Showing posts with label taliban. Show all posts
Showing posts with label taliban. Show all posts

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Afghan Security News

News about Afghan SOF

"Clear, Hold, and Build?" The Afghan army - using its Commandos - has the "Clear" part of counterinsurgency down pretty good. It is the "Hold" and "Build" part that historically the ANDSF do not do well. Read an example of this weak area in "Northern offensives conducted by Afghan Army achieve impermanent gains"FDD's Long War Journal, January 31, 2018.

Afghan Commandos. Marty Skovlund Jr, a writer for Task & Purpose, recently visited Camp Commando (just outside of Kabul) where the Afghan Commandos are trained. He provides us with an excellent article describing the Commandos training, mission, and motivation. Read "With The Taliban On The Offensive, The Future Of Afghanistan May Depend On This Homegrown Commando Force", January 29, 2018.

New Afghan SOF Unit - Cobra Strike Kandak. In the effort to increase the size of Afghan Special Security Forces (ASSF) the Afghan National Army Special Operations Command (ANASOC) has established a new school and unit. Learn more about the Cobra Strike Maneuver Course and the Cobra Strike Kandaks in "Afghan Special Operations build momentum with Cobra Strike Maneuver Course"DVIDS, February, 3, 2018.

Security Events and Incidents

"A Bloody Start to 2018". Why has there been an uptick in violence in Afghanistan - especially in Kabul? Some observers believe that it is the Taliban's response to President Trumps new strategy in South Asia, Trump's statements and actions against Pakistan, and the winter offensive conducted by the ANDSF (along with U.S. bombing). Read "Taliban attacks cast doubt on US' Afghan Strategy"Deutsche Welle, January 29, 2018.

Military University Attacked. On Sunday, January 28th two suicide bombers detonated their explosives at the gate of the Marshal Fahim Military University in Kabul. Two other attackers were killed in the fight and one attacker was captured by the ANDSF. The attack was the fourth major assault in a surge of violence in just over a week . . . and the fighting season has yet to begin. both the Taliban and the Islamic State - Khorsan Province appear to be increasing their attacks in Kabul.  "Eleven Afghan soldiers killed in latest attack in Kabul"Reuters, January 28, 2018.

More on Kabul Bombing. The recent bombing on Saturday, January 27th by the Taliban using an ambulance has resulted in 103 deaths and 235 wounded. It appears the emergency vehicle was waved through one checkpoint but then was stopped at a second checkpoint - when it detonated.

Some Good News? Evidently all is not all 'doom and gloom' in Afghanistan. Not if you read one of Resolute Support's recent press releases - "Afghan forces apply pressure to insurgents with renewed resolve"RS HQ, February 1, 2018. While RS HQs acknowledges that there have been some significant attacks in Kabul; it provides examples of how the ANDSF (especially SOF) are making headway. And there is this statement by Gen Nicholson (RS Cdr):
Our mission is boosting troop numbers, which really means that our Train, Advise and Assist Mission will go even deeper inside the schooling and education system, and with the forces on the battlefield.
 Analysis and Commentary on Security Situation in Afghanistan

Trends in Afghan Security. The folks at the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) have provided us with a detailed analysis of how security is trending in Afghanistan over the past several years. The news is not good. The writer, Thomas Ruttig - a man with extensive time in Afghanistan, looks at five major indicators of security in 2017 and compares it to data from earlier years. He finds that the Afghan War has become more violent and widespread in 2017. Read his very detailed analysis in "More Violent, More Widespread: Trends in Afghan Security in 2017", AAN, January 29, 2018.

Options for Success Limited. According to Bennett Seftel, director of analysis at The Cipher Brief, options for the Afghan conflict are not good. See "Afghanistan Quagmire Leaves U.S. With No Good Options", February 1, 2018.

Battle for Kabul and Beyond? The recent spate of terrorist attacks in Kabul highlight what may be a coming bloody year in Afghanistan. Read an analysis of the security situation in Afghanistan by Nafisa Hoodbhoy in "Analysts: Battle for Kabul Has Begun"Voice of America, January 28, 2018.

