Showing posts with label central-asia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label central-asia. Show all posts

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Security Update for Northern Afghanistan

Attack on German MeS Consulate. A suicide bomber rammed his truck into the German consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan killing and wounding civilians in the area on Thursday, November 10, 2016. The consulate suffered major damage to its outside perimeter wall - leaving a huge crater in the ground and overturning nearby cars in the street. No German or Afghan members of the consulate staff were killed or harmed. Twenty members of the German staff were evacuated to Camp Marmal (nearby MeS). Read more in "Afghanistan: Fatal attack on German consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif", BBC News, November 11, 2016.

Video on North Afghanistan and Central Asia. In July 2016 the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) conducted a 90-minute presentation and discussion on the security situation in Afghanistan and the impact on the Central Asia states across the northern border of Afghanistan. There is growing instability in Afghanistan and this includes the formerly peaceful areas of North Afghanistan.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

AWN Snippets

TFBSO - Not All Bad News? The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has been all over the failures of the DoD Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO) that worked on the development of economic projects in Afghanistan. But not all folks out there wise on Afghanistan agree with SIGAR. Jeff Goodson, a retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer with three deployments to Afghanistan expresses his view in an online article. Read "Legacy Rising: DoD Business Task Force Impact Evidence Grows", Real Clear Defense, January 28, 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,, January 29, 2016.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Insecurity & Human Rights in Central Asia

Post-Kerry Visit Analysis. The Secretary of State's five-country tour of Central Asia was big news - just the fact that it happened. Central Asia has been getting a lot of attention from leaders of very important nations to include Japan, India, China and others - but thus far the U.S. has not had a very prominent presence. With the withdrawal from Afghanistan the U.S. focus on Central Asia has diminished. So has the U.S.'s mentioning of the State Department's New Silk Road Strategy (NSRS). So what was accomplished? Probably not much. Read more in "As Kerry Leaves, What's Next for U.S. in Central Asia?", The Bug Pit,, November 4, 2015.

Central Asia's Human Dimension? Kerry's visit with the dictators of Central Asia begs the question - Why? The nations located north of Afghanistan have a poor reputation when it comes to human rights. The Secretary of State broke new ground when he 'diplomatically' used the words 'human dimension' in place of 'human rights'. Read more in "Lost in Central Asia's 'Human Dimension'", Freedom House, November 4, 2015.

John Kerry and Uzbekistan. The Secretary of State is visiting five Central Asian nations in an effort to bolster the U.S. image in those countries, gain support for U.S. initiatives in the area (New Silk Road), ask for continued support for the Afghan regime, and (in private) raise concerns about human rights. Read more in "John Kerry is Cautious on Human Rights During Uzbekistan Visit"The New York Times, November 1, 2015.

Turkmenistan's Afghan Policy. It's hard to be neutral in the midst of a war along your border. This is true with Turkmenistan as it looks in a southerly direction across its border. Read more in "Turkmenistan's Afghan Policy Revealed"Qishloq Ovozi Blog (Radio Free Europe), October 27, 2015.

Tajikistan Worried? - Not so Much. Analysts run the range of  'highly concerned' to 'not very' when it comes to evaluating the threat from Afghan insurgent groups crossing the border going north. Read "Tajikistan Brushes off Talk of Islamic State at the Border", Inside the Cocoon - Central Asia Today, November 6, 2015.

Traveling Along the Pamir Highway. High above the clouds in an area of the world where the borders of Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and China meet is a stretch of mountains both beautiful and remote. Read more in "The Pamir Highway: Adventures on the border of Afghanistan",, November 5, 2015.

Preparing for Chaos. The capture of Kunduz City by the Taliban sent Central Asia into the worry mode. 7,000 Afghan security force members fled to the airport to the south of the city when confronted with 500 Taliban fighters. So Central Asia has good reason to be concerned. Read more in "Central Asia Prepares for Chaos from Afghanistan", Silk Road Reporters, November 6, 2015.

Central Asia after Afghanistan. Jeffrey Mankoff writes on how the war in Afghanistan has been both a boon and curse for neighboring Central Asia. Read more in "The Integrate Game: Central Asia After Afghanistan"World Politics Review (WPR), November 3, 2015.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Fall of Kundez: The Aftermath

Taliban Announce Withdrawal from Kunduz City. After many days of fighting the Taliban announced that it was ceasing the fight in the city proper to avoid unnecessary deaths among its ranks in with the civilian population. During their brief occupation of Kunduz the managed to free inmates from two prisons, destroy government offices and facilities, and hunting government employees. In addition, they embarrassed the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF). Read more in "Taliban Withdraw From Kunduz After Days of Fighting", The New York Times, October 13, 2015.

