Showing posts with label corruption. Show all posts
Showing posts with label corruption. Show all posts

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Governance and Politics in Afghanistan

Corruption in Afghanistan. Transparency International's annual Corruption Perceptions Index ranks Afghanistan as the 4th most corrupt country in the world, trailing only Syria, South Sudan, and Somalia. See "Afghanistan Ranked 4th Most Corrupt Country For this Year", Tolo News, February 22, 2018.

2nd Provincial Governor Refused to Leave. President Ghani's office approved and announced the appointment of new heads for five provinces - including Samangan in the north. Samangan is just south of Balkh province. The current governor, Abdul Karim Khedam, refused to leave his post - becoming the second governor to resist removal. See "Another Provincial Governor Defies Dismissal Orders from Afghan President", Voice of America, February 18, 2018. But . . . eventually he stepped aside. (Khaama Press, Feb 20, 2018).

Dostum Speaks from "Abroad". First Vice President Dostum is still in Turkey (going on six months). He recently weighed in on current events in Afghanistan. "Dostum Makes Suggestions To Govt Despite Being in Exile", Tolo News, February 22, 2018.

E-Tazkera Crisis. Afghanistan is dividing along ethnic and political lines over the issuing of an electronic identity card. The main debate centers on ethnicity. Members of the Tajic, Hazara, Uzbec and other ethnic groups are opposing the use of the world "Afghan" on the ID card. They contend that "Afghan" denotes "Pashtun". The Pashtun ethnic group says that it refers to all the people of Afghanistan. Read an excellent examination of the issue in "The E=Tazkera Rift: Yet another political crisis looming?", Afghanistan Analyst Network (AAN),  February 22, 2018.

ACJC Criticized. The Anti-Corruption Criminal Justice Center is coming under fire. While it has arrived at a number of court decisions - the implementation of those decisions are ignored. In addition, it has failed to tackle major cases of corruption. "ACJC Critized As It Struggles to Fight Corruption", Tolo News, February 21, 2018.

2018 Elections in Peril? There are doubts about whether Afghanistan will be able to conduct its parliamentary elections in the summer of 2018. The Japanese are giving $13 million USD in aid to help in the conduct of the elections. While the Afghan government says it will run the elections for parliament and district councils there are many observers that say it won't happen. Read "UNAMA Chief Says Elections Must Be Held As Scheduled", Tolo News, February 21, 2018.

President Ghani Profiled. Ihsanullah Omarkhail (a writer on foreign policy, peace, state building, terrorism, etc.) provides a glowing assessment of President Ashraf Ghani in "Afghanistan: President Ghani's Concept of National Issues", Eurasia Review, February 18, 2018.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Corruption News

For years the U.S. and its international partners have complained about and tried to reduce the corruption that is rampant in the Afghan government at the national, provincial, and district level. This corruption is pervasive within all of the ministries. And, in addition, it is found at all levels within the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF). For just as many years Afghan government and security force leaders have said they are instituting reforms to eliminate corruption. And . . . for just as many years . . . almost nothing has been done by the Afghan government to reign in the graft and corruption - which would lead to better governance, more services to the Afghan people, and more effective national security institutions. Reducing corruption to an 'acceptable level' would also take away one of the main recruiting themes of the insurgents. Read more . . .

June 11, 2017. "Away From the Fighting, Kabul Takes On Another Enemy: Corruption", by Frud Bezhan, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Afghan Corruption - It Just Doesn't Go Away

The U.S. and other nations have long identified corruption as a main factor in support for the insurgency and the ineffectiveness of the government and security institutions to defeat the insurgency. For many long years the international community has worked very hard (some years harder than others) to diminish corruption but still it persists at all levels of the Afghan government and throughout the security institutions. General John R. Allen, USMC and former COMISAF, once said "Corruption is the existential, strategic threat to Afghanistan". Some recent reports and news stories about Afghan corruption are provided below:

May 30, 2017. Industrial-Scale Looting of Afghanistan's Mineral Resources, United States Institute for Peace (USPI). This 20-page report details the large-scale looting of mineral resources amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars per year that fuels local conflicts, the wider insurgency, and supports power brokers and warlords.

May 27, 2017. Inspector general grads to boost anti-corruption efforts, Resolute Support HQs. A press release by RS HQs featuring recent graduates of the Ministry of Defense IG school. The newly minted IGs will join 570 of their IG colleagues operating across Afghanistan.

Sunday, October 9, 2016


Local Level Participation to Reduce Corruption. Nassir Ahmad Taraki, a university lecturer in Kabul, believes that people's participation at the local governance level is needed to reduce corruption within Afghan government. Read "Transparency, Accountability: People's Agenda" Eurasia Review, October 5, 2016.

