Showing posts with label daily-news-snippets. Show all posts
Showing posts with label daily-news-snippets. Show all posts

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Afghan War News Snippets



Report on U.S. Military Suicides. Researchers have analyzed data that identify risk factors of enlisted Soldiers and officers (Medical News Today, Jul 10, 2015).

U.S. Cultural Imprint on Afghanistan. The Washington Post has an news story (June 28th) about America's cultural influence in Afghanistan.

New USASOC Commander. LTG Kenneth Tovo is the new commander of the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) located at Fort Bragg, NC. Tovo is a former commander of Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan (CSTC-A). Many of the units and personnel that comprise the Special Operations Joint Task Force - Afghanistan (SOJTF-A) come from USASOC. On another note, an article in the Small Wars Journal puts forth the argument that Special Forces lost much of its ability to conduct unconventional warfare due to constant deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq (SMJ, Jun 29, 2015).

New Deputy Commander of CSTC-A. MG Daniel Hughes has arrived at Resolute Support HQs to help lead the procurement effort of the MoD and MoI. (DVIDS, Jul 10, 2015).

3rd SFG Shifts from Afghanistan to Africa. The 3rd Special Forces Group, a unit with multiple deployments to Afghanistan, will shift its focus to Africa. (Fayetteville Observer, Jul 1, 2015).

COL Shoffner. The former commander of the ISAF Commander's Action Group (CAG) and the Security Force Assistance Fusion Cell has taken command of the the Fort Leavenworth garrison. COL Andy Shoffner served in Afghanistan in 2013-2014. Read more in "Fort Leavenworth Garrison welcomes new commander"Fort Leavenworth Lamp, June 11, 2015.

Fired Navy O-6 from Kandahar. A Navy medical officer was recently fired from his position as the XO of the NATO Role 3 Multinational Medical Unit at KAF. (Navy Times, Jul 15, 2015).

Saving Mes Aynak. An important archaeological site in Logar province, Afghanistan - Mes Aynak - is threatened by a Chinese copper mine. Learn how a film might save the mountain top historical site.

Operation Red Wings - Ten Year Anniversary. In June 2005 a Navy SEAL mission in Afghanistan went badly. The Naval Special Warfare community remembers the sacrifice of the 19 fallen heroes. (DVIDS June 28, 2015).

CSTs. The new book by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon - Ashley's War -  has generated lots of buzz about the Cultural Support Teams or CSTs that were deployed with Special Operations Forces in Afghanistan. Recently George Washington University held a conference with 22 women who deployed on CSTs as part of a research effort to document their experiences. (DVIDS, Jul 17, 2015).

RS Video. Resolute Support HQs has published a short video featuring Gen Campbell on the Afghan parliament, gender advisor issues, and the SME program (for MoI). (ISAF Facebook, Jul 14, 2015).



Friday, May 1, 2015

Afghan War News Snippets (May 1, 2015)




Two Kabul Police Officers Killed. A group of unknown gunmen opened fire on a police checkpoint in Kabul city late Wednesday night killing two police officers and wounding another. (Tolo News, April 30, 2015).

Afghan Media Day Off. No Afghan newspapers were published on Tuesday, April 28th in observation of Mujahidin Victory Day - a national holiday.

Afghan Air Force is Busy. The start of the 2015 fighting season sees the AAF very busy supporting operations in four different provinces (Zabul, Ghazni, Kunduz, and Badakhshan) this week. Read more in "Afghan Air Force Provides Cover for Troops in Four Provinces", Tolo News, April 29, 2015. Of course, the U.S. Air Force isn't exactly cooling its jets on the ramp - read "US continues airstrikes in Afghanistan", The Boston Globe, April 30, 2015.

Taliban Atrocities. A blogger explores the Taliban's admission that they recently committed atrocities (beheading ANA soldiers). Read "Taliban admit they committed atrocities"afghanhindsite, April 28, 2015.

Four Romanian Soldiers Injured. The Romanian defense ministry says that four Romanian soldiers were injured when a booby-trapped car exploded in Afghanistan. They were deployed south of Kandahar. Romania has 625 troops currently serving in the NATO mission in Afghanistan and thus far 23 have been killed in the conflict. (ABC News, April 30, 2015).

NDS Officer Killed in Kandahar. An officer from the National Directorate of Security (NDS) was killed by unidentified gunmen in southern Kandahar province on Thursday. A few days before the public health director of Kandahar province was also attacked. (Khamma Press,  April 30, 2015).

Warlords and Provincial Politics and Power. Rebecca Zimmerman, an associate policy analyst at the RAND Corporation and a doctoral candidate at John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and a Truman National Security Project fellow describes "MK" the warlord of Uruzgan - Matiullah Khan was recently assassinated in Kabul. (His successor was also assassinated). She describes the pros and cons of provincial warlords in her article "The Afghan Warlord With a Cheshire Grin", Newsweek, April 29, 2015.

Advisor Training for Resolute Support Mission in Poland. The next advisor training event for the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan will take place in the summer at Bydgoszcz, Poland at the NATO Joint Force Training Center (JFTC). The training program is excellent - in the past few years I have participated in two of the training events as a "trainer SME". The dates for the initial, main, and final planning conferences are listed at this link.

EU and Corruption. The European Union is calling for concrete steps against corruption in Afghanistan. (Radio Free Europe, May 1, 2015).

ISIS vs. Taliban. The Taliban are apparently in a Catch-22 over the emergence and rise of the Islamic State in Afghanistan. Some fighters of the Taliban are switching flags. Read more in "Afghan Taliban Scrambling with the Rise of the Islamic State", Gandhara Blog, April 30, 2015.

ICRC and Afghan CIVCAS. The Director of Operations at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Dominik Stillhart, has expressed concern at the growing number of civilian casualties in the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. (ICRC, Apr 30, 2015).

Afghan Civilians at Risk. Read more on civilian casualties in "Afghanistan fighting season could kill record number of civilians: aid agencies", Thomson Reuters Foundation, April 30, 2015.

Farkhunda's Death & Self-Reflection. The Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR) weighs in on the killing of the Afghan woman by a male mob. (IWPR, Apr 30, 2015).

Military Aid Programs. The State Department has eight military aid programs and the Defense Department has 71. The State Department's programs receive intense Congressional scrutiny while DoD's seem to get a pass. Read more in a post on the Security Assistance Monitor, April 27, 2015.

RS HQs Gets Bad Report Card. SIGAR has issued its 27th quarterly report to Congress and the news isn't great. Read "Another Damning Afghanistan Reconstruction Report", The Diplomat, May 1, 2015.

