Showing posts with label Islamic-State. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Islamic-State. Show all posts

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Afghan Security News Update

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, October 2, 2016

Afghan Security News Update (20161002)

Nangarhar Province: A ISIS Enclave. The Islamic State attempted to set up base areas in several provinces within Afghanistan; but it's success was largely limited to Nangarhar. A writer from the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) in "Descent into chaos: Why did Nangarhar turn into an IS hub?", AAN, September 27, 2016.

From Frying Pan to the Fire. Nangarhar residents are speaking out about the cruelty of the ISIS enclave. Read "From the Taliban Frying Pan to the Islamic State Fire", by Heather Barr, Foreign Policy, September 27, 2016.

Pakistan Attempts to Plug Illegal Border Crossings. The border between Afghanistan and Pakistan is remote, sometimes desert, sometimes mountainous and is extremely porous. The two countries share a 2,600 kilometer border that has several hundred irregular crossing points. Pakistan is building some outposts to try and halt some of the smugglers and 'terrorists' who cross unofficially. (Voice of America, Sep 27, 2016).

Training Foreign Air Forces a "Core Mission". The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joe Dunford, recently called the training of foreign Air Forces a core mission of the US Air Force. He recently visited Afghanistan and was worried when told that being a U.S. Air Force trainer in Afghanistan wasn't a 'good job posting'. Read more in "Dunford: US Air Force Should Incentivize Foreign Training Mission", Defense News, September 26, 2016.

Afghan Medevacs Overworked. The heavy casualty rate experienced by the ANDSF during the Summer Campaign 2016 has seen the Afghan Air Force medevac system stressed. Read more in "One Week. Hundreds of dead and wounded. How Afghan forces are struggling with heavy casualties", The Washington Post, September 30, 2016.

Afghan AWOLs in U.S. Seven members of the Afghan military have gone 'absent without leave' in the United States in the month of September. All of them were attending military training in the United States as part of the International Military Student program. Read more in a Fox News report (Sep 27, 2016).

NATO Troops Injured by IED. According to some news reports four Romanian troops and an Afghan interpreter were injured by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.

Checkpoints: Still Hindering the ANDSF. According to the commander of the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan the high number of checkpoints maintained by the Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army are caused by poor leadership and politics. It appears that the 'Checkpint Reduction' campaign waged by Resolute Support advisors last spring has been relatively ineffective. Read more in "Checkpoints Continue to Plague Afghan Security Forces", The Diplomat, September 27, 2016.

Insider Attack Kills 12 ANA. Afghan National Army soldiers were killed in their sleep last week by fellow comrades in an outpost near the city of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan.  Two soldiers joined up with the Taliban after conducting the insider attack. (The World Post, Sep 27, 2016). See also a story by Radio Free Europe, September 27, 2016.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Islamic State

3,000 or 1,000 ISIS in Afghanistan? Most analysts say that the Islamic State has about 3,000 fighters in Afghanistan. Mostly in Nangarhar province. However, the IS has been taken some losses. The Taliban are getting after ISIS in eastern Afghanistan. The 201st Corps is taking the fight to ISIS. And, in addition, lots of drones are attacking ISIS positions from the sky. Looks like ISIS is caught between a rock and a hard place. Nice to see good things happen on the security front for a change. Outgoing Resolute Support HQs commander, General John Campbell, says that the current ISIS strength in Afghanistan is more likely 1,000. If true, that is good news.

"Follow the Money" is now "Destroy the Money". The Islamic State in Syria and Iraq had for a long time enjoyed financial success. It had installed a tax system, gained money from oil proceeds, and took control of banks with millions of dollars. Now it appears that repeated air strikes against the oil fields and ISIS controlled banks plus a plunging economic situation in Syria has made the finances of ISIS less robust. In fact, the group is now offering captured women as payment to some of its members and ensuring that these women are on birth control to ensure payments can be made on a regular basis. Read more in "The Islamic State's Money Problems", RAND Corporation Blog, March 5, 2016.