Info Withheld in SIGAR Report. The Pentagon and Resolute Support HQs has removed information previously published in the unclassified Quarterly Report to Congress. The January 2018 has little information about the Taliban's ability to 'control or contest' districts in Afghanistan. Previous reports always contained this info. Read "Watchdog: Pentagon blocks information on insurgent dominance in Afghanistan"Stars and Stripes, January 30, 2018.

Taliban Gaining Strength? Recent DoD and SIGAR reports along with analysis from outside media outlets and think tanks indicate that the Taliban certainly are not using . . . and depending on the metrics used . . . could possibly be tilting the 'stalemate' to the insurgency's favor. Read "The Taliban is gaining strength and territory in Afghanistan", NBC News, January 30, 2018.

Afghan Security Institutions (ASI) and ANDSF

Retiring the 'Old Generals'. There are a lot of Afghan generals on the payroll; many of whom don't have a real job. Even worse is that some of those that do show up for work are corrupt and inept. One of the key elements of professionalizing the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces that Resolute Support has encouraged the Afghans to adopt is changing out the senior leadership. But there are those who oppose this approach (of course). (Tolo News, Jan 29, 2018).

Spies Within ANDSF? Are there informers who report to insurgents currently working within the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defense? MININT Wais Ahmad Barmak believes that is the case. Read "Insurgents Have Spies Among Security Forces, Barmak Says"Tolo News, January 28, 2018.

Peace Talks?

Talking to the Taliban? Not so Much. One of the aims of the U.S. government is to use all means available (military, diplomacy, etc.) to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table for a political settlement. On Monday, January 29th this was all put aside by President Trump when he said "I don't see any talking taking place . . ." during a televised meeting at the White House. The remarks were 'off the cuff' and probably reflected his thoughts after several recent bombings by insurgents in Kabul that killed a lot of innocent people.


Drone Contract. AAI Corporation has been awarded a multi-million dollar contract to provide UAV support to U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Read "AAI Corp. to provide intelligence services in Afghanistan",, January 29, 2018.

Facts and Figures. Statistics can be shaped into many different forms to help convey a message or sway the conversation. The Afghan conflict is certainly a war with many different points of view - many that use data points to present their respective perspectives. Scott Peterson writes on this in "Afghanistan by the numbers: inside the fight over facts", February 2, 2018.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Taliban Update

Taliban Ideology. The Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) is highly respected for its detailed reporting on the situation in Afghanistan. The AAN has released a report entitled Ideology in the Afghan Taliban, dated 29 June 2017. The report states that the Taleban's ideology has transformed over the past two decades. While the movement started out as a 'traditionalist' Islam - it has now moved closer to forms of political Islam espoused in the Arab world. The 45-page report can be read online or downloaded.

Taliban vs IS-K in Nuristan. The remote province of Nuristan in eastern Afghanistan is the stage for fighting between the Islamic State - Khorasan and Taliban elements. See "Afghan Governor Says Taliban Fighting IS in Eastern Province", Gandhara, June 28, 2017.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Breakaway Taliban Faction Aided by NDS

A breakaway Taliban faction is being helped by the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS). The NDS is Afghanistan's version of the U.S. FBI and CIA combined. The faction supported by the NDS and the main stream Taliban have recently clashed causing casualties on both sides. Infighting among Taliban factions is not a new occurrence; however, the NDS provided support to a Taliban faction is not a commonplace event. In recent days the NDS has been supporting the 'Renouncers' - with weapons, safe passage, intelligence support, and medical support. This seems to happen most in Helmand province which the Afghan government has great difficulty in controlling. Read more in a news report entitled "Afghan Government Quietly Aids Breakaway Taliban Faction", The New York Times, June 19, 2017.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Fractured Taliban?

