Showing posts with label assessments. Show all posts
Showing posts with label assessments. Show all posts

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Two Years as RS Commander - An Assessment

General John Nicholson has completed two years as the commander of NATO's Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan. He took on a challenging task at a time when resources available were minimal and the Taliban were experiencing a resurgence. His tour was marked with a deteriorating security situation - the Taliban today control or contest more territory than at any other time since they lost power in 2001. The Afghan government is experiencing a crisis with infighting between the camps of President Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah. Strong political figures like Dostum, Noor, and Raziq are challenging the legitimacy of the National Unity Government (NUG). The list of adverse conditions Nicholson faces is extensive.

However, he seems to have managed a difficult situation given the constraints he is working under. He and his staff - working with the Afghan government, CENTCOM, DoD, and NATO - have pushed forward a strategy that was approved by the presidential administration. This new strategy provides for greater authorities, more air support, advisors closer to the front lines, and a modest increase in troop levels. It may buy more time for the Afghan security forces to finally force the Taliban to the negotiating table.

Read more on General Nicholson's performance in
"General John Nicholson - Two Years as RS Commander"
SOF News, March 2, 2018.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Lead IG Quarterly Report on Afghanistan (Oct - Dec 2017)

The Lead Inspector General for Operation Freedom's Sentinel Quarterly Report to the United States Congress has been published. It covers the period of time from October 1 to December 31, 2017. The report summarizes significant events involving OFS. Topics covered in the 140-page report include:

  • South Asia Strategy Update
  • Increase of Political Tensions
  • Oversight Issues
  • Battle for Population Control
  • Highly Volatile Security Situation
  • Record Opium Harvest
  • Humanitarian Assistance

Some of the highlights and findings in the report indicate that there has been no improvement in security. While Resolute Support HQs maintains that the ANDSF (specifically the ASSF) has improved this has not translated into increased security on the ground. In fact, it appears that the Taliban have increased their control or influence of some of the districts in Afghanistan. The opium poppy cultivation has set a new record for crops produced in 2017; which, in part, funds the Taliban insurgency. Political tensions within the National Unity Government have polarized the government bureaucracy and rendered some of the institutions ineffective. The failure to implement an electronic ID card is - in part - affecting the ability of the government to conduct the 2018 parliamentary elections.

There are some key challenges facing the Afghan government and and the NATO coalition forces in Afghanistan. These include the task of defeating the Islamic State in Khorsan Province (IS-KP), pressuring Pakistan to eliminate terrorist safe havens, holding credible elections on time, and preventing violence from undermining humanitarian relief efforts.

The report is available at the link below:

Threat Assessment for Afghanistan

Daniel Coats, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, testified before Congress on February 13, 2018 where he provided a worldwide threat assessment. His remarks were provided in a 28-page document entitled "Statement for the Record: Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community". Afghanistan got a brief mention on page 22; the text is below.
"The overall situation in Afghanistan probably will deteriorate modestly this year in the face of persistent political instability, sustained attacks by the Taliban-led insurgency, unsteady Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) performance, and chronic financial shortfalls. The National Unity Government probably will struggle to hold long-delayed parliamentary elections, currently scheduled for July 2018, and to prepare for a presidential election in 2019. The ANSF probably will maintain control of most population centers with coalition force support, but the intensity and geographic scope of Taliban activities will put those centers under continued strain. Afghanistan's economic growth will stagnate at around 2.5 percent per year, and Kabul will remain reliant on international donors for the great majority of its funding well beyond 2018."

Sunday, August 6, 2017

SIGAR Quarterly Report to Congress

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has issued its Quarterly Report to Congress. The report covers the period of April through June 2017. The 272-page report covers reconstruction, oversight issues, governance, security, and more.

"SIGAR Quarterly Report July 2017", SOF News, August 1, 2017.

"Wow, Afghanistan Is Getting a Lot Worse", War is Boring, August 2, 2017.

