, 2018

New Books, Movies, and Videos about Afghanistan

Conversation on Afghanistan and Counterterrorism. General (ret) Stan McChrystal and former Secretary of State John Kerry discuss Afghanistan and counterterrorism in this 1 1/2 long video of a panel discussion held at Yale University on February 23, 2018. Kerry was instrumental in the formation of the National Unity Government (NUG) and McChrystal was the commander of the International Security Assistance Force Afghanistan (ISAF).

Hyena Road Reviewed. A blogger who reviews films, art, and literature about the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts has his way with Hyena Road - a movie about the Canadian Army building a road into the heart of Taliban country just outside of Kandahar. Read his review of the 2015 Canadian film in "Hyena Road: Bullets-and-Bodies or Hearts-and-Minds", Time Now, February 24, 2018.

NSA Professor's Latest Book Details the Power of Narratives in Afghanistan. Dr. Thomas H. Johnson, Associate Professor in the Naval Post Graduate School (NPS) Department of National Security Affairs, speaks about his latest book - Taliban Narratives. Johnson says ". . . we have lost the war of the narrative" in this 3-min long video published February 6, 2018 by NPS.

Blindsided by The Taliban. A new book is now out by a journalist, Carmen Gentile, who was hit in the head with an RPG fired by Afghan insurgents. He ended up with a severe head injury - losing one eye. Once he recovered from his physical injuries he found that a deep depression had set in. Read his story on how a return to Afghanistan helped him on the road to recovery in Blindsided by the Taliban: A Journalist's Story of War, Truama, Love, and Loss,, March 2018.

The Breadwinner. National Public Radio reviews an animated film produced by Angelina Jolie - a story about an 11-year-old girl and her family who are struggling to survive in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. (NPR, Mar 3,2018).

ANDSF in the Lead. Resolute Support HQs media center has been quite busy the last several months - pumping out on average 2 to 3 short (1-3 minutes long) videos each week about how well things are going in Afghanistan. (Not that things are going well . . . but what are they supposed to say - "Things really are not so good"?). At any rate, one of the newer videos implies that the Afghan security forces are in the lead - so things must be better, right? Ummm. The Afghan National Defense Security Forces (ANDSF) have been in the lead since 2014 if not earlier. "Afghans in the lead" has been a phrase in the headlines by ISAF and now RS for quite some time. But just in case you forgot . . .

View a list of videos about Afghanistan.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

SOF News

Afghanistan's Commandos. There are about 11,000 Afghan soldiers assigned to the Afghan National Army Special Operations Command (ANASOC). To many observers these are the men that will ensure Afghanistan does not fall to the Taliban and they are the crack troops that respond to dire situations (such as the fall of Kunduz city in late 2015). The commando and special forces units have a very low attrition rate - especially when compared to the remainder of the Afghan army and police forces. However, there are some problems. The commando units are not always used in the proper role and are usually over-employed by Corps commanders of the Afghan army. There is a shortage of training ammunition and uniforms . . . and the training facilities at Camp Moorehead (just outside of Kabul) are not sufficient for the number of soldiers training at that location. Read more in a news story by Tim Craig - "These are the 11,000 soldiers who might save Afghanistan", The Washington Post, March 8, 2016.

Hybrid Warfare Skeptic. The hybrid warfare concept has been around for at least a decade if not more. There are other terms and phases that have been introduced that are very close to the hybrid warfare definition to include, Ambiguous Warfare, Gray Zone, Political Warfare, etc. One commentator, Christopher Paul, provides his thoughts on the various concepts that describe the space between peace and war. A long intellectual read . . . if you are an SF dude then it is in your lane. Dr. Paul is a senior social scientist working for RAND Corporation. Read "Confessions of a Hybrid Warfare Skeptic", Small Wars Journal, March 3, 2016.

A New Unconventional Warfare Strategy & Human Domain. Carole N. House writes an extensive article that defines " . . . critical restructuring needs of the U.S. government . . . " and proposes " . . . strategic lines of effort to facilitate a comprehensive national approach to the conduct of unconventional warfare and countering its use against the United States". Read "Proposal of an Unconventional Warfare Strategy to Dominate the Human Domain", Small Wars Journal, March 7, 2016.