Peace in Afghanistan. To bring peace to Afghanistan, President Ghani has to overcome domestic barriers and regional controversies. Read more in "Afghan Peace: Between a Rock and a Hard Place", Foreign Policy, April 30, 2015.

USA - Being Played by Pakistan. An observer makes note of the U.S. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) to Pakistan for the AH-1Z Viper Attack Helicopters and AGM-114R Hellfire II Missiles as part of a $1-billion deal. This, despite the fact that the Taliban and Haqqani Network enjoy the support and sanctuary of Pakistan. Go figure. Read more in "The Afghanistan-Pakistan Map is About to Get a Make Over", By Vikram Sood, Eurasia Review, April 30, 2015.

How to Hack Military Drones. The information necessary to hack a military drone is freely available to the public, in academic publications and online documents. (Eurasia Review, Apr 30, 2015).

Freshman Congressman Moulton Slammed on anti-A-10 Proposal. Newly elected Representative Seth Moulton is from a liberal district in Massachusetts and is also a Marine Corps officer with one or two combat tours and six years experience in the military. He seems to think that he has the expertise, training, and experience to weigh in on the A-10 argument. Ummmm. Some folks think that an O-3 isn't that experienced. Go figure. Read more in "Moulton Moves to Gut A-10", Arizona Independent, April 29, 2015. See also "Moulton's 'Compromise'" Gut the A-10 for No Good Reason", John Q Public Blog, April 29, 2015.

The Killing of Warren Weinstein. Read David Rohde's article entitled "What the United States Owes Warren Weinstein", The Atlantic, April 28, 2015. Another article provides more info - read "U.S. Never Knew Where Warren Weinstein Was", Bloomberg View, April 23, 2015.

US Drones - Problems of Nebulous War. Daphne Eviatar writes that "US Drone Killings of Western Aid Workers Highlight Problems of Nebulous War", for Just Security, April 27, 2015.

Narratives Better than Drones. Two writers - Jim Sisco and Ajit Maan - feel that the 'kill or capture' approach isn't working and that a good narrative would accomplish much much. Read their article in Foreign Policy, April 23, 2015.

Two Great Afghan Values - Islam and Country. Learn more about Afghanistan in "For Us, Two Great Values", Khaama Press, April 30, 2015.

Kandahar Role 3. An article posted on Military.com (Feb 5, 2015) provides info on the Kandahar clinic that assists troops in fighting stress.

Who Is TAAC - South Cdr? BG Viet Luong of the 1st Cavalry Division and current commander of Train Advise and Assist Command South in Afghanistan came to the United States in the 1970s after his family fled Vietnam in the waning days of the war there. He is now leading the effort to train Afghan units to fight the insurgents in southern Afghanistan. Read more in a news story by National Public Radio, April 30, 2015.

CSTs Served with Distinction. Read a news release by the U.S. Department of Defense about three women who served in Afghanistan on Cultural Support Teams (CSTs) assigned to special operations units. (DoD News, Apr 29, 2015).

Vickers Stepping Down. Mike Vickers,the outgoing undersecretary of defense for intelligence, is stepping down. He became famous as a character in "Charlie Wilson's War" where he is depicted as an architect of the U.S. effort to arm and support the Afghan mujahideen in their fight against the Soviets. He got his start as an enlisted and then later officer in the U.S. Army Special Forces where he received extensive training in aiding insurgencies. Later as a CIA officer he worked with the mujahideen. Read a news story on Vickers (DoD News, April 30, 2015).

Military Review May-June 2015. The latest issue of Military Review is out. One article that is interesting is "Army Civilians and the Army Profession". Lt. Col. Robert Hynes, Ph.D., U.S. Army, Retired writes about the important contribution that civilians perform on the battlefield and in garrison.

40 Years ago - Vietnam. The war in Vietnam ended (for the United States) on April 30, 1975. Read about what the U.S. thinks about long wars in "Vietnam Showed the U.S. Has No Desire for Long Wars and Troubling Tactics", The New York Times, April 30, 2015. By Douglas Porch, professor at the Naval Postgraduate School. Read also a press release from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) entitled "The Last Days in Saigon", April 30, 2015 that describes the last days of South Vietnam and the evacuation from Saigon. I am sure our final departure from Kabul will be much smoother.

Interview w/ Dr. Rajiv Shah - Former USAID Head. Rajiv Shah is interviewed and chats about his five years as head of the United States Agency for International Develeopment in "A Conversation with Dr. Rajiv Shah", Asia Foundation, April 29, 2015. Both the foundation and agency played a leading role in Afghanistan reconstruction and development for many years. The interview focuses on Asia but very little on Afghanistan.

SF Cbt Dive Schools 50th. The Special Forces Underwater Operations School in Key West celebrates its 50th anniversary. (Fayetteville Observer, April 29, 2015).

Military Health System & Psychological Care. RAND Corporation has published a report entitled "Measuring the Quality of Care for Psychological Health Conditions in the Military Health System", April 2015. In the last few years the number of U.S. service members treated for psychological health conditions has increased substantially - in particular - post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive disorder (MDD). The RAND report includes key findings and recommendations.

USMC Cyber Task Force. The Marine Corps Cyber Task Force stood up in April 2015 to create courses of action to address manpower, organizational, acquisition and other problems for cyberspace operations. Read more in a news report by USNI News, April 28, 2015.

New Hostage Policy? The administration is under fire for perceived problems with its hostage policy. This perception is even stronger with the recent deaths of two Western aid workers in a drone strike in Pakistan. Read more in "New Hostage Strategy to Follow Interagency Review", Arthur D. Simons Center for Interagency Cooperation, April 28, 2015.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Afghan War News Snippets



Copper and Iron - Afghanistan's Economic Future? President Ghani has said that Afghanistan will become the world's largest producer of iron and copper in the next 15 years. Afghanistan has rich deposits of minerals but a very bad security situation. Ghani is on a three-day visit to India and is hoping to encourage economic investment in Afghanistan's future. Read more in a news report by Khaama Press, April 29, 2015.

ISIS in Afghanistan. News reports continue to speculate on the strength of the Islamic State in Afghanistan. Javid Ahmad writing in The Diplomat (April 29, 2015) provides his thoughts.

Influx of Insurgents from Pakistan. Afghan officials are warning about an influx of insurgents from neighboring Pakistan into northern Afghanistan in an attempt to destabilize what has mostly been a peaceful part of the country. (ABC News, April 29, 2015).

