Showing posts with label China. Show all posts
Showing posts with label China. Show all posts

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Afghan Security News

AAF A-29s to MeS. According to Afghan press accounts the Afghan Air Force has posted two A-29 Super Tucano Light Attack Aircraft to the northern Balkh province of Afghanistan. Many parts of Afghanistan has seen a deteriorating security situation and this includes northern Afghanistan. The A-29s can carry heavy weapons to target anti-government armed militants. The aircraft is a multi-role, fixed-wing aircraft that provides a air-to-ground capability and aerial reconnaissance capabilities IOT support the country's counterinsurgency efforts. Read more in "Afghan Air Force receives light attack aircraft in Mazar-e-Sharif", Khaama Press, March 7, 2016.

AAF - Full Strength in 2020? The outgoing Resolute Support commander, Gen Campbell, recently said that the Afghan Air Force won't receive all of its aircraft until 2018 and that it won't be fully effective until 2020. No worries, the aircraft will still have plenty to do in 2020. This war will continue for several more years. Read "Afghan Air Force To Reach Required Strength Levels by 2020", Tolo News, March 12, 2016.

TAAC-Air & AAF. The advisors from the Train, Advise, Assist Command - Air are working 'shoulder to shoulder' with the AAF to build a sustainable air force. Read more in a press release by DVIDS, March 10, 2016.

Govt Retreat from Shahidid Hassas District. On March 1st Afghan government troops abandoned a district in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan. See "Afghan forces withdraw from district in Uruzgan", Threat Matrix, March 9, 2016.

Kabul Fire Dept Targeted. A suicide bomber attacked the Kabul Fire Department on Wednesday afternoon (Mar 9th) in Kabul city. (Tolo News, Mar 9, 2016)

Suicide Blast in Kabul. A heavy explosion rocked Kabul city on March 9th (Wed) after a suicide bomber detonated his explosives in PD 2. The bomber was the only fatality as he experienced a premature explosion. The incident happened near the Ministry of Finance. (Khaama Press, Mar 9, 2016).

Taliban Infighting in Herat. There are reports of fierce clashes between Taliban factions in the western province of Herat, Afghanistan. It appears that two top Taliban leaders have been killed, over 60 killed, and more than 60 wounded. (Khaama Press, Mar 9, 2016). See also "Scores of Taliban Fighters Killed in Infighting", Gandhara Blog, March 9, 2015.

Premature Withdrawal? The outgoing commander of U.S. Central Command told lawmakers this past week that it may be prudent to reconsider the plan to reduce the American military forces presence in Afghanistan. Given the recent increase in the Taliban's activity it is likely that the reduction from 9,800 to 5,500 by the start of next year is going to be delayed. Read more in "Planned Drawdown of US Forces in Afghanistan May be Premature: Centcom", March 8, 2016.

More Authorities Needed in Afghanistan? According to one news report General John Campbell, prior to his departure as the Resolute Support commander, was seeking a modification of authorities for U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Although he recognized he would not see an increase in troops he was able to get the Obama administration to slow down the withdrawal rate of troops. What is unclear is if he was able to loosen up the Ruled of Engagement (ROE) for air support (air strikes) and the levels that U.S. troops could conduct the Train, Advise and Assist mission. Currently advisors are located at the MoI, MoD, and the the Afghan National Army corps (although two corps - 201st and 203rd - see part-time advisors) and SOF troops are advising at the kandak level for the Afghan special operations units. We certainly pulled our advisors off the 201st and 203rd corps way too early; and it probably was inadvisable to take them off the brigade hqs as well. Read more in "U.S. general sought greater powers in Afghanistan before exit", Reuters, March 11, 2016.

China Offering Military Aid. One news report indicates that the deteriorating security and emergence of the Islamic State in Afghanistan has prompted China to deepen its engagement. Read more in "China Offers Afghanistan Army Expanded Military Aid", The Wall Street Journal, March 9, 2016. (requires subscription).