CANSOF and Africa. Canadian special forces have recently completed their participation in the U.S. military exercise called "Flintlock" that was held in Africa. (Ottawa Citizen, Mar 7, 2016).

Australian Special Forces Chief Making Amends. It's tough for a special operations soldier nowadays. In the current atmosphere of political correctness it is like walking on thin ice. Then again, the military is not a place where sexual harassment should take place. Those irascible folks from down under! Read someone finding out how difficult navigating this new terrain is in "Cleared special forces chief apologises to complainants", The West Australian, March 9, 2016.

US SOF in Libya. General Tony Thomas, currently the head of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) has been nominated by President Obama to head up the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). He recently testified before (Wed, 9 Mar) the Senate Armed Services Committee where he stated that he supports the deployment of SOF to Libya to oppose the growth of the Islamic State. Read more in "Obama nominee supports sending special operators to Libya", The Hill Blog, March 9, 2015.

Italian SOF in Libya. The Italians made it in the news as well; although under unfavorable conditions. They have been accused of beating up (verbally and physically) news reporters in Libya. Probably a small incident but . . . (Eurasia Review, Mar 12, 2016).

SOF Mission in Somalia? It would seem that U.S. special operations are just about everywhere. A recent news report indicates that U.S. SOF conducted a helicopter assault on the al-Shabab terror group in Somalia. Read more in "U.S. Special Operations Forces Involved in Somalia Raid: Defense Officials", NBC News, March 9, 2016.

SOF, Corruption, and Somalia. One of the difficulties in working with foreign military forces that are engaged in internal conflicts is that the governments are usually corrupt. In underdeveloped nations this is usually the case. Thus special operations forces find themselves engaged in counterinsurgency efforts that prop up a corrupt government. This is true of Afghanistan, Iraq, and many other places. It is also true of Somalia. A good friend of mine who worked as a counterinsurgency advisor for several years in Afghanistan recently completed a two-year stretch in Somalia. His contract ended when he confronted a high-ranking Somali officer who was pocketing an excessive amount of money and supplies for his personal enrichment; robbing the lower ranking soldiers of ammunition, food, money, and other supplies. Want to know more? Read "Somalia: A Sober Assessment", Strategy Page, March 11, 2016.

SOF and the 'Small Footprint". Max Boot, a commentator on terrorism and national security, shares his thoughts on the over-reliance on special operations forces in Afghanistan, Iraq, and around the world in "The Perils of a Small Footprint", Commentary Magazine, March 10, 2016.

SF Training on Okinawa. The Green Berets of the 1st Special Forces Group train for many different types of missions in the Pacific region. Read more in "Special Forces get ready",, March 10, 2016.

SF LTC in Anti-Trump Ad. Mike Waltz, a two-time Afghan veteran, occasional commentator on Fox News, and author of one or two books about Afghanistan has been seen nation-wide in a widely distributed anti-Trump ad. Read more in "Former Special Forces Commander Featured in New Anti-Trump Ad", Task & Purpose, March 7, 2016.

SOF is Evolving and Adapting. The United States Special Operations Command's operators are adapting to an ever changing security situation around the world. On any given day U.S. SOF are deployed to over 80 countries. Read a DoD News release on this topic. (DoD News, Mar 8, 2016).

SOF in Pacific. General Votel, commander of USSOCOM, says that special operations continue to work in the Asia-Pacific region. Read "Commander: SOCOM Never Left the Pacific", Seapower Magazine,  March 8, 2016.

First Female SEALs in 2017? The Navy is pushing ahead to integrate women into the SEAL teams. New Navy documentation lays out the training, recruiting, and assignment plan to place women into previously closed special ops jobs. (Task & Purpose, Mar 11, 2016).

SOF & Maneuver Career Courses. The students of the Maneuver Captains Career Course and the SOF Captains Career Course are working together to enhance interoperability. (Bayonent & Saber, March 8, 2016).