"Here's Exactly How Much the US Has Spent on the War in Afghanistan - So Far", Task and Purpose, August 1, 2017.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

SIGAR Quarterly Report to Congress - October 2016

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has released its quarterly report to Congress on October 30, 2016. Some of the topics in the 280-page report include "Afghan Women on their Progress and the Challenges That Remain", "SIGAR Oversight Activities", "Reconstruction Update", and other "Agency Oversight".

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Security News

Northern Afghanistan at Risk. Over the past few years the security situation in northern Afghanistan has slowly deteriorated. This area used to be fairly secure when compared to the rest of the country. However the re-establishment of Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and emergence of significant pockets of Taliban groups has made this part of Afghanistan very dangerous. Not only is this a problem for Afghanistan but the growth of foreign fighter groups pose security difficulties for Central Asian states as well. Learn more in an essay by Abubakar Siddique entitled "Unrest in Northern Afghanistan Heralds Regional Threats"The Jamestown Foundation, January 7, 2016.

Darqad District Recaptured. After being held by the Taliban for over 75 days a district in northern Afghanistan has been re-captured by the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF). The Darqad district of northern Takhar province was taken by government forces on early Sunday, January 10th. Read more in "Security Forces Re-Take Takhar's Darqad District After Nearly 3 Months"Tolo News, January 10, 2016.

Embassy Emergency Msg. On Sunday, January 10th, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul issued an emergency message that said an unidentified group of militants planned to kidnap members of an NGO based in Nangarhar province.  See the warning, Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), January 10, 2016.

Senator Reed - "Conditions Based Withdrawal". Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.) is the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee. He has just returned from a visit to Afghanistan and says a few things have happened that require a re-look at the withdrawal plan for U.S. troops - the growth of ISIS in  Afghanistan and the Taliban fighting through the winter season. Read "Senate Dem suggest Obama should shift Afghan plan", The Hill, January 15, 2016.

ANA - "Mission Incapable"? A secret NATO report seen by Der Speigel, a German magazine, says that the Afghan National Army (ANA) remains an entity hardly capable of carrying out the functions of a military force. Of its 101 infantry units only one has been characterized as effectively battle-ready, 38 are having massive problems, and ten battalions are not operational. High combat losses have reduced unit strength and readiness. Desertions has increased dramatically also reducing combat effectiveness. The Taliban enjoy unlimited movement in many provinces of Afghanistan; especially Helmand, Kandahar, Kunduz, and Badakhshan. Read more in "NATO Report Slams Afghan Army As Mission Incapable", Tolo News, January 10, 2016.

"Ghost Soldiers". A contributing factor to the ineffectiveness of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) are the numerous "ghost soldiers" or "ghost policemen". A ghost soldier or policeman is one who is on the books, gets paid, but doesn't show up for work. Another type of "ghost" is one who has been killed or has left the security forces but whose paycheck goes to his commanding officer or some other corrupt official. Some estimates say that 40 percent of the police and army forces simply don't exist. Read more in "Ghost troops slowing down Afghanistan's military"CBS News, January 10, 2016.

"Community Policing". The Police-e Mardume Department of the Afghan Ministry of Interior has organized meetings between the police and citizens in the provinces. "Brigadier General Humayoon Aineed stated that the relationship between the people and the police has changed positively and the people trust the police". (His words, not mine). Read more in "Community Policing: Meetings with citizens result in cooperation and trust", European Union External Action, January 2016.

AAF to Receive MD-530F Choppers. According to a recent news report the Afghan Air Force (AAF) will soon receive more helicopters. See "Afghan Air Force to receive 12 warrior helicopters from US", Khaama Press, January 12, 2016.

Urban Ops by Taliban. Despite years of manning the city checkpoints (called "The Ring of Steel") the Afghan security forces are still not able to prevent high-profile attacks by the Taliban. Read more in "Taliban Step Up Urban Assaults, Testing the Mettle of Afghan Forces", The New York Times, January 9, 2016.

