Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Safi Airways - Afghanistan

Countries in the midst of war still manage to function -although at a minimal state of efficiency.  Many who have not been to Afghanistan would think it abnormal that civilian air flights are regularly scheduled.  But there are some international flights going to and from Afghanistan.  Safi Airways is one airline that does fly in and out of Kabul - it is the "International Airline of Afghanistan".  Read an interesting piece about a passenger who flew Safii Airways - "Safi Air's Unusual In-Flight Magazine", ABC News, August 19, 2010.  Other links of interest on Afghanistan are:

www.safiairways.aero/

http://www.afghanwarnews.info/

Monday, August 30, 2010

Blackwater and Pakistan

Rumors persist of Blackwater's presence in Afghanistan.  Yet one more news article has come out saying it is so.  See "How Active Is Blackwater in Pakistan?", Foreign Policy Journal, August 30, 2010.  Read more news articles about security contractors.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tea, Schools, and Afghanistan

The author of "Three Cups of Tea" was interviewed about how building schools in Afghanistan would go a long way to helping the country.  He wonders why we don't provide more money for education in Afghanistan.  He points out that the higher-education ministry in Afghanistan needs about $247 million to run its educational system but that the donor nations will not provide it.  He also points out that estimates state it takes $1 million to train up and keep a Soldier in Afghanistan and wonders why we don't pull back 247 Soldiers and start building schools.  Read the article in "A cup of tea bring the promise of good news in Afghanistan", The Philadelphia Inquirer, August 29, 2010.  Click here to read more Afghan War News.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Iraqi's Voice Their Feelings on U.S. Military Withdrawal

A reporter who visited Iraq in 2003 had interviewed Iraqi's about the invasion. Now, in a new report, he tracks down these same people to ask him how they felt the last several years have gone and their feelings about the war.  See "Iraq special report: American Soldiers sacrificed a lot.  But we sacrificed more", The Guardian, August 27, 2010.

Friday, August 27, 2010

How the U.S. Withdrawal in Iraq Will Work

Some facts about the movement of troops, vehicles, equipment from Iraq over the past several months is provided at the link below.  See "FACTBOX - The mechanics of the U.S. pullout from Iraq", Reuters, August 27, 2010.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Homeland Security for Networked Industries (HSNI) 2010 Conference and Expo (Sep 20-21, 2010)

The Homeland Security for Networked Industries (HSNI) 2010 Conference and Expo will be held in Washington, D.C. on September 20-21, 2010. 
"Started in 2006 to address the need for cross industry collaboration and communication between critical infrastructure industries and local, state and federal government, the Homeland Security for Networked Industries (HSNI)™ conference draws together network security professionals with a common purpose of protecting our nation's critical infrastructure networks. HSNI focuses on three major critical infrastructure industries, namely: Telecommunications, Utilities and Transportation."
http://www.hsni2010.com/

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Afghanistan's War Crimes Museum

Afghanistan has established a museum that honors the lives of people who have been killed and buried in mass graves in Afghanistan over the past three decades.  The museum is located in northeastern Afghanistan in Faizabad.  While it is a step forward in recognizing Afghanistan's history in past conflicts it does not seem to go far enough in identifying some of the instigators of mass murder.  Read more in "Afghanistan's new war crimes museum punts on still-powerful warlords", The Christian Science Monitor, August 23, 2010.  Click on the link below to read more news about the war in Afghanistan.

http://www.afghanwarnews.info/index.htm

Eliminating Private Security Firms in Afghanistan "More Dangerous"

An aid worker who works in Afghanistan has wrote an editorial about Karzai's plan to eliminate the more than 50 security firms that have 30,000 plus privately armed personnel will make Afghanistan more dangerous. The worry is that NGOs will have to bribe corrupt Afghan officials to get security - security that is not as safe as that provided by foreign security firms.  Read the editorial in "Making Afghanistan More Dangerous", The New York Times, August 21, 2010.

