Worries on Afghanistan. Manoj Joshi writes about the current situation in Afghanistan. The Taliban's recent refusal to participate in peace talks has serious implications for the security and stability of Afghanistan. The Taliban clearly feel that time is on its side - and given its recent gains on the battlefield - that there is little point in engaging in peace negotiations with the Kabul regime. Read more in "Worrying signals from Afghanistan", ORF Online, March 8, 2016.
Developing Emotional Calluses. Nathan K. Finney has wrote a short essay on how military members, as a result of their exposure to years of direct and indirect trauma, develop emotional calluses to the world around them. Read "Consequences of Fear: Callousness", Consequence Magazine, March 6, 2016.
Too Much Mandatory Training. While senior leaders of the military recognized that there are too many mandated training activities it would seem that little is done to lighten the load. Read more in "No Time, Literally, For All Requirements", by Maj. Crispin J. Burke, Army Magazine, March 8, 2016.
Mandatory Training - Part II. There is no doubt that the training requirements for the U.S. Army far exceed the time available to train. Many Soldiers would cut much of the training they receive. For instance, do Soldiers really need to endure a class presentation where they learn that American society attaches privilege to being white, male, and heterosexual. Yep, it happened. Read more in "U.S. Army Lectured Soldiers on Dangers of "White Privilege", Fox News, March 10, 2016.
Do We Need Better Generals? Michael Vickers, the former under secretary of Defense for Intelligence seems to think so. Read "Vickers: Fastest way to improve strategy is to prepare and pick better generals", Foreign Policy, March 9, 2016. See Mike Vickers testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee entitled Improving the Pentagon's Development of Policy, Strategy and Plans, December 8, 2015.
"Silk Road" and Afghanistan. China is pushing the integration of China economic interests into the Central and South Asian regions. Expanding China's direct interests in Afghanistan would open new avenues for U.S.-China cooperation. Hmmmm. Okay, but I say "Advantage China". Read what Andi Zhou has to say in "Can China's 'One Belt, One Road' Save the US in Afghanistan?", The Diplomat, March 11, 2016.
Australian Documentary. "In their own words and their own extraordinary, never-before-seen helmet-cam battle footage, Australia's fighting men and women lay bare their hearts in an epic series - not just how they waged a war, but why and to what end." If you live in Australia then you can watch "Afghanistan: Inside Australia's War", ABC.net.au, March 8, 2016. Unfortunately, unless posted on YouTube.com, the rest of us can't.
Movie Review - A War. Several weeks back I reviewed the newly released Danish movie A War. Since then numerous reviews have come out. The latest that I have read is by David Franke - who manages to input a bit of commentary at the end of his review. Read "The Danes in Afghanistan", The American Conservative, March 11, 2016.
Recalibrating ROE. In past decade the Rules of Engagement at theater level have seen some changes. Some believe the rules are too tight; sacrificing safety of military members in order to avoid civilian casualties and unfortunate situations that will explode in the world's media. Others see the tightening of ROE necessary in a counterinsurgency environment. Not my favorite topic, but if you are a lawyer you might be interested in a 57-page paper on SROE /SRUF by Colonel Gary P. Corn and published in the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Vol. 49:1, 2016.
Panel - "What to Do About Afghanistan". The Council on Foreign Relations hosted a panel discussion on the security situation of Afghanistan. Former ISAF commander General (Ret) John Allen, Former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James B. Cunningham, and Mary Beth Long - a former Assistant Secretary of Defense and President of Metis Solutions were on the panel. You can watch the one hour long video at the link below.
Hybrid Warriors. The military community (uniformed, academic, think tanks, included) has been struggling with defining the new era of warfare since 2011. The crux of the matter is how to attach a term to the space between peace and war. Lots of terms are out there: unconventional warfare, Gray Zone, Hybrid Warfare, political warfare, etc. One security observer and commentator - Douglas A. Ollivant - has penned a paper that sees past the terminology and concentrates on the participants of this new type of conflict. Read "The Rise of the Hybrid Warriors: From Ukraine to the Middle East", War on the Rocks, March 9, 2016.
Understanding COIN. Dr. Geraint Hughes, a student of counterinsurgency and formerly of the London Regiment of the Territorial Army, writes that the terminological distinctions between COIN, PSO, 'stabilisation', and 'major combat operations' are potentially becoming increasingly less relevant. Read "Uncertain Coinage", Defense-in-Depth, King's College, London, March 7, 2016.