Showing posts with label transition. Show all posts
Showing posts with label transition. Show all posts

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Report - "Afghanistan at Transition"

Anthony H. Cordesman of the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) has penned a report entitled "Afghanistan at Transition: Lessons of the Longest War", March 2015. This 240 plus page document provides a much needed assessment of what has been accomplished, the cost of those accomplishments, and what remains to be done in Afghanistan. Cordesman is highly critical of the Obama administration and the military propensity for 'spin'. He lays out the facts in a cogent and understandable manner and follows through with very informative recommendations of the steps that should be taken to ensure 'victory'.  He concludes with an examination of US strategy; looking at the case for and against a 'conditions-based involvement' and choosing between the options.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Podcast on Transitions in Afghanistan

Thomas Ruttig, a long-term observer of all things Afghanistan and co-founder of the Afghan Analysts Network (AAN), provides his comments on the 2014 elections, democracy, and governance in Afghanistan. Listen to the podcast here (AAN, Dec 26, 2014, 9 minutes).

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Afghan Nat Sec Advisor Remarks at Ceremony

Mohammad Hanif Atmar, Afghanistan's National Security Advisor, made some remarks at the ISAF / Resolute Support transition ceremony in Kabul on Sunday, December 28, 2104. He expressed Afghanistan's deepest gratitude for the NATO Coalition's efforts and sacrifices in Afghanistan since 2001. Read his comments posted on ISAF News (Dec 28, 2014).

Monday, December 29, 2014

Transition Ceremony Kicks off Resolute Support Mission

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) held a ceremony concluding operations in Afghanistan and transitioning to the new NATO-led Resolute Support mission. The ceremony paid tribute to the international efforts launched in 2001 to help establish a new government and security in Afghanistan. The Resolute Support mission will consist of more than 12,500 troops focused on building Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) sustainability. This will be done through the implementation of Functionally-based Security Force Assistance. The force will consist of 28 NATO allies and 14 partner nations. Under Resolute Support, efforts to train, advise, and assist Afghan Security Institutions (ASI) and the ANSF at the ministerial, operational, and institutional levels will focus on eight essential functions. These 8 EFs comprise the systems and processes required for the professionalism and sustainability of the ASI and ANSF. There was no mention of whether the NATO RS mission would advise and train the ANSF in counterinsurgency operations - an area in which the ANSF desperately needs assistance. Read more in "Transition ceremony kicks off Resolute Support Mission", NATO News, December 28, 2014.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Paper - "ISAF IJC 2014: The Year of Change"

Anderson, LTG Joseph and MAJ Matthew McCreary. “International Security Assistance Force Joint Command 2014: The Year of Change”, Military Review, January-February 2015, pages 16-25. This paper describes the transition from SFA to FbSFA and the ‘thinning up’ of the advisory effort with the ANSF taking place at the same time that a significant retrograde of personnel, equipment and closing of bases was happening. The article is essentially correct but takes too much credit for transition that had already transpired in 2013 – such as thinning up, move to Functionally-based Security Force Assistance, and advising at the higher echelons vice district center and kandak level. This editors’ opinion is that 50% of the credit taken in the paper was for work already completed in 2013. But . . .  the paper by the commander of IJC is a good historical document for those who want background info or who are writing academic papers or books on the advisory effort in the Afghan conflict.

Monday, November 24, 2014

ANSF and Transition - Entering the Spin Zone

Anthony H. Cordesman of the Center for Strategic & International Studies has conducted a study entitled "Afghan Forces on the Edge of Transition" (November 18, 2014) that summarizes the key policies and metrics on the transition of the Afghan National Security Forces since August 2014. The study ". . . provides considerable insight into the success of the Taliban to date, the seriousness of probable Afghan capability to contain and defeat the Taliban and other insurgents and the seriousness of the fighting". The study also shows that there is
". . . a critical lack of transparency, and what often seem to be serious gaps in the planning for the future. In many cases, there seems to be a growing emphasis on "spin" and public relations efforts to sell progress at the expense of realism and objectivity - often by simply ceasing to report metrics that have proved to be embarrassing in the past".
The study is divided into four different parts:

1. US Policy, and Cuts in US Forces and Spending.
2. Sharply Contradictory Data on Levels of Violence.
3. Measuring the Transition from ISAF to ANSF.
4. Progress in Afghan Force Development.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Afghan Plans for Camp Leatherneck

The Afghan 215th ANA Corps inherited a sprawling base in southwest Afghanistan with the departure of the Marines from Camp Leatherneck. The mystery is what will the Afghans do with the base, buildings (298), vehicles, equipment, and gear. One of the buildings is a $36 million, 64,000-square foot military headquarters built for the Marines but never used. Ouch. The camp was built to accommodate 26,000 troops. Read more in "Afghans' plans for gear, buildings at Leatherneck unclear", Marine Corps Times, November 2, 2014.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Journalist Has Reservations on ANSF

