Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Timeline of Events in Kandahar

If you are interested in a graphical representation of events taking place in Kandahar from 1979 to 2010 then visit the website of Alex Strick van Linschoten.  He presents a timeline that provides a summary of significant events that take place in Kandahar.

http://www.alexstrick.com/timeline/

http://www.securityinfonet.com/afghanistan/fight-for-kandahar.htm

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Development in Afghanistan: Should the US Military Be Doing It?

A columnist recognizes the importance of economic development in conflict areas such as Afghanistan.  But he questions whether the military should be doing it and, if so, what training has the military had to conduct economic development in a war zone?  Read more in "US military focuses on development, but does it take the right approach?", The Christian Science Monitor, June 21, 2010.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Private Contractors Still Needed in Afghanistan and Iraq

"Private contractors now constitute a “fifth” service along side the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. Like the uniformed military, some fight and even die supporting the nation’s missions in those two countries. The latest survey from CENTCOM reports some 250,000 private contractors operating in that command’s area of responsibility. At the height of the U.S. deployment to Iraq, in 2007, there were more than 180,000 civilians employed by over 600 foreign companies in that country. As U.S. forces are withdrawn from Iraq, the number of supporting contractors is declining. However, with the troop surge in Afghanistan, the number of contractors in that country is rising sharply with the total expected to exceed the number of U.S. forces in that country."
Read the rest of the news article in "Private Contractors Still Vital to Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan", Defense Professionals, June 21, 2010.  Learn more about private military corporations.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Congressional Report: Warlord Inc.

A congressional report has been issued critical of the supply contracts let out in Afghanistan.  The report suggests that the funding provided to trucking companies to deliver goods is diverted to the Taliban and corrupt Afghan government officials.  Read more in "US military supply contracts fund corruption, the Taliban, according to report", The Boston Globe, June 21, 2010.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

U.S. Not Bogged Down in Afghanistan - So Says Gates

Defense Secretary Gates says the U.S. is not bogged down in Afghanistan.  Even though the offensive in Kandahar is delayed until the fall - he says the current strategy is on track.  Read more in "Gates: U.S. not 'bogged down' in Afghanistan", USA Today, June 25, 2010.

Hearings on War-Zone Security Contractors

Hearings are being conducted this week by the federal Commission on Wartime Contracting.  Presented will be arguments for and against the use of Private Security Firms in war zones.  Read more in "Blackwater's new contract will be buzz of hearing", The Washington Post Spy Talk Blog, June 21, 2010.

Dismissal of Eikenberry as U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Called for by Republicans

Republicans want Karl Eikenberry, the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, replaced by the Obama Administration.  Eikenberry served two tours in Afghanistan; once as the general in charge of establishing Afghanistan's Army and a second tour as overall commander of forces in Afghanistan.  Many in the military consider Eikenberry as part of the problem when looking back at where we went wrong the last eight years.  The war effort has failed in a number of areas; but two of the major areas are not building up and training the Afghan security forces adequately in the early period and failing to implement a coherent COIN strategy earlier in the war.  As a leading figure in both of these endeavors in the past Eikenberry is seen as a negative not a plus.  Read more in "Obama says he is "confident' in war leadership", The Washington Post, June 24, 2010.

Friday, June 25, 2010

New TSA Administrator Confirmed

A new director for the Transportation Security Administration (TRA) has been confirmed by the Senate.  After many months of not having someone in charge we finally have someone.  John Pistole, a former deputy director of the FBI, has been selected.  Read more in "Pistole confirmed as TSA chief", The Washington Post, June 25, 2010.

The Runaway General - Rolling Stone Magazine News Article

It is amazing that a brilliant, highly-decorated Army Special Operations Officer could be sacked in the middle of a war.  Any Soldier who thinks that the media is your friend needs to talk to his nearest Public Affairs Officer (PAO).  The media has never been the militarys' friend and it probably will never be its friend.  The military needs to carefully scrutinize the media before talking to them.  The General McChrystal firing is a superb example of that.  For those interested in the article that got the general fired you can read it at the link below.

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/17390/119236

When Will The Afghan Army Be Ready?