Click here to learn more about:

The War in Afghanistan - news articles chronologically listed

Afghan War News - a listing of news sources about the Afghan War

Security Contractor News - news article about security contractors around the world

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Plan B for Afghanistan

"There's another way forward in Afghanistan.  Call it Plan B.  An ad hoc group of disillusioned foreign policy experts is offering President Obama a serious, well thought-out alternative to his current failing strategy there."
Read the rest of the article in "A Plan B for Afghanistan", Huffington Post, August 18, 2010.  Read more news about Afghanistan:

http://www.afghanwarnews.info/

Monday, August 23, 2010

Special Forces Told to Shave Beards in Afghanistan by Senior Commanders

For several years members of a Special Forces team serving in Afghanistan would wear beards - as this would help them earn the trust of the Afghans.  Afghan men, at least in the Pushtu south, see a beard as a sign of maturity, respect, and manhood.  In southern and eastern Afghanistan a man without a beard is sometimes seen as a communist, from northern Afghanistan (Tajik, Uzbek, or Hazari), or gay.

It seems the days of Special Forces Soldiers wearing beards in order to build rapport with the Afghans are over.  Now they are shaving off their beards in order to build rapport with conventional battle space owners (brigade commanders who own the turf where SF ODA's operate).  Read more in "Some special ops troops told to lose the beard", Stars and Stripes, August 19, 2010.

Iraq War is "Over" but Stability is Ellusive

While many applaud the withdrawal of "combat troops" from Iraq by the end of this month a sign of success and the possible end to the Iraq war - others point to lingering problems.  Al Qaeda terrorist still persist, Sunni factions are still in armed opposition, and the government has not yet been formed even though it is months after the national election.  The U.S still has 50,000 troops and over 90,000 civilian contractors in the country.  The violence has lessened significantly from the 2006-2007 era but it is still present.  Read more in "Hanging by a thread: As Iraq war formally ends this month, country is still struggling for stability", The New York Daily News, August 22, 2010.

Karzai Playing Politics with Afghan Security Contracting Firms

"Afghan President Hamid Karzai's decree ordering private security companies operating in Afghanistan to leave the country by year's end complicates U.S. strategy in an already troubled, nearly nine-year-old war. Confronted with a robust Taliban-led insurgency and slow progress in raising capable Afghan security forces, U.S. officials have complained that Karzai's deadline for getting rid of the contractors, on whom allied forces are heavily reliant, is unrealistic. And it could have a major impact on Afghanistan's security situation.

Pressure has grown in recent months for Karzai to assert control over the private security companies, as media reports and a damning U.S. congressional investigation have exposed reckless and unlawful behavior by contractors. The President's order, issued Tuesday, Aug. 17, applies to roughly 25,000 armed guards - most of them Afghans - employed by more than 50 government-registered companies contracted to protect NATO supply convoys, bases, political figures and other organizations. An exception was made for private security firms working inside compounds used by international groups, embassies, businesses and nongovernmental organizations based outside the capital. (See pictures of the presidential election in Afghanistan.)".
Read the rest of the article in "Karzai Plays to the Crowd with Threatened Ouster of Afghan Contractors"Yahoo! News, August 18, 2010.  Read more news about security contractors and the Afghan War.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Humanitarian Aid Groups Cooperating with The Taliban in Afghanistan

Humanitarian aid groups are cooperating with the Taliban and providing aid to the Afghan population under Taliban control.  Read a news article on this topic in "Foreign Policy: Cooperating With The Taliban", National Public Radio, August 18, 2010.  View more Afghanistan war news at the link below:

http://www.afghanwarnews.info/

Saturday, August 21, 2010

IPOA Legal Conference, Washington, D.C., September 16, 2010

"In 1977, Congress passed the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to further U.S. economic policy and protect the integrity of the American business system. Over thirty years later, the U.S. Department of Justice now refers to corruption as a “national security issue” that impacts U.S. efforts in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Other nations, such as the United Kingdom, have recently taken a much harder line on corruption. Criminal prosecutions, of both companies and individuals, are on the rise. What do these developments mean for companies operating in contingency environments? How do you address the challenges of corruption when working in failed or weak states, and how do you stay compliant with applicable laws?

