Showing posts with label books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label books. Show all posts

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Recently Released Books, Movies, and Videos about Afghanistan

Video - Progress on Peace and Stability in Afghanistan. The United States Institute for Peace (USIP) held a panel discussion with Afghan National Security Advisor Mohammad Hanif Atmar on Thursday, March 22nd. The one-hour long video provides an Afghan perspective to the security challenges in Afghanistan and the path to peace. Very informative.

Video - On Standby: Preparing the U.S. Military in Afghanistan to respond to humanitarian operations, Resolute Support HQs, March 22, 2018. A short 1-min video about USAID's Joint Humanitarian Assistance Course (JHOP) taught to U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan.

Video - Lethal Advantage: Afghan Air Force is ready to strike, Resolute Support, March 22, 2018. This two-minute long video showcases aircraft of the AAF and the munitions personnel that keep the MD-530 and A-29 armed.

Video - Great Teamwork in the First EAP in Northern Afghanistan, Resolute Support, March 24, 2018. TAAC-North provides an Expeditionary Advisory Package (EAP) to a brigade of the 209th ANA Corps located in Faryab province in northern Afghanistan.

Video - Increasing the lethality of the ANDSF from above with support from below, Resolute Support, March 22, 2018. One-minute video highlighting aircraft maintenance workers in AAF.

Video - 205th Cdr Visits A-10 Unit. MG Eman Nazar, the commander of the 205th Corps (based in Kandahar), recognized eight airmen from the 303rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron.

Video - Happy Naw Roz 1397. Resolute Support Commander General John Nicholson wishes the Afghan people a happy Naw Roz. (RS HQs, Mar 20, 2018, 1 min).

View a list of videos about Afghanistan.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Books, Movies, and Videos on Afghanistan

Book Review - Blindsided by the Taliban. Steve Leonard, a former senior military strategist and now a writer on national security, has reviewed Carmen Gentile's book Blindsided by the  Taliban: a Journalist's Story of War, Trauma, Love, and Loss. This non-fiction book is the story of a war journalist hit in the head with an RPG in Kunar province and of his subsequent recovery from physical and emotional injuries. Read the review in "The Moments That Make a War", Modern War Institute, March 6, 2018.

TAAC-W Visited by SACEUR and US Rep to NATO. A 3-min long video features two high-level U.S. officials that visit Herat. (DVIDS, Feb 24, 2018).

Book - Caravan of Martyrs: Sacrifice and  Suicide Bombing in Afghanistan. David B. Edwards, a Professor of Anthropology at Williams College in Massachusetts, has written a book about Afghanistan (University of California Press, 2017) based on his previous life experience in Afghanistan and his continual specialization in the country. Edwards states that we need to understand the rise of suicide bombing in relation to the cultural beliefs and ritual practises associated with sacrifice. Read more about the book (or order online).

View a list of videos about Afghanistan.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

New Books, Movies, and Videos about Afghanistan

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

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

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

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

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

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

View a list of videos about Afghanistan.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Book Review: "Wakhan Qadrangle"

Tobias Marschall reviews a new book entitled "Wakhan Quadrangle: Exploration and Espionage During and After the Great Game". The book, wrote by geographer Hermann Kreutzmann, explores one of the most remote areas of the world. The valley in the Parmir Mountains of Central Asia is situated on the peripheries of Afghanistan, China, Tsarist Russia, and Great Britain. While many 'western explorers' are known (through published works) to have transited and studied this area of the world - those 'explorers' local to the area are less well-known. This book focuses on those native explorers whose contributions were neglected in public discourse and in scholarly discussions. Read the review in "Book Review: Exploration, Espionage, and The Great Game", Gandhara Blog, January 22, 2018.

Sunday, October 2, 2016


Panel Discussion. On Monday, October 3, 2016 the Brookings Institution will host a panel of 'experts' on Afghanistan who will discuss "Charting a way forward in Afghanistan". Panel participants will include Ambassador James B. Cunningham, Ambassador James Dobbins, Ambassador Ronald Neumann, General David Petraeus (Ret.), and Michael E. O'Hanlon. This is an in-person event only and requires registration.