West Lacking a Strategy to Defeat ISIS. Michael W. S. Ryan of the Jamestown Foundation has penned a short article examining the Islamic States strengths and weaknesses. He says that while we have made some significant gains in the battle against ISIS we still lack a comprehensive strategy to defeat the organization and we lack a strategic narrative to stop its metastasis. Read more in "The ISIS Paradox: Strength in Weakness", The CIPHER Brief, March 10, 2016.

SOF Scoffing up Prisoners. So . . . we can't put our captured terrorists into Guantanamo anymore (because President Obama won't do it); so perhaps we keep them a while (for interrogation) and then pass them on to someone else. Well, . . .  I guess that is the plan. Read "U.S. Detentions of ISIL Members in Iraq Will be Short-Term Only"DoD News, March 9, 2016. See also "US military won't hold detainees more than 30 days", Fox News Politics, March 11, 2016.

Sunday, March 6, 2016


Cyber Campaign Against ISIS. This past Monday the DoD revealed that the military has launched a cyber campaign against the Islamic State that aims to disrupt its communications and operations. Read more in "Pentagon Cyber Campaign Against ISIS Signals a New Era in Warfare", March 1, 2016.

How SOF does Kill / Capture? The SOF units of the U.S. are actively engaged in operations against high-level ISIS members in Syria and Iraq. A recent news report tells us how and why these types of operations are conducted in "Kill or Capture and the Islamic State", The Soufan Group, March 4, 2016.

SOF Captures High-Level ISIS Militant. Now that a high-level militant has been captured - how long will the U.S. detain him and who does he get handed over to once interrogation is completed? Does he go to the Kurds? Maybe the Iraqi government? Or does the U.S. retain him and bring him to the states? Read more in "US Special Operations Forces Captured a 'Significant' Islamic State Militant - Now What?", by Benjamin Gilbert, V ice News, March 3, 2016.

ISIS and WMDs? Two acronyms, when put together, are downright scary. "ISIS and WMDs". Could the Islamic State build a WMD - such as a 'dirty bomb' or biological weapon? Read more in "The ISIS WMD Threat", The CIPHER Brief,  March 4, 2016.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

ISIS, CTF, CT, and IO News

Video - ISIS and Money. Watch a four-minute long video explaining how the Islamic State funds itself and how government and private-sector efforts can cut off its funding. Defeating the Islamic State: The Economic CampaignThe Washington Institute, February 24, 2016.

ISIS Banking Network. "Money-exchange offices in Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Jordan funnel millions of dollars daily in and out of militant-held territory." Read "How Islamic State's Secret Banking Network Prospers"The Wall Street Journal, February 24, 2016. (Paywall subscription).

Money - Not Ideology. Two former Islamic State (IS) commanders who defected recently to Afghan authorities say that they joined the extremist organization not because of ideology but largely for money. (Voice of America, Feb 26, 2016).

State Dept & CVE Podcasts. The United States Department of State has been actively trying to counter violent extremism (CVE). Part of the effort is to educate communities about terrorism and violent groups through social media to include the use of podcasts. Read more in "New Podcast Series Examines Global Efforts to Counter Violent Extremism", DIPNOTE, U.S. Department of State Official Blog, February 22, 2016.

Social Media & Online Extremism. "The U.S. government, acknowledging its limited success in combating Islamic extremist messaging, is recruiting tech companies, community organizations and educational groups to take the lead in disrupting online radicalization". Read more in "U.S. looks to Facebook, private groups to battle online extremism", Reuters, February 24, 2016.

ISIS Propaganda. The international coalition is far from winning the information war against the Islamic State. Although airstrikes and proxy armies are taking its toll on the organization its social media campaign and its ideological momentum has not been blunted significantly. Read more in "Why ISIS Propaganda Works", The Atlantic, February 13, 2016.

'Khorasan Province' Video. The Islamic State in Afghanistan has released a series of videos about training that takes place along the Afghan-Pakistan border. Read "Islamic State 'Khorasan province' advertises training camp", The Long War Journal, February 23, 2016.