Join IPOA for a one-day conference that will look at these issues, and discuss the complex intersection of corruption, national security, and contingency contracting. The conference will include panels of experts that will discuss the FCPA and other similar anti-corruption laws, their relevance on contingency operations, and the challenges of compliance. The panels also will discuss past cases and prosecutions that demonstrate the very real nature of these challenges."
Click here for more information on the conference.   Click here for a comprehensive listing of other conferences about security, conflict, and terrorism.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Are Afghan Village Security Forces actually Local Militias With a New Name?

Many critics are saying that the new program of establishing local village security forces are just another way of using local militias to do what the Afghan security forces can't do.  And the critics point out that this is a dangerous road to go down.  Read more in:

August 12, 2010. "Afghanistan's 'Militia' Problem: Can Local Defense Forces Replace Private Security Firms". The Jamestown Foundation.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Afghan War News - August 19, 2010

Afghanistan War News
"Karzai Orders Private Security Out of Afghanistan"
NPR
August 18, 2010
http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2010/08/16/129238260/karzai-orders-private-security-to-exit-afghanistan

"Drones Surge, Special Ops Strike in Petraeus Campaign Plan"
Wired.com Danger Room
August 18, 2010
http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/08/petraeus-campaign-plan/

"Documentary 'Restrepo' puts soldiers face on war in Afghanistan"
JS Online.com
August 18, 2010
A documentary of an Army unit of the 173rd that spent 15 months in the Korengal Valley in RC East.
http://www.jsonline.com/entertainment/movies/100944264.html

"Sniper in Afghan Town Puts Marines on Edge"
The Wall Street Journal
August 17, 2010
Located in the town of Marjah, Afghanistan is a sniper establishing a reputation as a good shot. Unfortunately he works for the enemy and the Marines want to find him.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703824304575435403980423346.html

"Combined Operation Breaks Up Illegal Taliban Detention Compound"
ISAF NATO
August 18, 2010
http://www.isaf.nato.int/article/isaf-releases/combined-operation-breaks-up-illegal-taliban-detention-compound.html

"In Afghanistan, bomb attacks hit high in July"
USA Today
August 19, 2010
http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/2010-08-19-ied19_ST_N.htm

Drones and Special Operations Forces Play Big Role in Afghanistan

"KABUL, Afghanistan — Ever since the Afghanistan war became a counterinsurgency fight, critics have charged that commanders’ cautions about using force only inhibit the fight against the Taliban. But in the shadows, NATO Special Operations Forces are engaged in an intensely lethal war of their own.

According to information provided to Danger Room by Gen. David Petraeus, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, in just the past 90 days these elite units have captured or killed 365 militant leaders, detained 1,335 insurgent foot soldiers and killed another 1,031 insurgents on top of that."
Read More http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/08/petraeus-campaign-plan/

Biometrics in Afghanistan

"BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Aug. 14, 2010) – Coalition forces in Afghanistan have various ways of gathering information to determine if members of the Afghan population are insurgents or innocent. With the scan of an eye, biometrics has made the process easier.  There are multiple biometric systems used in today’s military: the biometrics automated toolset, the hand-held interagency identity detection equipment and the secure electronic enrollment kit."
Read the rest of the article in "Biometrics: Giving Afghans an Identity", CJTF-101, August 15, 2010.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

War Strategy in Afghanistan Explained by Petraeus

In an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" broadcast Sunday, Petraeus said the strategy is to establish secure zones and expand them outward.  "Oil spot is a term in counterinsurgency literature that denotes a peaceful area, a secure area," Petraeus said in the interview conducted last week. "What you're always trying to do is extend that, push that out."
 "Petraeus explains Afghan security plan", CNN.com, August 15, 2010.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Kazai to Shut Down Foreign Private Security Firms - Gives Them Four Months

In a blow to the private security sector that supports the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan President Karzai has vowed to shut down all private security firms.  This announcement was made on August 16th and is to be effective in four months.  The U.S. relies very heavily on the private security firms and it would be hard to see how this can be accomplished.  Some believe that this is posturing on the part of Karzai.  Read more in "Karzai wants private security firms out of Afghanistan", The Washington Post, August 17, 2010.

