Saturday, July 31, 2010

WikiLeaks Damage: Fears that Taliban will Assassinate Afghan Informants Identified

The damage caused by the Assange / WikiLeaks posting of classified documents to the war effort as a whole is yet to be determined.  These are not exactly on par with the "Pentagon Papers".  However, if you are an Afghan informant who provided information to the coalition and your name is mentioned - then you might run for cover.  Reports are out there that the Taliban is scouring the documents and now hunting down the informants to kill them.

"The military are now waiting to see whether the Wikileaks revelations will have an enduring impact on the campaign. What is accepted is that the release of local interpreters’ names, along with the precise GPS reference of where they live, will certainly lead to a loss of faith, and time will judge whether the interpreters or intelligence sources come back." (see "Beating the Taliban one step at a time", Telegraph UK, July 31, 2010.
See also "Wikileaks Afghanistan: Taliban 'hunting down informants'", Telegraph UK, July 30, 2010.

July 2010 Record High for Casualties in Afghanistan War

"KABUL, Afghanistan — NATO announced yesterday that six more US troops have died in Afghanistan, bringing the death toll for July to at least 66 and surpassing the previous month’s record as the deadliest for American forces in the nearly nine-year-old war.

At the same time, there are signs that Afghan patience with the presence of thousands of foreign troops is running thin. In the capital, Kabul, police fired weapons into the air to disperse a crowd of angry Afghans who shouted “Death to America,’’ hurled stones, and set fire to two American vehicles."
Read the rest of the article at "US casualties in Afghanistan reach record high", The Boston Globe, July 31, 2010.

Friday, July 30, 2010

WikiLeaks and Assange: "Blood on their Hands"

The WikiLeaks episode has raise some serious issues of how to prevent organizations and individuals from releasing classified information.  Mr. Assange of WikiLeaks can say that he has protected individuals from being placed in danger but the bottom line is the documents put on his website provide the names of numerous Afghan citizens who have provided support, assistance, or information to coalition forces and who are now in grave danger.
WASHINGTON, July 29, 2010 - Those who leaked classified documents to WikiLeaks and those who decided to publish them may have blood on their hands, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today. The WikiLeaks organization made public tens of thousands of classified battlefield reports. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates condemned the leak in the strongest possible manner. Gates said he has asked the FBI to help Pentagon authorities in the investigation. The chairman challenged the motivation of Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, to publish the leaked documents.

"Mr. Assange can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he and his source are doing, but the truth is they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family," Mullen said.

People can reasonably disagree about the war and they can challenge commanders for their decisions, "but don't put those who willingly go into harm's way even further in harm's way just to satisfy your need to make a point," the chairman said.
Read the rest of the article at "Gates Calls on FBI to Join Leak Investigation", American Forces Press Service, July 29, 2010.

State Department Security in Iraq: Who Replaces the Support the Army Provides?

There still remains a lot of detailed planning on who is going to provide the support for over 5,000 State Department employees who will remain in Iraq after most of the troops are gone.  The State Department is hoping that the U.S. Army along with private contract firms can provide this support.  It will be interesting to see how this all gets worked out.  Read a news article that addresses the topic - "Safety burden shifts to State Department after Iraq war", The Washington Times, July 25, 2010.

Yemen and the Houthi Insurgency: Our Next Conflict Area?

Northern Yemen insurgent groups and terrorist networks throughout Yemen are maintaining the pressure on government forces and institutions.  This has been a serious situation for quite a few years and is likely to get even more serious.  Read more in "Yemen smolders amid Houthi insurgency and Al Qaeda attacks", Los Angeles Times, July 30, 2010.

Afghan War News (July 30, 2010)

1.  The contracting mechanisms in Afghanistan are beginning to be spotlighted:
"As part of its attempt to boost Afghanistan's economic and political development, the United States is paying thousands of Afghan contractors and subcontractors to perform much of the work that supports U.S. efforts there. But the "Afghan First" program could be achieving just the opposite of its intended effect, according to officials trying to figure out where the money is going."
Read the rest of the article in "Afghan war spending faces new scrutiny", The Washington Post, July 30, 2010.