Most Dangerous City in the World? Ummm, yep. Kabul. Read more in "Top 7 World's Most Dangerous Cities", PPCorn, December 28, 2015.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

DoD 1225 Report on Afghanistan - Dec 2015

The Department of Defense has published its semi-annual report on the current situation in Afghanistan. The report, entitled Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan, was published in mid-December 2015. It has 96 pages of information spanning all aspects of the Afghan conflict. It is commonly referred to as the "1225 report" and is required in accordance with Section 1225 of the NDAA for FY 2015. It includes a description of the strategy of the U.S. for security and stability in Afghanistan, a current and anticipated threat assessment, and a description of many aspects of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF). The period covered is from June 1, 2015 to November 30, 2015. Previous reports and assessments on the conflict in Afghanistan can be read at the following link: The current 1225 report is available on a DoD site at the link below:

Sunday, August 2, 2015

SIGAR Quarterly Report - July 2015

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has released its July 2015 Quarterly Report to Congress. Some key findings in the report:

- Since 2002, Congress has appropriated nearly $109 billion for Afghanistan reconstruction and of that amount almost $12 billion remains to be spent.
- The U.S. has provided $8.2 billion for counternarctics efforts in Afghanistan, and the country is the global leader in illicit opium cultivation and production.
- After recent meetings with senior Afghan officials, SIGAR remains unconvinced that either USAID or the Afghan ministries are able to accurately account for the investments in health and education made by the United States and our allies.
- The report suggests that placing conditions on international assistance to Afghanistan can help achieve its purposes of thwarting corruption, making the country capable of standing on its own, and providing accountability for donor nation funds.


Friday, May 1, 2015

DoD Report - Equip & Train Afghan Security Forces

The Office of Inspector General for the DoD has published a new report entitled Equipping and Training Afghan Security Forces, DoDIG-2015-108, April 30, 2015. It is an assessment of U.S. efforts to develop the sufficiency of ANSF Polices, Processes, and Procedures for the Management and Accountability of Class III (Fuel) and V (Ammunition). The report contains 7 observations, resulting in 17 recommendations.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Report - "Losing the Forgotten War?"

Anthony H. Cordesman of the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) has wrote a report entitled Transition in Afghanistan: Losing the Forgotten War?, February 6, 2015. In this report he states the need to reshape US Strategy in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia. This detailed report is 242 pages long and can be read online or downloaded (Adobe Acrobat PDF) at the link below.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

SIGAR Quarterly Report to Congress (Jan 2015)

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has published its quarterly report to Congress. This latest report is dated 30 January 2015. This report covers the activities of the last three months for SIGAR - listing audits, inspections, and other activities. The report has several sections. The report is over 200 pages long and contains some updated information on the ASIs and ANSF.

Section 1 - Coordinating Aid: An Elusive Goal
Section 2 - SIGAR Oversight Activities
Section 3 - Reconstruction Update
Section 4 - Other Agency Oversight

Sunday, March 1, 2015

CSIS Paper - Transition in Afghanistan

Anthony H. Cordesman, of the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), has authored a report on Afghanistan entitled Transition in Afghanistan: Losing the Forgotten War. The paper, published on February 6, 2015, stresses the need to reshape U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia. The report indicates that the military situation in Afghanistan is far worse than the US Department of Defense and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is reporting. The report also provides a detailed analysis of the problems in the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police. It critiques the rapid cuts in the advisory presence and pull back from the Train Advise and Assist (TAA) mission at the tactical level. This 242 page report is comprehensive in its approach to the mistakes of the past, in the analysis of the current situation, and in its recommendations for the future.

Some of the topics covered on the ANSF include the slashing of the numbers of advisors and support regardless of conditions on the ground, the impact of a late and erratic effort to create an effective ANSF, meaningless metrics on ANSF capability, corruption in the MoD and MoI, uncertain progress of the ANA, focus on ANSF force generation rather than combat capability, the uncertain role of the Afghan Local Police, the need for transparency (on the part of ISAF), and the need for a conditions-based policy (not time-based).