ISIS Info Flawed. An unusually high number of intelligence analysts (40% of the 1,000 analysts assigned to CENTCOM) said there were problems with the integrity of their reports and many have accused their bosses for slewing reports on ISIS. Read more in "400 Intel Pros Warn: ISIS Info Flawed", The Daily Beast, February 25, 2016. See also "Top House Lawmaker Accuses Pentagon of Obstructing Intel Probe", The Cable - Foreign Policy, February 25, 2016.

Obama and Global Campaign against ISIS. The State Department has released a press statement with info on the plan to destroy the Islamic State. Read "President Obama Discusses The Global Campaign to Degrade and Destroy ISIL", Dipnote Blog, February 25, 2016.

Guantanamo and Jihadist Propaganda. President Obama has vowed to close the prison on U.S. property in Cuba because it is a recruiting tool for ISIS and al Qaeda but ". . . some of those who study jihadist propaganda say Guantanamo actually isn't all that important as a recruitment tool, and it doesn't feature especially prominently in jihadist materials". Many of the prison occupants were captured and jailed soon after the invasion of Afghanistan by U.S. forces. Read more in a news report by Defense One, February 24, 2016.

Journal - Perspectives on Terrorism. Volume X, Issue 1, February 2016 is now available online. Several articles about terrorism.

Afghan Captive at Guantanamo to be Released. A man held for over a decade in America's prison in Cuba is set to be released as he is deemed to no longer be a threat. (Miami Herald, Feb 26, 2016.)

ISIS Damaged in Eastern Afghanistan. The combination of Taliban attacks, Afghan security forces offensives, and U.S. airstrikes has damaged ISIS significantly in Nangarhar province. In part, this setback for the Islamic State was also aided by public uprisings against the organization - especially in Achin district. Some members of the group may move back into Pakistan or adjacent Afghan provinces (Logar and Ghazni).

Video - Terrorism and CT. The International Institute for Strategic Studes (IISS) has posted a video entitled The Changing Nature of Terrorism and Counterterrorism, February 24, 2016. Dr. Daniel Byman and Dr. Bruce Hoffman explain the increasingly global presence of terrorist networks, the evolution of the terrorism landscape since 9/11, and the role of technology in terrorism and counterterrorism. The video is about one hour long and can be viewed online here.

ISIS and Bomb Making. Thomas Gibbons-Neff provides us with the "how" of bomb making in "Where Islamic State gets its bomb-making materials", Stars and Stripes, February 25, 2016.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

ISIS in Afghanistan

Early Islamic State in Kunar. Unknown to many there was a modern ideological and political predecessor to today's self-anointed Islamic State that had a short-lived existence in Afghanistan in 1990. The Islamic Emirate of Kunar was founded by Jamil al-Rahman and his Salafi political party following an election in Kunar, Afghanistan in early 1990. The demise of this Islamic State was hastened by conflict with HIG's leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Read more in an article by Kevin Bell in "The First Islamic State: A Look Back at the Islamic Emirate of Kunar", CTC Sentinel, Combating Terrorism Center, West Point.

ISIS: Some Tactical Errors. While the militant says it is organizing the Islamic State in Afghanistan others say it is making some fierce enemies. Despite good organization and lots of money it has had its difficulties in getting established in eastern Afghanistan. Some instances of torture and the murder of innocent villages has cost it support. Read more in "How IS has been making enemies in Afghanistan", BBC News, February 20, 2016.

Defeat of ISIS in Afghanistan? The Islamic State in Afghanistan has had a rough start. It has been attacked by different groups of the Taliban. Reportedly the Pakistani security forces are making things difficult on that side of the border. The Afghan security forces are certainly playing a role in the IS security situation and the Americans have been doing a lot of airborne attacks (aircraft and drones). Read more in "Is Islamic State on the Verge of Defeat in the Last Afghan Stronghold", Gandhara Blog, February 17, 2016.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Islamic State in Afghanistan

Fighters Against ISIS. The world's attention is captured by the Islamic State's brutality and ability to carry out attacks through its fighters and surrogates around the world - as evidenced by the recent attacks in Indonesia, Libya, Paris and elsewhere. And of course, there is the huge presence of ISIS in Iraq and Syria. However, those that fight against ISIS also travel the globe in the fight against this (and other) terrorist group. Some do so in their capacity with the military (those of the U.S., Britain, France, Australian, Finland, and many other countries) while others do this in a private capacity. One example is Kat Argo, a female veteran of the U.S. Army who did a stint in Afghanistan, later returned to Kabul in a private capacity, and now can be found working in Northern Iraq with the Kurdish Peshmerga forces. Read more in a news report by The Havok Journal, February 6, 2016. (Note: I had the occasion to work alongside Kat briefly in Afghanistan - a remarkable young woman!).