"Making Afghanistan Self-Reliant". Rohullah Osmani and Jan Brecht-Clark write on what needs to happen to improve Afghanistan's self-reliance over the next five to ten years. Foreign Affairs, October 2, 2016.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Afghan Governance News

The two-year anniversary of the formation of the National Unity Government (NUG) is approaching and many of the expected actions (political and electoral reforms, scheduling of parliamentary elections, convening of Loya Jirga, etc.) that were supposed to take place have been put on hold. This raises the question of the legitimacy of the NUG and may likely cause some increased political turmoil in Afghanistan. The constitutional crisis and political deadlock is being carefully watched by donor nations and those countries providing troops for the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan. Read more in "The Coming Political Crisis In Afghanistan - Analysis", Eurasia Review, September 27, 2016.

SIGAR Report - Lessons Learned. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction has issued a report entitled "Conference Report - Lessons from the Coalition: International Experiences from the Afghanistan Reconstruction", September 2016.

Fighting Corruption? Not so much. "Out of 83 senior officials in the past two Afghan governments, only one - the current president, Ashraf Ghani - fully complied with financial disclosure laws . . ." Read more in "U.S.-Backed Effort to Fight Afghan Corruption Is a Near-Total Failure, Audit Finds", The New York Times, September 27, 2016.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Corruption - Still the Number One Enemy

General John Allen (retired) once said that "Corruption is the existential strategic threat to Afghanistan". The former International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) commander was correct. Not much has changed since his statement a few years back.

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has just released a report entitled Corruption in Conflict: Lessons from the U.S. Experience in Afghanistan, September 2016. This 164-page document contains 'lessons observed' (versus 'lessons learned') from the Afghan conflict. The report contains some recommendations on how to do stability operations in a remote, impoverished, conflict-ridden country. You can view the report (Adobe Acrobat PDF) at this link:

Read one writers thoughts on the report and corruption in Afghanistan in "How Corruption Defeated Afghan Reconstruction", by Matthew Gault, War is Boring, September 21, 2016.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Afghan War News Snippets

Borders Closing to Afghan Migrants. The country of Macedonia has closed its southern border with Greece to Afghan migrants but will allow entry for Iraqis and Syrians. Countries to the north of Macedonia have closed their borders to Afghans so this has caused a 'domino effect' where no nation was to be the ultimate final stop for the migrants. Read more in "Greece: Macedonia has closed its borders to Afghan migrants", Associated Press, February 21, 2016.

Clashes as Result of Borders Closing. Clashes are taking place between Afghan asylum seekers and Greek riot police as a result of Macedonia closing its borders to Afghans. Read more in "Policy Shifts on Refugees Lead to Clashes Between Migrants and Police", The New York Times, February 23, 2016.

Afghan Migration Report. A couple of organizations, RUSI and BAAG, have collaborated on a report entitled Migration & Development: The Case of Afghanistan, London Roundtable - 16th December 2015, published on 19 Feb 2016.

Asylum Seekers Disillusioned. "A special plane from Germany carrying rejected Afghan asylum seekers has landed in Kabul. What prospects do these people now have in their home country?" Read "Disillusionment driving Afghan asylum seekers back home"Deutsche  Welle, February 25, 2016.

Movie - Day One. This movie about an Afghan female interpreter has been nominated for an Academy Award in the short film, live active category. The director of the movie, Henry Hughes, is a combat veteran who spent a tour in Afghanistan with the 173rd. Read more in "Cavalry scout-turned-filmaker is headed to the Oscars, interpreter in tow", Military Times, February 25, 2016.

Afghan Interpreter Aided by Army Reservist. A U.S. Army reservist was instrumental in helping an ally from his war tour to gain entry to the United States. Read more in "Army Reserve Soldier welcomes former interpreter to America", DVIDS, February 24, 2016.

Movie - Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. One of my favorite move stars, Tin Fey, stars in a movie about a news reporter in Afghanistan. Evidently it is based on the adventures of journalist Kim Barker who spent some time as a reporter in Afghanistan. Hits the theaters on March 4th. The blonde that plays her sidekick is "hot", so that alone is worth the price of admission. In the states she would be a "Ten"; in Afghanistan a "Thirty". Watch the trailer here.

Bin Laden and McRaven. Admiral McRaven was head of the special operations unit that got the head of al Qaeda in Pakistan and many remember him for that but he would rather be remembered for the totality of 37 years service. Read more in "McRaven now appreciates impact in U.S. of his bin Laden raid", The Tampa Tribune, February 25, 2016.

U.S. Payments for MSF Clinic Bombing - Not Enough? The U.S. military is paying thousands of dollars to wounded survivors and relatives of the 2 Afghans killed when a U.S. AC-130 gunship attacked a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders in Kunduz city this past October 2015. Families of the deceased will receive up to $6,000. Read more in "U.S. payments to Afghans in hospital attack called inadequate", Military Times, February 26, 2016.