Ireland Ends Mission. Resolute Support Headquarters held a ceremony a week ago to observe the completion of the Irish Defense Forces military mission in Afghanistan. Following fifteen years of unbroken service with both the NATO ISAF and RS missions the final contingent will redeploy to Ireland. See "Ireland commemorates end of military mission in Afghanistan", Khaama Press, March 12, 2016.

Video - Gurkhas Training Up. A unit of the UK is going to deploy to Afghanistan. Naturally the soldiers will do some predeployment training. We get to view (in five quick minutes) some of that training in No Rest for Gurkhas On Intensive Afghanistan Training, Forces TV (UK), March 10, 2016.

Fractured Taliban? One defense official says that ISIL is contained in Afghanistan and that the Taliban is fractured. Sounds almost optimistic. Read more in a defense press release by DoD News, March 10, 2016.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Governance News

Obama & Ghani Chat. Two presidents recently had a video conference where they exchange pleasantries and complimented each other on "a job well done". Read a press release entitled "Readout of the President's Video Conference with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani"The White House, March 4, 2016.

China Visit to Afghanistan. The military chief of China recently visited Kabul and talked to the Afghan leadership about a four-nation regional alliance against terrorism. The four countries would include China, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan. Of course, this new initiative is for China's benefit as these three of the countries border China's Xinjiang province where the population (to some extent) is supportive of the Muslim Uighur East Turkestan Islamic Movement or ETIM. Read more in "Afghanistan Welcomes Chinese Anti-terror Proposal"Voice of America, March 1, 2016.

Weapons from China? There are indications that China might increase its military aid to Afghanistan. Read more in "Afghanistan to give China military equipment wish list", Khaama Press, March 4, 2016.

Corruption - Lots of It! A high-ranking official at the Ministry of Interior has expressed deep concern over the alleged interference of influential figures and high ranking officials in high profile cases. Read more in "MoI Concerned Over Interference in Criminal Cases", Tolo News, March 5, 2016.

Russian Debt. Russia has agreed to turn debts payable by Afghanistan into non-refundable grants. This will certainly help to strengthen and expand trade, economic, and social relations between the two countries. Read more in a report by Khaama Press, March 3, 2016.

Afghan Parliament. The organization known as Democracy International has published a paper entitled A Survey of the Afghan Parliament, Wave Three. It is part of the Afghanistan Electoral Reform and Civic Advocacy Project (AERCA) and the document was issued in March 2016.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Talking about Peace Talks

On Monday, January 11th, the countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States and China gathered to discuss negotiations for future peace talks with the Taliban. These talks and a second round of talks to be held in Kabul on January 18th will lay the groundwork for future talks with the Taliban. Pakistan offered up a list of Taliban leaders who they say are willing to take part in peace negotiations. Any progress made will depend on Pakistan - as they support the Afghan Taliban and provide the group with sanctuaries from which to train, rest, refit, and plan operations. It is unknown what real progress has been made but the world is hopeful. One important person not attending the current round of peace talks is Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, the current leader of the Afghan Taliban. (See article on Mansour by The Washington Post, Jan 10, 2016). The Embassy of Afghanistan (in D.C.) issued a joint press release about the outcome of the peace talks held in Islamabad on January 11th, 2016.

Key to Successful Peace Talks. The road to resolving the Afghan conflict through negotiations between the Taliban and Afghan government lies with Pakistan's intentions. Is Pakistan sincere in wanting to bring stability and security to Afghanistan or are they more concerned with 'strategic depth' in Afghanistan and countering India's influence in the region. Read "The Key to Successful Afghan Peace Talks", SOFREP, January 14, 2016.

Involve Women in Peace Process. The Human Rights Watch organization wants the four countries engaged in talks to advance peace negotiations between the Taliban and Afghanistan to include women in the peace process. Read more in "Afghanistan: Set Out Concrete Plan to Involve Women"Human Rights Watch, January 12, 2016.

Differences an Obstacle to Talks. Officials from Pakistan and Afghanistan are publicly airing their differences even amidst the latest round of peace talks.(Voice of America, Jan 11, 2016).