ISG in Afghanistan. Thomas Ruttig of the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) has published a short paper with an analysis of the "Islamic State Group" (ISG) in Afghanistan. Read "Afghan Taliban contain Islamic State's regional reach", Oxford Analytica Daily Brief, November 17, 2015.

Islamic State in Khorasan. "Daesh has established a foothold in Afghanistan, but its rivalry with the Taliban means its success is far from assured". Read an analysis by Antonio Giustozzi, Associate Fellow at entitled The Islamic State in 'Khorasan': a nuanced view, February 5, 2016.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Islamic State in Afghanistan

State Dept Overhaul & ISIS. Senior U.S. officials have revealed details on the changes to the State Department's counter-terrorism apparatus. The Bureau of Counterterrorism will now become the Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism. The name change emphasizes the importance of non-military organizations and programs in the effort to "Counter Violent Extremism" or CVE. Read more in "Growth of Islamic State Forces State Department Overhaul", by John Hudson, Foreign Policy, February 1, 2016.

ISIS is Spreading. While the Islamic State is suffering some setbacks in Iraq, and to a limited extent in Syria - it is increasing its influence in other countries (Libya and Afghanistan). Check out a map of the growth of ISIS in "Mapping the Spread of the ISIS Plague", Foreign Policy, February 2, 2016.

Status of ISIS-Khurasan. One observer of Afghanistan thinks that the Islamic State lost a window of opportunity in 2015 when it failed to capitalize on the leadership struggle within the Taliban. He believes that a year after its founding the Islamic State's Khurasan province remains a notional entity. Read "What Happened to ISIS's Afghanistan-Pakistan Province?", The Diplomat, Februray 2, 2016.

U.S. Increases Opns Against IS. The United States military has carried out an increased rate of airstrikes and commando raids against Islamic State fighters in eastern Afghanistan. President Obama decided to broaden the authority of the DoD to attack the Islamic State group n Afghanistan. Many of the attacks have taken place in the Tora Bora region of Nangarhar province - along the border of Pakistan. Read "U.S. Broadens Fight Against ISIS With Attacks in Afghanistan", The New York Times, January 31, 2016.

Information Operations

Taliban Attacks on Media. The Taliban attack on the employees of the Tolo TV network in Afghanistan is a shocker to Afghan journalists that now find themselves on the frontlines of the Afghan conflict. Tolo News is the largest media organization in Afghanistan and is not shy about criticizing Taliban activities in their TV, print, and online news outlets. In 2015 the Taliban put Tolo News on notice saying they were legitimate targets. After those threats the news agency requested security assistance from the Afghan government . . .  but despite promises to help it was never provided. Read more in "Afghan Taliban Open New Front in War With Attacks on Media", by Lynne O'Donnell, Associated Press, February 2, 2016.

Threatening News in Afghanistan. The recent attack on Tolo News by the Taliban in Kabul where several employees were killed and many more injured highlight just how bad the security situation is in Afghanistan. Ahmed Rashid, noted author and commentator on the Afghan conflict, provides us with his perspective in "Afghanistan: Threatening News"The New York Review of Books, February 2, 2016.

"Voice of the Caliphate" - Destroyed. Air strikes have put the Islamic State-operated radio station in Nangarhar province off the air. The radio station had been broadcasting the militant group's extremist messages since last year. Read more in "Air Strikes Destroy Islamic State Radio Station in Afghanistan, Officials Say", Radio Free Europe, February 2, 2016.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

ISIS and Afghanistan

ISIS - "An Existential Threat". The Islamic State is attempting to establish footholds in a number of countries - in addition to that hold on territory that it currently enjoy in Syria and Iraq. ISIS is in competition with al-Qaeda in many of these areas. Afghanistan is one of those newly developed areas of endeavor for ISIS. Of course, Afghanistan and bordering areas of Pakistan has long been a sanctuary for al-Qaeda as well. Many foreign policy observers think we need to counter ISIS's growth anywhere they try to establish themselves (including Afghanistan). Read a report on ISIS and al Qaeda entitled Al Qaeda and ISIS: Existential Threats to the U.S. and Europe, Institute for the Study of War (ISW), January 2016.