U.S. Money Still Flowing. "How to track the taxpayer money helping to rebuild the country is a key question as budget battles begin this week." Read more in "U.S. Money Will Keep Flowing to Afghanistan As Oversight Plummets", Huffpost Politics, February 24, 2016.

DoD Probe Into Afghan Sex Abuse. "The Pentagon's inspector general is launching a 'full assessment' into multiple reports that the U.S. military encouraged troops to ignore their Afghan allies' sexual abuse of children." The practice of bacha bazi - or boy play - is one that has captured the attention of the western media and that sometimes puts American servicemen into difficult cultural and moral situations. Read a memo by the DoDIG dated February 19, 2016 on this topic.

Kabul Power Restored? After weeks of a partial blackout in the capital city electrical power has been restored. Afghanistan's national power company repaired power lines near the northern border with Uzbekistan that were cut by Taliban insurgents in January. The lines supply 280 of the 600 megawatts of power consumed daily in Kabul. Bad winter weather and security concerns delayed repairs for weeks prompting may Kabul residents to question the Afghan government.

Video Games, Deployment, and Rage Quitting. I seen lots of Soldiers playing video games on deployments; I was never into nor did I have the spare time. But evidently there is something called "Rage Quitting" - which is what happens when you combine a slow deployment in Afghanistan and video games. Read more in "A True Story of Rage Quitting in Afghanistan", Task and Purpose, February 26, 2016.

Corruption in Afghanistan? Who Knew? An anti-corruption monitoring group says that the Afghan government's official commitment to address the problem is weakening. The independent Monitoring and Evaluation Committee or MEC has released its half-year report. Read more in "Monitoring Group: Corruption Still a Problem in Afghanistan", Voice of America, February 25, 2016.

Women's Rights. Lael Mohib, founder of the Enabled Children Initiative and spouse of Afghanistan's ambassador to the United States, is interviewed in "Advancing Women's Rights in Afghanistan: A Conversation with Lael Mohib", In Asia: Weekly Insight and Analysis, February 24, 2016.

Russia Gives U.S. "Cold Shoulder" Over Afghanistan. Russia is disengaging from any United States efforts to spur peace talks or to establish stability in Afghanistan. Instead Russia is concentrating efforts to ensure security prevails in countries north of Afghanistan. Read more in "Russia Pulls Back From Cooperating With U.S. on Afghanistan", The New York Times, February 20, 2016.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Drug Trafficking in Afghanistan

Opium, Corruption, and Govt: A Smoothly Run Machine. Most government functions in Afghanistan simply do not work well. Whether it is the military, health services, police, education, or any other aspect of Afghan government at the national, provincial, and district level - there are problems with corruption, ineptness, and more. However, there is one aspect of Afghan society that seems to work well - that is the joining of government officials, drug traffickers, and others in ensuring that the opium gets to market - providing income and profits to many. Read more in "Tasked With Combating Opium, Afghan Officials Profit From It"The New York Times, February 15, 2016.

Taliban as a Drug Cartel. Recently the Taliban 'shadow governor' of Nimruz province (adjacent to the troubled Helmand province) was captured by Afghan special police (444) transporting nearly a metric ton of opium across the southwestern Afghan desert. The event highlights how much the Taliban and drug trade are intertwined in southwest Afghanistan. Read more in a news report by Azam Ahmed entitled "Penetrating Every Stage of Afghan Opium Chain, Taliban Become a Cartel", The New York Times, February 16, 2016.

Legalize Opium? One writer, Jeffrey Miron, shares his thoughts on the opium trade in "Opium Prohibition in Afghanistan", CATO Institute, February 16, 2016.

Drugs in Nangarhar. This province has historically been one of the more important ones - with a road that travels from Pakistan to Kabul (east-west). However, it has lots of problems with security. The Taliban are present as well as the newly-established Islamic State. And, of course, there is the drug problem. Read The Devil is in the Details: Nangarhar's continued decline into insurgency, violence and widespread drug production, Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU), February 2016.

Islamic Terrorism & Drug Money. The Taliban is not the only organization using drug money to finance operations. The Islamic State or ISIS depends heavily on drug money to fund its operations as well. Read more in "There's a little-known connection between Islamic terrorism and drug money", Business Insider, February 17, 2016.

Sunday, February 7, 2016


Vice President Dostum
Dostum on the Outs? It appears that Abdul Rashid Dostum is not happy with the National Unity Government (NUG). His nominations for selected personnel to be posted to the government have been ignored by President Ghani. Dostum's security plans for the creation of special units to fight insurgents has not received much attention either. He has been a constant factor in Afghan politics over the past three decades with great support from areas of northern Afghanistan. During the past 30 years Dostum switch sides in the conflict a number of times to include the Afghan civil war between the communist regime and muhjaheen - and also during the subsequent civil war after the fall of the communist regime and withdrawal of Soviet forces. Read more in "Afghan Vice President in Quiet Government Boycott Over Power Sharing", Gandhara Blog, February 1, 2016.