Since the announcement that Mullah Omar had died in a Pakistani hospital and the drone killing of his successor in May 2016 the Taliban have been ridden with internal strife. While the Taliban media has proclaimed success on the battlefield its fighters have experienced significant losses. This, of course, does not imply that the Afghan National Defense Security Forces (ANDSF) are winning on the battlefield. There are indications that the Taliban are suffering from some internal turmoil. Read more in Abubakar Siddique's news article "Are the Taliban Falling Apart?", Gandara Blog | Radio Free Europe, October 27, 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, January 3, 2016

Afghan War News Snippets

EU Providing 12 Million Euros. Afghanistan faces a critical humanitarian crisis as a result of the intensifying conflict. The European Union is upping its contribution for humanitarian aid by 12 million euros bringing the total humanitarian aid to 40 million euros for 2015. (European Commission, Dec 22, 2015).

Taliban Leadership Struggles. There seems to be three distinct groups of the Afghan Taliban emerging and the divide is going away soon. Read "Dueling Fatwas, More Dissension as Afghan Taliban Leadership Struggle Intensifies", Gandhara Blog, December 22, 2015.

Sexual Assault in Afghanistan. Danielle Moylan writes "When It Comes to Sexual Assault, Afghanistan Is All Talk and No Action", Foreign Policy, December 21, 2015.

Peace Talks? Looks like Afghanistan, Pakistan and others will make another attempt at peace talks. Reports say that another round will take place in Pakistan on/about January 11th. China and the United States may (will) also participate. (Radio Free Europe, Jan 2, 2016).

Georgian Deployment Program (GDP). The GDP is a multi-year training program with the goal to increase the interoperability between the Georgian Army and Resolute Support Mission (RSM). The training consists of six six-month rotations designed to train six Georgian infantry battalions. Read more in a contract announcement about driver training for the GDP-RMS project. (, Dec 22, 2015).

Earthquake - Again. A 6.2 earthquake hit Afghanistan in late December 2015 causing about a dozen injuries. (Telegraph, Dec 25, 2015). A second earthquake was experienced in Kabul on January 2nd - measuring 5.3.

Nuristan - A Remote Region. Mujib Mashal writes about a remote and isolated province in northeastern Afghanistan in "Afghan Province Tucked in Mountains Lies Beyond Reach of Aid and Time", The New York Times, December 25, 2015.

Islamic State Radio. The IS militants based in eastern Afghanistan has launched their own radio station that features a 90-minute long program daily show entitled the "Voice of the Caliphate". It is in Pashto and reaches out to a wide audience within the province. Naturally the Afghan government is not pleased. Watch a two-minute long video by Radio Free Europe, December 22, 2015.

Nomads in Pamir Region. The Kyrgyz of the Pamir Mountains live in three different countries in a remote part of the world - Afghanistan, China, and Tajikistan. Learn more in "Modernity of Ancient Nomads in Pamir of Tajikstan", Radio Free Europe, December 21, 2015.

Former TAAC-South Cdr to 10th Mtn. BG Paul Bontrager is heading to Fort Drum, NY to be deputy commanding general for the 10th Mountain Division (Light). (, Dec 15, 2015).

Corruption. The country of Afghanistan is no doubt one of the most corrupt in the world. This culture of corruption is compounded with the billions of dollars that the U.S. and international community has pumped into the Afghan economy through aid and military expenditures. It is a small victory when someone actually gets charged with corruption. Read "U.S. Charges Afghan Businessman With Bribing for Contracts", Radio Free Europe, December 30, 2015.

TAPI and Peace. Barnett Rubin writes about the importance of the TAPI pipeline project and the impact it will have on peace in the region and Afghanistan's economy. While everyone applauds wildly about this seemingly important economic event some wonder how it will be built and secured in a disintegrating security situation. President Ghani's promise of protecting the pipeline's route through Afghanistan with 7,000 security personnel is ambitious but untenable. Read more in "The TAPI Pipeline and Paths to Peace in Afghanistan", The New Yorker, December 30, 2015.

Bad Year for Ghani. Afghanistan is experiencing weakness and disunity in both government and insurgent ranks. Some believe that President Ghani's first year did not go well. Read "The Guardian view on Afghanistan: a bad year for Ashraf Ghani", The Guardian, December 30, 2015.