Book Review: A Kingdom of their Own. The former Washington Post bureau chief in Kabul, Joshua Partlow, takes a deeper look at Afghanistan, the Karzai family, and the failure of the U.S. to win the Afghan conflict. Read a book review of Parlow's book in The Christian Science Monitor, September 27, 2016.

Why Stay Committed to Afghanistan. This is a question many Americans ask themselves as young service members continue to die in that remote country and billions of dollars are squandered by an Afghan elite more interested in how much money they can steal than in establishing a democratic and secure Afghanistan. A group of "experts" on Afghanistan to include former ambassadors, military commanders, and Afghan scholars have signed a letter that explains American interests and objectives in Afghanistan. Read "Forging an Enduring Partnership with Afghanistan"The National Interest, September 14, 2016.

Afghan War Blog Snippets

Video - Mercy Corps. Learn how Mercy Corps provides economic opportunity for Afghan women in this short 5-min long video.

Missing Afghan Food. One writer tells us of his fondness for Afghan food that he experienced as an Embedded Training Team (ETT) member during a deployment to Afghanistan. Read "Afghan Food Was One Great Thing about Deployment",  Task & Purpose, September 26, 2016.

AGO and HOOAC in War of Words. There is disagreement between the Afghan Attorney General's Office (AGO) and the High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption (HOOAC) about how much the AGO is doing in pursuing corruption within the Afghan government. Read more in a news report by Tolo News, September 26, 2016.

Gas-fired Power Plant to be Built. The Ghazanfar Group has been awarded a contract by the Afghan government to build and operate a 50 MW plant in Mazar-e-Sharif. The plant will increase the country's power generation capacity by 30%. Read more in "Gas-fired power plant a first for Afghanistan", Power Engineering International, September 2016.

2nd LT Artillery Officer Advising Afghan Police. A female U.S. Army 2nd LT on her first Afghan deployment is advising the Afghan police in Train, Advise, and Assist Command - East. Read more in "Atypical Afghan Advising",, August 26, 2016.

Coalition Patrol Delivers Med Supplies. A combination of Czech Republic, Polish, Afghan, U.S., and other international members delivered medical supplies to the Charikar Hospital in Parwan province. Read more in a news report by, September 21, 2016.

Kajaki Dam and COIN. Jeff Goodson, a former USAID employee with extensive experience in Afghanistan, writes about the Kajaki Dam and its role in counterinsurgency. Read "An Afghanistan Perspective: The Kajaki Dam - Counterinsurgency (Part II)", Real Clear Defense, September 27, 2016.

SIGAR Report on Lessons from Afghanistan. In April 19-20, 2016 the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) and the United States Institute for Peace (USIP) held a two day conference entitled "Lessons from the Coalition: International Experiences from the Afghanistan Reconstruction". Participants included senior officials and experts from the nations and organizations involved in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. A number of themes emerged from the conference. Read more in the 24-page conference report recently published by SIGAR (September 2016).

Female Afghan Musicians. If you are a female musician and performer in Afghanistan you face some daunting challenges. Read more in "Hip-Hop and the liberation of Women in Kabul", Pacific Standard Magazine, September 27, 2016.

Afghan War Supplemental Request. Congress will be presented a request for a supplemental spending measure to fund the continued involvement of the United States in the Afghanistan conflict. The request will be presented to Congress in November 2016 by the DoD. Read more in a news report by Defense News, September 26, 2016.

Presidential Debate and the Taliban. It seems the Taliban watched the presidential debate this past Monday night (from a secret location) and were disappointed that Afghanistan did not get much attention. (NBC News, Sep 27, 2016).

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Defense News

U.S. Defense Spending Woes. A recent news story by Matthew Gault examines the national defense stance of the presidential candidates and where they stand on defense spending. And naturally, the F-35 comes under intense criticism. Read "Donald Trump is right about defense spending - and that should scare you"Reuters, March 2, 2016.

Countering Adversaries without War. The Arroyo Center of RAND Corporation has published a new report (52 pages, 2016) that it prepared for the U.S. Army. It is entitled The Power to Coerce: Countering Adversaries Without Going to WarThis paper explores the space in between hard military power and soft power. Evidently the short acronym for "Power to Coerce" is known as P2C . . . a new acronym for me.