Corruption and a U.S. Supported Regime. Read Tracy Wood's account of how the United States spent money and lives supporting a corrupt regime 40 years ago and think about the present conflict in Afghanistan. See "A War Correspondent Turned Lifelong Corruption Fighter", Voice of OC, April 29, 2015.

Taliban Onslaught. Franz-Stefan Gady examines the start of the Afghan fighting season that has begun with a vengeance this year. Read "Taliban Onslaught: What is Happening in Afghanistan?", The Diplomat, April 29, 2015.

Tajikistan Watches Conflict in Northern Afghanistan. Tajikistan, a country on Afghanistan's northern border, is watching with great interest the current fighting in Kunduz and other locations in northern Afghanistan. Read more in "Tajikistan Watches as Fighting Flares in Northern Afghanistan", The Bug Pit - Eurasianet.org, April 27, 2015.

Afghan Television Debate - Child Marriage. A United Nations backed television show highlighted the negative consequences of child marriage. Read more in a UN news release (UNAMA News Update, April 29, 2015).

"When Casualties Come Home from War". An excellent article on what happens on the home front when a servicemember is wounded or killed. By Jill Sargent Russell posted on Kings of War, April 29, 2015.

The Killing of Farkhunda. The Afghan press is full of reports and accounts about the killing of the Afghan women that took place over a month ago on the streets of Kabul by a band of Afghan men. This event received national and international attention. The Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) has provided more information and background on this event here and here.

Female Afghan Top Gun. The most recent graduate of pilot training in the Afghan Air Force is getting a lot of press. She has been profiled almost every week in the press. Read more about the 23-year-old pilot. Daily Mail, April 29, 2015.

DoD Policy & Women in Combat. The DoD policy on women has changed in recent years. Current policy is explained in "DoD Seeks Right Standards, Policies for Women in Combat Roles", DoD News, April 27, 2015.

Video - NATO Role 3 at Kandahar. Watch a 8-minute long video about the Role 3 medical unit on Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. Meet the doctors and nurses! Watch the video here.

Orphans in Afghanistan. Read the story about Afghanistan's orphans and the limited help available to them in "For Afghanistan's abandoned children, help is scarce", TownHall.com, April 29, 2015.

UN Welcomes Drone Review. The United Nations welcomed the news that the United States is going to conduct a review of drone operations. (UN News Centre, April 29, 2015).

IO and "Narrative". An Australian IO SME tells us something about "narrative" in his article in The Bridge, April 2015. https://medium.com/the-bridge/narrative-31b3ecc1c631

Outspoken Army Officer Retires. LTC Daniel Davis is retiring. An Army officer with four combat tours, he has been an outspoken critic of the conduct of the Afghan War and has called for a sweeping overhaul of the top leadership. Read more in "Outspoken officer retires, trains sights on politics", Army Times, Apri 28, 2015.

# of Security Clearance Holders Drops. Federal agencies have trimmed the ranks of employees and contractors with access to classified information. The number of security clearance holders has dropped 12 percent since the year before. This is caused by a number of factors to include the drawdown of forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, internal reviews of security clearance requirements, and declassification efforts. (Defense One, April 28, 2015).

Mental Health in Afghanistan. Living in an impoverished country like Afghanistan makes it difficult for those seeking medical assistance - especially in the mental health field. Read more "You're not alone: tackling mental health in Afghanistan", European Year for Development, April 23, 2015.

Gen Anderson Says Good Bye to FBNC. General Anderson, the commander of 18th Airborne Corps and the former (and last) commander of the ISAF Joint Command (IJC) is leaving his post. He will be relieved by MG Townsend, the former commander of 10th Mountain Division, a past commander of Regional Command East, and member of the "Boston Mafia". (Fayettville Observer, April 29, 2015).

ManTech wins $7 Billion Contract. ManTech International was awarded two contracts worth up to $7 billion by the Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) to provide global intelligence support services (GISS). (Defense Daily Network, April 28, 2015.

New Book - Warlords . . .  Jesse Driscoll has wrote a book scheduled for release in May 2015 entitled "Warlords and Coalition Politics in Post-Soviet States". I am sure much of the book will concern the Central Asian states; Afghanistan could get a mention. 

A Changed World Since 9/11. A lot has happened in the many years since September 2001. Some of us missed the changes because we spent - like years in Afghanistan. Read "This is How Much the World has Changed Since the War in Afghanistan Began", Vice.com, April 29, 2015.

Morse Code Training - End of an Era. The first Morse Code message went out on May 24, 1844. Morse Code played a huge role in the military for many years. It was one of the cheapest and most reliable means of communication. For years Morse Code training was conducted at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. When Fort Devens closed down the training went to Fort Huachuca. Now the training in Arizona is being shut down. For years Special Forces Communications Sergeants (O5Bs and then later 18Es) had to be proficient in Morse code. Read more in "Fort Huachuca bids farewell to Morse Code training", Army.mil, April 27, 2015. 

Military Retirement Changes? Not so Fast. Veteran members of the house are putting a damper on proposed changes to an Army retirement system that has served us well for many years. Some of the old timers think there is a rush to make changes. Read more in "Retirement reform faces challenge from veteran lawmakers", Military Times, April 29, 2015. (Got to love the old guys!).

Gen Dostum Emerges. It appears that Dostum is emerging as a major political figure - at least according to his media advisor. Read more in "Working with General Abdul Rashid Dostum", by Sultan Faizy, The Diplomat, April 24, 2015.

Gen Campbell Pushes for ROE like U.S. Police Departments. According to a news report by the Duffel Blog senior military leaders are pushing for Ruled of Engagement (ROE) that big city police departments enjoy in the United States. Read more in "Military Pushes for Same Broad Rules of Engagement as Civilian Police Forces", Duffel Blog, January 5, 2015. (Caution - satire).

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Afghan War News Snippets




DGov Survives Bomb Blast. A news report says the district governor of Bati Kot in eastern Nangarhar province survived a bomb blast on Tuesday. Three bodyguards were wounded. This is after an attack on the logistics officer of the local police in the same district last week. (Khaama Press, Apr 27, 2015).

Human Rights Implementation - Not So Much. President Ashraf Ghani has promised many things since running as a candidate and winning the election. One of these promises was to end official tolerance for torture, protect the freedom of the media, include women in peace talks, and to bring transparency to negotiations with the Taliban. So far . . . these items are waiting on implementation. Read more in "Afghanistan must make rights a reality", Gateway House (Indian Council on Global Relations), April 27, 2015.