Landai Season. Fazal Muzhary writes about this late fall / early winter traditional food feast that takes place in rural parts of Afghanistan in Landai Season: a delicacy and a feast in rural Afghanistan, Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN), December 30, 2015.

Data Book on Gender. The World Bank has published a handy pocket guide for users interested in gender statistics. This country by country reference could be helpful to those working gender issues in Afghanistan.

UN Security Council Debate. The Afghan ambassador to the United Nations, H.E. Mahmoud Saikal, addressed the UN Security Council in December about the situation in Afghanistan. You can listen (and watch) his 18-minute long address at the following link on YouTube.

USAID and CVE. Where does the fight against violent extremism fit within the broad spectrum of development? USAID tells you in a recent report dated September 28th, 2015.

New TAAC-North Cdr. The Train, Advise, Assist Command - North based at Camp Marmal near Mazer-e Sharif in northern Afghanistan has a new commander. A quick look at his bio indicates that this is his first deployment to Afghanistan. Hmmmm. Perhaps it was just an oversight and he has completed five six-month tours to the Graveyard of Empires? Or are the Germans falling into the American practice of selecting officers to command in Afghanistan for their career development rather than selecting officers for their vast knowledge and experience of Afghanistan's politics, culture, tribes, ethnic groups, language, history, and many years of conflict.

Turkish Labs & Afghan Opium. The director of Russia's Federal Narcotics Control Service has said that Turkish laboratories are processing Afghan opium for deliveries to Europe. According to Russia's Sputnik news (real dependable source there) the drug cargo sometimes travels along northern Afghanistan into Iran and then on to Turkey. Once processed it finds its way into Europe through the Balkans. (Khaama Press, Dec 22, 2015).

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Death of Afghan Taliban Leader?

Mullah Akhtar Mansoor
Afghan Taliban Leader Injured (or Killed)? Initial reports from mid-week suggest that Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansur has been seriously injured in a firefight following a verbal dispute at a meeting of militant commanders in Pakistan. It's just bad judgement to allow guns at staff meetings; should have checked them at the door. I wonder how this will affect the prospects of peace negotiations? He was injured enough to be taken to a hospital where (I am speculating) Pakistani security authorities ensured that he would not be targeted during his stay. Other reports say that the Taliban leader was killed. The Taliban (and Pakistani authorities) kept the death of Mullah Omar, the previous Taliban leader, quiet for over two years. There are various factions of the Taliban saying he is just fine, not wounded; and others saying he has been killed; and still more saying he is wounded and will need months to recover. (Pajhwok Afghan News, Dec 5, 2015). Let's see how long it takes for the real story to come out on this incident. Read more in "Afghan Taliban Leader 'Seriously Injured' in Pakistan"Gandhara Blog, December 2, 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, October 11, 2015

ISIS in Afghanistan

ISIS versus Taliban. Folks are looking at the competition between the Taliban and the Islamic State and hoping (some are predicting) that they will hurt each other enough that the Afghan government (and its security forces) can solidify its presence in troubled districts. However, not everyone is in agreement that this will be a product of that hostile competition between the two groups. While ISIS is making some progress in Nangarhar province its presence elsewhere in Afghanistan is minimal. While the two groups are at odds with each other they continue to cause severe problems for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) as well. Read more in "Taliban in Kunduz, ISIS in Nangarhar: Fiefdoms of Conflict in Afghanistan", by Halimullah Kousary, The Diplomat, October 5, 2015.

ISIS Stages Kabul Attack. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) affiliates in Afghanistan claimed responsibility for an attack on a religious congregation hall in Kabul city. Read more in a news report (Khaama Press, Oct 10, 2015).

ISIS and Jalalabad. According to General Campbell, the commander of the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, the Islamic State is making a play for control of Jalalabad. This large city in eastern Afghanistan not far from the Pakistan border is the capital of Nangarhar province. It also is the location of a small base of U.S. and NATO forces as well as an important crossroads for trade and commerce with Pakistan. Read more in "The Islamic State is growing in Afghanistan, and has its eyes on a specific city", by Dan Lamothe, The Washington Post, October 6, 2015.

