Sunday, February 21, 2016
Sunday, February 7, 2016
UN Drug Report. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has issued its "Executive Summary" for Afghanistan - Afghanistan Opium Survey 2015 dated October 2015.
Nicholson to RS Command. So John "Mick" Nicholson, a veteran of quite a few Afghan deployments will take Resolute Support. As the deck chairs shuffle, one wonders what happens to General John Campbell. He has done a great job under difficult circumstances in Afghanistan and deserves another posting - perhaps AFRICOM or EUCOM? Read "Will the Pentagon give Gen. John Campbell, the outgoing Afghanistan war chief, another job?", The Washington Post, January 30, 2016.
New Air Force Cdr in Afghanistan. BG Jeffrey Taliaferro will soon head up the 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force - Afghanistan in Afghanistan. Part of his command will be TAAC-Air; the Air Force advisors training and assisting the Afghan Air Force.
DoDIG Report on Fuel Contracts. The Department of Defense Inspector General has issued a report saying that the controls for oversight of MoI fuel contracts was not effective. As a result of the lack of contract oversight and insufficient reporting data, CSTC-A did not have reasonable assurance that the fuel ordered and delivered to the Afghan National Police on the three MoI contracts valued at $437 million was used for its intended purpose. Read DoDIG report 2016-040 dated January 2016.
JIDA to Fall Under DTRA. The Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Agency (JIDA) will now be realigned under the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). (U.S. DoD, Feb 2, 2016).
Terminology - "2-pump chump". In today's Internet world there is lots to read - webpages, eBooks, blogs, newsletters and more. And there are a lot of writers (and would be writers) willing to express their opinion on just about everything - to include war. A new phrase I just learned is '2-pump chump'. Evidently it refers to some writers with just one or two war zone deployments under their belt who are now penning their opinions and thoughts of the war (whichever one they were in). I guess the term "2-pump chump" is used by some that believe if you don't have multiple deployments you don't know or haven't seen enough to write about. Hmmm. One can see a lot of war in one year; especially if that was a 15-month long deployment in Iraq in the 2006-2007 time frame. Just so you know I am about 5 or 6 tours beyond the "2-pump chump" level - depending on how you count deployments. Read more in a column by Tom Ricks posted on Foreign Policy, February 2, 2016.
Hard Times in Central Asia. The several countries to the north are facing economic difficulties that could fuel insurgencies in the future. Read more "In Central Asia, The Bad Times Have Arrived", Qishloq Ovozi Blog, Radio Free Europe, February 1, 2016.
Turkmenistan's Afghan Border and Russian "Help". Russia has offered Turkmenistan so help in guarding their border with Afghanistan. There have been several clashes between that country's security forces and Taliban elements located in northern Afghanistan. Both Russia and China are competing with each to make inroads politically, diplomatically, and economically in Central Asia. Turkmenistan is attempting to navigate the middle road in this competition. Read more in "Turkmenistan: We Don't Need Russian Help With Afghan Border", The Bug Pit, Eurasianet.org, January 29, 2016.
Sunday, January 24, 2016
Petraeus to be Demoted? It appears that SECDEF Carter is going to weigh in on the General Petraeus case. It appears that he is leaning toward a demotion. Evidently it is okay to pass thousands of emails containing classified information over an unclassified non-government email server using your private email account while Secretary of State; but you can't pass a few small notebooks with your notes in them to an officer (LTC) in the U.S. Army Intelligence Corps with a Top Secret clearance (who happens to be your biographer). Hrrrrummmmppph. See "Exclusive: Pentagon May Demote David Petraeus", The Daily Beast, January 18, 2016.
SIGAR Report on TFBSO. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) testified before Congress on January 20, 2016 on the failures of the DoD Task Force for Business and Stability Operations in Afghanistan (TFBSO). The preliminary results show serious management and oversight problems. You can read a transcript of the testimony posted on the website of SIGAR.
TFBSO and Goats for Afghanistan. Read "How the US Blew Millions of Dollars, Airlifting Cashmere Goats to Afghanistan", Mother Jones, January 21, 2016.
GPS Data and USAID Medical Centers. "The geospatial coordinates for a number of Afghanistan medical clinics are incorrect in data shared between the U.S. and allies in the region. In a report published earlier this month by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), some 10 of the 32 medical clinics set up by the U.S. Agency for International Development in the Kabul region have incorrect GPS coordinates . . . " Read "GPS data failing USAID hospitals in Afghanistan", C4ISR & Networks, January 19, 2016.
Taliban Telecom Tax. Looks like the Taliban have continued their practice of running a 'protection racket' for operators of Afghan telephone companies and tower operators. Read "Afghan Taliban flex muscles with new telecom tax", Yahoo! News, by Anuj Chopra, January 18, 2016.
Periodical - Military Officer. The January 2016 edition of the magazine by the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) is available online. Good interview of General Colin Powell (retired) on the 25th anniversary of Desert Storm.
PM Australia Commits More Troops. The prime minister for Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, has committed an extra 20 troops to the mission in Afghanistan to assist in the training of Afghan troops. He met with service members at Qarga - the Afghan national army's officer training academy. (The Chronicle, Jan 18, 2016).
Sunday, December 6, 2015
Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) wants all non-military personnel to have lousy living conditions comparable to the U.S. military. Anyone who has spent anytime in Afghanistan knows the disparity in living conditions between our NATO allies and partners and the U.S. military. (For instance, in 2014, 13 years after the start of the war the U.S. forces on Camp Marmel, Mazar-e-Sharif were still living in tents while the Europeans lived in concrete barracks with tiled floors, bathrooms, and Internet.) Or compare the living conditions of the U.S. military with USAID or State Department at Camp RS in Kabul! SIGARs latest target is the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO) and their desire for the comforts of life. Read a letter from SIGAR to SEC DEF Carter pointing out the millions of dollars spent by TFBSO providing the nicer things that help get you through a year in Afghanistan for their staff members. (SIGAR, Nov 25, 2015). (NOTE TO SELF: I could have lived a lot better during my five years in Afghanistan if I worked for TFBSO!).
Sunday, November 15, 2015
$43 million on a natural gas filling station in Afghanistan that should have cost about $500 thousand. The gas station was the brainchild of the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO) - a task force focused on economic development in US war zones like Afghanistan and Iraq. During its investigation the Defense Department gave SIGAR a huge run-around. Now there are other TFBSO issues that are currently under investigation but the 'run-around game' is still being played by DoD. The Senate Judiciary Committee is not amused and has issued a letter asking DoD to comply with the requests of SIGAR. Read more in "The Pentagon's Afghan 'Slush Fund' Will Now Have to Answer to Angry Lawmakers", by Tim Fernholz, Defense One, November 11, 2015. Learn more about TFBSO - www.afghanwarnews.info/orgs/tfbso.htm