Ghani in India. President Ghani is on a three-day tour in India. There's lots to do on this trip. A primary aim will be to ensure India continues to provide reconstruction and development aid to Afghanistan - despite the 'lean to Pakistan'. Of course, there are the numerous public appearances as well. One such event was the ribbon cutting by Ghani that inaugurated the Afghan Embassy in New Delhi, India. Read more in "Ashraf Ghani Faces Challenge on India Visit", The Wall Street Journal, April 28, 2015 (subscription only). See also this story - "Afghan President Calls for Greater Regional Cooperation to Fight Terrorism", Voice of America, April 28, 2015.

Govt Chokehold on Afghan Media? Patricia Gossman writing in an article says that the country's media is facing new obstacles in obtaining government information and tightening restrictions on reporting from combat zones. Read more in "Dispatches: Tightening Chokehold on Afghanistan's Media", Human Rights Watch, April 27, 2015.

ANA Takes Fight to the Taliban. Tom Bowman writing in Parallels - National Public Radio (April 28, 2015) describes an Afghan National Army (ANA) operation against the Taliban in the foothills of Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan. Read "On Its Own, The Afghan Army Takes the Fight to the Taliban".

House Action on A-10. The house is proposing the blocking of the Air Force retirement of the A-10 Warthog. This is, of course, great news for the Army. Read more in "House Authorization Would Keep A-10s Flying", Defense News, April 27, 2015.

Afghan Air Force Update. The commander of TAAC-Air vows not to abandon Afghan pilots and maintainers as they slowly learn how to sustain their helicopters and planes. Read more in "U.S. readies Afghans to fly solo", Air Force Times, April 27, 2015.

NYT Publishes Names of CIA Employees. The New York Times has published names of leading CIA employees associated with the CIA's drone program. See "Why The New York Times is Naming Names in CIA Drone Story", The Huffington Post, April 27, 2015.

Drone Reforms - Sometimes Don't Apply. "Despite a 2013 pledge to fix the targeting killing program, the Obama administration ignores its own directives for nearly half of all strikes". Read more in "Obama's Drone Reforms Don't Apply to 46 Percent of Strikes", Defense One, April 27, 2015.

Ungoverned Spaces - Refuge for Terrorists. We are now living in an era where ungoverned spaces (like parts of Afghanistan), long the accomplice in jihadist activity, are playing a starring role. Read more in "The losing war against ungoverned spaces", Pragati - the Indian National Interest Review, April 28, 2015.

Ismail Khan - Herat in Danger. The "Lion of Herat" - Ismail Khan - has warned that Herat will become insecure within weeks if the government keeps looking the other way. (Afghanistan Times, April 28, 2015).

Nimroz. Three police were killed and 4 troops injured in Nimroz province according to Pajhwok Afghan News.

Plea Deal for Bergdahl? Many observers feel that the deserter Bergdahl will plead guilty to a lesser charge in order to avoid a lengthy prison sentence. The Army would very likely agree to that. Read more in a news story in the Los Angeles Times, April 28, 2015.

Book Review - "Thieves of State". Aaron Mannes reviews the book by Sarah Chayes. See his review entitled "Grand Theft Autocracy", War on the Rocks, April 27, 2015.

Islamic State Training Camp in Logar. It appears that the Islamic State has a training camp that they operate in eastern Logar - a province located just below Kabul. Read more in "Islamic State promotes training camp in eastern Afghanistan", The Long War Journal, April 28, 2005.

Pakistan & Foreign Aid. Some analysts think that external foreign aid hasn't helped curtail extremist violence in Pakistan because the aid has focused too much on minimizing the Pakistani state's weaknesses and has ignored the real problem. Read "The Failure of Foreign Aid to Pakistan", Eurasia Review, April 28, 2015.

Parwan Province Math Competition. Members of Task Force Solid Shield (based at BAF) are assisting educators in Parwan with their educational goals. (CENTCOM, April 28, 2015).

82nd CAB Returning Home. The 82nd Airborne Division will soon see the return of the Combat Aviation Brigade from Afghanistan. (Fayetteville Observer, April 28, 2015).

SOCOM Info Ops Budget. The House Armed Services Committee is recommending that the U.S. Special Operations Command budget for info ops be doubled. (Tampa Bay Online, Apr 27, 2015).

Richard Holbrooke's Audio Diary. Read an opinion piece in The New York Times (April 28, 2015) about the diplomats hope for a reconciliation of the Taliban leadership in Afghanistan in "Richard Holbrooke's Diary of His Diplomacy".

3rd ID Soldiers Discuss Afghanistan. About 200 Soldiers from Fort Stewart are serving in Afghanistan. Read more in "Much work still remains in Afghanistan", WJCL News, April 28, 2015.

4th Fighter Squadron Leaving Afghanistan. The Hill Air Force Base unit is departing Afghanistan after completion of a six-month long tour. (Standard Examiner, Apr 28, 2015).

Historian Tells us about Dotum. Brian Glyn Williams gave a presentation about Abdul Rashid Dostum at the Asia Institute of UCLA. Read more in "Afghan warlord led U.S. forces to overthrow the Taliban".

TAAC-North Press Conference. The commander of TAAC-North conducted a press conference at Camp Marmal on April 16th. (Resolute Support News, April 28, 2015).

Cultural Support Teams (CST). Former members of a CST in Afghanistan relate their time on the ground with Special Operations forces in "Women in special operations: Female troops detail their time in combat", The Washington Post, April 28, 2015.

Drone Attack. Pajhwok Afghan News reports that a drone attack killed two insurgents and wounded four others in Kuner province. Other news reports say that three were killed in the Chape Darre district.

Grandmother Talks of Afghan Service. A grandmother who joined the service at a late age talks about her deployment to Afghanistan (NWITimes.com, April 28, 2015).

IED Explosion in Kabul on Tuesday. There was an IED explosion in the Darulaman Road area (PD3) early on Tuesday afternoon. Some news reports say it was a magnetic mine attached to a white police vehicle. Read more in "Explosion targets police vehicle in Kabul City", Khaama Press, April 26, 2015.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Afghan War News Snippets




Government Appointments. Twitter reports say that Asif Rahim and Humayon Azizi were appointed as governors of Herat and Kandahar respectively and Jilani Popal as the head of Independent Directorate of Local Government (IDLG).