Afghan War Strategy Good According to Petraeus

"In a wide-ranging hour-long interview with The Washington Post, he said he sees incipient signs of progress in parts of the volatile south, in new initiatives to create community defense forces and in nascent steps to reintegrate low-level insurgents who want to stop fighting."
Read the rest of the article in "Gen. David Petraeus says Afghanistan war strategy is fundamentally sound", The Washington Post, August 15, 2010.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Afghan Local Police (ALP) Intiative for Village Protection Approved by Karzai

KABUL - The Afghan Ministry of Interior (MOI) announced that President Hamid Karzai has authorized the stand up of the Afghan Local Police (or ALP) initiative, which will be overseen by MOI leadership.

Deputy Minister of Interior, Gen. Munir Mangal, made the announcement today at MOI Headquarters to a group of 60 national and international journalists.

“ALP members will work to make their villages safe by protecting business, clinics, and everyday activities,” he said.

The local police force will extend the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s and the Ministry’s ability to protect its citizens under the rule of law.

“MOI will be responsible for ensuring that the ALP are protecting the local citizens and operating under the law,” Mangal said.

The Ministry has conducted studies of the areas needing security, working closely with the National Directorate of Security (NDS) and the Ministry of Defense (MOD) to implement a successful plan.

“The ALP initiative will be implemented in a manner similar to that of the Afghan National Police - they will be equipped by MOI with vehicles, radios, and light weapons,” he said. “MOI instructors will provide training at these villages where the local police live and will operate - their area of operation is only their specific local village.”

The Deputy Minister stated that members of the ALP will be on the MOI “Tashkil” or manning document and under the MOI’s command. He specified that MOI will pay the salaries and provide equipment if needed.

“The ALP is different from a militia; the ALP will be trained by MOI leadership, they will only work in their local area (village), and they will be commanded by the Ministry.”

He added that if those cleared to join already have weapons, the weapons must be regisitered with the government.

In his closing remarks, Mangal said, "in order to join the ALP, a person must be assessed by the elders, local government, and local shuras and can only be assigned to the area (village) that has accepted him."

“The ALP will uphold the [Afghan National Police] motto: ‘In Service to the People.’”
 Story posted on the NTM-A CSTC-A website on August 18, 2010 as "Afghan Local Police Approved for Village Protection".  Read more news articles on this topic at the link that follows:  http://www.securityinfonet.com/afghanistan/village-security-local-defense.htm

Afghan Population Caught in the Middle

"The UN reported on Monday that in the first six months of 2010, the number of civilian deaths and injuries rose 31%, with the majority (76%) caused by insurgents. Suicide attacks and IEDs against the military killed most of these civilians, who were innocent bystanders.  Insurgents are also increasingly turning to assassinations and intentionally targeting the local population, particularly in southern Afghanistan. They may not be as deadly in terms of number of casualties caused but, in many ways, they are equally harmful to humanitarian and strategic interests in Afghanistan.

Insurgent assassinations and kidnapping skyrocketed across Afghanistan in the first part of 2010, from just over three per week in the first half of 2009, to an average of 18 civilians assassinated per week in May and June 2010, according to the UN. Southern Afghanistan has been the most affected by these threats, as US and Nato promises of more troops and operations triggered greater attacks and intimidation by insurgent forces."
Read the rest of the article in "The vicious calculus of insurgency"The Guardian, August 13, 2010.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Australians Worry about American Command in Oruzgan Province, Afghanistan

The Dutch, after a long commitment in Oruzgan Province are leaving, and an American unit is replacing them.  The Dutch have been know for their soft approach to the war - some would call non-kinetic (although that term is probably not entirely true). The Australians have a big stake in Oruzgan Province and are extremely interested and apprehensive in what the American approach will be.  The American unit is built around the 2nd Stryker Cavalry.  Read of the Australian concerns in "Cavalry in charge of diggers", The Sydney Morning Herald, August 14, 2010.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Germany and Afghanistan - From Peacekeepers to Warfighters