2.  July 2010 has the most deaths thus far in the 9 year Afghan War.  See "July Deadliest Month of Afghan War for US",, July 30, 2010.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Afghanistan News Update: July 29, 2010

Some of our allies in Afghanistan are effective but some are also warlords who grow hashish . . . see "Local strongman is U.S. troops most reliable friend in Kandahar province", The Washington Post, July 29, 2010.

Corruption, next to the Taliban, is the biggest challenge the U.S. faces in Afghanistan. 
"The issue was also a central concern for Petraeus's predecessor, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, as the U.S. military has come to realize that its counterinsurgency goals depend on fighting corruption. NATO surveys have found that anger at corruption is the top reason Afghans support the Taliban over the government."
Read more in "For General Petraeus, battling corruption in Afghanistan is a priority", The Washington Post, July 29, 2010.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

COIN: Working in Some Parts of Afghanistan; In Other Parts - Not So Much

MARJA, AFGHANISTAN -- The distance from here to success is only 15 miles.

There, in the community of Nawa, a comprehensive U.S. civilian-military counterinsurgency strategy has achieved what seems to be a miracle cure. Most Taliban fighters have retreated. The district center is so quiescent that U.S. Marines regularly walk around without their body armor and helmets. The local economy is so prosperous, fueled by more than $10 million in American agriculture aid, that the main bazaar has never been busier. Now for sale: shiny, Chinese-made motorcycles and mobile phones. There's even a new ice cream shop.

But here in Marja, the same counterinsurgency strategy has not suppressed the insurgent infection. Dozens of Taliban fighters have stayed in the area, and despite aggressive Marine operations to root them out, they have succeeded in seeding the roads with homemade bombs and sniping at patrols. The insurgent presence has foiled efforts to help and protect the civilian population: Taliban threats -- and a few targeted murders -- have dissuaded many residents from availing themselves of U.S. reconstruction assistance.
Read the rest of the article here - "In Afghanistan, why does counterinsurgency work in some places but not others?", Rajiv Chandrasekaran, The Washington Post, July 25, 2010.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Afghanistan's Local War - Building Local Defense Forces (Jones and Munoz, RAND Corp, 2010)

Seth Jones and Arturo Munoz of the RAND Corporation have authored a publication entitled "Afghanistan's Local War: Building Local Defense Forces" (released 2010).  The first paragraph of the Preface is below and describes the purpose of the document: 
"This document examines the viability of establishing local defense forces in Afghanistan to complement Afghan National Security Forces. It focuses on security measures, especially on helping communities defend themselves against insurgent threats, rather than on broader economic, justice, and other development efforts. It concludes that local security forces are vital but should be small, defensive, under the immediate control of jirgas and shuras, and supported by national security forces. These conclusions are based on detailed research the authors conducted in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as on their examination of historical and anthropological work on tribal and community dynamics."
 A RAND Corporation press release provides additional information:

The document is available at:

Learn more about Afghanistan and Local Village Security Programs

Monday, July 26, 2010

Books on Counterinsurgency

Are you looking to study up on aspects of counterinsurgency?  The doctrine of counterinsurgency or COIN has received quite a bit of attention the past several years due to the nature of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. While many people look upon counterinsurgency as a new concept it has been around as a method of warfare for quite a long time.  Within the U.S. military it tends to fall into and out of favor depending on the type of conflict or war we are currently engaged in.  There are plenty of books available on all aspects of counterinsurgency.  Visit SecurityInfoNet's Associate Book Store on Counterinsurgency.

Counterinsurgency Book Store.