Rumored Resignation of MoI Minister? Twitter was raging yesterday (Sat) about speculation that the minister for the Ministry of Interior would soon resign. So the three most important Afghan Security Institutions (ASI) - MoD, NDS, and MoI could soon see 'acting' leaders is not encouraging. (Reuters, Feb 6, 2016).

Fist Fights in Kandahar. One of President Ghani's top aides got into a physical altercation with a leading tribal member of Kandahar province recently. The aide has been fired but there remains some hurt feelings that could be a major problem in the future if not smoothed over. Read more in "Afghan government rocked by Kandahar fistfight", Reuters, February 5, 2016.

Guide to Afghan Parliament. The Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) folks have put together an in-depth paper on the Afghan parliament. India just completed construction of a new parliament building ($200 million) and the two houses of parliament have plenty of seating in large halls. Read "New Building, Old MPs: A guide to the Afghan parliament", February 4, 2016.

No Elections? Afghanistan electoral institutions and processes are highly corrupt, inefficient, and ineffective. The recent history of the last presidential election resulting in the formation of the National Unity Government (NUG) shows just how bad the situation is. The deteriorating security and economic environment is not going to make things much better for the future parliamentary elections. Read more in "In Afghanistan, No Leadership Means No Elections", The South Asia Channel - Foreign Policy, January 29, 2016.

Corruption. The European Union issued a press release saying that the Afghan government needs to address the corruption found within government and police organizations. "Corruption remains endemic in Afghanistan", EU, February 2, 2016.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Rule of Law in Afghanistan

Video - RoL and BG Mitch Chitwood. The leader of Essential Function 3 at NATO's Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan is assisting the Afghan National Security Forces in aligning their effort with the rule of law, increased transparency, and the fight against corruption. In this 2-min long video posted on DVIDS on December 9, 2015 the general tells us about his job and the progress being made. For once it sounds like we got the right advisor in the right job! Many advisors are poorly selected and trained for their posting while working at the MoD and MoI.

International Anti-Corruption Day - Dec 9th. The United Nations led an international campaign to focus on how corruption affects education, health, justice, democracy, prosperity and development. I wonder if any progress was made in stemming corruption in Afghanistan?

Sunday, December 6, 2015


Counter-IED Capabilities Need Investments. Over the last few years the U.S. military has attempted, unsuccessfully, to put Afghanistan and Iraq (and things like COIN, C-IED, JIEDDO, etc.) into the rear view mirror. Unfortunately conflicts like these will continue to pop up over the horizon and the use of IEDs by the combatants that we will oppose will stay just as prevalent as they were on the roads of Iraq and Afghanistan. Read more in "Growing Terrorist Threat Requires New U.S. Investments in Counter-IED Capabilities", by Daniel Goure, Real Clear Defense, November 30, 2015.

Deobandi Islam, Pashtunwali, and the Taliban. "The Taliban are arguably more powerful now than at any point since they were ousted in 2001." This power comes not just from the support the Pakistan state provides but from the civilian population of Afghanistan tired of an ineffective and corrupt national government. The Taliban's more moderate approach and ". . . increasingly resurgent narrative of stability through reverting to Afghanistan's past . . . " is generating ever-growing support from the rural Afghan population. Peter Storey provides us with his view of the Taliban in "The Roots of the Taliban", The Bridge, December 1, 2015.

Pivoting From Pakistan. When President Ghani took office he made a deliberate effort to revitalize the Afghan- Pakistan relationship . . . but it wasn't reciprocated. Now it would appear he is reaching out to India at the risk of weakening ties with Pakistan. Read more in "Ghani's Pivot Away From Pakistan", by Shawn Snow, Foreign Policy, November 25, 2015.

Fighting a War in a Land-Locked Country Like Afghanistan. A U.S. Air Force C-17 aircraft commander provides his perspective on the difficulties of fighting a war in a country that is remote and bordered by less than reliable allies. His paper describes exactly how difficult it is to get the Pakistan government to stop its support of the Taliban given the overflight requirements needed to prosecute the war. "Pakistan Catch-22: The Trouble with Wars in Landlocked Countries", The Bridge, December 2, 2015.

Fractured Taliban? Tamim Hamid provides us with an explanation of the current state of the Taliban leadership in "A Divided Taliban Explained", Tolo News, December 3, 2015.

Corruption Hindering the Fight. Corruption in Afghanistan has had a corrosive impact on military operations. It undermines the legitimacy of the Afghan government, provides fodder for recruitment into the Taliban (and ISIS), and has rendered ineffective the Afghan National Police (and to a lesser degree the Afghan National Army). The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) undermined its own objective of creating security in the country with its initial inattention to the problem. Read "How Corruption Undermines NATO Operations", Defense One, December 2, 2015.