Germany joined the effort in Afghanistan in 2002 as a nation dedicated to keeping the peace and stability in that country.  Now, several years later, it finds itself embroiled in a large-scale insurgency.  Read more about the German contribution to the Afghan War in "Why Germany Is a Nation in Conflict", Time.com, August 23, 2010.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Article about "Hearts and Minds" - Winning the Villages in Vietnam (and Afghanistan)

"Today, there are nearly 100,000 U.S. soldiers hiking around the dusty villages of Afghanistan, battling a tenacious insurgency. Winning "hearts and minds" is once again the order of the day for the U.S. military. The war may have moved to the other end of Asia, but in thinking of the Afghanistan war, I find myself returning to the lessons I learned as a young man in Vietnam."
Read the rest of the article in "The Hearts and Minds Guys", Foreign Policy, August 13, 2010.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Kandahar Looms as Big Fight

"(Reuters) - Targeted strikes by U.S. special forces against insurgents around Kandahar are yielding results, but war planners expect tough fighting ahead and more casualties, a U.S. military official said on Wednesday.  The campaign to secure the Taliban's birthplace of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan is a central objective of President Barack Obama's revised war effort and will factor prominently in a White House strategy review in December."
Read the rest of the article in "U.S. braces for Kandahar fight", Reuters, August 12, 2010. 

See also "Taking on the Taliban in Kandahar", BBC Newsnight, August 11, 2010.

Click here to learn more about the fight for Kandahar.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Private Security Forces to fill Void in Iraq

"As the U.S. military continues to draw down its forces in Iraq later this month and complete a full exit by the end of next year, analysts say the withdrawal will be a boon for the private security industry, whose employees will likely undertake more quasi-military functions such as defusing explosives and providing armed response teams. “They [private security contractors] are going to have to do everything that we expect soldiers to do without going out on patrols to engage the enemy,” says one former industry insider. “There are some pretty smart number crunchers in all the major contractors who are figuring out how much of this increasing pie we’re going to be able to get.”

What exactly that pie will consist of remains to be seen. During the first four years of the war—the most recent available estimate—the U.S. spent as much as $10 billion on private security contractors, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Yet this occurred at a time when the military employed far fewer than the roughly 11,000 private security contractors that it employs today. Just how many will remain in Iraq when the U.S. leaves will depend on the conditions on the ground. Yet analysts say the number of mercenaries will likely remain stable and could even increase slightly. And, as these contractors expand into new roles, “the price of them goes up,” says Stephanie Sanok, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies."
Read the rest of the article in "Mercenaries in Iraq to Take Over Soldier's Jobs", Newsweek, August 10, 2010.  Learn more about private security companies in Iraq.

Map of Afghanistan: US and NATO Troop Numbers and Disposition

BBC News has posted a map that shows the numbers of US and NATO troops within Afghanistan by regional command.  See "Afghan troop map: US and Nato deployments", BBC News, June 2010.  Click here to view a listing of maps about the conflict in Afghanistan.

Afghan Civilian Deaths Are Up in 2010

Afghan civilian deaths have risen in 2010.  While there has been a reduction in deaths caused by coalition military air strikes there has been an increase in deaths caused by the Taliban intimidation campaign and homemade bombs.  Read more in "Afghan civilian toll points to Isaf mission dilemma", BBC News, August 10, 2010.  Click here to read more Afghan war news.

State Department Facing Security and Funding Hurdles in Iraq As Army Draws Down

The State Department will be expanding its role in Iraq - coinciding with the U.S. military drawdown currently occuring.  However, there seems to be a problem with funding - DoS miscalculated how much the security they need would cost for the many locations and operations they plan to manage.  For instance they plan to run the police training program in Iraq. This costs money for facilities, instructors, transportation, and security.  Read more in "State Dept. faces skyrocketing costs as it prepares to expand role in Iraq", The Washington Post, August 11, 2010.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Marines Continue the Fight in Marjah, Afghanistan

The Marines continue to secure Marjah, Afghanistan.  The Marines have moved a new unit in for a seven month stay.  Read more in "2/9 Assumes Control of Northern Marjah from 3/6", Marine Corps News Room, August 9, 2010.  Click here to learn more about the battle for Marjah.