Marjah Battle Not Quite a Success; Not Yet a Failure

Richard Holbrooke - special envoy to Afghanistan - has stated that the battle for Marjah is not yet a success but can't be called a failure. 
The United States can't provide that security indefinitely, he said, and will have to train the Afghan police and army to replace them. Such a "clear, hold and build" strategy is "at the heart of counterinsurgency," Holbrooke said. "It's not accurate to say Marjah's a failure and it's premature to say Marjah's a success.
Basically it is too soon to tell.  Read more in "Holbrooke: Too early to gauge Marjah success", Afghanistan Crossroads CNN World, July 25, 2010.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The War Logs - By the New York Times

The New York Times has posted a number of articles released by an organization called WikiLeaks.  Called The War Logs - the Times states that they are "An archive of classified military documents offers an unvarnished view of the war in Afghanistan".  The War Logs was posted on Sunday, July 25, 2010.  To access click on the link below:

Interview with David Kilcullen on Tavis Smiley Show about Afghanistan and COIN (July 15, 2010)

Tavis Smiley interviews David Kilcullen on PBS - read the transcript or listen to the interview.  Kilcullen talks about the war in Afghanistan and counterinsurgency.
"Counterinsurgency expert David Kilcullen was raised in Australia, where he rose in the ranks of the Australian Army before working for the U.S. State Department. He was an advisor to Gen. McChrystal and served in Iraq on the civilian staff of Gen. Petraeus before becoming Special Advisor for Counterinsurgency to then-Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice in '08. Kilcullen is the author of two books, The Accidental Guerilla and Counterinsurgency, and is a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. He holds a doctorate in politics."
Click on the link below:

Force Protection Equipment Demonstration - FPED VIII on May 17-19, 2011

The Force Protection Equipment Demonstration or FPED VIII will be held May 17-19, 2011 at the Stafford Regional Airport in Stafford, Virginia.  The event is sponsored by the DoD Physical Security Equipment Actioin Group (PSEAG), Department of Energy (DOE) and the Technical Support Working Group (TSWG).  Click on the following links to learn more about FPED VIII or upcoming security conferences.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

News Articles on Afghanistan War: Saturday, July 24, 2010

Some news articles on the Afghanistan war:

"Blackburn: Afghanistan broke itself: We owe the country nothing special", The Palm Beach Post, July 23, 2010.  The author, a former member of the The Palm Beach Post editorial board, writes an opinion piece that says we shouldn't have to fix Afghanistan because we didn't break it.  Essentially he says our work there is done.

"A PR surge on the Afghan front", Checkpoint Washington, The Washington Post, July 23, 2010.  Read a post about the NATO military command PR apparatus.  The author claims that the coalition is stepping up its PR campaign to win the "hearts and minds" of U.S. new journalists.

"The corporate warriors who make a killing in Afghanistan", The Herald Scotland, July 24, 2010.  An opinion piece lamenting the growth of private military corporations - uses the term "mercenary" as a description.  Hmmmmm.

Read more news about the war in Afghanistan or private military corporations.

Community Police Program In Afghanistan an Important Step Forward

"Afghan President Hamid Karzai has approved a U.S.-backed plan to create local defense forces across the country in an attempt to generate new grassroots opposition to the Taliban, according to U.S. and Afghan officials.  The plan calls for the creation of as many as 10,000 "community police officers."

After months of deliberation, Karzai gave approval to a reported U.S. plan to establish locally recruited village protection forces across rural Afghanistan, on the condition that they be under the Afghan Interior Ministry's "authority and direct control."  Unfortunately, the Interior Ministry is a bastion of his supporters, and this step could establish his imprint all over Afghanistan."
Read the rest of the article in "Community police program a key to Afghanistan security",, July 22, 2010.  Read more about local community defense in Afghanistan.

Former Rhodesian Army Commander Dies

Lt. Gen. Peter Walls, the last commander of the Rhodesian Army, passed away at age 83 in South Africa.  He was in charge of the Rhodesian Army from 1977 until the transitional government took power.  He continued to lead the transitional army for a short time before leaving Rhodesia for South Africa.  Read more in "Peter Walls, General in Zimbabwe, Dies at 83", The New York Times, July 22, 2010.