Much has been wrote about the ability of the Afghan army to take over after the deadline for withdrawal imposed by the Obama administration takes place.  Read one of the latest articles entitled "When Will Afghan Army Be Ready to Relieve U.S. Troops", Time Magazine, June 14, 2010.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Somalia and Piracy: UN Contact Group Meeting Results

The UN Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia has met at the United Nations in New York and come to some agreements on an approach to piracy.  See "Results of the Latest Meeting of the UN Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia", Maritime Transportation Security News & Views, June 18, 2010.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Rolling Stone Story and McChrystal

The Rolling Stone story will certainly go down in history in the analysis of the Afghan War.  But there may be more to the story then just some ill-advised comments to a journalist.  Deep within the story is a certain level of frustration of the Afghan campaign commander and his staff.  Read "General McChrystal: Rolling Stone story a sign of frustration?", The Christian Science Monitor, June 22, 2010.

Xe Services Gets Afghan Contract Worth $120M

Xe Services (formerly known as Blackwater) has been awarded a contract worth $120 million to provide services to State Department consulates in Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan.  Read more in "Blackwater Firm Gets $120M U.S. Gov't Contract", CBS News, June 18, 2010.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Afghan Warlords Benefit from Security Contract Payments for Convoy Protection

"The U.S. military is funding a massive protection racket in Afghanistan, indirectly paying tens of millions of dollars to warlords, corrupt public officials and the Taliban to ensure safe passage of its supply convoys throughout the country, according to congressional investigators."
Read the rest of the news article here:

"U.S. indirectly paying Afghan warlords as part of security contract", The Washington Post, June 21, 2010.

Remarks by McChrystal in Rolling Stone Magazine Article Forces an Apology

GEN McChrystal is on the defensive after it was revealed that a reporter from Rolling Stone has captured disparaging remarks he made about civilian leaders in an article to be released in the next edition of its magazine this coming Friday.  The General has released a statement apologizing for the remarks.  See "General apologizes for remarks critical of civilian officials", CNN, June 22, 2010.

Slow Progress in Kandahar

A recent news article shows just how slow the going is in training up and getting Afghan security forces into the fight.  Read "Afghan forces' apathy starts to wear on U.S. platoon in Kandahar", The Washington Post, June 20, 2010.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Community Defense in Afghanistan: Seth Jones

Seth Jones, an academic who has studied the conflict in Afghanistan, has wrote a tract entitled "Community Defense in Afghanistan".  Dr. Jones served as a Plans Officer and Advisor to the Special Forces organization conducting special operations in Afghanistan.  He is also the author of In The Graveyard of Empires: America's War in Afghanistan (Norton, 2009).

The article on community defense was published in the spring edition of Joint Force Quarterly.  The article " . . . outlines the development of local defense forces in Afghanistan, which should be leveraged along with other efforts to build the ANA and ANP . . ."  The article is available at the website of the National Defense University.

http://www.ndu.edu/press/lib/images/jfq-57/jones.pdf

The Afghan Child Project: A Worthy Organization to Support

There are a lot of aid organizations providing support and relief to the beleaguered people of Afghanistan.  Some are large and some are small.  Many large organizations provide services that reflect only a small percentage of the actual money provided by donations - citing operating, transportation, and security costs.  Some of the smaller aid organizations do not have a large operating budget because they are grass roots and can leverage assets of other organizations - therefore a higher percentage of the donations are passed through to the people needing them.  One such aid group - a very small one - does just that.  It is called the Afghan Child Project.  Click on the links below to read more:

http://www.afghanchildproject.org/

http://afghaniorphans.blogspot.com/

Security from the Bottom Up in Afghanistan: A Village Throws Out the Taliban

The Afghan central government certainly has been having difficulty in defeating the Taliban but it appears that some villages are establishing security with their own initiative.  Read more in "U.S. eager to replicate Afghan villager's successful revolt against Taliban", The Washington Post, June 21, 2010.

Russian Helicopters To Be Purchased for Afghan Air Force

The U.S. will likely be buying Russian helicopters to outfit the Afghan Air Force.  Read more in "U.S. military criticized for purchase of Russian copters for Afghan air corps", The Washington Post, June 19, 2010.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Money Draws Afghan Soldiers and Police to Private Security Firms Operating in Afghanistan

Many of the Soldiers and police trained by the U.S. and other coalition partners are being lured into private security firms operating in Afghanistan.  Read more in "Big Bucks Lure Crack Afghan Troops to Private Security Firms", Defense Tech, June 18, 2010.