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Paper - The Future of the Afghan Security Forces

The Center for a New American Security, an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization, has released a recently published (January 8, 2015) paper entitled Defend, Defect, or Desert?: The Future of the Afghan Security Forces. The author, Mr. Tyler Jost, is a former U.S. Army Company Commander who served two tours in Afghanistan and is currently a PhD Candidate in International Relations at Harvard University. Jost lays out how the United States can most effectively support the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). He argues that in the coming months, Afghanistan will depend on increasingly independent Afghan security forces to fight a tough insurgency; an insurgency that is as strong today as it was four years ago during the height of the Coalition surge in Afghanistan. The paper starts off with a good historical review of the previous Afghan military organizations and then proceeds to examine the current state of the ANSF and what needs to be done for the future in order to sustain the ANSF. At the end of the paper Jost provides a conclusion and some recommendations.

Friday, January 9, 2015

AAN: What comes in 2015 for Afghanistan?

An author, observer of Afghanistan, and co-director of the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) - Martine van Bijlert - provides us with a review of the past year (2014) in Afghanistan and a glimpse of the future. Read After the Rollercoaster Comes What? Afghanistan in 2015?, Afghanistan Analysts Network, January 7, 2015.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Assessment of ANSF

Franz-Stefan Gady, an Associate Editor with The Diplomat, provides us with his assessment of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). For all their flaws, he believes there is reason to think Afghanistan's security forces can hold their ground. They will likely be successful in maintaining control of the major population areas and the major lines of communication. Some districts will remain in control of the Taliban. Some ANSF units will come to an accommodation with the insurgents. But the Taliban cannot take over the country. Read more in "Can the Afghan Army Prevail on the Battlefield?", The Diplomat, January 7, 2015.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

CSIS Report on Afghan Forces

The Center for Strategic & International Studies has published a report (17 Nov 2014) entitled "Afghan Forces on the Edge of Transition - Volume IV". The study summarizes the key policies and metrics and provides considerable insight into the success of the transition and the capability of the ANSF to defeat the Taliban. The report also examines the ". . . growing emphasis on "spin" and the public relations efforts to sell progress at the expense of realism and objectivity - often by simply ceasing to report metrics that have proved to be embarrassing in the past". (Ouch!). The study, divided into four different parts, focuses on 1) US policy and cuts on US forces and spending; 2) sharply contradictory data on levels of violence, 3) measuring the transition from ISAF to ANSF, and 4) progress in Afghan force development. You can read an abstract of the report and download the report at the link below:

Afghanistan Index by Brookings

The "Afghanistan Index" by Brookings tracks the progress and security in a post-9/11 Afghanistan. The document is updated every month and posted on the Brookings website. The index is a statistical compilation of economic, public opinion and security data. The resource provides updated and historical information on various data, including crime, infrastructure, casualties, unemployment, Afghan security forces and coalition troop strength.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

CRS Report - Afghanistan (Dec 2, 2014)

The Congressional Research Service has issued a report (CRS RL30588) entitled Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy, by Kenneth Katzman dated December 2, 2014.  The report covers topics such as Afghan conflict background, Security Policy (including transition), Drawdown, Residual Force, 2016 Planned Exit, Building Afghan Forces, Establishing Rule of Law, Regional Dimension, Aid and Economic Development, and more. (Adobe Acrobat PDF, 88 pages, 1 MB).

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Honesty from Departing IJC Cdr?

LTG Joe Anderson, the commander of the ISAF Joint Command (IJC) - now shut down, provides a last minute informal assessment of the Afghan National Security Forces - and Azam Ahmed gives us the details. See "Misgivings by U.S. General as Afghan Mission Ends"The New York Times, December 8, 2014. The surprise contained within this news report is the honesty the general seems to provide us. He points out many of the persistent problems that afflict the ANSF and doesn't sugar coat it. If only more of our generals could be this honest with us!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Assessment of ANSF

Jason Campbell, a researcher for the RAND Corporation, recently finished a fact-finding trip to Afghanistan. He has wrote several pieces on his trip. His most recent is an assessment of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) - "What's The Plan? The Afghan National Security Forces", War on the Rocks, December 2, 2014. Read more assessments on the ANSF.