Another Attack on HTS. Tom Vanden Brook of USA Today just can't say enough bad stuff about the Human Terrain System (HTS). His misguided and uniformed attacks are inaccurate and an attack on a very valuable program. Read his latest in "$725M program Army 'killed' found alive, growing", USA Today, March 9, 2016.

F-35 - "Huge Mess". The U.S. Director of Operational Test and Evaluation - DOT&E - recently released a scathing assessment of the F-35 - sometimes referred to as a plane that can do anything but nothing very well. Read "The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Is Still a Huge Mess", War is Boring, March 9, 2016. See also "The F-35: Still Failing to Impress", Project on Government Oversight (POGO), March 7, 2016.

F-35 - "A Great Success". Air Force LTG Christopher Bogdan, the program executive for the F-35 Lighting II joint program office, provided his insight on the F-35. He says that we are having slow, steady progress with the questionable aircraft. If he can fly an airplane as well as he transitions his water bottle from hand to hand then he is quite an aviator. So . . . want to listen to a little spin? Watch a 60-minute long DoD News video posted on March 10, 2016 on DVIDSHUB.

Book Review - Selling War. A new book details how the U.S. military lost in the information war early on in Iraq. For a glimpse of what this book is about read a review by Adam J. Tiffen in "The Information War That the US Lost in Iraq", Task & Purpose, March 7, 2016. The book Selling War: A Critical Look at the Military's PR Machine is now available on

MISO and Marines. The USMC may soon be expanding its psychological operations (PSYOP) capabilities with the use of an expanded Military Information Support Operations (MISO) program. This is certainly a welcome move given the inability of the U.S. government and military to "control the narrative" in recent conflicts like Iraq and Afghanistan. Read "Marines May Expand Psychological Operations With New Specialty",, March 11, 2016.

CA Papers. A Civil Affairs Syposium was held in November 2015. Various associations and agencies took part. Five papers are presented in this report entitled 2015-2016 Civil Affairs Issue Papers: A Force for Engagement and Conflict Prevention. The papers cover topics on Counter-Unconventional Warfare, State Partnership Program, Conflict Prevention, International Police Engagement, and Developing Human Networks.

Paper - Enhanced Army Airborne Forces. Several authors have collaborated on a RAND Corporation paper (132 pages) that examines the role of the U.S. Army's airborne forces in the future, the challenges it will likely face, the capabilities that it will need to face those challenges, and how to prioritize those capabilities. (RAND, Mar 2016).

Navy Loosens the Rules. It appears that the Navy is going to be a little lax in the physical fitness category. It seems some are wondering why being able to do those pushups and run fast is important. The Navy's body fat restrictions changed in January and many sailors are getting second, third, and fourth chances to pass their physical fitness test. Read "Navy loosens body fat rules to retain sailors", Military Times, March 7, 2016.

Closing GITMO. Congress required the president to submit a plan for how to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba. Obama had made this a presidential imperative but up to now has not come up with an alternate plan (other than releasing terrorists) to downsize the population and to continue to detain those deemed too dangerous to release. The White House submitted a plan in early March 2016. You can read the 21 page document posted on entitled Plan for Closing the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility.

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 7, 2016


Afghan Nation-Building A Bust. Doug Bandow thinks its time for a departure from Afghanistan. "Afghanistan is a bust. The Taliban is expanding its control. The number of security incidents was up a fifth in the last months of 2015 over the previous year. Popular confidence is at its lowest level in a decade. . . ." And so on. Read more in "Bring America's Troops Home From Afghanistan: Nation-Building a Bust",, February 1, 2016.

Life Without War. A combat veteran of the Afghan War, Daniel Fisher, writes about life after his tour in Afghanistan in "#Essays on War: September Morning", The Strategy Bridge, February 2, 2016.

More Troops Not the Answer? General Campbell, Resolute Commander, testified before the House Armed Services Committee and said that the U.S. should continue to provide military assistance to Afghanistan for five more years. I guess this is the forever war! Some skeptics are convinced that the security situation gets worse each year. Read "Throwing More U.S. Troops at Afghanistan Isn't the Answer", National Interest, February 2, 2016.

RAND Report - COIN Update for Afghanistan. Christopher Paul and Colin P. Clarke have penned a 51-page report entitled Counterinsurgency Scorecard Update: Afghanistan in Early 2015 Relative to Insurgencies Since World War II, RAND Corporation, February 2016.