Kagan on Afghanistan. Fred Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute and a observer of the Afghan conflict provides his thoughts on what the US needs to do in Afghanistan. He sees the insurgent groups gaining more territory and capability as time goes on and a weak ANDSF that is seeing its international support slowly diminish. He advocates for more US troops and expanded authorities for those currently stationed there. He believes that the appropriate troop level is likely around 20,000 to 30,000. Read The Afghanistan Conundrum: How Should the US Approach the Rise of Insurgent Groups?, AEI, December 2, 2015.

French COIN. The vast majority of our senior level general officers would like to put the counterinsurgency years of Iraq and Afghanistan behind us - well, . . . they can't. COIN is not going away. While folks are painting the conflict in Syria and Iraq with ISIS as counterterrorism there is still many aspects of the fight that is a counterinsurgency. And in Afghanistan, the Afghan security forces are conducting counterinsurgency (while U.S. and NATO advisors busy themselves with advising the Afghan security institutions and corps-level organizations on 'systems', 'functions', and 'processes'). Many U.S. "COIN experts" draw upon the experiences of the French pacification of Algeria for 'lessons learned'. In particular, they read the tracts provided to us by two noted French officers - David Galula and Roger Trinquier. However, one student of French strategy suggests that a truer picture of the French COIN effort in Algeria can be gained by digging deeper into French military historical writings. Read "Myth-Busting French Counterinsurgency", by Terrence Peterson, War on the Rocks, December 3, 2015.

Is the U.S. Army's Personnel System Broke? YES! A 1LT who spent two years studying at Oxford instead of holding standard military jobs expected of junior officers was almost forced out of the Army. Besides being a Rhodes Scholar he was at the top of his ROTC class. And although over 90% of his peers were getting promoted he was being left behind. Read more about some of the systemic problems the Army's personnel bureaucracy is experiencing in "First Steps Towards the Force of the Future"War on the Rocks, December 1, 2015.

PowerPoint in Armored Vehicles - Really? OMG, so it finally happened. The Army's officers have figured out a way to display PowerPoint slides in an armored. Trust me - this is not a good thing. My experience with creating PowerPoint slides to convey a message to senior level officers is that the font type, size, and color is much more important than the content. Read "This armored vehicle lets you use PowerPoint on the battlefield"The Washington Post, December 1, 2015. For more info see "I Corps validates new mobile command post proof-of-concept", November 29, 2015.

All Military Occupations Open to Women - SECDEF. Ash Carter, the Secretary of Defense, announced that beginning in January 2016, all military occupations and positions will be open to women, without exception. This includes all units and organizations in the infantry and in special operations. So far in 2015 two women passed the very tough Ranger Course at Fort Benning; perhaps we will see some women enter Special Forces training at Fort Bragg in 2016. Let's hope that a advance in "fairness" and "political correctness" will not result in the implementation of quotas, a lowering of standards, the erosion of unit cohesiveness, and a decrease in combat effectiveness. Read more in "Carter Opens all Military Occupations, Positions to Women", DoD News Release, December 3, 2015.

Women in the Marine Corps Infantry? RAND Corporation conducted a study for the U.S. Marine Corps that reviewed the literature on the integration of women in combat units, conducted interviews with members of organizations with physically demanding occupations, estimated the costs of potential initiatives to promote successful gender integration, and develop an approach for monitoring implementation of gender integration of the infantry. Read "Implications of Integrating Women into the Marine Corps Infantry", Rand Corporation, November 2015.

Women in Ground Combat Units? A doctor very familiar with sports science adds his voice to this topic. Read "Sports Science, Physiology, and the Debate over Women in Ground Combat Units", by Dr. Paul O. Davis, War on the Rocks, December 1, 2015.

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Update on Kabul Bank Scandal. It appears that common sense is prevailing - President Ghani has negated the land development agreement between 'bank swindler' Khalilullah Frozi (convicted and sentenced to 15 years) and the Ministry of Urban Development (MUD) for the creation of a "Smart City Township" in Kabul. One really has to wonder where the MUD was coming from - is corruption so ingrained in the Afghan government that MUD thought this was a good idea? Ummm, yes, it its. Read more in "Afghan President Calls off Business Deal With Banker Convicted of Fraud"The New York Times, November 7, 2015.

"King of Corruption" Launches Hamid Karzai Foundation. Because he didn't steal enough money already - you can never have two many villas in Dubai - former President Karzai has founded a welfare foundation to assist youth in the education sector and provide more opportunities both in the country and abroad. Read more in "Hamid Karzai Foundation Launched", Khaama Press, November 7, 2015.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Governance News

Corruption, Kabul Bank Fraud, and the NUG. I am convinced that corruption is ingrained into Afghan society and that it will take centuries to bring it to a manageable level. In an odd arrangement, one of the prime perpetrators of the Kabul Bank fraud is going to be in charge of a multi-million dollar project to build housing in Kabul. Tell me again why we should spend another dollar in Afghanistan? I keep forgetting. "Afghan Businessman Convicted in Kabul Bank Fraud Is Still Free to Make Money"The New York Times, November 4, 2015.