Stepping up the Fight against ISIS (or is it ISIL?). Ash Carter, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, has penned an opinion piece on the fight against the Islamic State. Read "Ash Carter: It's Time to Accelerate the ISIL Fight", Politico, January 22, 2016. He says the fight should take place in three forms 1) eliminating the centers of ISIS power in Raqqa, Syria and Mosul, Iraq, 2) protecting the homeland, and 3) fighting ISIS where it is started to establish footholds - such as Afghanistan and Libya. Glad he is now on board!

ISIS Radio Station in Nangarhar. The Islamic State used the Internet and social media platforms to spread its message in Iraq, Syria, Libya and around the world. But in the impoverished country of Afghanistan most people have access to radio broadcasts but little access to the Internet. For that reason the Islamic State is using radio broadcasts to spread its message. Read "IS radio beams propaganda, threats across rural Afghanistan", Fox News, January 21, 2016.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Tajikistan's Security Woes

Map of Tajikistan - CIA
Tajikistan's Downward Spiral. Afghanistan shares a border area with Tajikistan in the northeast and this poses problems for Tajikistan. The border security organizations have been compromised with bribes from smugglers and drug traffickers. In addition, the re-emergence of Central Asian jihadist groups in northern Afghanistan, establishment of militants aligned with the Islamic State in eastern Afghanistan and elsewhere in the country, as well as the overall deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan does not bode well for Tajikistan. Internally, Tajikistan faces political turmoil and economic decline; surefire feeding grounds for the growth of militant jihadist groups. Learn more in a recent (Jan 11, 2016) by the Crisis Group entitled Tajikistan Early Warning: Internal Pressures, External Threats.

Islamic State a Threat to Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. "Neither country has a military force capable of resisting incursions by the Islamic State (IS), the Taliban or other militant forces emanating from Afghanistan." (The Jamestown Foundation, Jan 12, 2016).

News Article on Crisis Group Report. Catherine Putz has penned an analysis of the Crisis Group's report. She says that the report points to opposition crackdowns as indicative of an unstable state. Read more in "Report Warns of Instability in Tajikistan", The Diplomat, January 12, 2016.

Information Operations (IO) & Social Media

"Once again the Obama administration is revising its programs to counter and defeat the self-styled Islamic State, particularly on the battlefield of ideas. With no apparent decline in supporters flocking to the movement nor any shortage of unhinged murderers inspired by it, State Department officials announced that they were creating a new "Global Engagement Center" to combat the Islamic State online. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama me with social media-savvy representatives from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to convince them to join the effort".  - - - -

This is yet one more attempt by the United States to attempt to win the social media battle against the Islamic State. Read more in "Why the U.S. Is Losing the War of Ideas Against Transnational Extremism", by Steven Metz, World Politics Review, January 15, 2016.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

IMU in Afghanistan

Map of Uzbekistan (CIA) 
"The 2015 fall of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a Central Asian jihadi movement that has long fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, highlights the impact of two fundamental shifts in the jihadi landscape during 2015. Mobilized by the Afghan Taliban's two-year-long deception over the death of the Taliban's enigmatic and magnetic former leader, Mullah Omar, the IMU responded to the Islamic State's (IS) attempts to create a foothold in Afghanistan".
Read more in "2015 Restrospective: How the Fall of the IMU Reveals the Limits of IS' Expansion", by Margaret Foster, INSITE Blog on Terrorism & Extremism, January 4, 2016.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Islamic State in Afghanistan

The Islamic State has replaced the Taliban in Nangarhar province as the number threat to residents and the government security forces. The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) say that "Daesh" is better equipped and more motivated than the Taliban. The Achin district is especially at risk. The IS fighters are a combination of Pakistani nationals and other ethnic groups to include Uzbeks, Chechens, and Uighurs. There are also former Taliban members who have picked up the ISIS flag. It is estimated that this area has up to 1,600 Islamic State fighters. Read more in a news report by Josh Smith - "Afghans battle Islamic State to stalemate in east", Stars and Stripes, December 8, 2015.