Special Forces and SSE Equipment

"TAMPA, Fla.— The U.S. military's special operations units will take on the role of high-tech crime solvers this fall when they deploy to war with CSI-like kits.

The forensic kits will have tools designed to help special operators track down insurgents in Afghanistan by the clues they leave behind, officials say. The planned acquisition of these kits highlight the growing law-enforcement duties that U.S. troops now carry out in war zones."
Read the rest of the story in "U.S. Troops Take On Role of High-Tech Crime Solvers", National Defense Magazine, June 18, 2010.

Friday, June 18, 2010

In Defense of Afghan Warlords

A writer has presented us with an argument defending the use of warlords or private security firms in our fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan.  U.S. Special Forces have historically used local militias and irregular forces to render effects on the battlefield.  The Oruzgan Province in Afghanistan is just the latest example of how this tactic is useful to the United States and is the right thing to do.  Read "Down and Dirty in Afghanistan", The American Spectator, June 18, 2010.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Pictures of Afghan Special Forces Team Deployed in Area South of Kandahar

The Afghan National Army (ANA) has deployed its first Special Forces team to an area south of Kandahar.  NPR has sent a photographer to record this historic fielding of the Afghan SF team.  See "On Assignment: "Shooting" Special Forces", NPR, June 17, 2010.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mini-Private Army for State Dept Planned for Iraq: Helicopters, Vehicles and Contractors

"WASHINGTON — The State Department is quietly forming a small army to protect diplomatic personnel in Iraq after U.S. military forces leave the country at the end of 2011, taking their firepower with them.  Department officials are asking the Pentagon for heavy military gear, including Black Hawk helicopters, and say they will also need substantial support from private contractors.

The shopping list demonstrates the department's reluctance to count on Iraq's army and police forces for security despite the billions of dollars the U.S. invested to equip and train them. And it shows that President Barack Obama is having a hard time keeping his pledge to reduce U.S. reliance on contractors, a practice that flourished under the Bush administration.

In an early April request to the Pentagon, Patrick Kennedy, the State Department's under secretary for management, is seeking 24 Black Hawks, 50 bomb-resistant vehicles, heavy cargo trucks, fuel trailers, and high-tech surveillance systems. Kennedy asks that the equipment, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, be transferred at "no cost" from military stocks."
Read the rest of the story in "State wants to form a mini-army for Iraq security", Google AP News, June 14, 2010.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Government Corruption a Major Problem in Afghanistan; A Detriment to the COIN Effort

Corruption within the Afghanistan government is proving to be a constant and major hindrance to the counterinsurgency effort by coalition forces.  U.S. intelligence assets are now being used to ferret corrupt Afghan officials.  Read more in "U.S. Intelligence Puts New Focus on Afghan Graft", The New York Times, June 12, 2010.

Restrepo: A review of an Afghan War Documentary

Sebastian Junger has wrote a book called "War" that has hit the bookstores.  The book is about the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan.  Along with the book he also produces a documentary called "Restrepo".  Read about this look at the fighting in northeast Afghanistan in "Restrepo: Filming Afghanistan's Deadliest Valley", Huffington Post, June 11, 2010.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Taliban's Shadow Government in Afghanistan

The Taliban has a shadow government in most provinces in Afghanistan that is more effective than the government officials provided by Kabul.  Read more in "Life under the Taliban", Telegraph.co.uk, June 12, 2010.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Marjah, Afghanistan: An Elusive Victory

The progress in Marjah, Afghanistan is slow.  The battle for Marjah certainly did not turn out to be the big PR event that the coalition forces were hoping it would be.  Some say the Taliban have regained the momentum in Marjah.  Read more in "Despite U.S. gains, Afghan city still feels intimidation", USA Today, June 11, 2010.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Kandahar Offensive to Take More Time Than Planned

"The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said Thursday that the civilian-military offensive scheduled to begin in the southern city of Kandahar this spring would take months longer than planned. The Afghan government has not produced the civilian leadership and trained security forces it was to contribute to the effort, U.S. officials said, and the support from Kandaharis that the United States was counting on Karzai to deliver has not materialized."
Read the rest of the article in "Kandahar offensive will take months longer than planned, U.S. says", The Washington Post, June 11, 2010. Read more news about the conflict for Kandahar.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

SF Soldiers are Training Afghan Villagers

"American special forces are helping Afghan villages organise their own protection against Taliban militants, a US army chief in southern Afghanistan has told AFP.