A "Plan Colombia" Needed for Afghanistan. Shawn Snow believes that in the fight to rid Afghanistan of violent extremism, the central government needs greater resources to gain a decisive advantage. Read "A Plan Colombia for Afghanistan", Foreign Policy, February 3, 2016.

Dividing Afghanistan? One commentator seems to think that a division of Afghanistan into two regions would help settle down the conflict. The western / northern portion would contain Heratis, Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks, and others. The southern and eastern portion controlled by the Pashtuns. Hmmm. Not sure that would work. Read more in "Deteriorating Security Situation in Afghanistan", Indian Defence Review, February 4, 2016.

Open-Ended Conflict. Abdullah Sharif provides his thoughts on the current situation in Afghanistan in "Quagmirestan: America's Open-Ended Involvement in Afghanistan", The World Post, February 3, 2016.

Pakistan's Hand. Carlotta Gall examines Pakistan's role in the rise of international jihadism. Read "Pakistan's Hand in the Rise of International Jihad", The New York Times, February 6, 2016.

Book - "The Envoy". A former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Nations has penned a memoir. Zalmay Khalilzad has wrote The Envoy: From Kabul to the White House, My Journey Through a Turbulent World available at Macmillan Publishers. Khalilzad was born in Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan. Should be an informative read providing historical insight of the 'big picture'.

The War We Want and the War We Have. David Betz, a Reader in Warfare in the War Studies Department at King's College London, has penned a long essay on wars we want to fight and the wars we find ourselves involved with in "Carnage and Connectivity: How Our Pursuit of Fun Wars Brought the Wars Home", War on the Rocks, February 2, 2016.

Russia and a New Ally in Afghanistan? Some observers have made a lot of noise about Russia's supposed overtures to the Taliban in order to join forces against the rise of the Islamic State in Afghanistan. Javid Ahmad writes about Moscow's new ally in "Russia and the Taliban Make Amends", Foreign Affairs, January 31, 2016.

Lessons Not Learned. The US Army has two missions - defeating a capable adversary in large-scale land operations and conducting effective stability operations in areas in which governance is weak or nonexistent. The newly released report by the National Commission on the Future of the Army (Jan 28, 2016, 208 pages, PDF) lacks insight on how to address stability operations or counterinsurgency. As if to say that (as in the post-Vietnam era) we are not going to fight an OEF or OIF-like conflict every again. Read a critique of the recent report by the NCFA in "Ignoring the Army's Recent Past Will Not Help It Win Future Wars", by Andrew Hill, War on the Rocks, February 2, 2016.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Intelligence News

Afghan Intelligence Chief Resigns. The chief of the Afghan spy agency - National Directorate of Security or NDS - has resigned amid policy differences with President Ghani. Rahmatullah Nabil submitted his resignation on Thursday, December 10, 2015. Nabil's deputy -Massoud Andrabi - has been appointed as acting chief. One constant source of friction between the NDS chief and President Ghani is the approach to Pakistan. Afghanistan's neighbor has been supporting the various insurgent groups for years - in the belief that an unstable Afghanistan is much better for Pakistan than a strong country that could possibly ally with India and/or make demands on the disposition of the Durand Line. Mr. Nabil has been heading the NDS for about five years. See "Afghanistan intelligence chief resigns amid row", BBC News, December 10, 2015. Read also "Afghan Spy Chief Quits After Denouncing Talks With Pakistan", The New York Times, December 10, 2015. See also a report from Khaama Press, Dec 11, 2015.

Problems with Drones. Thomas Ricks writes about "5 big problems with the drone programs" in Foreign Policy, December 10, 2015.

LTG (Ret) Flynn to Write Book. A high-ranking U.S. Army intelligence officer, Michael T. Flynn, will soon be writing a book on how to win the global war against radical Islam. Flynn served as the intelligence officer for the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), as the G2 for ISAF in Afghanistan, and is the a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. He is at odds with the Obama administration in their handling the fight against Islamic terrorism and the conflicts in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. Read "Michael T. Flynn Inks Deal With St. Martin's Press", GalleyCat, December 9, 2015.