Russia IO Machine at Work. The news agencies of Russia are busy. One of its latest attempts was a report that a key Afghan aid to President Ghani made some anti-American remarks at a conference in Moscow. The aid says "Not True". Read more in a news story - "Afghan Presidential Aide Refutes Anti-American Remarks", Radio Free Europe - Gandhara Blog, April 27, 2015.

Ahmad Zia Masoud. Masoud survived a mortar attack in Badakhshan. He is President Ghani's special envoy for reform and good governance. Read more in report by Khaama Press, April 27, 2015.

Kandahar Province. 101st Airborne and Romanians working together. A news story (April 1, 2015) on Army.mil tells us about the 33rd Romanian Mountain Battalion and the 101st combining into a composite force to provide security to the Kandahar airbase and work the Train, Advise, and Assist mission of TAAC-South.

Kunduz Fight. President Ghani reportedly postponed his India trip for a few hours because of the increased fighting in Kunduz. There are reports that the Taliban have entered two of the districts of the province. Read more in "Taliban attack major Afghan city, Ghani delays India trip"Thomson Reuters Foundation, April 27, 2015.

Fighting Season Underway. Spring has come to Afghanistan and the 2015 fighting season is underway. Read more in "Spring Ushers in Fighting Season in Afghanistan", The World Post, April 27, 2015.

Explosion in Zabul Province. A bomb exploded killing six members of a family in Zabul province. Two children and a woman were among those killed. ABC News, April 27, 2015. Some news reports say five deaths; others six deaths.

"Operation Badar". The Afghan army has launched a military operation in Zabul province to combat the threat of insurgents.

Sports and Conflict Resolution. Vanessa Thevathasan reports on how sports is providing new avenues for peace and development in Afghanistan. Sport is becoming a growing popular interest, especially among the young. Football, cricket, and rugby are all playing a greater role in bringing the nation together. (Insight on Conflict, April 27, 2015). 

Drone Policy Loosened. The Wall Street Journal reports that "Obama Kept Looser Rules for Drones in Pakistan". He reportedly waived the requirement to show proposed targets posed an imminent threat to the U.S. (subscription only, April 26, 2015). Read a news article on the same topic by Robert Chesney in the Lawfare Blog, April 27, 2015.

Small Drones for Humanitarian Relief in War Zones. An interesting article by Catrin Nye for BBC News tells us about how small drones can deliver food and medicine to people in war zones. Read "Getting aid to a war zone in a swarm of drones", April 25, 2015.

CASA-1000 Project. The Central Asia South Asia (CASA) electricity transmission project is progressing along. Read "CASA-1000 Project Signed, Promising Major Revenues for Afghanistan", Tolo News, April 24, 2015.

Islamic State in Afghanistan? Lauren McNally of the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has penned "Is the Islamic State Escalating in Afghanistan?, April 27, 2015.

"Framework Ambassadors" Visit Afghanistan. The four NATO countries that serve as the "framework nations" for the Resolute Support mission are the United States, Turkey, Germany and Italy. These four nations lead the Train, Advise, Assist Commands. Turkey leads in the capital region, Germany in TAAC-North, Italy in TAAC-West and the United States in TAAC-East and TAAC-South. The four 'framework' ambassadors visited NATO's Resolute Support HQs during the last week of April. Read more in a news story in Khaama Press, April 27, 2015.

New Pub - "Peace Ops". The Air Land Sea Applications Center (ALSA) has published a change to "Peace Ops: Mult-service Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for Peace Operations", ATP 3-07.31. The updated manual is available at the link below.
http://armypubs.army.mil/doctrine/DR_pubs/dr_a/pdf/atp3_07x31.pdf

'Triple Nickel' arrives at BAF. Airmen from the 555th Fighter Squadron based at Aviano Air Base, Italy have arrived in Afghanistan. They will provide over-watch and close-air-support for ground units in Afghanistan with their F-16 Falcons for the next six months. Read more in "Triple Nickel arrives at BAF", DVIDS, April 27, 2015.

New Century Consulting, Imperatis, & SIGAR. A recent news story says that two firms that provided "counterinsurgency experts" for the Afghan war effort are involved in an investigation by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). New Century provided expert trainers for the widely-regarded "Legacy" program which was one of the few success stories in the training of the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police intelligence organizations. Read more in a news report by The Independent,  April 27, 2015.

Hostage Policy. Some believe that relatives should be allowed to pay ransoms for U.S. hostages. (L.A. Times, April 26, 2015).

EU and Afghan Women. Paulo Casaca writes in The Parliament Magazine (April 27, 2015) that the "EU must continue to support Afghan women".

JIEDDO Contract. CACI International has been awarded a contract to provide support services to the US Department of Defense's Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization's (JIEDDO) J9 division. Read "CACI wins JIEDDO support contract", Shephard News, April 27, 2015.

F-35 Software Under Fire. A recent news story provides info on the subpar performance of the F-35 logistics information system. The ALIS software is slow, unresponsive, and generates lots of false alarms. National Defense Magazine, April 24, 2015.

SOCOM Dream Customer. Many defense contractors believe that there is "Something Special About Doing Business with SOCOM". With a leaner bureaucracy, control of its own budget, expediated procurement process, and warfighters just down the corridor the "beans and bullets" staff at the U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill AFB are quicker to move contracts.

U.S. Military Retirement System Changes. It appears that Congress will be making some dramatic changes to the military retirement system. The change will move from a 20-year "all or nothing" retirement to a "blended" retirement system. Read more in "Retirement overhaul on fast track", Military Times, April 27, 2015.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Afghan War News Snippets



Drone Attacks. Despite the recent accidental killing of two hostages in a drone attack against al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan the drone program still enjoys strong support among members of Congress. Read "Deep Support in Washington for C.I.A.'s Drone Mission"The New York Times, April 25, 2015. In another news story Senator McCain thinks that "Drones should shift hands from CIA", The Hill Blog, April 24, 2015.

MEC. The Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MEC) is expressing concerns about the rise of corruption in Afghanistan. The MEC has concerns that governmental organizations don't cooperate with the MEC activities. The MEC has released its six month report over corruption in Afghanistan. www.mec.af

Kunuz Military Operation. the Afghan security forces launched a military opn in Kunduz City and Qala-e-Zal district and there are reports of heavy fighting.

Desperate Situation for Turkmen of Baghdis Province. The situation for ethnic Turkmen in the northwestern province of Baghdis is dire. Read more in a news report from Gandhara Blog, Radio Free Europe, April 26, 2015.

India and Afghanistan - Natural Allies. President Ghani will soon be in India where he will attempt to smooth over relations with India. A writer looks closely at the relationship between the two countries in "Afghanistan-India: Natural Allies in an Unnatural Setting", Eurasia Review, April 25, 2015.