NG SF General "H.B." Profiled. A Special Forces general gets himself into the news in "Olive Hill Childhood Was Foundation for Brigadier General",  Journal-Times, March 9, 2016.

CIA Director at SEAL Event. John O. Brennan, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency recently spoke at the Navy SEAL Foundation 8th New York City Benefit Dinner in early March 2016. Your can read his prepared remarks in a transcript provided on the CIA's webpage.

Afghan War News Snippets

Deploying. A small group of Soldiers from Fort Bragg, NC going on a deployment. Read "82nd Airborne Division postal unit headed to Afghanistan", Fayetteville Observer, March 7, 2016.

Flights to Bamyan. The road from Bamyan to Kabul is fraught with danger. The Taliban will stop cars at random along the east-west road and government troops are hard-pressed to defend the many static checkpoints setup on the throughway. So its good news that flights are now available for transport to/from Bamyan and Kabul. The Afghan airline known as Kam Air (and also known for drug smuggling for high-ranking government officials in years past) will take your money for a trip to Afghanistan's ski resort area. (Khaama Press, Mar 9, 2016).

Movie Review - Hyena Road. This film, released in October 2015, is set in Panjwei district, Kandahar province, Afghanistan. A Canadian unit is charged with building a road but there is a slight problem - insurgents. Read "Hyena Road Brings Grinding Complexity of Ground Combat In Afghanistan to the Screen", Task & Purpose, March 10, 2016.

Canadian Memorial for Afghan War. More than 40,000 Canadians served in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2014. The previous Canadian government supported the establishment of a Afghanistan War Memorial; however, it is unknown what the present government plans are. Read more in "Former ministers press to save Afghanistan war memorial",, March 6, 2016.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

SOF News

USSOCOM and Drones. A news report provides information about how the U.S. Special Operations Command utilizes drones to do ISR and targeting. Read "US Special Operations Command lifts the lid on special mission MQ-9 Reaper", IHS Jane's 360, February 14, 2016.

Decision Time on SF NCO. "A decorated Army sergeant and Green Beret who protected an Afghan boy from a child molester in the Afghan police could find out any day whether his actions will end his career in the military". read "Decision looms for Army sergeant who protected Afghan boy", Fox News, February 19, 2016.

Russians told Location of US SOF. "The Pentagon told the Russian military where U.S. Special Forces are located in Syria with the hopes that Russian aircraft will steer clear of that area and not risk bombing American service members . . . " Let's hope the Russians don't share that information with the Hezbollah, Syrian military, and Iranian militants fighting the U.S. proxy military groups in Syria. Read more in "U.S. quietly tells Russia where American troops are located inside Syria", Military Times, February 18, 2016.

AC-130s and Lasers. Energy-directed weapons could soon be mounted on the special opns AC-130 by 2020. Read more in "Special Operations Aircraft to be Outfitted with Laser Weapon", National Defense Magazine, March 2016.

Masters of SOF. "Applications are being accepted for a 10-month master's degree program offered by the National Defense University for special operations officers, warrant officers, and noncommissioned officers. The fully accredited degree program will be conducted at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, Fort Bragg, North Carolina offered in August 2017. Read more in Army Times, February 19, 2016.

"Gray Zone" and "Occupied". A new term being bantered about by the SOF folks is the "Gray Zone". While a non-SOF guy (girl) might have trouble visualizing what type of conflict this is, an experienced SF dude would (should) have no trouble with the concept. For those impaired in this respect there is a television series on NetFlix that could be helpful. I am half-way through the ten-episode series. It is a Norwegian product (yes, English subtitles) about a Norway that is slowly being occupied by the Russians. A form of hybrid warfare that took place in Crimea and eastern Ukraine and could take place in the Baltic states (the former republics of the Soviet Union known as Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia). Read more in "Run, Freeze, Or Fight? "Occupied" and the Future of Warfare", by August Cole, War on the Rocks, February 18, 2016.