Afghan Village Force: Commentary by the East West Institute

"Recently, there has been a rather tense dialogue between the Afghan government and the U.S. administration on creating a force at the village level, which can help in bringing peace and security. Creating such a force is one of the key pillars of the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan in tackling al Qaeda and the Taliban, an experiment some claim succeeded in Iraq. On the contrary, Afghans are quite worried about this development because of previous experiences and the conviction that such efforts are only short-term solutions and not a real exercise in achieving lasting peace and stability."
Read the remainder of the article at "Afghan Village Force: Moving Forward", East West Institute, July 21, 2010.  Learn more about attempts to establish local defense forces in Afghanistan.

Friday, July 23, 2010

COIN Strategy Not Working in Afghanistan: An Opposing Viewpoint

A commentator presents an alternative view on the usefulness of counterinsurgency doctrine for Afghanistan.  Conn Hallinan, "The Great Myth: Counterinsurgency" (Washington, DC: Foreign Policy In Focus, July 22, 2010)

Two West Point Grads Go To Afghanistan; But Their Paths Home Differ

Read a powerful story of two platoon leaders - recent graduates of West Point - who served in Afghanistan.  See "Of Friends and Fighters", The New York Times, July 23, 2010.

CyberSecurity and Einstein 3: An Analysis

Einstein 3 is a " . . . program that puts intrusion detection systems at the gateways that provide U.S. government services their Internet service."  This program will hopefully protect the government agencies that have data and secrets to protect.  Read an analysis of this program in "The Truth About Einstein",, June 29, 2010.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Strategy in Afghanistan Under Review by Petraeus

There will likely be incremental changes in our Afghanistan war strategy but no sweeping, broad changes are in the future.  Petraeus will certainly make changes at the operational level.  Read more in "Petraeus Sharpens Afghan Strategy", The Wall Street Journal, July 22, 2010.

Security Contractors, Iraq, and the Future

The Department of State (DoS) has recognized the need for a robust private security posture to protect its facilities, personnel, and operations in Iraq.  It has listed key security tasks that must be performed.  Read more in a post by the Feral  See "The DoS Army, And Their List of 14 Security Tasks That Must Be Filled As DoD Leaves Iraq", July 23, 2010.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Special Forces Return to the Villages: Local Village Defense in Afghanistan

The establishment of village security local defense forces is one of the newest projects undertaken by the U.S. military in Afghanistan.  While new to Afghanistan it certainly is not a way of operating new to U.S. Army Special Forces.  Read more in "Going Old School: U.S. Army Special Forces Return to the Villages", Foreign Policy Magazine, July 21, 2010.

Top Secret America by The Washington Post - Fort Meade: The Secrets Next Door

The expose on the intelligence community by The Washington Post continues.  Part three covers the various agencies that reside on Fort Meade, Maryland.  See "The secrets next door", The Washington Post, July 21, 2010 at the link below:

Petraeus Staff Being Assembled for Afghanistan

Like all high-ranking officers when they receive a new assignment, General Petraeus is assembling his staff.  One man reportedly going to Afghanistan to join General Petraeus is BG McMaster.  Read more in "Petraeus Pal McMaster Headed to Afghanistan",, June 29, 2010.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Top Secret America - Intelligence Contractors - The Washington Post - Part II

The link below takes you to part two of the investigative report by The Washington Post on the ever growing intelligence community.  This segment discusses the role of contractors in the intelligence field.

Spy Satellites Go Commercial

Satellite imagery is now becoming increasingly available for commercial uses.  Two firms in the United States are now in direct competition with each other.  Along with this increase in imagery are security concerns of many nations around the world to include the United States.  Read more in "Spy satellites' offspring deliver hot stuff: Earth pics from space", USA Today, July 1, 2010.  Click here to learn more about Aerial Photos and Imagery services.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Top Secret America - Washington Post Online Database of Intelligence Agencies

The Washington Post has an online database of agencies, organizations, and civilian firms that are involved in classified intelligence work for the government.

Top Secret America - The Washington Post

The Washington Post has published its investigative report on the intelligence community and the various contracting firms and individuals that support this huge endeavor.  While the report may be enlightening to those interested in what our government is doing to protect us - and perhaps reveals the vast amount of money spent wisely and wastefully - it will likely have some harmful effects as well.  Time will tell. 
"The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.