ISIS in Baghlan Province. Local officials in Baghlan province are concerned over reports that Daesh militants are recruiting in the area. Some officials say that ISIS fighters are moving their families into the province to establish a foothold. Read "Daesh Deployment in Baghlan Triggers Alarm Among Residents", Tolo News, December 10, 2015.

Resiliency of ISIS in Afghanistan. One observer sees ISIS as a small problem that could get big quick. He advocates that "An immediate counter-strategy is needed to avoid inevitable high costs if the group is allowed to grow and develop. This requires a deeper understanding of the group's own dynamics; ISIS cannot be effectively countered unless it is understood properly". The writer, is a Danish diplomat serving as EU Special Representative / Head of EU Delegation to Afghanistan. He is a former Danish Ambassador to Afghanistan. Read "We Got ISIS Wrong in Syria. Let's Get it Right in Afghanistan", The Huffington Post Blog, December 10, 2015.

ISIS vs Taliban. Bilal Sarwary reporting from Lashkar Gah says that "ISIS is stealing fighters from the Taliban in Afghanistan", The Independent, December 8, 2015. The Islamic State is luring fighters away with money and a unified message in Helmand province. At the same time the state of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces is dire with reports saying that 40% of the Afghan National Police (ANP) is fictitious - with the salaries going to senior ANP officers.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

SOF News

VSO, Gant, Water, Crops, and COIN. One writer, Doyle Quiggle, manages to combine a variety of topics (although related) into an essay on how to win a small war! He tells us of the failures of the Village Stability Operations (VSO) program of U.S. special operations in Afghanistan, of how Jim Gant was doing VSO right, and the importance of water in counterinsurgency at the village level. Read "Small Farms and Small Wars: Planting The Garden in Village Stability Operations", Small Wars Journal, November 29, 2015.

Event - "Lessons from VSO and ALP". Dr. Corey Lofdahl is presenting a lecture on the topic of Implementing  Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan: Lessons from Village Stability Operations and Afghan Local Police (VSO/ALP). He is a senior scientist with Charles River Analytics who worked in 2011 and 2012 at the Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command - Afghanistan (CFSOCC-A). The presentation is on Thursday, December 10th in Washington, D.C. and is hosted by The Institute of World Politics. (Note: CFSOCC-A is now known as the Special Operations Joint Task Force - Afghanistan or SOJTF-A).

DoDIG Investigation on ANASOF TAA. The Inspector General for the Department of Defense intends on conducting an assessment on U.S. and Coalition efforts to Train, Advise, Assist, and Equip the Afghan National Army Special Operations Forces (ANASOF). The objective is to determine whether U.S. government and coalition goals, objectives, plans and resources to train the ANASOF are sufficient, operative, and relevant. Read the memo from DoDIG, November 25, 2015.

Joint U.S. - Afghan SOF Raid Frees 40 from Prison. A prison rescue mission successfully liberated at least 40 Afghan security personnel from a Taliban prison in Nawzad district of southern Helmand province in an operation that began on Thursday night. (Tolo News, Dec 4, 2015). See also an NBC News report dated December 4, 2015.

"Project Gray" - Fighting in the Gray Zone. Warfare has changed over the past few decades. The advent of Hybrid Warfare, Irregular Warfare (IW), and the use of Unconventional Warfare (UW) by our adversaries (Iran, ISIS, al Qaeda, Russia, and others) has forced the U.S. military to take a long look on how to operate in this new environment. The UW experts at Fort Bragg (that would be the Green Berets) are learning to fight in what is now being referred to as the "Gray Zone".  The initial Special Forces training that Green Berets undergo goes a long way to prepare its members for this kind of fight; yet the learning never stops. As part of this never-ending learning process the U.S. Army Special Operations Center of Excellence has started "Project Gray" and published a website that reflects the work in this area.