Oversight and Coordination Body (OCB) Hosted by MoF. The Afghan Ministry of Finance hosted the fifth meeting of the OCB on November 2. High ranking members of the Afghan government and Coalition attended to review progress on transparency, accountability, and affordability initiatives within the Afghan Security Institutions (ASIs). (DVIDS, Nov 3, 2015).

'Motley's Law' - Reviewed. A new film about a lawyer providing services to folks in Kabul is out. Read an account of this film in "Film Review: 'Motley's Law'"Variety,  November 3, 2015.

The NUG and the Constitution. CEO Abdullah Abdullah says that the Loya Jirga will be responsible for amending the country's constitution. (Tolo News, Nov 4, 2015).

Weak Governance Hinders Security. President Ghani is all about eradicating corruption . . . but in doing so he neglects the delicate balance of the Afghan patronage network. As a result - his government has ground to a halt. Read more in "Weak Governance Bolsters the Taliban", by Shawn Snow, Small Wars Journal, November 6, 2015.

A Leaderless Country. The NUG is just not working out. Afghans want a government that functions and the current one is not quite there. Read more in "Afghans Searching for a Leader", by Mohammad Shafiq Hamdam, The World Post, November 6, 2015.

A Young Democracy in Peril. The Afghan government's leaders have failed the Afghan people. Read more in an editorial in "Protecting Young Democracy", Outlook Afghanistan, November 7, 2015.

New HPC Chief. Former Afghan Parliament Speaker and Vice President Younus Qanoni has been appointed as the chief of the Afghanistan High Peace Council (HPC).

Afghan War Widows. Being a woman in Afghanistan is hard enough. It is even more difficult if your husband has died and your means of financial survival is now gone. After decades of conflict many Afghan women struggle to survive on their own. War widows are supposed to receive a pension of 7,500 afghanis a month (about $120) but many do not due to an inefficient and corrupt bureaucracy. Read more in "Afghanistan's War Widows"Wall Street Journal, November 4, 2015.

Afghan War News Snippets

$43 Million Gas Station Built by DoD in Afghanistan. The Task Force for Stability and Business Operations (TFBSO) built a compressed natural gas (CNG) automobile filling station in Sheberghan, Afghanistan (capital city of Jowzjan province). A similar CNG station in Pakistan costs about $500 thousand. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) wants the DoD to explain the price differential - but DoD says they don't have an explanation. Hmmmm. Read the SIGAR report at the following link.

6 Costly Failures. Joe Perticone tells us about six very expensive projects that didn't quite work out in our efforts to rebuild Afghanistan. (Independent Journal, Nov 4, 2015).

Earthquake Update. Afghanistan was recently hit by a major earthquake - affecting Badakhshan, Nangarhar, Baghlan, and Kunar provinces. Read an update on the Afghanistan earthquake by Humanitarian Response on November 3, 2015. See report by International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies - "Concern mounts as winter sets in across quake-affected regions".

Louie Palu's Kandahar Journals. Photojournalist Louie Palu spent five years covering the war in Afghanistan from 2006 to 2010. A new documentary film entitled Kandahar Journals will premier in November 2015. Photos from the film are available for viewing here. (The Atlantic, Nov 3, 2015).

Tevor Coult's First into Sangin. A book detailing the story of a forgotten platoon and band of men who were the first British Soldiers to occupy 'the House' in Sangin District at the start of the Herrick Campaign. Read a PR release on the book here.

A "Fobbit" Writes about Life on a FOB. Some Soldiers experienced combat on a daily basis in Afghansitan; some 'not so much'. Read "How Forward Operating Bases Created the Illusion of War in Iraq and Afghanistan", The Angry Staff Officer, November 3, 2015.

Solar Power & Afghan Electricity Crisis. Some folks are saying that solar power in Afghanistan can help rescue the economic crisis and electric power shortage. Read more in "Can Solar Power Make Light Work of Afghanistan's Electricity Crisis?", Equal Times, November 5, 2015.

Cdr at Kerala Massacre Arrested. Dutch authorities have arrested the commander of an elite government (444) Army unit of the Afghan communist regime that committed a horrendous massacre of Afghan civilians in Kunar province in April 1979 (over 36 years ago). Read more in a report by the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN).

Iran, Afghan Refugees, and Syria. Iran, with the aim of helping its ally - the Syrian regime - is sending Afghan refugees to fight in the conflict. Read more in "Afghan refugees in Iran being sent to fight and die for Assad in Syria", The Guardian, November 5, 2015.