News Article - Mullah Mansour

The new head of the Taliban - Mullah Akhtar Muhammand Mansour - is profiled by Joseph Goldstein in The New York Times (Oct 4, 2015) in this comprehensive news report. Some interesting tidbits - during the Taliban's reign in the late 1990s Mansour was the Chief of Aviation (when the govt had very little planes) and head of the Tourism Department (when there were very little tourists). However, since that time ". . . Mullah Mansour became central to the group's reincarnation as a powerful insurgency that survived NATO offensives to pose a grave threat now to the Western-backed Afghan government." Mansour's status as head of the Taliban has increased with the recent success of the Taliban in occupying a provincial capital (Kunduz City) for the first time since 2001. This should alleviate some of the leadership challenges he faces. He is also heavily supported by Pakistan's intelligence agency which is helping to consolidate his hold on power within the Taliban leadership. Goldstein's article is probably one of the more informative pieces of work on the new head of the Taliban. Read "Taliban's New Leader Strengthens His Hold With Intrigue and Battlefield Victory".

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Taliban Offensive in Northern Afghanistan

The Taliban have launched a major offensive in the past few weeks to make significant gains in northern Afghanistan. The Taliban has seized nine districts in five provinces in northern Afghanistan in the span of five days. While the world's eyes and ears are focused on the fall of Kunduz, Russians bombing the CIA's allies in Syria, Syria refugees in Europe, and elsewhere the insurgents have scored success after success in rural Afghanistan - especially in the north. Read more in "Taliban overruns another district in Afghan north", Threat Matrix, October 2, 2015.

Sunday, September 13, 2015


A writer, Vikrma Sood, has posted his views about the struggle for leadership of the Taliban, how Pakistan continues to support the various insurgent groups, and the 'blindness' of the United States in recognizing the true policy of Pakistan. "The takeaways from this are apparent. Afghanistan and India will continue to deal with a predatory neighbour who will change tactics and strategy but not policy. The US will continue its policy of profound ambivalence on matters terrorism (and even nuclear) when they concern Pakistan.". The article is posted here "Afghanistan's looming crisis", Observer Research Foundation (ORF), September 3, 2015.

Pakistan has announced that it conducted its first air strike using a domestically manufactured drone. The strike reportedly killed three militants in the Shawal Valley in North Wazaristan area. Read more in "Pakistan Says Its Drone Killed 3 Militants", The New York Times, September 7, 2015. See also "Pakistan: First Domestic Drone Strike", Foreign Policy, September 8, 2015.

Pakistan and LeT. Christine Fair tells us how Pakistan's intelligence agency created a pliant proxy and implacable foe of India in "The Lashkar's empire of jihad", India Today, September 11, 2015.


Leadership Struggles. Mullah Akhtar Muhammaad Mansour is still consolidating his power with the Taliban's organization. However, a fellow by the name of Mullah Dadullah is resisting. Read more in "Taliban's New Leader in Afghanistan Moves to Quash Dissent", The New York Times, September 6, 2015.

Mansour Seeks Support From Outside Afghanistan. "The Afghan Taliban's new leader is wooing powerful figures from the militant movement based in the Middle East who have not yet publicly pledged their support . . ." Read "Afghan Taliban leader sends envoy abroad to win support, united group", Thomson Reuters Foundation, September 11, 2015.