These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine."
Read the entire article here at "Top Secret America - A hidden world, growing beyond control", The Washington Post, July 19, 2010.

Mumbai, India Lessons Learned Aid LAPD to Improve Response to Hostage Situations

William Bratton, head of the LAPD, recently addressed the Aspen Security Forum in June 2010.  His topic was how the LAPD reorganized to face threats similar to the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India.  He stated that police will try to negotiate their way through a hostage situation but, based on the Mumbai event- and others around the world, that may not always be possible. 
"The LAPD also changed its entire strategy related to a hostage-taking incident conducted by terrorists in the future. Bratton said he concluded that terrorists are not interested in negotiating for the release of the hostages, but would try to gain as much media attention as possible, and would eventually kill their hostages."
Read the rest of the article in "Bratton says Mumbai attack revolutionized the LAPD", Government Security News, June 29, 2010.

Al Shabab Strikes Outside of Somalia - Will U.S. Policy Change?

The terrorist group that has raised so much havoc inside Somalia has now struck outside of the Somali borders. The twin suicide bombings of Uganda mark the first time that the group has hit targets in another country.  The U.S. thus far has followed a policy of containment - keeping the strife caused by Al Shabab inside of Somalia.  It remains to be seen if this policy is successful given the Uganda terrorist operation.  Read more in "US takes stock after Al Shabab terrorist bombings in Uganda", The Christian Science Monitor, July 14, 2010.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Afghan National Army Special Forces Unit

The first Afghan National Army (ANA) Special Forces graduation took place on May 13, 2010.  Read more in "First Afghan National Army Special Forces Graduation", NTM-A CSTC-A, TG Karimi, July 18, 2010.

Special Operators Need New Equipment - And They Need it Now

The U.S. Special Operations Command doesn’t care whether industry has the latest and greatest technology if it can’t put it quickly into the hands of troops.  “Innovation and responsiveness are keys to our success. Agility is essential,” said Navy Adm. Eric T. Olson, head of U.S. Special Operations Command, in a speech to the 2010 Special Operations Industry Conference, in Tampa, Fla.

If the speed of acquisition is throttle that determines the speed of war, then fielding new technologies “as rapidly as possible is a primary method of shortening conflicts and saving lives,” Olson said.  Since 9/11, SOCOM’s equipment budget has more than doubled from $900 million to $2 billion in 2010 — $1.5 billion in procurement and about $500 million in research and development.
Read the rest of the news article in "Special Operators Want Lighter, User-Friendly Equipment - And Fast", National Defense Magazine, August 2010.

Village Security Forces in Afghanistan Encouraged by U.S. Military

"Unable so far to turn the tide against the Taliban in any decisive fashion, U.S. troops and the Afghan government are increasingly looking to local militias to provide security for their villages, especially in rural areas, to keep the insurgents from gaining more ground.

Some of these irregular forces are operating with the sanction of the Afghan government and under the tutelage of U.S. special operations troops, but in other cases, they have taken up arms without any official approval. After years of civil war, the nation is awash in weapons.

Although U.S. military officials refuse to call them “militias” because of the term’s negative connotations, they welcome their creation, saying they fill a security vacuum in areas that U.S. troops and Afghan forces cannot reach."
Read more in "U.S. encouraged by Afghans banding together to protect villages", Stars and Stripes, July 9, 2010.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Washington Post to Reveal Intelligence Contracting Firms and Locations

It appears, according to several news reports, that The Washington Post is planning a series of news reports about the prevalence of intelligence contracting firms.  Read more in "State Department warns employees about new website highlighting Top Secret facilities", The Cable, Foreign Policy, July 16, 2010.  Learn more about intelligence and security contracting firms.

Local Villages to Get Forces to Fight Taliban in Afghanistan

Karzai has approved a plan for the U.S. military, in conjunction with the Afghan Ministry of Interior, to develop a network of local security forces numbering about 10,000.  They will be village security defense forces - a type of local police.  Read more in "The U.S. Goes Local to Fight the Taliban in Afghanistan", Time, July 16, 2010.  Read more about local village defense programs in Afghanistan.