Finland Reviews Afghan Asylum Claims. Finland has announced that it has suspended its decision-making process for Afghan Asylum claims due to an ongoing assessment of the security situation in the country. (Reuters, Nov 4, 2015).

German Interpreter Tells his Story. An interpreter worked for the German military in Afghanistan until the Taliban threatened his life. He managed to leave for Germany but his family had to stay behind. Read "Afghan interpreter torn between worlds", Deutsche Welle, November 5, 2015.

Deployed Troops and Beer Drinking. Times have changed and so has the Army. Women in combat units, gays allowed to serve openly, and . . . sadly . . . long tours in a combat zone with no beer. It wasn't always that way and some of the older contractors serving on bases like Bagram probably remember finer days when "Soldiers Worked Hard and Played Hard". I, for one, am disappointed in the senior leadership of today's Army in regards to the non-drinking policy. I am not the only one - Jim Webb, Vietnam Vet and one-time candidate for President, has chided the U.S. military on its non-drinking policy. Read more about the good old days in "Flat Tops: Canned Beer and Vietnam", War on the Rocks, October 30, 2015.

MREs to Get Better? The Meal Ready to Eat or MRE (sometimes called Meals Rarely Edible) has been around for over 35 years. The next generation of meals is being developed at the Natick Research Center outside of Boston, Massachusetts (presumably there are smart people in the Boston area who have superior culinary abilities). Pizza is on the way! (10 News Tampa Bay, Nov 2, 2015).

Buying More Counterfire Radars. The Army is buying more AN/TPQ-53 counterfire target acquisition radars from Lockheed Martin. (C4ISR & Networks, Oct 26, 2015).

Contractor Firms Benefit from Decision to Stay. President Obama's recent decision to keep the level of troops constant for the new year or two will certainly benefit contracting firms. (AllGov, Nov 2, 2015).

Canadian Defence Minister Afghan Vet. The new Defence Minister has Afghan war time experience and brings a cultural twist to the position. Read "New Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan proved mettle in Afghanistan", The Globe and Mail, November 5, 2015.

Family Planning. Clerics face death threats for promoting family planning in a country where one in 50 women dies of causes related to pregnancy. Read more "Condoms and conflict: imams defy Taliban to spread contraception", The Guardian, November 4, 2015.

"Cabal of Corruption at Bagram Air Base". A story of drugs, prostitutes, and illegal activities provides a side of Bagram that many never see. Learn more about the underground life at BAF. (Courthouse News Service, 3 Nov 2015).

"Black Widows" Arrive at Bagram. Airmen of the 421st Fighter Squadron (F-16s) have arrived at Bagram Airfield to support Operation Freedom's Sentinel and NATO's Resolute Support mission. Upon completion of this deployment the squadron will shift to the new J-35 jet aircraft. Ouch! (U.S. Air Force, Nov 2, 2015).

Advising - It's a Cultural Thing. A senior intelligence officer and air intelligence advisor for the 438th Expeditionary Advisory Group relates his experiences to us during his time from October 2013 to December 2014 working as a air advisor to the Afghan Air Force (AAF). Read (and listen) to Lt. Col. James Fielder in "Cultural Gaps Cause Problems in U.S.-Afghan Military Ops", Iowa Public Radio, November 3, 2015.

AAF Lacking C-130 Flight Engineers. It takes more than 18 months to train up a C-130 flight engineer. Currently the AAF has four C-130s but only one flight engineer. Looks like we put the cart (airplanes) before the horse (personnel). Read more in "Lack of trained staff means long hours for Afghan air force engineer", Reuters, November 4, 2015.

Drug War in Afghanistan. The State Department is still without a new plan to fight drug trafficking in Afghanistan. Although successfully combating opium could be a key to victory in Afghanistan the U.S. is still without a strategy.(U.S. News & World Report, Oct 27, 2015).

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Governance News

Corruption. Sarah Chayes, a long-time resident of Afghanistan, is interviewed about her thoughts of corruption and how it ties to insurgencies and instability. Chayes entered Afghanistan shortly after the invasion of Afghanistan by the U.S. as a journalist. She soon transitioned to assisting Afghan women in starting up small enterprises in the Kandahar region. She became quickly became one of the more knowledgeable westerners in Afghanistan and ended up as an advisor to more than one U.S. general officer. One of her constant themes is how the U.S. didn't get a handle on the corruption in Afghanistan. Read more in "Interview - Sarah Chayes"E-International Relations, September 30, 2015.

NUG - One Year On. The National Unity Government (NUG) had its one-year anniversary this past week. While many observers point to success others point out the many failures. The taking of Kunduz City - the capital of Kunduz province - by the Taliban was not an indicator of the ability of the NUG to provide for better security. However, one observers seems to think the glass is half full. Read Tamim Asey in "NUG One Year On: Success", Foreign Policy, September 29, 2015.