Highway to be Named for Fallen USSF Soldier. Three Rhode Island State Representatives have introduced a bill to name a stretch of highway in memory of SFC Peter McKenna - a member of 7th SFGA who was killed in Afghanistan in 2015. (News 10, Feb 17, 2016).

Canada SOF - More to Iraq. The new plan of Canada is to pull back some of its air support (six CF-18 fighter jets) but provide more SOF trainers. The Canadian special forces contingent will go from 69 to 207 personnel; a sizable increase. It appears that some help will be going to the Kurds (better than squandering it on the Iraqi government forces). In addition, more than $700 million in humanitarian aid will be provided. There will also be some equipment provided to include small arms, ammunition, and medical support for the Kurds. Read more in "Canada to Boost Spec Ops, Arms in Iraq While Withdrawing CF-18s", Defense News, February 15, 2016.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Canada's Secret Soldiers

Canadian SOF, nicknamed "CANSOF" by some, were an early entry in the Afghan War - deploying as early as 2002. A recent news article posted online provides us an inside look at the training and employment of the Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR) based in Petawawa. Read more in "Canada's secret soldiers: Special Forces' work takes place under the radar", The Vancouver Sun, December 28, 2014.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Book - "Afghanistan: A Canadian Story"

A new book is out about the Canadian involvement with Afghanistan. It is entitled Afghanistan: A Canadian Story 2001-2014. Read a book review at "Canadian Armed Forces members share Afghanistan war stories in book", Edmonton Sun, November 16, 2014.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Costly Canadian Project Questioned

One of Canada's 'signature projects' in Afghanistan was the repair of irrigation canals in Kandahar province in an effort to improve the livelihoods of local farmers. The project was meant to restore water flow from the Dahla Dam by repairing a main canal and 60 secondary canals. The project has been completed but the results are less than what was hoped for. In addition, there is concern that the extensive project will slowly deteriorate as the Afghan government doesn't have the annual funds needed to keep the canal infrastructure functioning. Canada, having pulled out almost all of its personnel, will no longer be providing assistance with the irrigation project. The $50-million program was started by Canada in 2008 and was called the Arghandab Irrigation Rehabilitation Project. Read more in "Long-term future of signature Canadian project in Afghanistan at risk: report", CTV News, November 15, 2014.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Whole of Government Approach in Afghanistan Questioned

A recent article in a Canadian newspaper looks at the 'whole of government' approach used by the Canadians in the Afghan conflict in the Kandahar area. It specifically looks at the activities of the Canadian Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT). Read more in "Whole of government is old wine in a new bottle", Ottawa Citizen, February 20, 2014.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Canadian Soldiers Depart Afghanistan

A group of Edmonton-based soldiers are due to return to Canada after a long deployment to Afghanistan. Read more in "More Canadian troops home from Afghanistan", Sun News Network, January 20, 2014.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Canada Issues Final Afghan Report

The Canadian government issued a final report on Canada's participation in the Afghan War. The report documents the successes and failures of the Canadian role in Afghanistan. Some of the successes include an increase in education, agriculture and medical access. Some projects that were not too successful included polio eradication and elimination of Afghan government corruption. Read more about the report in "Final Afghan report quietly released",, March 29, 2012.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Canadians Look at Usefulness of Continuing Afghan Mission

For the most part, Canadian combat troops have now left Afghanistan; however, there are over one thousand deployed there in support, staff, or training positions. The Canadians, as other NATO partners have, are looking at the usefulness of "sticking it out" to 2014. Considering the Afghan "insider killings", recent black eyes suffered by ISAF (Koran burning, Panjwai killings, etc.), Karzai's zaniness, Afghan government corruption, and more the Canadians cannot be faulted for re-evaluating the Afghan mission. Read more on this topic - "Perhaps Canada has done what it can in Afghanistan", The Vancouver Sun, March 15, 2012.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Edmonton Journal Reporters Look Back on Canada Participants of Afghan War

Four reporters for the Edmonton Journal catch up with four Canadian military members who served in Afghanistan and have now returned "home".  Read "Getting back in touch with the troops", Edmonton Journal, February 27, 2012.