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Lost Temple City At Risk from Mining Operation

Mes Aynak is one of Central Asia's largest Buddhist ruins. It is located about a 90 minute drive south-east of Kabul in the hills of Logar province (Logar province is highlighted in red at left). A team of archaeologists are running out of time to save the ancient artifacts before a Chinese copper mining operation starts to rip up the soil destroying the ancient site. Read more in "Race to save lost temple city at risk from its own wealth", by Andrew Lawler, New Scientist, Sep 2015.

News Snippets - Afghan War Blog

NATO Medal Authorized for RS. The NATO Medal has been approved for acceptance and wear by Soldiers and other U.S. military members who have participated in Operation Resolute Support. (Army Times, Dec 7, 2015).

China's 'Af-Pak' Dilemma. China's involvement in the affairs of Afghanistan has increased over the past few years. China wishes to bring stability to Afghanistan to ensure success for its "One Belt, One Road" strategy. But that means it must pressure Pakistan to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table. Read more in "China's Emerging Af-Pak Dilemma", by Michael Clarke of the Jamestown Foundation, December 7, 2015. (Posted on

Resolute Support Video Update #8 (Dec 7, 2015). This 3 minute long video provides content on human rights, rule of law, and Train, Advise, Assist Command - West in Herat, Afghanistan.

Petraeus - "No Further Punishment". The U.S. Army has decided not to pursue any further punishment for retired General Petraeus - former COMISAF and CIA Director. (The Washington Post,  Dec 7, 2015).

Germany is Staying. The German defense minister recently visited Mazar-i-Shari - when the European nations are encamped at TAAC-North headquarters. The end result of the visit is an acknowledgement that mistakes were made and a commitment to increase the German troop presence. See "What'a going wrong in Afghanistan?", Deutsche Welle, December 12, 2015.

Gen Dunford Visits Afghanistan. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff visited Afghanistan on Dec 8th to meet with General Campbell and other senior military representatives. Dunford was the ISAF commander prior to Campbell. He made several comments on the current situation in Afghanistan. (Stars and Stripes, Dec 8, 2015).

Quarterly Parameters Autumn 2015. The US Army War College Quarterly Parameters is now posted.

Korengal Valley - And Limits of Power. A Soldier writes of his time in the Korengal Valley in Kunar province and about how power projection has its constraints. (Best Defense - Foreign Policy, Dec 11, 2015). The Korengal Valley, an offshoot of the Pech River Valley was a hard-fought battle spanning a few years.

Photos from Khost. Sudarsan Raghaven provides us with a photographic view of Khost in eastern Afghanistan in "This is what the real Afghanistan looks like", The Washington Post, December 4, 2015.

Probe on Civilian Deaths at Mosque. A mortar attack by government troops on Friday, Dec 4th resulted in a number of civilian deaths near a mosque. The incident took place in Sayedabad - a district in central Maidan Wardak province. The Taliban issued a statement condemning the attack. (VOA,  Dec 5, 2015).

UNAMA Report on Toll from Kunduz City. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan stated that the preliminary findings put the civilian casualty toll from the Kunduz city crisis two months (late September to mid-October) ago at 848 - 289 dead and 559 injured. You can read the UNAMA Special Report on Kunduz Province dated December 12, 2015.

Video - MG Buchanan visits TAAC-West. Italian forces have taken over responsibility for Train, Advise, Assist Command - West in Herat from the Spanish contingent. MG Jeff Buchanan comments on his recent visit to Herat in this short (2 min) video posted by Resolute Support HQs on DVIDSHUB on December 9, 2015.

Video - IED Training in TAAC-West. Resolute Support personnel provide counter IED training to members of the ANDSF in Herat. (2 mins, DVIDS, Dec 9, 2015).

German Defence Minister visits MeS. The Defence Minister of Germany recently paid a visit to Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan. The visit on Sunday, Dec 6th comes after a recent decision to enlarge the German contingent in Afghanistan. The message is "We're staying". (Tolo News, Dec 8, 2015).