Karzai to Rid Afghanistan of Private Security Firms Citing Lack of Control

"Afghan President Hamid Karzai means to scrap private security firms and could replace them with local security forces, his office says.  Private contractors, who work mainly for Western companies and are not accountable locally, have long been an irritant to the Afghan government.  They employ some 40,000 people, competing for contracts worth billions.  The government has tried unsuccessfully to register them and find out details of their weaponry and their earnings.  Among those who use private security contractors in Afghanistan is the US government."
Read more in "Karzai to scrap private security firms in Afghanistan", BBC News, August 10, 2010.  Read more about private security firms in Afghanistan.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Taliban's Presence in Northern Afghanistan Grows

"Violence in southern Afghanistan, heartland of the Taliban, is expected. But some of the new U.S. troops surging into the country this year are being sent north, to areas previously thought to be free of Taliban influence.

The province of Kunduz, in northeast Afghanistan bordering Tajikistan, isn't supposed to be Taliban territory. But at a police checkpoint in the Ali Abad district in southern Kunduz, only a winding river separates insurgents from government forces.  Zukrullah, a junior officer in the Afghan national police, says he's sure the Taliban are watching his men."
Read the rest of the article in "Taliban Return to Northern Afghanistan", NPR, August 9, 2010.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Afghan Special Forces Class Graduates

The Afghan National Army (ANA) graduated its second class of ANA Special Forces recently.  They were recruited from the Commando Kandak's and underwent a 10-week training course.  Their next stop is a 6-month on-the-job training experience with American Special Forces.  Read more in "ANA Special Forces graduates vow, 'We will defend Afghanistan'", ISAF News Release, August 4, 2010.

Matiullah Khan and the Uruzgan Security Battalion (KAU) in Afghanistan

Afghanistan is still trying to develop and expand the capabilities of its security forces.  The army is not well-trained, equipped nor led and it still desperately needs the coalition partners presence.  The Afghan National Police is corrupt and despised by the citizens of Afghanistan.  In this vacuum local warlords are found who provide security to different areas of Afghanistan - and who thrive on the aid money flowing into the country.  One such area is Oruzgan Province where a local warlord called Matiullah Khan works in concert with Australian and American troops.  He also commands the Uruzgan Security Battalion (KAU) - a private police or military formation.  Read more about this interesting character and how he and his private army fit into the security structure of Afghanistan's Oruzagan Province.  See "Our mate, the bloody warlord", Brisbane Times, August 8, 2010.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Karzai Tries to Block Anti-Corruption Unit From Work in Afghanistan

"KABUL, Afghanistan — President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has promised to root out corruption, but after one of his own top aides was arrested by American-supported antigraft units recently, he fired back by investigating the investigators and apparently seeking control over their actions.

Times Topic: Hamid KarzaiHe convened a commission ultimately reporting that the anticorruption investigators were violating the human rights of suspects they arrested. Aides to the president also complained that they violated the nation’s sovereignty because of the American role in the investigations.

The controversy set up yet another serious divide between American officials and Mr. Karzai at a time when the Obama administration has made combating corruption in the Afghan government a major policy goal. Congress is withholding $4 billion in financing to Afghanistan over a case closely related to the arrest of Mr. Karzai’s aide."
Read more in "Antigraft Units, Backed by U.S., Draw Karzai's Ire", The New York Times, August 7, 2010.

Pentagon: Troops Can't Read WikiLeaks (but everyone else can)

"Any citizen, any foreign spy, any member of the Taliban, and any terrorist can go to the WikiLeaks website, and download detailed information about how the U.S. military waged war in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2009. Members of that same military, however, are now banned from looking at those internal military documents. “Doing so would introduce potentially classified information on unclassified networks,” according to one directive issued by the armed forces.

That cry you hear? It’s common sense, writhing in pain."
Read more in "Pentagon to Troops: Taliban Can Read WikiLeaks, You Can't", Danger Room Wired.com, August 6, 2010.