Electoral Reform. Chayanika Saxena provides us with background on the continuing drama of reforming Afghanistan's electoral process in "The Promise of Ballot: Electoral Reforms in Afghanistan", Eurasia Review, October 2, 2015.

An Afghan Hotline for Corruption. A recently established hotline set up by the Afghan civil society organization Integrity Watch Afghanistan aims to combat Afghanistan's status as the fourth most corrupt country in the world. The hotline, known as the Whistleblower,  has received 7,000 calls since its inception three months ago. Over 750 of the complaints have been published anonymously on the organizations website. Read more in "Afghans Fight Corruption with a Hotline", Gandhara Blog, October 2, 2015.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

SIGAR Audit - $ for Refugees Wasted

ANCOP provides clothing to refugee children
in refugee camp in Kabul, Afghanistan.
 Photo by Senior Airman Christopher Hatch,
 NTM-A DVIDS, July 2011.
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) published an audit on September 3, 2015. about U.S. assistance intended to support Afghan refugees and returnees. Some of its findings include amount of money spent ($950 million), reliance on Pakistani and Iranian governments (both very trustworthy?) to identify the number of Afghan refugees, weaknesses in UNHCR and Pakistani government processes that limit the ability to obtain accurate data, the Afghan governments' limited progress in implementing its refugee strategy, and the role the corruption and limited ministerial capacity plays in the refugee situation. Overall the audit seems to point to yet another example of lots of money intended for a good purpose getting siphoned off by corrupt Afghan officials, lack of ministerial capacity, and improper oversight by U.S. officials. But, after all, in the overall scheme of all things Afghanistan $1 billion is just a drop in the bucket! Read Afghan Refugees and Returnees: Corruption and Lack of Afghan Ministerial Capacity Have Prevented Implementation of a Long-Term Refugee Strategy, SIGAR 15-83 Audit Report, August 2015.

Afghan Corruption - AJO Online Incident Reporter

Two years ago the Afghanistan Justice Organization (AJO) based in Kabul started up a website where Afghan citizens can report stories of corruption. The incident of corruption can be reported anonymously and the story can be told in any of the official Afghan languages. The AJO is an Afghan-led, non-profit, and non-partisan organization. The AJO is organized exclusively for the purpose of promoting reform through education and training and to advance free markets and individual liberty under the laws of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. The link for reporting a corruption incident is below.

Governance News (and corruption, of course)

Not Working Out - New Kabul Bank. According to some economic analysts the New Kabul Bank faces a loss of millions annually and some critics say it would be beneficial to sell it or terminate its operations. In the last six years the bank has lost $65 million USD. Read more in "Analysts Push for Action on New Kabul Bank", Tolo News, August 30, 2015.

The Female Governor of Ghor Province. The mountainous and remote western province of Ghor has a female governor - one of a few provincial governors ever in Afghanistan. A former aid worker and local resident of Ghor - Mawlavi Mohammad - has a difficult job. Ghor's educational system is in shambles and suffers from ghost teachers and vast corruption. The security situation is dire - with insurgents, drug traffickers and warlords all competing for scarce resources in an agricultural area. The province is cut off from the rest of the world during the winter for up to six months. Read more in "Struggling to pave the way for future female leaders in Afghanistan"Los Angeles Times, August 31, 2015.

Ghor Couple Recieves 100 Lashes. An Afghan man and women both were subjected to 100 lashes in the Western province of Ghor after being found guilty of adultery. It was the first time since the end of Taliban rule that such a sentence was supported by provincial authorities. Watch the beating in a video posted on Gandara Blog, September 5, 2015. Read about Amnesty International's take on the event in a news report by Gandhara Blog, September 2, 2015.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Event - "Improving Security Assistance" (May 5, 2015)

Transparency International's Defense and Security Program is presenting an event entitled "Improving Security Assistance" on Tuesday, May 5, 2015. The speaker is Mark Pyman and it is moderated by Sarah Chayes. The presentation is based on a report, Corruption: Lessons From the International Mission in Afghanistan, which concludes that the international mission in Afghanistan was undermined by corruption.
"The report provides a rigorous analysis of the damage that corruption - and turning a blind eye to it - did to the Afghanistan mission, based on interviews with seventy-five Afghans and internationals who were deeply involved in the mission. The report also offers a policy framework for countering this threat in future security assistance and stabilization operations."
Mark Pyman is the program director of Transparency International's Defense and Security Program. Sarah Chayes is a senior associate in the Democracy and Rule of Law and South Asia programs at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Sarah spent a decade living and working in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Improving Security Assistance

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Sarah Chayes - Corruption in Afghanistan

Sarah Chayes discusses her new book "Thieves of State". She lived in Afghanistan for ten years and served as an advisor to ISAF. Watch a one hour plus video where she discusses corruption in Afghanistan and around the world. She believes that an underlying cause of conflict is the presence of corruption. Posted on by the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) on April 24, 2015.