U.S. Strategy for Afghanistan: Is there Hope?

A columnist for a major newspaper, Michael O'Hanlon, seems to think that the doom and gloom in the U.S. media about Afghanistan is misplaced.  He cites several examples of where the message is falsely negative to include perceptions about a delayed offensive in Kandahar, failure in Marjah, lack of trainers for the Afghan security forces, tightened rules of engagement (ROE), and problems with the Karzai government. Read more in "Reasons to be hopeful about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan", The Washington Post, June 26, 2010.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Local Security at the Village Level in Afghanistan

The big news is that local security at the village level is now given the green light.  Pushed by Pretraeus on Karzai (who reluctantly agreed with some modifications), the plan is to arm, pay, and train local village defense forces.  U.S. Special Forces teams will take the lead on this training effort.  Of course, we should have been doing it years ago - as one commentator has indicated - "All security is local - - esp. in Afghanistan", Tom Ricks, Foreign Policy, July 15, 2010.  Read more on village defense in Afghanstan.

Lessons From Marjah, Afghanistan That Can Be Applied to Upcoming Kandahar Operation

There are many that say that the operation to take Marjah, Afghanistan was a dry-run for the upcoming (or is it on-going) fight for Kandahar.  It is hoped that the coalition will learn some lessons from the Marjah battle that can be applied to Kandahar.  The Institute for the Study of War has provided a background information report on this topic.  Read "Marjah's Lessons for Kandahar", by Jeffrey Dressler, July 9, 2010.

MARSOC Trains ANCOP Units in Afghanistan

"KABUL, Afghanistan — Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command is helping prepare elite Afghan police units to support conventional Marine forces operating in Helmand province.

The effort to train Afghan National Civil Order Police units is modeled after programs that have successfully lowered attrition rates among the Afghan National Army’s commando units. Those units have been trained by and partnered with U.S. Special Forces in an effort to professionalize them. Meanwhile, ANCOP units have suffered attrition rates as high as 140 percent per year."
Read the rest of the article in "MarSOC helps train elite Afghan police", Marine Corps Times, June 28, 2010.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Special Forces to Get Contract Air Solution for Lack of Rotary Wing Support in Afghanistan

The U.S. Special Operations forces in Afghanistan may be looking at contract air for some of its airlift needs.  It has long been known that "white SOF" has lacked adequate rotary wing and small fixed wing support.  Read more in:

June 28, 2010. "Presidential Airways Wants To Fly Some More". The Atlantic.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Airstrike Policy in Afghanistan Eases Up

With a new commander on the ground in Afghanistan there are bound to be policy changes occurring.  It appears that the very restrictive Rules of Engagement (ROE) for air strikes may see some change.  Read "Coalition eases up on Afghan airstrikes", USAToday, July 14, 2010.

Last Call at U.N. Guesthouse Bar in Kabul

The United Nations Guesthouse Bar, a long-time fixture in the Kabul scene, is closing its doors.  The expatriate community will lose one of its favorite watering holes.  See "Casablanca Rick's Bar of Kabul serves up its last drink", The Washington Post, July 2, 2010.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Village Security Forces in Afghanistan - U.S. in Favor but Karzai Is Not

The U.S. is pushing the Karzai regime to give the green light for the Village Security Program.  Karzai is opposed to the plan.  Hopefully a decision (agreement) will be arrived at soon - as many see village security forces formed at the local level as one of the better solutions to enhanced security in Afghanistan.  The Afghan National Police (ANP) has been corrupt, ineffective and is part of the problem.  Although better trained, equipped, and somewhat more reliable than the ANP the Afghan National Army (ANA) forces are not quite getting out to the rural areas as much as needed.  The press is following this story.

KABUL, Afghanistan — With American commanders pushing to expand the number of armed village forces in areas where their troops and the local police are scarce, the Afghan president is signaling that he has serious concerns that such a program could return the country to warlordism, challenging the power of the central government.

