Read news updates on Afghanistan – 20161216 – Fact sheet on the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan (Oct 2016), Heart of Asia Conference, Survey of the Afghan People, Saudis role in Afghanistan, U.S. Soldier dies of wounds suffered in Afghan suicide attack, no more Russian helicopters, Cigar Aficionado Club of Camp Resolute Support, 5 recommendations for President-Elect Trump, interview of General Nicholson, and more.
Fact Sheet Brussels Conference. More than 100 countries and international organizations attended a conference in Brussels about Afghanistan in October 2016. Read a fact sheet on the purpose and outcome of the conference in “Fact Sheets: Brussels Conference on Afghanistan: October 4-5, 2016”, Newsroom America, December 12, 2016.
Ghani Speech at Heart of Asia Conference. On December 4, 2016 President Ghani addressed the Heart of Asia Conference held in Amritsar, India. He thanks the international community for its support of Afghanistan, stressed the importance of regional trade and development, and pokes Pakistan in the eye for its support of insurgent groups operating in Afghanistan. Read his a transcript of his speech posted on an Afghan government webpage. See also “Afghan President Urges Pakistan to Spend Aid Money on Fighting Terrorism”, Gandhara Blog, December 4, 2016.
Soldier Dies of Wounds. A U.S. Soldier who was injured in a suicide bombing on Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan during Veterans Day in November has succumbed to his wounds at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. The Washington Post, December 7, 2016.
Saudi Arabia – Playing to both sides of the Afghan conflict. The role of one of the most powerful Middle East nations (at least financially) is questioned by Carlotta Gall in “Saudis Bankroll Taliban, Even as King Officially Supports Afghan Government”, The New York Times, December 6, 2016.
Tali-banned Cigar Aficionado Club of Kabul. A group of service members and contractors working at the Camp Resolute Support base in Kabul, Afghanistan meet on a periodic basis to smoke cigars. The activity helps the cigar club members relax and enjoy some non-working time at the base. Read more in “Cigars, once banned, fire up troop morale in Afghanistan”, Stars and Stripes, December 12, 2016.
1st Bde 1st Armored Division to Deploy. About 1,500 members of the El Paso-based Soldiers from the 1st Armored Division will deploy to Afghanistan. They will be joined by the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade of the 7th Infantry Division. Read more in a news report by Task & Purpose, December 11, 2016.
Survey of the Afghan People. The Asia Foundation has published its annual report – the most broadest and comprehensive public opinion poll of the Afghan population. Read about the key findings of the report.
No More Russian Helicopters. The best solution for rotary wing platforms for the Afghan Air Force (AAF) is the Mi-17 transport helicopter. The Afghan pilots have been flying them for years. Maintenance (a vexing problem for the Afghans) is relatively simple compared to U.S. helicopters. The Afghans have over fifty of the aircraft in their inventory. The Mi-17 is ideally suited for the harsh, mountainous and desert terrain of Afghanistan. So . . . that is why the U.S. Congress has pressured the U.S. military to switch to the UH-60 Blackhawk – more expensive, harder to maintain, will take 4-5 years to train up Afghan pilots, and less suited for Afghanistan. That . . . and the Blackhawk is produced in the United States so it is good for the Congressional leaders who see dollars coming to their states and districts. Read more in “U.S. will buy no more Russian helos for Afghans”, AINonline, December 13, 2016.
Royal Irish Regiment. Members of a Shropshire, UK based regiment have arrived in Afghanistan for the start of their eight-month mission. Shropshire Star, Dec 13, 2016.
5 Recommendations for Trump on Afghanistan. A retired U.S. Army colonel, Joseph J. Collins, provides his thoughts and opinions on the courses of action President-Elect Trump needs to take for the Afghan conflict in “A Memo to the Next President on Winning in Afghanistan”, War on the Rocks, December 9, 2016.
Nicholson on Mattis. General John Nicholson, the commander of Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan sees ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis as an inspiring leader and good fit for Secretary of the War Department. Read more in an interview by Mustafa Sarwar of Gandhara Blog, December 8, 2016.