A journalist who spent time with British forces in Afghanistan remembers his impressions of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). Read more in "I have my reservations about Afghanistan, says defense reporter Tristan Nichols", The Herald, October 28, 2014.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Failure in Afghanistan - Ahmed Rashid

A noted author and correspondent with a great deal of expertise in Afghanistan has commented on the current situation in Afghanistan. The author, Ahmed Rashid, is not holding back, citing Afghanistan as having experienced a failed transformation over the past decade. He states that the "unity government" has no basis in Afghanistan's election law, is a make-shift compromise, and a defeat for the establishment of democracy in Afghanistan. The current planned withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops is a bad plan and premature. He recognizes the efforts of John Sopko (the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction - see as one of the few U.S. government officials who will speak the truth. Rashid frets about the relapse of Afghanistan into civil war and the emergence of groups more extreme than the Taliban. In four important areas of transition: political, military, economic, and regional diplomacy - he sees failure. You can read his full article in "Afghanistan's Failed Transformation", The New York Times, September 25, 2014.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Transition Timeline

Transition, when referring to Afghanistan, is used to describe " . . . the process by which the lead responsibility for security in Afghanistan is gradually being transitioned from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to the Afghan National Security Forces". Transition is said to have been fully achieved by mid-summer 2013. ISAF has published an interactive timeline to explain transition - an informative tool to learn more about transition. You can also learn more about transition in Afghanistan here.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Logar Province in Transition

The United States and Coalition partners are quickly reducing their footprint. In most all provinces there is no Coalition presence. In a few provinces we now have only a few scattered SFAATs, SOF teams, and some support troops. One of these provinces is Logar. FOB Shank (Logar province) used to have more than 4,000 Coalition troops and now it is greatly reduced in size, scope and mission. The ability to provide enablers to the ANSF is vastly reduced. At one time ISAF could provide QRF, MEDEVACs, fires, aerial ISRintelligence, DOMEX, logistical support, and close air support. Now it provides very little.

A WaPo correspondent is currently making his way through the Regional Command East (RC East) area and one of his stops included Logar province. In a recent article he provides us some atmospherics. See "In Afghanistan's Logar province, a plea for air support", The Washington Post, September 19, 2014. Two topics stand out for me in this article - generators and air support.

Generator at OCC-P Pul-e-Alam
Some things never seem to change - as in the request for generator maintenance support and training mentioned in the news article. For years the Coalition has provided the ANSF with generators to run their bases, district centers, and provincial offices. Although a noble cause (providing generators) it also produced a number of problems. There was no fuel allocated to run the generators - when fuel was allocated it was stolen prior to arriving at the generator location or shortly after arrival (see SIGAR Audit 1-4). Generators would often break down because the Afghans did not conduct daily and weekly maintenance - even after receiving maintenance training (although many did not get the training). Most of the generators were too big for the sites - a large generator consumed too much fuel and often suffered breakdowns due to insufficient loads. Many generators were simply stolen. Some generators were installed but never run because of lack of fuel. The presence of generators prompted requests for air conditioners, computers, and other electrical appliances. For me, whenever I see a generator I will think of Afghanistan as "The Graveyard of Generators".

The use of close air support was key to the success and survival of American troops in Afghanistan. Air support could mean the difference between winning an engagement against the Taliban or suffering casualties. The Afghans began to rely on U.S. air support as well. When we started holding back enablers in 2013 (to include close air support) there was wide-spread dissatisfaction among the ANSF. Many advisors reported that ANA operations would come to a screeching halt when they found they could not get air support from the United States. So when the writer mentions the request of air support; that too, tells me not much has changed. Of course, the Afghan making the request has a valid point. He knows the U.S. is leaving but would prefer the air support continue for at least another month - which would coincide with the end of the traditional fighting season. Surely this is a reasonable request.

So . . . things are changing - ISAF is withdrawing; but . . . some things never change.

Friday, January 31, 2014

The Case for Optimism in Afghanistan

Sharif Azami, a Program Officer for the Fetzer Institute, writes "Afghanistan Can Use a Strong Dose of Morale Optimism", on The Huffington Post, January 23, 2014. He believes that the United States would be wrong to walk away from Afghanistan on the basis that President Karzai does not want to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement. He feels that Afghanistan has made too much progress and that there is a lot to lose if the international community cuts aid and military assistance to Afghanistan. He has an optimistic outlook (not shared by this blogger) on the future of Afghanistan if only the international community will stay on task.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

What Does 2014 Look Like for Afghanistan?