Canada: Ten Years in Afghan War Has Effect on Military Members

In December 2011 Canada ended its "combat role" in Afghanistan after ten years.  It will continue in a smaller effort in the training and advisory role for the next few years.  Many observers are looking back over the last ten years to determine if the effort was worth the money and sacrifice.  In addition, many are looking at the effect the ten-year war had on its military members.  Read "After the 10-year mission: time of reckoning begins", The Montreal Gazette, February 27, 2012.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Canadian Training Mission in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — Cuts or changes to Ottawa's politically sensitive contribution to NATO's training mission in Afghanistan are probable after the alliance concludes a review next month of the number of advisers it needs and where it needs them. Adjustments to the training force's laydown, including the disposition and skill sets of some Canadian troops is "likely, but what the effect will be is undetermined as of yet," said Maj.-Gen. Mike Day, who commands the 920 Canadian trainers in Afghanistan and is double-hatted as the senior NATO officer responsible for training Afghan security forces.
Read the rest of the news article here "Afghan training force likely to shrink", The Montreal Gazette, February 17, 2012.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Canada Looks Back on Ten Years in Afghanistan

Canada is assessing ten years in Afghanistan:
"Whether the 10 years of fighting and dying in Afghanistan was worth the Canadian blood spilled and bullion spent remains in doubt because Afghanistan’s future is so uncertain.

Yet now is a time for assessment, even if the moment is not being officially acknowledged: It was 10 years ago this week that Canadian troops landed in Kandahar, battle-ready and girded for combat, the first time since Korea the nation had sent ground troops to war."
Read the rest of the article in "A decade after going to war in Afghanistan, the wins are fading", The Globe and Mail, February 5, 2012.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Canadians Reflect on the War in Afghanistan

Canadians were (and are) staunch allies in Afghanistan.  They have operated across the full-spectrum of activities with civic action, aid workers, running a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), being responsible for one of the provinces and committing conventional combat troops and their special mission units to the fight. The Canadians lost over 150 of its Soldiers and suffered many more wounded.  Read some reflections on the war by some Canadians in "Was it worth it? Canadians reflect on the war in Afghanistan", The Globe and Mail, February 6, 2012.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Operation Hamaghe Shay - Afghan Troops in the Lead

Operation Hamaghe Shay is currently underway in the Kandahar area of Afghanistan.  The operation is an Afghan-led, Canadian-supported mission designed to clear areas of munitions and arms that the Taliban can use in the upcoming spring offensive just weeks away.  Hamaghe Shay - which means "same team" in Pashto is one of the first large operations planned and conducted by the Afghan military in this area of Afghanistan.  Read more in "Massive operation seen as key test for Afghan planning, logistics skills", The Vancouver Sun, February 20, 2011.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Canadian's in Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Finish Development Projects

The Canadian-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Kandahar has transferred its ownership of the PRT to the United States.  However, there are still some Canadian civilians working there completing development projects that were started earlier.  In addition, the Canadians are transferring some projects over to local Afghan officials - a task that PRTs were formed to do - start projects and then get the local Afghans to run them.  Read more in "As combat mission winds down, civilians in Kandahar rush to complete projects", The Vancouver Sun, February 9, 2011.  Read news about military operations and local governance in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Canadian Generals to Head Afghan Training Programs

Two Canadian generals will be heading up the training programs for the Afghanistan police and army.  As Canada transitions from combat operations in southern Afghanistan to a training role many of its troops will go home - probably in about one half year.  The training effort will require about 900 Canadian troops who will be stationed primarily in the Kabul area.  Read more in "Canadian generals to oversee critical Afghan training programs", The National Post, February 13, 2011.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Canadian General Posted to NATO Training Mission

A Canadian general will become the Deputy Commander of NATO's training mission in Afghanistan.  Canada is shifting its support in the war from combat in the south of Afghanistan to training the Afghan security forces at a central location in or near Kabul.  Brigadier General Michael Day will be promoted to Major General before departing for Afghanistan.  Read more in "Canadian general appointed second in command of NATO Afghan training mission", Winnipeg Free Press, February 7, 2011.