Afghan Elite Departing Afghanistan. Many Afghans are planning their 'exit strategy' from Afghanistan. The stream of refugees from Afghanistan has persisted for over 30 years starting with those fleeing the communist regime, the Soviet occupation, the civil war among the mujihideen, the takeover by the Taliban, and the conflict since the U.S. invasion in the fall of 2001. That exodus continues today with many of the Afghan elite (those with money) departing for a country that will take them. The worsening security situation means even more will leave Afghanistan. Read "Afghanistan's elite fleeing to Europe", Deutsche Welle, April 26, 2015.

Bank Official Shot. An official of the Kabul Bank was shot dead in Uruzgan province.

Kandahar U.S. Army Soldiers Injured by IED. Three Soldiers were injured by an IED while traveling in their MRAP near Kandahar. They were experiencing brain injuries and a team from the 455th EAES flew to their base for further examinations and treatment. Read more in a news story by CENTCOM, April 21, 2015.

Ring Road - Incomplete and Expensive Project. The 'Ring Road' encircles the heart of Afghanistan connecting the cities of Kabul, Kandahar, Herat and Mes-e-Sharif. Over half of the countries population lives within 20 miles of this 1,300 mile long circular road. The GroundTruth Project has produced a series entitled "Foreverstan: Afghanistan and the road to ending America's longest war". Read a news story about the project and check out the series here at http://foreverstan.com.

Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan. The new government leadership in Kabul is faced with a balancing act between the two nations of Saudi Arabia and Iran. President Ghani supports the Saudi operation against the Houthi - a Yemeni Shiite rebel group backed by Iran. But at the same time Ghani is trying to improve relations with Iran - his very large neighbor bordering on his western frontier. Read "Afghanistan tries to strike balance in escalating Iran-Saudi rivalry", The Guardian, April 21, 2015.

Hemorrhage-Halting Blood Sponges. Special Operators are receiving a supply of injectable sponges designed to stop blood flow on the battlefield. Read more in a news story by Army Times, April 26, 2015.

Acting Police Chief Killed - Uruzgan. The acting police chief of southern Uruzgan, General Gulab Khan, has been killed in the province on April 25th. A civilian, which some press reports describe as his friend, was also killed. He was in this position only a short time - assigned when Matiullah Khan was killed in a suicide attack in Kabul in March. (Khaama Press, Apr 26, 2015). A Reuters news story says a junior officer may have killed the acting PCoP. 

Social Science and Violent Extremism. An anthropologist, Scott Atran, examines the motivations of extremists who travel to the Middle East as converts to Islam. Read "Here's What the Social Science Says About Countering Violent Extremism", The Huffington Post - Science, April 25, 2015.

5th Afghan-Turk International Expo. This expo was held in Kabul from 21-24 April. It was the fifth such exhibition. The purpose of the expo is to boost business relationships between the two countries. Read more in a news story from the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce & Industries, April 21, 2015.

Females and Marine Infantry Officer Course. After 32 months of attempts by women to pass the Marines infantry officer course the experiment may be coming to a close. None of the women who attempted the course has passed due to the extremely high standards of physical fitness. Read more in "Decisions loom after Marine infantry officer experiment ends", Marine Corps Times, April 25, 2015.

Women and Afghanistan. Marriet Schuurman, the NATO secretary-general's special representative for women, peace and security is interviewed by Gandhara Blog (Radio Free Europe) about women's rights in Afghanistan. One of the main points of the interview is the gender integration into the Afghan security forces. Read more in "NATO Helps Afghanistan to Preserve Women Rights", April 26, 2015.

ARSOF Next. A special edition of Special Warfare Magazine (April 2015) is available online. Articles include: ARSOF 2022, ARSOF Lineage, Characteristics of the ARSOF Unit, Traits of the ARSOF Soldier, and more.
www.soc.mil/swcs/SWmag/archive/ARSOF_Next/ARSOF%20Next.pdf

Electricity-Generating Backpack. Science and technology is a wonderful thing. Watch a video of Marines testing a backpack that will generate electricity and charge up batteries. See "With the Gear - Lightening Your Load, Lightening Your Way", DVIDS, September 2014.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Afghan War News Snippets




Badakhshan. Reports indicate that the ANSF have started an operation against the Taliban in the Jurm district of Badakhshan province on April 25th.

Jalalabad Road. Hostages were taken by insurgents on Friday evening on the Kabul-Jalalabad highway. Reports say 7 were released (or rescued) but 3 remain in captivity.

Family Killed in Mortar Attack. At least five members of a family were killed and eleven others wounded following a mortar attack in eastern Laghman province. Militants are said to have fired the mortar round. (Khaama Press, Apr 25, 2015).

CEO Office Budget. It looks like the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah can buy some furniture for his office. The Parliament approved his position as a budgetary unit.

Top 10 Lessons from Afghan War. The Peace Stability Journal, Volume 5, Issue 3, April 2015 has an article entitled "Top Ten Lessons from the Afghanistan War, Negative and Positive Outcomes". The authors have put together an impressive list of the top ten positives and top ten failures. It is not too late to remedy a few of the failures.

Australian and New Zealand Military Observe ANZAC Day. ANZAC Day was observed in Kabul, Afghanistan. Watch an Australian Defense video.

PTSD and Sexual Dysfunction. A board-certified clinical psychologist who served two tours in Iraq provides info on PTSD and its relationship with sexual dysfunction.(Military Times, Apr 25, 2015).

Pentagon's New Cyber Strategy. In a speech at Stanford University U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter unveiled the Pentagon's new cyber strategy and made the case for greater collaboration between the government and the private sector (like those who work in Silicon Valley).

Cultural Support Team (CST). The role of two women on a Cultural Support Team while deployed to Afghanistan is profiled in "Meet the Real-Life G.I. Janes Who Served with Special Ops in Afghanistan", People Magazine, April 24, 2015.  

Hidden Cost of Drone Combat. The mental health of drone operators is discussed in "The Hidden Cost of Drone Combat: Soldier's Mental Health", Harvard Law School National Security Journal, April 24, 2015.

Hostage Rescues Hard to Do. The United States has some intelligence shortfalls when it comes to tracking locations of hostages. As the U.S. footprint on the ground in places like Afghanistan diminish its ability to collect human intelligence (HUMINT) also goes down. Read more in "War hostage locations are getting harder to track", Business Insider, April 24, 2015.