Germany Contributes AFN 5 Billion. The Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund has received a pledge from Germany for a large contribution. (Khaama Press, Dec 10, 2015).

WTO Membership & Afghan Economy. Afghanistan 'imports' international aid and 'exports' opium but the international community is trying to change all of that. One step in that direction is providing membership to Afghanistan in the World Trade Organization. Read more in "Afghanistan Hopes W.T.O. Membership Can Reboot Its Battered Economy", The New York Times, December 9, 2015.

Heart of Asia Conference. Pakistan hosted the Heart of Asia conference which aimed to strengthen the peace process in Afghanistan and also improve economic and political cooperation in Afghanistan and among its neighbors. Twenty-seven countries participated. No word yet on whether Pakistan will pledge to stop supporting the Taliban with intelligence, training, support, money and sanctuaries. Read a news report on the conference by Deutsche Welle, December 9, 2015. The results of the conference were less than encouraging; with Afghan and Pakistan diplomats holding firm to previous positions. (Gandhara Blog, Dec 9, 2015).

EU, Afghan, and US Meeting. Representatives of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, European Union, and United States met in a side meeting during the Heart of Asia Conference in Islamabad to discuss preparations for future conferences (of course) and regional security and economic developments. See a press release by the European Union External Action dated Dec 9, 2015. See also a press statement by the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, December 10, 2015.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Courting Central Asia

The U.S. Department of State's New Silk Road Strategy is long on talk but short on results. The United States is pushing for regional stability in Central Asia while Russia - coming in from the west tries to increase its influence; and China - coming in from the east is promoting its economic infrastructure development with its own "New Silk Road" initiative. The Central Asian states are hedging their bets - broadening their security efforts beyond the small assurance that the current Obama administration is providing. In the later part of April 2015 elite special forces units from Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan were conducting joint military exercises in northern Kyrgyzstan. The exercises were intended to practice fighting illegal armed groups and terrorists. In addition, the establishment by China (joined by many other nations) of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is an important factor. The AIIB is a direct competitor to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that is dominated by the United States. This new financial institution will provide an opportunity for China to increase its influence within Central Asia. The United States influence and standing in the Central Asian states is slowly slipping in comparison to the growing interest of Russia and China in the region. Read more in "How China is 'Winning' Central Asia", by John C. K. Daly, Silk Road Reporters, April 29, 2015.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Inter-Twined Relationships for Afghanistan

Afghanistan has entered a new era. The United States and its allies are slowly departing and taking a lot of its financial aid with it. The country has a new president who will hopefully bring a more responsive and legitimate government to the forefront, eliminate corruption (a major source of discontent among the population and recruiting issue for the insurgency), reinvigorate the economy, and establish better security by defeating the Taliban.To accomplish this he needs the support and cooperation of competing regional powers - including Pakistan, India, and China.

The evolving relationship among the four countries of China, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan is interesting to watch. Afghanistan's shift in its relationship with Pakistan has caused a perceived move away from India and requires closer coordination with China (in hopes China can influence Pakistan). Read an article that explores the new relationships in "India should overcome hesitation to play greater role in Afghanistan", by Britta Petersen, Observer Research Foundation, April 27, 2015.

One analyst says that India must 'standby' while Kabul explores its new relationship with Pakistan. It is felt that the situation will play out and India can then re-engage in Afghanistan once again. Read "More modestly, with Kabul", by C. Raja Mohan, Observer Research Foundation, April 27, 2015.

Khalid Homayun Nadira examines Pakistan's policy towards Afghanistan in "Explaining Pakistan's Self-Defeating Afghanistan Policy", Lawfare Blog, April 26, 2015.

Shakti Sinha writes about policy options for India in regards to Afghanistan in an analysis posted in Eurasia Review, April 27, 2015.