Advocating a "Human Warfighting Domain". One writer is strongly proposing that a Human Warfighting be established and that the proponent should be those in the U.S. Army who are the most proficient in counterinsurgency and unconventional warfare - that would be the 1st Special Forces Command. Read "Should There Be a Human Warfighting Domain?", by Thomas Doherty, Small Wars Journal, December 3, 2015.

5th Group Reviving Vietnam Era Flash. The solid black flash worn on the berets of members of the 5th Special Forces Group will be giving way to a bit of history. The new (or old) flash will be the one worn by 5th Group Soldiers while serving in Vietnam (and also stateside). Read more on the perplexing move by 5th SFGA and Special Forces Command in "Army's 5th Special Forces Group to Resurrect Vietnam-Era Beret Flash",, December 1, 2015.

'Targeting Force' to Iraq / Syria. In testimony before Congress SECDEF Carter stated that more U.S. military forces will be headed to the Middle East to fight against ISIS. The number of airstrikes will increase as well as on-the-ground intelligence gathering and special operations raids. Carter also said that a "specialized expeditionary targeting force" will assist Iraqi and Kurdish peshmerga forces fighting the Islamic State. Sounds very JSOC-like! Read more in "DoD to deploy 'targeting force' to hunt down ISIS leaders"Military Times, December 1, 2015. See also Kim Dozier's article - "Obama Unleashes Hunter-Killers on ISIS", The Daily Beast, December 1, 2015.

USSF Fighting with Kurds for Months. Kurdish fights say that US Special Forces have been fighting ISIS for months in northern Iraq. The Obama administration continues to maintain that there are 'No Boots on the Ground"; however, perhaps that is because the SF dudes (in another era they were referred to as "Sneaky Petes") are all wearing sneakers. (The Guardian, Nov 30, 2015).

SOCOM Cdr Likely Choice for CENTCOM. General Votel is a top candidate to succeed General Austin for command of Central Command. Given the importance of the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria he is a good choice. Read more in "SOCOM's Votel is Top Choice to Take Over CENTCOM", Defense One, December 3, 2015.

How Does SOCOM Feel about the Gender Integration Order? - He is all for it! The commander, General Votel, seems to think it is a good idea. (The feedback I hear from those on the SF teams is quite different.) Listen to a 8-minute long video of the leader of SOCOM justifying his decision to support the SECDEF in the full integration of women into all special operations organizations. (USSOCOM, December 3, 2015).

How Do SOF Operators Feel about Women in SOF Units? Not So Much! The RAND Corporation conducted a study that special operations leadership commissioned on the integration of women into SOF units. 85% of the rank and file said "NO!, Don't Do IT". But with the proper 'career guidance', 'gender integration seminars', 'focus groups', 'safe space discussions', and more I am sure the steely-eyed combat veterans with multiple deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere will come around. Read "Special Ops Survey Showed 85% Opposed Serving With Women", Defense One, December 4, 2015.

Book - Relentless Strike. I just finished reading Sean Naylor's recent book about the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). Very informative read with perhaps more information than USSOCOM would have wanted published. I am sure there was more than one former 'operator' talking out of school. The book is available on

ISIS in Afghanistan

The Afghan Taliban have released a detailed report about their recent fight against Central Asian militants loyal to the Islamic State (IS) and allied with a Taliban splinter group. The report, released on November 25, claims that a dissident Taliban commander (Mansoor Dadullah) based in southern Zabul has teamed up with a group of Central Asian fighters (most from Uzbekistan). The members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) have been long-time fighters in the Afghan conflict - based in Pakistan and more recently in northern Afghanistan. ISIS is currently establishing itself in Nangarhar and Zabul provinces. Read more in "Afghan Taliban Detail Fight Against Uzbek IS Militants", Gandhara Blog, November 30, 2015.