Video - "Afghan Crime Scene Training". Members from U.S. Forces Afghanistan and the Justice Center in Parwarn conduct training that focuses on collecting and documenting evidence on an active crime scene. Legal professionals from provinces across the country attend this training. (DVIDS, April 24, 2015).

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Afghan War News Snippets




Russian Enroute to Afghan Jihad Killed. A Russian national traveling to Afghanistan to join insurgents was killed by Tajik police.

Profile of Italian Hostage. Justine Drennan has penned an article about the Italian, Giovanni Lo Porto, who was killed in a U.S. drone attack in Pakistan while being held captive by al Qaeda. (Foreign Policy, Apr 23, 2015).

Profile of U.S. Hostage. Siobhan O'Grady has wrote an article about Warren Weinstein who was killed in the U.S. drone attack in Pakistan while being held by al Qaeda. (Foreign Policy, Apr 23, 2015).

Al Qaeda Still a Concern. According to a news report al Qaeda hiding in the AfPak region remain a concern of the United States. (Economic Times - India, Apr 24, 2015).

Taliban Attack Ghazni Govt Compounds. Rocket attacks were launched against government compounds in southeastern Ghazni province early on Friday morning - the day announced by the Taliban as the start of the 2015 fighting season. (Khaama Press, Apr 24, 2105).

Kandahar City Power Project to Shut Down. A proposed withdrawal of stable electricity supply from factories and homes in the key Afghan city raises security fears and threatens fragile development gains. The project is in jeopardy as USAID prepares to pull the plug. (The Guardian, Apr 24, 2015).

Father Son Reunion in Helmand Province. Recently the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) in Afghanistan helped Suliman, a young boy from Helmand province reunite after a long separation. Watch a 3-min video published April 22, 2015 and posted by ICRC.

India Hosting President Ghani. India hopes to regain lost ground in its relations with Afghanistan. The Afghan president has been getting friendlier with China and Pakistan which cuts into Indian influence. (Reuters,  Apr 23, 2015).

Hazaras in the Crosshairs? A lot of press has recently been given to the possibility that the Hazaras (usually found in the mountainous region of Central Afghanistan) are now being targeted by the Taliban and other groups because of their ethnicity. Some worry that this rash of recent abductions and killings might be a new trend of targeting this ethnic group. The folks at Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) delve a little deeper in the facts to separate fact from fiction. (AAN, April 24, 2015).

Italy Targets Suspects. Afghans and Pakistanis who were connected with an al Qaeda plot to support attacks against Pakistan's government and U.S. forces in Afghanistan were targeted by Italian police. (Voice of America, Apr 24, 2015).

Contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq. An 'opinion' piece' about U.S. contractors in war zones. Hmmmm. (Cleveland.com, Apr 24, 2015).

Report - Peace Process - Lessons Learned. "Of all the armed conflicts that have come to a peaceful end since the mid-1980s, 75% have done so via a negotiated settlement." Read more in The design and architecture of peace processes: lessons learned in the wake of crises, Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre, April 2015.

Author: Peace Talks Necessary. The author of three books about Afghanistan, James Fergusson, is interviewed on the prospects for peace in that country. He feels that the Taliban will not stop fighting and will pose a serious challenge to the ANSF. He believes that the ANSF will continue fighting as long as they continue to be paid and the international community provides funding for the Afghan government. He thinks the war will stop only with a political settlement resulting in a power sharing agreement with the Taliban. (Gandhara  Blog - Radio Free Europe, April 25, 2015).
http://gandhara.rferl.org/content/afghanistan-needs-peace-settlement/26976331.html

Indian Helicopters Provided to Afghanistan. According to a news report India has provided three multi-role Cheeteal helicopters to the Afghan Air Force. They were officially added in April 2015. The helicopters can be used for personnel transport, evacuation, reconnaissance, and aerial survey. They are capable of operating in high-altitude areas. (Khaama Press, April 24, 2015).

Report on Drugs. "Afghan Narcotrafficking: The State of Afghanistan's Borders", Joint U.S.-Russia Working Group, East West Institute, April 2015.
www.ewi.info/sites/default/files/ideas-files/Afghanistan-Borders.pdf

Lamb Pelts Aid Afghan Economy. Finland plays a big role in the lamb pelt trade of Afghan herders in northern Afghanistan. Read more in "Niche Trade in Lamb Pelts Proves Vital to Ailing Afghan Economy", The New York Times, April 23, 2015.

Hostage Problems. The rash of killed U.S. hostages is a troubling dilemma for the United States. Failed rescue attempts, beheadings, trading POWs for Taliban commanders, and drones killing hostages have put the U.S. hostage policy and procedures in question. Some think that the U.S. government needs a 'hostage czar'. Read "White House won't rule out hostage 'czar'', USA Today, April 24, 2015.

"Studies in Intelligence". The latest CIA publication - 'Journal of the American Intelligence Professional' is now available online. Volume 59, Number 1, March 2015 has a number of intriguing articles.

Afghan Election 2014. Afghanistan's 2014 presidential election did lead to its first peaceful transfer of power. However, it was scarcely democratic despite the 'rave support' of the U.S. Department of State cheerleaders. The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) has published a report that explores the election and its internationally mediated unity government outcome (our State Dept at work). Read "Understanding Afghanistan's 2014 Presidential Election: The Limits to Democracy in a Limited Access Order", by William A. Byrd, April 24, 2015.

Book Review - "The Wrong Enemy". The book by Carlotta Gall - "The Wrong Enemy: American in Afghanistan, 2001-2014", (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014), 289 pp. is reviewed by John H. Kavanagh. Review is posted on the Central Intelligence Agency library at this link.

49th MCB Returns from Afghanistan. Soldiers from the 49th Movement Control Battalion of the 4th Sustainment Brigade arrived home (Fort Hood) from a deployment to Kuwait and Afghanistan. While deployed their mission was to manage transportation operations for host nation trucks for sustainment and retrograde support. They also assisted in the closing of forward operating bases as the U.S. forces conducted their withdrawal. (Fort Hood Sentinel, April 23, 2015).

Ghani Orders Investigation into UN Police Report. Afghanistan's president has ordered the interior minister to investigate why a United Nations-funded report on corruption in the Afghan police was ignored and to take appropriate action. The report recommended firing senior police officials for sabotaging the main system for processing complaints about misconduct in the force. The oversight by the United Nations on the Law and Order Trust Fund of Afghanistan (LOTFA) has been poor and corrupt police officials have stolen millions of dollars from the fund. Read a news report by Reuters, April 24, 2015.