The village forces have been one of the top subjects under discussion in frenetic daily meetings for the past week between Gen. David H. Petraeus, the American military commander in Afghanistan, and Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president. The two are scheduled to meet again on Tuesday, according to senior NATO military officials here.
Read the rest of the article in "U.S. and Afghanistan Debate More Village Forces", The New York Times, July 12, 2010.  Read more about the village security and local defence programs in Afghanistan.

Are We Losing in Afghanistan?

The news in Afghanistan has not been good lately.  While the military says the media is biased and only reporting the bad news one has to wonder.  Some believe we are losing the war.  Read "9 Reasons U.S. is Losing in Afghanistan", Atlantic Council, June 30, 2010.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Village Stabilization Program - Afghanistan

Special Operations Forces are looking for the go-ahead signal from the Karzai regime to continue with the expansion of their Village Stabilization Program. 
New legislation, hammered out by American and Afghan officials and expected to be enacted by President Hamid Karzai in coming weeks, would authorize armed village forces across Afghanistan and bring them into the country's law-enforcement system.

The strategy, long advocated by U.S. Special Operations commanders, aims to provide a grass-roots counterbalance to the insurgents and fill a security vacuum in swaths of rural Afghanistan that the overstretched U.S. and Afghan regular forces can't reach.

"It works the bottom-up piece that we believe is essential in Afghanistan to getting stability," explains U.S. Col. Donald Bolduc, head of the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan, which oversees most Special Operations units in the country. The so-called Village Stabilization program should remain unchanged under the new coalition commander, Gen. David Petraeus, U.S. officials said.
Read the rest of the article in "U.S. Enlists New Afghan Village Forces", The Wall Street Journal, July 1, 2010.  Click here to learn more about recent attempts at establishing village security programs such as the Afghan Public Protection Program (AP3), Community Defense Initiative (CDI), and Local Defense Initiative (LDI).

Change Afghan Strategy: Use More SOF Forces?

Two journalists - Julian Barnes and David Cloud - of the Los Angeles Times are reporting that the success of Special Operations Forces (SOF) in the past several months in Afghanistan have some promoting a possible change in strategy.  The new strategy, reflected by Vice President Biden in some of his comments, promotes a greater reliance on Special Forces troops and a smaller footprint of conventional forces.  Read more in "U.S. strategy in Afghanistan may involve greater use of special operations forces", LA Times, June 29, 2010.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

McCrystal Blindsided by Rolling Stone

A recent news article provides more information on the accuracy of the Rolling Stone Magazine article that was the undoing of General McChrystal.  Read Sean Naylor's account in "Sources: Rolling Stone quotes made by jr. staff", Army Times, July 10, 2010.

Interesting Perspective on Kandahar, Afghanistan: Militias, Warlords, etc.

A journalist, Stephen Grey, has presented an interesting perspective on the current fight for Kandahar.  See "Hearts, minds, and the same old warlords", Le Monde Diplomatic, July 4, 2010.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Book: Operation Hotel California - The CIA in Iraq

"Operation Hotel California: The Clandestine War Inside Iraq" was wrote by Mike Tucker and Charles S. Faddis and published in May 2010.  The book is an inside account of the secret CIA mission that took place in advance of and during the early stages of the Iraq War.  Mr. Faddis, a retired CIA agent, provides a first-hand account of his participation in this mission. 

The book provides a critique on some of our anti-terrorism measures, steps to move forward in the war against terror, and an endorsement of the Kurdish people as allies that can be truly trusted as friends of the United States.  Clicking on the image at left will bring you to the book store where you can read some reviews and purchase the book.

In addition, the link below will bring you to a lengthy book review by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that provides more information about the book - citing the good and the bad points about the book.  The text that follows is a small part of the CIA book review:
"Despite the above faults, Operation Hotel California is an important offering to the debates on intelligence. The reader sees the extent to which US strategists and policymakers failed to ask the tough questions about how Iraq would respond to a post-Saddam order. This book also shows that if intelligence is only marginally relevant to strategy in a given country, it may just as easily be the fault of the strategists as that of intelligence. Highlighting that truth, aside from the insights into CIA's prewar work in northern Iraq, makes this book a relevant addition to intelligence discourse."