Mustafa Sarwar writes about how Pakistan has failed to deliver in the aftermath of President Ghani's flirting with Pakistan. Read more in "Afghan Leader Knocks on India's Door After Pakistan Disappointment", Gandhara Blog - Radio Free Europe, April 27, 2015.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Trouble Brewing to the East

Afghanistan shares a narrow border with China. To the east of this border lies the province of Xinjiang or Uighuristan - where the Uighurs live. The Uighurs have long been seeking independence from the Chinese (unsuccessfully) and many have fled to neighboring Central Asian countries for refuge and to continue their independence related activities from outside China. However, China is expanding its influence in the Central Asian area and receiving more cooperation from these countries. This is having a dampening effect on the ability of the Uighurs living in exile to conduct their anti-state activities. Read more in "Dreaming of Uighuristan", BBC News, April 16, 2015.

Monday, January 5, 2015

China-U.S. Relations . . . and Afghanistan

Zhao Minghao writes about how China and the United States are interacting in relation to Afghanistan. With the withdrawal of American troops and a reduction in the U.S. financing of the Afghan government comes a reduction in the influence that the United States can wield in Afghanistan and the surrounding region. This vacuum will be filled - in part - by China. In this area of U.S. - China relations there is great possibility for some common ground. Read more in "Afghanistan and China-U.S. Relations", Exploring the Frontiers of U.S.-China Strategic Cooperation: Roles and Responsibilities Beyond the Asia-Pacific Region, edited by Melanie Hart, Center for American Progress, November 2014.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Taliban Delegation and China

China is emerging as a possible facilitator of peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. According to reports a delegation of Taliban officials recently visited China to meet with Chinese officials. Read more in "Taliban delegation hold talks with Chinese officials on Afghanistan", Khaama Press, January 2, 2015.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Afghan Govt Websites Have Malware

ThreatConnect, a cybersecurity firm based in Virginia, says that its researchers found a corrupted JavaScript file used to host content on "" websites. It seems the malware, likely linked to China, has no known antivirus remedies. The firm believes that "Operation Poisoned Helmand" is linked to Chinese intelligence. The malware was found on websites for the ministries of justice, foreign affairs, education, commerce and industry, and others. Read more in "U.S. firm finds malware targeting visitors to Afghan government websites", Reuters, December 21, 2014.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

India, Pakistan, China, and Afghanistan

Most insurgencies are not ended through military means alone. When we evaluate the effectiveness of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in conducting coutnerinsurgency - it is unlikely that the Taliban will be defeated. Sure . . . the ANSF can "overmatch" the Taliban on the battlefield when supported by fires and air support ("overmatch" is a favorite phrase of the U.S. military to lead you to believe the ANSF are winning). However, the ANSF can't do effective COIN and are unlikely to defeat the Taliban.

One of two things need to occur to end an insurgency; and many times, both. The first is the root causes of the insurgency need to be identified and addressed and the second is that negotiations with the insurgents need to take place. Afghanistan, being one of the poorest and most corrupt nations in the world, is a long way from being able to provide essential governmental services and good government - therefore it probably can't address the root causes in the near future. The track record for negotiations with insurgents thus far has not been good. Additionally, because the insurgents enjoy the protection of Pakistan, the key to negotiations with the insurgents is Pakistan.

One observer of the South Asian region explains the relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan; and further, how India and China are involved and what these two nations can do to aid the negotiation process. Read "Afghanistan should not make a false choice - analysis", Eurasia Review, December 18, 2014.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Sinophobia in Afghanistan

During his recent visit to China President Ghani signed several economic and security agreements with the Chinese government and received a commitment of $327 million in foreign aid by 2017. One commentator believes that the Afghans usually have two views on foreign nations "assisting" Afghanistan. Some see it as an infringement and others see it as true assistance. Read more in "Sinophilia and Sinophobia in Afghanistan", by Tamin Asey, The Diplomat, December 10, 2014.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

China, India, and Pakistan

There are three key nations that can influence the course of history for Afghanistan - China, Pakistan, and India. The new president - Ashraf Ghani - has quickly reached out to all three in an effort to seek their assistance in establishing stability for Afghanistan. Read an insightful column by Harsh V. Pant posted on YaleGlobal Online (Dec 4, 2104) that provides good background information on this topic - "An Afghan Dilemma for China and India".