EU Signs EUPOL Agreement with MoI. The European Union Mission in Afghanistan announced on Thursday that it was extending its mission in Afghanistan for another two years. The European Union Police has been providing training to the Afghan National Police (ANP) since 2009 in various fields. (Tolo News, Apr 23, 2015).

Drones Killing Innocents. Robert Bechhusen and Matthew Gault provide us their insight into drone warfare after the accidental killing of two al Qaeda hostages in a drone attack in Pakistan. Read "Drones Kill Innocent People All the Time: But now the White House can't deny it", War is Boring, April 24, 2015.

Drones Killing al Qaeda Leadership. Declan Walsh tells us that high-level losses among al Qaeda's top leadership in Pakistan's tribal belt have resulted a diminished leadership capacity. Read his story in The New York Times,  April 24, 2015.

Understanding Insurgency. A Special Forces officer provides us a 25 minute presentation on "Understanding Insurgent Origins, Behavior, & Political Membership", United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), April 24, 2015. (Posted on the USASOC Channel - YouTube).

Video of Afghanistan. The "Humans of Kabul" provide a four-minute video of Afghan scenery and Afghan life on Vimeo. No bombs, gunfire, or poverty. Not sure of the soundtrack but . . . Just life in Afghanistan. https://vimeo.com/117363500

Switzerland "Happiest Country". Afghanistan? Not so much. According to the 2015 World Happiness Report the mountainous nation of Switzerland is the place to be. Afghanistan placed 153 out of 158. So that is why I get that feeling in the pit of my stomach when the Safi Airways flight touches down at Kabul International Airport. The report is published by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. (Radio Free Europe, April 24, 2015).

Friday, April 24, 2015

Afghan War News Snippets



General Petraeus Sentenced. The retired four-star general, former commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), and former CIA director received a sentence of two years probation and $100,000. Some critics say if he was someone else the penalty may have been more severe. Others point out that he shared notes with a United States Army LTC of the Military Intelligence branch with a Top Secret clearance. No Harm, No Foul?

Half-Finished Construction Projects. Anyone who has spent any time in Afghanistan is tainted with just how badly the U.S. managed the many construction projects over the past decade. And the news isn't getting any better. I am a firm believer that we needed less 19-year-old kids from New York City and more accountants and contracting officials deployed to Afghanistan. Read "Americans Keep Paying for Bad Work for Afghan Contractors", by Matthew Gault, War is Boring, April 23, 2015.

Video. Watch a short video (30 seconds) of Afghan Air Force MD-530s firing on the range. (NATO, April 21, 2015). www.facebook.com/NATO/videos/889557661067566/

Cell Phone Towers are Targets. One of the favorite targets of insurgents are cell phone towers. Usually these are spared if they provide 'protection money'. It's not always insurgents that target the cell phone towers; the criminal networks will do the same. In some areas the Taliban allow the cell phone towers to remain operational - but only during daytime hours. A cell tower in Maidan Wardak was recently destroyed.

Holbrooke's Disagreement w/ Obama Admin. Richard C. Holbrooke was the Obama administration's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is now known that he kept a secret audio diary detailing his frustrations with the White House - believing that it was too willing to listen to the military and that it mistook domestic political calculations for strategic thinking. Read "Richard C. Holbrooke's Diary of Disagreement with Obama Administration", The New York Times, April 22, 2015.

ANA Slaughterhouse Construction under Investigation. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction is investigating the spending of $1.25 million for an Afghan National Army (ANA) slaughterhouse that was never completed. Read SIGAR 15-51 Inspection Report, April 2015. www.sigar.mil/pdf/inspections/SIGAR-15-51-IP.pdf

Border Police Missing. Policemen have gone missing after a Taliban attack on their checkpost in the Bala Murghab district of northwestern Badghis province. security has been deteriorating in this part of Afghanistan. (Khaama Press, Apr 23, 2105). See also this report which says the Taliban killed the nine border guards (ABC News, Apr 23, 2015).

National Strategy Needed by Afghanistan. Christopher Kolenda writing in Gandhara Blog (Radio Free Europe) on April 24, 2015 says that "Afghanistan Needs a National Strategy to Succeed".

Roadside Bomb Kills Six Civilians. A roadside bombing killed civilians in the country's southwest region. The six killed included four children and a man and a woman. (CTVNews.ca, Apr 23, 2105).

Australia Issues Travel Warning. On April 23, 2015 the Australia government issued a travel warning for Afghanistan. www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/Afghanistan

IS in Pakistan. A writer examines the signs of the Islamic State moving into Pakistan. Read "Islamic State faces a complex web of militant groups and violence in Pakistan", New Statesman, April 23, 2015.

China and India. Central Asia is receiving a lot of attention from China, India and even Russia. That is leaving the U.S. on the edges. But, according to one analyst, that shouldn't concern Washington as the actions of China and India will result in greater development and stability for Central Asia. This is also the goal of the U.S. Department of States New Silk Road Initiative. Read more of this good news story in "Happy to Play Second Fiddle", by Michael Kugelman, Foreign Policy, April 22, 2015.

UAE - A dependable U.S. Ally. The UAE has supported American military adventures in Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Kosova, and Afghanistan. Learn more in a news report in War is Boring, April 23, 2015.

Undermining Terrorist Financing. Dr. Seth Jones, a expert on the Afghan conflict (and many other security related topics) provided testimony before the House Financial Services Committee. Read it in "Breaking the Bank: Undermining Terrorist Financing", RAND Corporation, April 22, 2015.

Update on Women in Ranger School. The original 19 females in Ranger School are down to 8. Of the 381 men there are 184 left. The first four days of the Ranger course are tough and is called the Ranger Assessment Phase (RAP). Read about historic Ranger School statistics:
www.benning.army.mil/infantry/RTB/

A Feminist Perspective on Use of Drones. One writer argues against the strategic utility of drones to neutralize terrorist organizations in "Drones, Gender and Classical Realists", E-International Relations, April 17, 2015.

A Scholar Interviewed on Gender, Security, and Military Contractors. Paul Higate of the University of Bristol is interviewed on a number of issues in an news story posted on E-International Relations on April 22, 2015.

2014 Report on Security Clearance Determinations. The Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) of 2010 requires the President to submit an annual report on Security Clearance Determinations to Congress.  You can read the report on the website of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, April 23, 2015.

CRS Pub on SOF. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has published a report entitled U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF): Background and Issues for Congress, by Andrew Feickert, April 9, 2015.