Blackwater (Xe) and the CIA

A recent blog on CNN indicates that Blackwater (or Xe) will get a huge contract protecting CIA operatives overseas. Xe was recently awarded a $120 million contract with the State Department.  See "Security Brief: Why Blackwater won't die", CNN News Blog, June 24, 2010.  Read more news about security contractors.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Can Pakistan Deliver the Haqqani Network?

A recent news article suggests that the Haqqani Network - one of the Afghan insurgent groups based in Pakistan and opposing the Karzai regime - may be persuaded to join in a power-sharing arrangement with the Afghan government.  The article also indicates that the Pakistanis may be able to facilitate this agreement. Read more in "Pakistan Is Said to Pursue an Afghan Foothold", The New York Times, June 25, 2010.

Click here to read more news articles about the Afghan war:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Nation Building in Afghanistan - A Reality or Are We Just Dreaming?

The idea of counterinsurgency meshes well with conducting operations that some would call "nation-building".  Unfortunately nation-building is a long process and the U.S. public patience is running low for the Afghanistan war.  Many are advocating reduced expectations and an earlier exit.  Read one opinion piece that reflects this feeling in "Nation building in Afghanistan? That's Afghan's job", The Washington Post, June 25, 2010.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Afghan's are Hedging Their Bets

With President Obama setting a hard date for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan many Afghan's are hedging their bets.  Afghan's from President Karzai down to the simple villager found in rural areas are asking themselves why throw in with the U.S. forces if the U.S. will no longer be there in a year to provide security?  The Taliban can wait us out and then move into the villages of Afghanistan and publicly execute the village elders who supported the Afghan government and U.S. coalition troops.  Read more on this topic in "Afghanistan: The 7/11 problem", The Christian Science Monitor, June 25, 2010.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Top Three Challenges for Petraeus

A staff writer for a major newspaper has penned an article highlighting the road ahead for General Petraeus in Afghanistan.  Read "Top three challenges facing General Petraeus", The Christian Science Monitor, June 24, 2010.  See more news on the war in Afghanistan.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Afghans Doubt Ability of U.S. to Win

Afghan lawmakers have expressed frustration with the U.S. support provided to corrupt government members to include those from the Karzai family.  Read more in "What Afghanistan lawmakers want General Petraeus to do", The Christian Science Monitor, June 25, 2010.  Read more Afghanistan war news.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

AP3 or Afghan Public Protection Program in Wardak Province, Afghanistan

A revolutionary concept - started by Special Forces in Afghanistan - is showing dramatic results.  The Afghan Public Protection Program, commonly called AP3, has retaken a valley once ruled by the Taliban.  Read more in "In an Afghan Valley of Death, Good News - for Now", Time, June 16, 2010.  Of course, it remains to be seen if the program will continue to be funded.  Just because the establishment of rural local defense forces makes sense, is inexpensive, and does what the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan National Police (ANP) has failed to do in eight years does not matter. What matters is whether the U.S. policy makers believe in the top-down or bottom-up approach to local security in Afghanistan.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Why Counterinsurgency Isn't Working in Afghanistan

A recent news article provides a criticism of the counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan.  The author states that COIN is not working and provides examples of why.  Read "Counterinsurgency Down for the Count in Afghanistan", The Nation, July 1, 2010.

Why Our Fascination With Terrorism?

Terrorism is a weapon used by people who know that it will gain attention to their cause.  It is also used by people who know that it will convince people to do what they ask - especially if those people are the immediate target.  One person attempts to delve into the fascination that some people have with terrorism. Read an online article by Jessica Stern - a noted terrorism expert.  See "Why does terrorism fascinate me?  Because of the terror in my past", The Washington Post, June 20, 2010.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Army Personnel Feel Contrained by New Rules of Engagement (ROE) in Afghanistan

The new rules of engagement that military personnel are operating under in Afghanistan would seem to be tying our Soldiers hands behind their back in the fight against the Taliban.  At least says one well-known columnist.  Read an article by George F. Will entitled "An NCO recognizes a flawed Afghanistan strategy", The Washington Post, June 20, 2010.