Aviation Tactics and Evaluation Group (AvTEG) - Not so Secret

Some of our special operations force units are well known - and some are not.  The Aviation Tactics and Evaluation Group (AvTEG) is one that is less known.  See "Secret Units, Open Job Postings", The Atlantic, August 6, 2010.

Differing Views of Success in Marjah, Afghanistan

There are differing opinions about how successful the Marjah, Afghanistan offensive has been.  The fight for Marjah is now six months old but it isn't over yet. 
"Roughly six months after a major NATO-led offensive intended to rid this key district of Helmand province of the Taliban, military officials and local residents offer very different assessments of the mission's success.  While international forces still have the occasional clash with insurgents, a spokesman for the U.S. Army described Marjah as stable and claimed that numerous economic development programs were under way."
Read more in "U.S., Afghans differ on success of military campaign", Kentucky.com, August 6, 2010.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Afghan War News Summary (August 6, 2010)

In articles by USA Today we see that IEDs placed by the Taliban are taking their toll on Afghan civilians and that Petraeus has issued new tactical directives providing guidance on use of force, air strikes, and artillery support.  Foreign Policy Magazine has an article by Gretchen Peters that likens the Taliban outfits in and near Kandahar to inner-city gangs and suggests that our troops should seek the counsel and advise of inner-city cops for how to combat these Taliban "gangs".  Another article discusses biometrics in Afghanistan.

"IEDs kill more civilian Afghans in 2010", USA Today, August 5, 2010.

"Petraeus reloads rules of engagement", USA Today, August 5, 2010.

"Straight Outta Kandahar", Foreign Policy Magazine, August 4, 2010.

"Gotcha! Biometrics help sort good from bad", The Gazette, August 4, 2010.

Click here to read more news about the Afghan War.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Afghan War News Update (August 5, 2010)

The news about Afghanistan continues to be the fight for Kandahar.  In addition news coverage wrote up more about Karzai's corrupt officials, a new prison, and Taliban atrocities (the woman displayed on the cover of Time Magazine who was mutilated).

"Afghan Checkpoints Key in Battle for Kandahar", CBS News, August 3, 2010.

"Karzai calls for probe of U.S.-backed anti-corruption task force", The Washington Post, August 5, 2010.

"How the U.S. reshaped an Afghan prison's image", USA Today, August 4, 2010.

"Afghan woman whose nose, ears cut off travels to U.S.", CNN.com, August 4, 2010.

Contractors Working for DynCorp Experience Credential Problems with Iraqi Bureaucracy

DynCorp employees working in Iraq as security contractors are having difficulty getting the proper credentials and decals so they can move about the country escorting and protecting State Department officials and workers. Read more in "Contractors Pressured to Perform in Iraq Without Valid Credentials", The Atlantic, August 4, 2010.  Read more news about security contractors working in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Karzai to Discredit Afghanistan's Major Crimes Task Force - and Protect His Corrupt Cronies

Karzai is still playing us for our huge amounts of money flowing into his government ministries and siphoned off to their Swiss and Dubai bank accounts. The Major Crimes Task Force of Afghanistan was set up with intelligence and police assistance from the United States and they are starting to make some progress.  But now Karzai has determined that they are not sufficiently controlled by the Afghan government; which means, of course, they are getting too close to his buddies stealing our aid money. 
"MAIMANA, AFGHANISTAN -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai has called for an investigation into a U.S.-backed anti-corruption task force, following the arrest of several senior Afghan officials on graft charges.

The new probe centers on the Major Crimes Task Force, an investigative unit launched last year in which U.S. and British law enforcement officers oversee the work of Afghan police and intelligence officials. The unit played a key role in the arrest last week of Mohammad Zia Saleh, an official in the office of the national security adviser."
Read more in "Karzai calls for probe of U.S.-backed anti-corruption task force", The Washington Post, August 5, 2010.