Government Employees and Others Rounded Up? The Taliban did a lot of damage for the few days they occupied the city. Part of their operations involved the rounding up of government employees and others supporting the fight against the Taliban. Read more in "Screams From Northern Afghanistan Have Been Silenced", by Jade Wu, Small Wars Journal, October 12, 2015.

More on Airstrike on Hospital. It appears that US analysts knew that the DWB location was a hospital. According to some sources the facility was being used by a Pakistani operative to coordinate Taliban activity within Kunduz. The hospital was suspected of being a Taliban command and control center harboring heavy weapons. The Pakistani, believed to have been working for the Pakistan Inter-Service Intelligence directorate, is assessed as being killed in the airstrike. Read more in "US Analysts knew Afghan site was Hospital", Associated Press, October 15, 2015.

Central Asian States Nervous. The Taliban capture of a provincial capital for the first time since 2001 has shaken the the Afghan security forces and Afghan government. Other folks are concerned as well - including the Central Asian countries to the north of Afghanistan (Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan). Russia, seemingly engaged everywhere nowadays, is offering their security assistance. Read more in "After Fall of Kunduz, Russia Tries to Shore Up Defenses in Central Asia", EurasiaNet, October 10, 2015. See also "Russian troops could be deployed to Afghanistan's borders as the US leaves", Business Insider, October 15, 2015.

New Governors for Northern Afghanistan. President Ghani has appointed four new governors for northern Afghan provinces. This is in response to the security situation in northern Afghanistan that has steadily deteriorated since 2009. The leadership changes are taking place in Takhar, Faryab, Baghlan, and Sar-i-Pul provinces. Read more in "Can new governors turn the Taliban tide in northern Afghanistan?", IRIN, Octobere 8, 2015.

15 Days of Fighting. It took fifteen days of fierce fighting for Afghan government forces and their US allies to push the Taleban back out of Kunduz City. Read how it happened in "The fall and recapture of Kunduz", by Obaid Ali, Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN), October 16, 2015.

Aftermath. A Kabul-based Afghan journalist is embedded with the Afghan special forces in Kunduz. He is interviewed about the state of the Kunduz siege in "Kunduz Frontline Report: 10 Days After the Taliban Siege", The Diplomat, October 10, 2015. The U.S. is reportedly making condolence payments for those injured in the air attack on the Kunduz hospital. See a news release on this topic by the DoD on October 10, 2015.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Courting Central Asia

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

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Central Asia and Islam

The nation of Uzbekistan - located along the northern border of Afghanistan - is confronting the rising threat of Islamic fundamentalism. Uzbekistan offers insights into secular Islam within Central Asia and the legacy of Soviet influence. This country is often overlooked by the western world as the focus is on events happening in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, North Africa and other areas of the globe. However, in light of the rising threat of Islamic fundamentalism, it may be useful to take a closer look at Uzbekistan. In addition, the Afghan conflict - which sees the activities of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) firmly entrenched in northern Afghanistan - may continue to spill over into Uzbekistan. This country offers a glimpse of what a secular Islamist state could look like - as well as the way in which religious repression will sometimes lead to extremism, violence, and state instability. Read more in "Central Asia: Can Secular Islam Survive?"The Diplomat, April 10, 2015.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Central Asia and Afghan Drawdown

Central Asian states are concerned about the spread of ISIS and the possible flow of insurgents northward from the Afghan nation. The situation in northern Afghanistan gets worse and worse as years go by. The ability of the Coalition under the new Resolute Support Mission to influence or shape events on the ground in what used to be referred to as Regional Command North (RC North) is minimal. Train, Advise, Assist Command - North, under German leadership, has little strength in numbers and very little combat power. Air support is non-existent and comes out of Bagram if at all. The small amount of troops not dedicated to staff, command, advising, or support are providing "force protection" and "guardian angel" services. Confined to Camp Marmal, except when advisors and their force protection detail head to the 209th Corp HQs, the Coalition sees very little on what is happening in northern Afghanistan. TAAC North's intelligence assets are very likely limited and probably blind on the true tactical situation. Relying on the intelligence provided by the 209th Corps, OCC-R, ANP, and ABP is problematic.

The Taliban, IMU, and other insurgent groups have made great inroads into northern Afghanistan and the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have proven themselves not up to the challenge. There is a very real threat to the Central Asian states to the north. While ISAF may be blind to the situation the Central Asian states are aware of what the future may bring.