Pakistani Intel Involvement? A dissident Taliban commander claims that Pakistani intelligence ordered him to conduct assassinations and attacks in Afghanistan. Mullah Mansour Dadullah, a former Taliban commander, released a video on September 5th detailing the involvement of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI). Read more in a report by The Long War Journal, September 7, 2015.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Kabul Convoy Attack: 12 Dead, 3 U.S. Contractors

An insurgent targeted a convoy with a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) in Kabul on Saturday, August 22nd. Twelve people were killed and at least 66 others wounded - including three American contractors. The explosives-laden Toyota Corolla attacked the convoy in the Macrorayan area of Kabul on Saturday afternoon. Some initial reports indicate that the three U.S. personnel were contractors for DynCorp.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Life Under Taliban - Baghran District, Helmand Province

Life under the Taliban rule for the few years that they ran Afghanistan was extremely harsh. Recent proclamations by the Taliban would indicate that they have modified their stances on some of those harsh policies - such as girls attending schools. However, a glimpse of life under the Taliban in Baghran district of Helmand province will provide clues as to how the Taliban would run a future Afghan government. Baghan district is considered by some to be almost completely under Taliban control - the Afghan security forces have thus far been unsuccessful in dislodging them. Read more in "Taliban Present Gentler Face but Wield Iron Fist in Afghan District", The New York Times, August 14, 2015.

Al-Qaeda and the Taliban

The death of Mullah Omar and the emergence of the Islamic State has changed the insurgent (terrorist) landscape in Afghanistan. The Taliban seems to be in competition with the Islamic State; as is al Qaeda. The relationship between the Taliban and al Qaeda would seem to be strengthened over the past few weeks based on some of the "press releases" sent out on behalf of the two groups. Read "Taliban Chief, Facing Struggle for Power, Welcomes Al-Qaeda Alliance", Radio Free Europe, August 15, 2015 and "Al-Qaeda Leader Declares Loyalty to New Afghan Taliban Leader", Radio Free Europe, August 13, 2015.

There are lots of conspiracy theories floating around in the news and on the Internet (some people think those two items are the same). One theory is that the Pakistan ISI is purposely fragmenting the Taliban while putting forth the facade of trying to unit the Taliban in an effort to advance peace talks. Another theory revolves around the al Qaida - Taliban endorsements. Read more in "Complex Conspiracy Theories Shadow al-Qaida-Taliban deal", Voice of America, August 14, 2015.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Update on New Taliban Leadership

New Taliban Leader. Shortly after the death of Mullah Omar the Taliban leadership appointed their new leader - Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour. Mansour released an audio message where he asks for unity within the Taliban organization and seemingly backtracks from joining the negotiation table with the Afghan government. Not everyone is happy with the selection of Mansour; reports indicate that some of the senior leadership walk out of the Taliban council meeting when he was appointed. Other sub-groups say that the full Taliban leadership was not represented at the meeting.

Haqqani Network. Jalaluddin Haqqani, despite being dead, has issued a new letter saying he supports the newly appointed leader of the Taliban. Haqqani's son, Siraj, has been appointed as one of Mansour's (new Taliban leader) top two deputies. The Haqqani Network is a member of the Quetta Shura, is closely allied with al Qaeda, and has a long and close relationship with Pakistan's Inter-services Intelligence Directorate.  Read more by Bill Roggio of Threat Matrix - The Long War Journal, August 2, 2015.

Mullah Omar's Son? Some news reports say that the oldest son of Mullah Omar - Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, age 27 - was recently killed just after the selection of the new leader. However, other news reports indicate he is under house arrest per the instructions of Mullah Mansoor, the new Taliban leader. The son recently graduated from a Madrasa in Karachi, Pakistan. (Tolo News, Aug 4, 2015).

Qatar Taliban Office Head Resigns. On Monday, August 3, Tayyab Agha resigned his position as head of the Taliban's political office in Qatar.He was a close aide to Mullah Omar. He also said it was a "historical mistake" to hide the death of Mullah Omar for over two years. (Dawn, Aug 4, 2015).

Islamic State and Death of Mullah Omar. The new networks and social media is ablaze with analysis about what effect Mullah Omars announced demise will have on the overall Afghanistan situation. Naturally, some commentators are chiming in on the Islamic State in Afghanistan. One commentator believes that with Mullah Omar no longer on the scene the Islamic State will have better success in recruiting and establishing operations in Afghanistan. Read more in "Will Mullah Omar's Death Help the Islamic State?", Foreign Policy, August 3, 2015.