Blog on Canadian Forces in Afghanistan

I recently stumbled across a blog that writes about the Canadian participation in the Afghanistan war.  Some good stuff posted there with a Canadian perspective.  Worth reading.  See The Canada-Afghanistan Blog.  I have added the blog to my list Afghanistan War Blogs.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Population Control Measures in Kandahar, Afghanistan

One tenet of counterinsurgency is "population control measures".  This is not a new concept - it has been around for quite some time and is usually associated with stability operations or counterinsurgency situations.  It appears that coalition forces are implementing population control measures in the Kandahar region - identification papers, biometrics, and road checkpoints are some examples of these measures.  Read more in "In Kandahar, U.S. tries the lessons of Baghdad", The Washington Post, August 3, 2010.  Read more news about the battle for Kandahar.

Security Contractors to Take the Place of US Troops in Iraq

The use of security contractors in Iraq will expand in an effort to reduce the number of troops currently in Iraq.  This is especially true in the protection of the extensive State Department presence in Iraq.  Grant Green of the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan was interviewed by National Public Radio (NPR) on the implications of expanding the use of security contractors.  Read the interview transcript at "Contractors Will Take The Place of Troops in Iraq", NPR, August 3, 2010.  Read more news about security contractors.

Monday, August 2, 2010

British Troops in Major Offensive in Afghanistan- Operation Tor Shezada

British troops are engaged in a major offensive in Afghanistan focusing on clearing Taliban in areas around Sayedebad.  Read more in:

"British troops continue Afghanistan push", Telegraph, August 1, 2010.

"More Day 3 Op Tor Shezada Images", Helmand Blog - Afghanistan, August 2, 2010.

"British troops make good progress as 'Black Prince' enters day three", Scotsman.com, August 2, 2010.

Dutch End Mission in Afghanistan

The Dutch have ended their mission in Afghanistan after four years of involvement.  The participation by the Dutch was highly unpopular at home.  Read more in "Netherlands becomes first NATO country to end its combat mission in Afghanistan", The Washington Post, August 2, 2010.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Covert Solution for Afghanistan - Abandon the Large Conventional Force; Use SF and CIA

An article in The Wall Street Journal calls for a change in how we are fighting the war in Afghanistan.  Jack Devine, the author of the article, states that "The U.S. military will not achieve anything resembling victory in Afghanistan . . . "  He suggests that we start now in formulating a new strategy to be implemented once the current plan runs its course (fails).  He states that the large force that occupies Afghanistan is the wrong force for the fight, alienates the Afghan population, costs a lot of money, and offers up targets for the Taliban.

Devine argues that a smaller, covert force can accomplish our objectives (once redefined).  We should identify tribal leaders that we can work with to accomplish our goals in Afghanistan upon the departure of our large conventional force (and possible failure of the Karzai regime).  The smaller force left in place would be an interagency group of CIA, Special Forces units, and other supporting military and government elements.

Read the entire article here in "The CIA Solution for Afghanistan", The Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2010.

Jack Devine was the former CIA deputy director of operations and chief of the CIA Afghan Task Force from 1986-87.  He is now president of The Arkin Group - a private sector intelligence company based in New York.  You can read his biography here.

Operation Tor Shezada (Black Prince) in Afghanistan

British forces are participating in an operation called Tor Shezada - which translates into Black Prince.  The operation is taking place in Helmand Province and is designed to push the Taliban out of the area.  Read more in "Afghanistan Operation Tor Shezada: British Forces Make Progress on Day Three of Offensive", Sky News, August 1, 2010.

Afghan Local Police

The Commander of Regional Command East (RC East) talks about the Afghan Local Police program in a news article.  See "Afghan war using lessons from Iraq", The Tennessean, August 1, 2010.

Calls for Limiting U.S. Mission in Afghanistan

The WikiLeak posting of secret documents online has re-energized sectors of the American public on the Afghanistan War.  They are using the documents as proof that we are not winning and that we need to down-size our ambitions in Afghanistan. Some are calling for less troops, more obtainable goals and the abandonment of the "nation-building" attempt for Afghanistan.  They cite the lack of progress in defeating the Taliban, the corruption of the Kabul central government, and centuries of history in the region as central reasons for this change in strategy.  Read one such editorial entitled "Limit U.S. mission in Afghanistan to fighting al-Qaida", Inside Bay Area, August 1, 2010.