Read more in "Central Asia and Afghanistan as the Drawdown Deadline Arrives", Gandhara Blog - Radio Free Europe, December 29, 2014.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Afghanistan's Neighbors Worried about Drugs

Most experts would agree on the statement that the Western war on drugs in Afghanistan has been a failure. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) in 2014 Afghanistan had the largest opium harvest in history. Afghanistan's regional neighbors and countries beyond are clearly worried. Read more in "Afghanistan's Thriving Drug Trade Worries Neighbours"Silk Road Reporters, December 15, 2014.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Prospects of Regional Integration in Central Asia

Fatema Z. Sumar, Deputy Assistance Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, recently addressed a gathering at George Washington University (October 28, 2014) where she provided comments on Central Asia and Afghanistan. She highlighted a number of developments in the region that are having an impact on the political, economic, and security situation in Central Asia. She pointed out that Afghanistan is on the right path. The country recently held elections, elected a new president, signed the Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States, and that the United States has renewed its commitment to the train, advise and assist mission over the next two years. She also stated that the U.S. has "redoubled efforts to advance the New Silk Road initiative economically linking Afghanistan with Central and South Asia . . .". You can read all of her comments in "Prospects for Regional Integration in Central Asia", U.S. Department of State, October 28, 2014.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Central Asia Worries about Afghanistan Threat

The nations of Central Asia have a good memory - and they remember the turmoil of the last half of the 1990s when the Taliban took power in Afghanistan. The Taliban rule covered over 90% of Afghanistan except for a small area held by Tajiks. The United States and its allies are closing up shop. By December 2014 the troop numbers will be small - probably 15,000 or less. By December 2015 the number will be around 5,000. ISAF has removed almost all of its combat troops (except some Special Operations Forces) and will soon remove much of its intelligence, aerial ISR, logistical, MEDEVAC, and close support assets. These enabling forces have assisted the Afghan security forces in 2013 and 2014. The Taliban are not defeated and prospects of the ANSF to clear them from the battlefield is remote. Central Asian states are concerned that the difficulties in Afghanistan will bleed northward into their countries. Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty is tracking the actions that the Central Asian states are taking to counter this potential threat from Afghanistan in a series of articles entitled "Central Asia Prepares for Afghan Threat". You can read part 1 and part 2 here.

Friday, February 28, 2014

U.S. Kisses Manas Goodbye

The United States is closing the Manas transit center in Kyrgyzstan. The transit center operated for years and was instrumental in the movement of personnel and equipment in and out of the Afghan theater. Those personnel who passed through Manas on their way to Afghanistan probably arrived on the "rotator" - a civilian contract airliner filled with military personnel (and contractors). You exited the aircraft and were trucked to the Manas compound where you recovered your baggage and then found a cot in one of the huge tents erected for transients. Your next stop was air operations to find a flight to Afghanistan. Sometimes it was a quick 24 hour turn around. For some it could be days (if you didn't have a ULN!). The Krygyzstan has exacted a hefty price for the use of the airbase and their ever increasing monetary demands were finally a bit too much. Romania is where most of the equipment and personnel will pass through on the way to Europe or the states during the retrograde from Afghanistan. It is time to kiss Manas goodbye! (Photo by Senior Airman George Goslin, USAF 376th Air Expeditionary Wing, 30 Dec 13).

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Basing U.S. Drones in Central Asia

With the draw down of ISAF forces continuing in Afghanistan and a strong chance of the "zero option" being implemented due to the Bilateral Security Agreement not being signed the U.S. needs to consider where it will base its drones. Certainly without a troop presence at Bagram, Kandahar, or even Jalalabad it would be risky to station drones at those locations. Perhaps the CIA would take more risk than the military but without a minimal troop presence for support and security it is probably not going to happen. That means the U.S. needs to look north for stationing the drones. The drones would be used in the counter terrorist effort to continue to monitor and neutralize the remnants of al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. There are a few Central Asian countries that might be willing to accept the basing and operation of drones (at a price of course). Read more in "Where in Central Asia Would the U.S. Put A Drone Base?", The Bug Pit, February 17, 2014.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Great Game - 2014 Plus

An article entitled "Karzai's Great Game Gamble" by Gawdat Bahgat and Robert Sharp has been posted on The Small Wars Journal (January 24, 2014). The writers provide us a little history on "The Great Game" played by England and Russia and then apply that to current times (2014 plus) as it relates to the Central Asian nations development of oil and gas resources (and pipelines) and the U.S. "pivot" to a naval presence in the Indian Ocean and Pacific. They then tie in the need for continued U.S. support to Afghanistan with the strategic picture and discuss the refusal of Karzai to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA). They conclude with the thought that we need to wait out Karzai and recognize that signing the BSA later is better than not at all even though it will complicate the life of ISAF and Pentagon planners working the retrograde.