Thursday, December 4, 2014

China and Peace Talks

China has been stepping up of late on the economic and diplomatic front with Afghanistan. It appears that China is now willing to help with negotiations to start up a peace process with Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Taliban. However it requires the earnest participation of Pakistan's military (and intelligence agency), the Taliban, and the Afghans. At the moment, China is waiting on a peace plan to be submitted by President Ghani. Read more in "Viewpoint: Can China bring peace to Afghanistan?", BBC News Asia, December 1, 2014.

Friday, November 21, 2014

China - Afghanistan's New Best Friend

President Ghani spent four days in China on a recent visit and it appears that some positive developments will transpire in Afghanistan's future. It is extremely likely that China will be forthcoming with additional money for aid and increased training opportunities for Afghans. A stable and prosperous Central and South Asia is important for China's security and economic future. Read more in "Is China Afghanistan's New Best Friend?", International Policy Digest, November 16, 2014.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Wakhan Corridor

Afghanistan is bordered by many countries. Some borders are extensive - as in the borders with Iran and Pakistan. Some borders - not so much. The border with China is not very extensive at all and it is found in a place very remote and far from the rest of Afghanistan. The Wakhan Corridor, the most eastern part of Badakhshan province, is where the border with China is found; as well as borders with Tajikistan and Pakistan. It is also a strategic area which huge potential for trade with China (see the New Silk Road) and ramifications for security (especially in light of the growth of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement). The people who live in this mountainous region (Wakhi and Kyrgyz) are mostly untouched by the war. The area is a harsh place for crops and agriculture so the people rely on livestock for most of their food and other needs. The inhabitants are uneducated and few know how to read. Health care is non-existent and the infant and maternal mortality rate is one of the highest in the world. A photographer has taken some awesome photos of the Wakhan Corridor.  - See a collection of 21 photos "Welcome to the Gorgeous region of Afghanistan That Has Been Untouched by Decades of War", Business Insider, November 11, 2014.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

China as Negotiator?

China has been slowly taking a more active role in the affairs of Afghanistan. It has some vital interests in the establishment of a secure and stable Afghanistan. Its pursuit of an economic corridor (call it the New Silk Road?) from China, across Central Asia, and into the Middle East and Europe is seen as good for the export of Chinese goods. It is experiencing problems with a jihadist insurgent group (East Turkestan Islamic Movement) in its most western province of Xinjiang (which shares a border with Afghanistan) and China wants to preclude this group from enjoying sanctuary in Afghanistan's remote and ungovernable regions. To that end China appears to be willing to take an active role in the conduct of peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Read more on this topic in "Could China Broker Talks Between the Afghan Government and the Taliban?", The Diplomat, November 12, 2014.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

China Plans $16 Billion Fund of New Silk Road

In an endeavor which will surely impact Afghanistan, China is committing over $16 billion dollars to finance construction of infrastructure linking its markets to three continents utilizing a re-established "New Silk Road". The fund will be used to build and expand railways, roads, and pipelines in Chinese provinces that are part of the overall plan to facilitate trade over land and shipping routes. The land route will travel over parts of Central Asia and will will help Afghanistan in direct and indirect ways. The old Silk Road was a trade route (think camels) that went from China (and some say India) to Venice (Afghanistan was one of the way points). Xinjiang province, in western China, will have a prominent role to play in the new economic belt and New Silk Road. Read more in "China planning $16.3 Billion Fund for 'New Silk Road'", Bloomberg News, November 4, 2014.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

China's Afghan End Game

The Central and South Asian region is a study in complexity. The large regional actors (China, India, Pakistan, and Iran) all have similar, aligned and sometimes competing interests. For instance, India and China want to see a stable Afghanistan; Pakistan and China want to keep India's influence in Afghanistan at a minimum, Pakistan wants an unstable Afghanistan and supports the insurgents (the "Good Taliban"). An examination of China's relationship with Afghanistan provides us with a multi-pronged approach where China is playing all sides. Read more in "Afghan End Game: Chinese Security Imperative and Implications for India", International Policy Digest, November 3, 2014.