Brigadier General Ben Hodges, head of operations for US forces in southern Afghanistan, said some Afghan villagers have been provided basic training and cash in areas beset by the Islamist insurgency.

"There are some programmes where special forces units are out in a village stability programme where they might find a large village and then help train the locals to defend themselves," Hodges told AFP in an interview."
Read the rest of the article in "Special Forces Training Afghan Villagers", Military.com, June 9, 2010.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Blackwater Security Firm (Xe Services) is For Sale

The founder of the firm formerly called Blackwater and now known as Xe Services has put the firm up for sale.  Erik Prince is moving on to other endeavors and will be selling his firm well-known for the excellent security provided to State Department diplomats and workers in Iraq, Afghanistan and in many other troubled spots around the world.  See "Founder Puts Blackwater Security Firm Up for Sale"The New York Times, June 8, 2010.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Irregular Warfare in Afghanistan: Protecting Convoys

The Small Wars Journal has a post discussing the use of private security firms to protect convoys carrying supplies along Afghanistan roads.  Read "Catch 22 comes to Afghanistan", SWJ, June 6, 2010.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Recruiting Afghan Police for Marjah is Difficult

Building the Afghan police force has been difficult. They have had bad training programs of various kinds imposed upon them. The recruits usually do not know how to read or write.  Their education is low as well as the pay they receive.  These difficulties are evident across the country as well as in Marjah - the scene of a recent attempt to restore government control and services.  A news article reflects the difficulties of establishing the police force in Afghanistan. 
"No one showed up for the start of official recruitment for Marjah's first local police force. No one showed up until the third — and last — day at a U.S. Marines base in North Marjah, the Afghan district invaded by American and Afghan military forces in February. Locals told the 3rd Division 6th Marines that they had reservations about joining the force — they were too scared of or too intimidated by the Taliban to risk allying themselves with foreign forces in a landscape that the Marines are still struggling to bring under control."
Read the rest of the article - "In Afghanistan, Marines Recruit a Marjah Police Force", Time Magazine, June 7, 2010.



Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1994789,00.html#ixzz0rUFVRYYG

Sunday, June 6, 2010

War by Sebastian Junger: A Book About Soldiers Fighting the War in Afghanistan

Sebastian Junger, the author of "A Perfect Storm", has finished a new book.  It is entitled "War" and the book is about his time with an Army unit in eastern Afghanistan.  He based the book on his trips to the Korengal Valley during 2007 and 2008.  While there he spent time with an Army platoon during their 15-month long tour in Afghanistan.  The Koregal Valley was a tough place to serve - the U.S. has since moved its troops out of this valley (as of May 2010) ceding it to the enemy.  Junger provides a close up view of the young men that fight this war.  Junger wrote an article about his trips to the Koregal Valley and later expanded the article into his book.  The magazine article can be found at "Into the Valley of Death", Vanity Fair, January 2008.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Warlord Helps to Secure Oruzgan Province, Afghanistan - Matiullah Khan's Private Army

A private army helps to secure the Oruzgan Province in Afghanistan.  A warlord uses his militia to secure the road that runs from Kandahar in the south to the Oruzgan Province to the north.  He makes a huge amount of money for securing the road once a week for the transport of NATO equipment, goods, and supplies.  His sphere of influence goes beyond highway security - he also works in conjunction with U.S. Special Forces in that region of Afghanistan.  Read more in "With U.S. Aid, Warlord Builds an Afghan Empire", The New York Times, June 5, 2010.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Covert Action Expands Under Obama

According to a recent online posting the Obama administration has increased covert action activity by Special Forces Soldiers around the world.  Read "Obama's Expanding Covert Wars", The Nation, June 4, 2010.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

New Zealand Special Forces Receive Additional Funding

The New Zealand Special Forces is receiving additional funding - even while the Ministry of Defense is undergoing budget cuts.  Read more in "New Zealand Steps Up", Strategy Page, May 31, 2010.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Blackwater Proshop - A Retail Store

Blackwater now has an online store where you can buy security contractor apparel.  The store offers lights, clothing apparel, footwear, gun accessories, hydration kits, knives, paper targets, and more.  Click here to visit the Blackwater Proshop.