The Myth of Mullah Omar. Jeff Goldstein provides us his analysis of the 'death of Mullah Omar' in his article entitled "Afghan War's Convenient Myth: A Living Mullah Omar", The New York Times, August 7, 2015.

Omar Aftermath. Arif Rafiq forecasts the future in his article entitled "After Omar: The Future of the Taliban and the War in Afghanistan", World Politics Review, August 3, 2015.

Seize the Moment for Peace Talks. Anatol Lieven and Rudra Chaudhuri say that the Taliban acknowledgement that Mullah Omar is dead presents an opportunity that should be recognized and acted upon. Read "Seize Upon the Taliban Split", The New York Times, August 6, 2015.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Death of Mullah Omar?

Periodically reports reach us about the death of the reclusive Mullah Mohammed Omar. Mullah Omar is (or was) considered by many as the leader of the Taliban - or at least the part of the Taliban commanded from Quetta, Pakistan. Several news outlets are informing us that he died from tuberculosis in a hospital in Karachi, Pakistan in April 2013. The Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) has confirmed his death. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (Taliban) have released a statement saying the same. (statement can be read on We shall see. Read more of his reported death in a CNN report (July 30, 2015).

Omar's demise will set the stage for some internal drama within the Taliban. First of all is the appointment of a new leader. (See Taliban statement on appointment posted on Some reports indicate that Mullah Mohammad Akhtar Mansour is taking the position as head of the Quetta Shura. Other reports indicate he may have to work something out with the son of Omar who may be interested in heading up the position. It appears that the new guy in charge has close ties with Pakistani authorities - read more in "Afghanistan's New Taliban Leader"Real Clear Defense, July 30, 2015. Some observers note that the Taliban's new leadership is allied with al-Qaeda - read an post by The Long War Journal (July 31, 2015).

Analysis of Taleban's Leadership Shift. Thomas Ruttig, of the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN), provides us with an analysis of the leadership change in "From Mullah Omar to Mansur: Change at the Taleban's top leadership", Afghanistan Analysts Network, July 31, 2015.

In addition, the peace talks - the second round has been postponed - will be affected by whoever is in charge now. Lot's of speculation. Read about the internal disagreement in "Walkout at Taliban Leadership Meeting Raises Specter of Split", The New York Times, July 31, 2015.

Learn About the Taliban

"The Taliban was toppled in Afghanistan in 2001 for harboring al-Qaeda, but it has not been defeated. With an estimated core of up to sixty thousand fighters, the Taliban remains the most vigorous insurgent group in Afghanistan and holds sway over civilians near its strongholds in the country's south and east. It has also metastasized in neighboring Pakistan, where thousands of fighters in the country's western tribal areas wage war against the government. Now, as the international combat mission in Afghanistan closes, the Taliban threatens to destabilize the region, harbor terrorist groups with global ambitions, and set back human rights and economic development in the areas where it prevails."
The Taliban, by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), July 2015. A CFR InfoGuide Presentation.!/

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Kunduz Fighting Update

Heavy fighting has been taking place in Kunduz province the past few days. Thousands of families are reported to be displaced due to the fighting in different districts of Kunduz. The fierce fighting delayed President Ghani's trip to India by at least a few hours. Ghani had a quick meeting with General Campbell (Resolute Support Commander) to discuss the deteriorating situation in Kunduz. The Afghan army has sent over 2,000 troops into the troubled province. Some reports describe the fighting as a major militant offensive with about 3,000 militants engaged in five districts. The provincial governor says that militants control up to 40 percent of the province. Some attacks are occurring in the provincial capital. The Afghan Local Police (ALP) in the area have taken some heavy casualties. Some analysts say the accelerated pace of fighting is due to an influx of foreign militants. (Tolo News, Apr 28, 2015). Read more in "Violence in Afghanistan Delays Ghani on Trip to India"The Diplomat, by Catherine Putz, April 28, 2015. See also "Taliban, Afghan forces battle for control of northern city"Thomson Reuters Foundation, April 28, 2015. See a report by Radio Free Europe,  April 28, 2015.