Sunday, November 8, 2015


CT - Rhetoric vs. Reality. Anthony H. Cordesman, of the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), provides us his thoughts on the difficulty of defining who is a terrorist and the conflict between defeating terrorism and observing human rights. He explores the relative ease in which a nation will declare itself against terrorism yet use non-state actors (terrorist groups) as proxies and tools to advance their national interests. He also suggests that institutions dealing with cooperation in dealing with terrorism focus largely on counterterrorism and not only dealing with the causes of terrorism. Read his paper Cooperation in Counterterrorism: Rhetoric vs. Reality, CSIS, October 20, 2015.

Hunter Killer - New Book. A retired Air Force drone pilot has penned a new book about drones. He was one of the original drone pilots and wrote the tactical manual for the predator and piloted drones from 2003 to 2012. Read more in "The Details of Drones, From a Pilot Who Flew Them", National Public Radio, November 5, 2015.

Toy UAV's Sold to Army. A Florida firm is under investigation for selling an inferior UAV - the Maveric Microdrone - to the Army at $240,000 per system. However, commercially available drones that are very similar are available on at a fraction of the price. Read "Drone Company Misled Military Into Buying UAVs That Were Basically Toys", War is Boring, November 6, 2015.

9th Annual Terrorism Conference. The Jamestown Foundation will host the Ninth Annual Terrorism Conference. The theme of this conference is "The War in Syria, Islamic State, and the Changing Landscape of Asymmetric Threats". Tuesday, December 8, 2015, Washington, D.C. View a comprehensive listing of security and defense conferences and exhibitions for the coming months at

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Reports & Books & Pubs

New Book on Lessons Learned. Richard D. Hooker, Jr. and Joseph J. Collins have edited a book entitled Lessons Encountered: Learning From the Long War, September 2015. The book is available (free) as a PDF file on the website of the National Defense University Press (Washington, D.C.). It covers the period beginning in 2001 to recent events in Afghanistan and Iraq. Of particular interest to Security Force Assistance advisors working in the Essential Functions area in Afghanistan is Chapter 4: "Raising and Mentoring Security Forces in Afghanistan and Iraq" by T.X. Hammes. I like the title "Lessons Encounter" - as we as a military seem to not "learn" from our past conflicts we only seem to "observe" the lessons.

Afghanistan and Failed Wars. Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) provides us with a 219 page slide presentation about the conflict in Afghanistan. His publication Afghanistan and "Failed State Wars": The Need for a Realistic Transitionis dated September 29, 2015. A very informative document (pdf) that gives us updated information on the political, military, economic, and security situation in Afghanistan.

AR 34-1. The Department of the Army has updated Army Regulation 34-1, Multinational Force Interoperability, July 10, 2015. Annex B-3, para c., (5), (b) says U.S. Army SGMs shouldn't expect the Brits to wear their headgear on the Resolute Support compound in Kabul.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Interview with Mike Waltz on Afghanistan

James Rosen on "The Foxhole" of Fox News interviews Michael G. Waltz - a Special Forces officer with multiple tours in Afghanistan and also a former high-level employee of the Department of Defense. The interview is on the topics of Afghanistan, the Islamic Jihad, President Obama as the commander-in-chief, Pakistan offering sanctuary to insurgents, the distraction that Iraq caused in winning in Afghanistan, reliance on NATO as a central player in Afghanistan, and more. Waltz is a reserve component member of the U.S. Army Special Forces, served as special advisor to Vice President Cheney on South Asia and counterterrorism, and worked in the Department of Defense in the office responsible for counternarcotics in Afghanistan and South Asia. Waltz currently serves as a senior national security advisor with the New America Foundation. Waltz is also the author of the book Warrior Diplomat. Watch the 18-minute long interview with Mike Waltz.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Book Review - "The Arabs at War in Afghanistan"

A new book about Afghanistan has been published. The Arabs at War in Afghanistan is about the history of the jihadist movement in Afghanistan. The book is co-authored by Mustafa Hamid, one of the first Arabs to join the anti-Soviet jihad and Leah Farral, an academic and former counter-terrorism analyst with the Australian police. With Hamid, the book explains the history of the jihad from the perspective of an early, active participant. Read a review of the book by Myra MacDonald entitled "From Freedom Fighters to the Islamic State: The Mutation of Jihad", War on the Rocks, March 9, 2015. The book is available at