M. Farshid Hakinyar, the Founding Director of the Afghanistan Organization for Strategic Studies in Kabul has wrote a piece that looks at the transition of security of Afghanistan from ISAF led security to ANSF led security and provides insight on the Bilateral Security Agreement and upcoming April elections. He also examines issues related to governance; citing corruption and the drug trade as serious issues. He highlights problems that occurred in 2013 but also provides examples of progress that has been made in the past year. Read more in "Afghanistan 2013: Security Transition - Analysis", Eurasia Review, January 11, 2014.

Monday, December 30, 2013

War now Afghan versus Afghan

2013 was a year that the ISAF Coalition stepped away from the fighting on the ground. ISAF did conduct some combat related operations such as special operations missions, advising at the tactical level, conducting unilateral missions associated with force protection (route clearance missions, based defense, response to indirect fire attacks, etc.), providing of enablers (fires, MEDEVAC, air support, etc.) to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), and a host of other activities. This step away from the ground fighting is reflected in the Coalition casualty figures for 2013 - down sharply from previous years. However, the Afghan National Security Forces (especially the Afghan Local Police) have suffered tremendous casualties.

The insurgency (Taliban and others) did not capture a significant amount of territory this year from the government; but then an insurgency doesn't have to capture territory - it just has to continue to exist. The insurgency was not defeated in 2013 and it is not going away. While the Taliban did not make a lot of significant gains on the ground; neither did the ANSF. A recent news article provides more insight on how the Afghan war has become more an Afghan fight. See "The year it became 'Afghan versus Afghan'", Stars and Stripes, December 30, 2013.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Transition - Is the Future Bright for Afghanistan?

A recent article by Karl Inderfurth and Theodore Eliot on The AFPAK Channel  of Foreign Policy indicates that some Afghans have a positive outlook for the future of Afghanistan. The authors note that there are three areas of transition - security, political, and economic where things have to go right for Afghanistan. Read more in "Afghans Look on the Bright Side", Foreign Policy, December 17, 2013.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Report - Afghanistan in Transition by World Bank (March 2013)

The World Bank has published a comprehensive document entitled "Afghanistan in Transition". The book explores the ramifications of the withdrawal of ISAF by 2014 on the economic and development fabric of Afghanistan. This book explores the relationship "between conflict, aid and development and how international responses to post-conflict state building and reconstruction may both help and hinder a countries transition out of conflict towards a more stable future". The book is available in print copy or downloaded as a PDF document at the links below.

Afghanistan in Transition
World Bank
March 2013

The book is available for purchase in print copy at the World Bank.

Or you can download the book as a Adobe Acrobat PDF file at

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Transfer of Security Responsibilities Continues in Afghanistan

Village Elders in Khak-e-Sayfed district
attend Shura on security transition
(photo Sgt Chadwick de Bree)
Across Afghanistan districts and provinces are continuing the process of security transition. What this means is that coalition forces are taking a back seat as the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) step into the lead for security. Security transition is accompanied by a decrease of coalition forces in the area, ANSF taking the lead in combat operations, and the transfer to ANSF or closing of small combat outposts manned by coalition forces. Usually this transfer for the security lead takes place district by district. Khak-e-Sayfed district in Farah province is one of the latest districts to undergo the security transition. You can read more in "Authority of district transferred to ANSF in Farah province", DVIDS, February 28, 2013.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Afghan Transition - A Report Card at the Halfway Point

In July 2011 NATO and the Afghan government started the security transition process which entailed the handover of security responsibilities from ISAF to the ANSF in selected areas of the country over time. This security transition is supposed to be finished by December 2014. Over 75% of the country's population has transitioned thus far - meaning 75% of the population lives in areas where the ANSF are in the lead for security.

There were five major areas where improvements had to be made in order to accomplish this security transition. These areas are establishing the ANA and ANP as viable forces, providing good governance (without overwhelming corruption), forging ahead with reconciliation with insurgents, developing regional cooperation, and improvement in economic development.

A recent report by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs entitled "Afghanistan Halfway through the Transition Phase" (January 2013) provides an evaluation of the progress made in these five areas. You can view the report at the link below.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Afghan Businessmen Plan Their Escape

With the year 2014 slowly getting closer those Afghans who can afford to leave are planning their departure - just in case. Many are hedging their bets in fear that the Taliban will end up in a power-sharing role in government or that the country could sink into a civil war. Read more in "In Afghanistan, Businesses Plan Their Own Exits", The New York Times, March 30, 2012.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

U.S. Committment After 2014

In a very short but concise piece Andrew Exum, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security, writes about what our endgame in Afghanistan should be as we transition towards 2014 and beyond. He states that the presence of international forces will be a stabilizing influence in Afghanistan that will help avert a possible civil war, provide the ability to base and stage forces that can hit al Qaeda targets, and continue our training and assistance mission with the Afghan National Security Forces. Read his article in "Some Troops Will Stay Past 2104", The New York Times, April 3, 2012.