Naray District - Under ISIS Control. The Islamic State is not about to displace Taliban to a large extent across Afghanistan but it is making inroads in some districts. IS recruits are paid about $500 a month - a healthy paycheck for a young unemployed Afghan in rural areas. The IS propaganda machine also sways the under crowd. Read an account of the IS influence in a district in Kunar province in "Islamic State: Why Afghanistan isn't panicking - yet", The Christian Science Monitor, December 3, 2015.

ISW - ISIS Report. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has released a paper  that provides maps, history, current on the ground situation, and more on ISIS. See "ISIS in Afghanistan", December 3, 2015.

ISIS and Taliban Competing. The threat from ISIS or Daesh has been localized to the eastern and south western parts of Afghanistan according to the Deputy Foreign Minister of Afghanistan. (Observer Research Foundation, Nov 30, 2015).

Sunday, November 29, 2015

ISIS in Afghanistan

ISIS in Afghanistan. It has been less than two years when the Islamic State (call it ISIS, ISIL, whatever) took control of parts of Iraq and Syria in quick fashion. Since then the groups influence has spread to other parts of the Middle East and North Africa. In addition, ISIS is gaining a foothold in Afghanistan as well. Three experts comment on ISIS in Afghanistan. James Cunningham (U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan from 2012 to late 2014), Anand Gopal (author of books on Afghanistan), and Vanda Felbab-Brown (senior fellow at the Brookings Institution). Read "ISIS is in Afghanistan, But Who Are They Really?", FRONTLINE, November 17, 2015.

How to Fight ISIS - 4 Tips. General McChrystal, former head of JSOC, cdr of Ranger Regiment, and ISAF commander, is someone who actually knows how to fight terrorists. Here is an article on the topic from Fall 2014. He provides four tips on fighting ISIS. (The Havoc Journal, September 14, 2014).

Sunday, November 22, 2015

ISIS in Afghanistan

The Afghan journalist Najibullah Quraishi talks about his journey into ISIS-held territory for his Frontline documentary: ISIS in Afghanistan. This five-minute audio is informative - touching on the beginnings of ISIS in Afghanistan, pay for ISIS fighters ($700 per month vs. $300 for ANA Soldier), infiltration into the schools, teachings on Islam, etc. One surprising aspect is how young the children are when they enter into the indoctrination process. Listen to "ISIS Gains a Foothold in Afghanistan", National Public Radio, November 16, 2015.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

IS in Afghanistan

ISIS expands in Nangarhar Province. Recent reports indicate that the Islamic State has become entrenched in several districts in Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan. More than a few local Taliban groups have switched allegiance from the Taliban to the Islamic State. Money appears to be one of the motivating factors as the Islamic State seems to be offering better pay for its fighters. The re-flagged fighters are also more cruel in their methods and adopting more strident measures than the Taliban. Read an analysis by Mujib Mashal in "Afghan ISIS Branch Makes Inroads in Battle Against Taliban", The New York Times, October 13, 2015.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

ISIS in Afghanistan

ISIS versus Taliban. Folks are looking at the competition between the Taliban and the Islamic State and hoping (some are predicting) that they will hurt each other enough that the Afghan government (and its security forces) can solidify its presence in troubled districts. However, not everyone is in agreement that this will be a product of that hostile competition between the two groups. While ISIS is making some progress in Nangarhar province its presence elsewhere in Afghanistan is minimal. While the two groups are at odds with each other they continue to cause severe problems for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) as well. Read more in "Taliban in Kunduz, ISIS in Nangarhar: Fiefdoms of Conflict in Afghanistan", by Halimullah Kousary, The Diplomat, October 5, 2015.

ISIS Stages Kabul Attack. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) affiliates in Afghanistan claimed responsibility for an attack on a religious congregation hall in Kabul city. Read more in a news report (Khaama Press, Oct 10, 2015).

ISIS and Jalalabad. According to General Campbell, the commander of the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, the Islamic State is making a play for control of Jalalabad. This large city in eastern Afghanistan not far from the Pakistan border is the capital of Nangarhar province. It also is the location of a small base of U.S. and NATO forces as well as an important crossroads for trade and commerce with Pakistan. Read more in "The Islamic State is growing in Afghanistan, and has its eyes on a specific city", by Dan Lamothe, The Washington Post, October 6, 2015.