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Book Reviews by Military Times

Military Times has provided short book reviews of some novels and nonfiction about the war in Afghanistan as well as some books on life in the military in general. In addition, there are several more books by SEALS. It would appear that writing is part of the SEAL qualification course! I can only imagine aspiring SEALs on the beach doing flutter kicks at the same time that they are recording thoughts in their journal on a waterproof notebook as the spray of the surf clouds their vision and the pencil becomes difficult to use due to the salt and sand mixing with the lead. Some of the titles reviewed are listed below:

Preparation for the Next Life by Atticus Lish
Green on Blue by Elliot Ackerman
The Valley by John Renehan
The Knife by Ross Ritchell
Fire on the Flight Deck by Darren Sapp
The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder by David J. Morris
The Last and Greatest Battle:  . . . End Military Suicides by John Bateson
The Reaper: Autobiography of One of the Deadliest Special Ops Snipersby Gary Brozek
Murder at Camp Delta by Joseph Hickman
Soldier of Change,  by Stephen Snyder-Hill
Be Safe, Love Mom By Elaine Lowry Brye  & Nan Gatewood Satter
They Were Heroes: . . . Tribute to Combat Marines by David K. Devaney
Resilence: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life by Eric Greitens

Read "Book Reviews: Novels, nonfiction & more SEAL titles", Military Times, March 14, 2015.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Book - "For Love of Country"

Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Howard Schultz have penned a book entitled For Love of Country. Chandrasekaran is a reporter and editor for The Washington Post and Schultz is the chief executive of Starbucks. Starbucks has a comprehensive program to hire veterans. The book is about the veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars. James Wright, president emeritus of Dartmouth College, reviews the book in The New York Times (March 2015).

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Book Review - Code Black

George Vlachonikolis reviews a newly published book entitled "Code Black" by Mark Evans. It is the story of a British Army Officer, Captain Mark Evans, and his deployment to Afghanistan in 2008. The book is about a two month long period where Evans, a small British unit, and an Afghan National Army (ANA) kandak were in intensive fighting in Nad Ali. The book reviewer - Vlachnonikolis - finds that the relationship between Evans and the ANA kandak commander reveals much about how the Afghan War was fought in general. Read the book review below published on March 10, 2105 - "The Trouble With Our Afghan "Led" Campaign".

Friday, March 6, 2015

Book - "Thieves of State"

Sarah Chayes, a true-life subject matter expert (SME) on Afghanistan, has written a book entitled Thieves of State. The book is about corruption and its devastating effects. Chayes is a former journalist, entrepreneur, and government advisor who has spent a lot of time (years) in Afghanistan. Her basic theme is that corruption fuels extremism and violence - as in the insurgency in Afghanistan. Taylor Dibbert, a freelance writer, has penned a review of Chayes's book entitled "Book Review: Thieves of State", Huffington Post Books, March 3, 2015.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Book Review - "88 Days to Kandahar"

Retired CIA operative Robert L. Grenier has wrote a book entitled 88 Days to Kandahar: A CIA Diary. Alissa J. Rubin provides us a book review highlighting the positives and negatives of the book. Read her book review in "Robert L. Grenier's '88 Days to Kandahar'", The New York Times, February 11, 2015. Read more book reviews on 88 Days to Kandahar.

Grenier served as the station chief for the CIA in Pakistan during the invasion of Afghanistan by the United States. He was instrumental in the development of policy and execution of the invasion in the early days of the war. His story recounts how Hamid Karzai came to power and entered Kandahar with his resistance forces; toppling the Taliban regime in southern Afghanistan.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Book - "The Valley"

A new book is coming out about Afghanistan. It is a work of fiction that takes place on a small outpost in the Korengal Valley in Kunar province in eastern Afghanistan. The book, by John Renehan, is named "The Valley" and will be published in March 2015. The book's story is told through a Lieutenant Black -  a staff officer visiting the small outpost conducting an after-action report. Read a book review entitled "Renehan's 'The Valley': A fine new novel about one outpost in the Afghanistan War", posted on The Best Defense Blog - Foreign Policy, January 8, 2015.