Afghanistan Update 20171110 – Thomas Ruttig writes on current conflict, Pakistan’s border fence, NATO troop increase, the third “A” in TA3E, Pakistan still not helpful, reducing voter fraud, getting the Taliban to the negotiating table, 16,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan by 2018, more advisors for Afghan combat units, more Afghan visas, calls for Loya Jirga, Trump ignoring Nicholson, story of friendly fire incident, Taliban video of district capture, and more.
Ruttig Update on Afghanistan. A long-time expat in Kabul who is one of the primary forces behind the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) – he is the co-director and co-founder – provides an update on the current conflict in Afghanistan. Read the article by Thomas Ruttig in “Conflict Portrait: Afghanistan”, PRIO Blogs, November 1, 2017.
NATO to Increase Troop Levels. A recent North Atlantic Treaty Organization press release says that NATO will increase troop levels in Afghanistan to 16,000 for the ‘Train, Advise, and Assist’ mission. (NATO, 9 Nov 2017).
Calls for Loya Jirga. Political parties and former cabinet members said that a traditional Loya Jirga was the only way to solve the current political crisis in the Afghan government. (Tolo News, Nov 10, 2017).
President Trump Ignoring Nicholson? President Trump has still not spoken to his overall commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. The four-star general has not yet had an audience with General John Nicholson. (Time, Nov 10, 2017).
Taliban Video of District Capture. The Taliban released a video of its forces entering the Fanduqistan Valley in Afghanistan’s central province of Parwan after Afghan forces retreated. (FDD’s Long War Journal, Nov 10, 2017).
Friendly Fire Incident. The Air Force blamed the deaths of five Americans killed by a B-1 bomber on the Special Forces ground team. However, the members of the SF team says the B-1 was the wrong aircraft for the close air support needed. (60 Minutes, Nov 9, 2017).
The Third “A” in TA3E. The 1st SFAB will soon depart the states for its mission in Afghanistan to conduct “Train, Advise, Assist, Accompany, and Enable” operations with their Afghan counterparts. Read about the importance of “Accompany” in a post on the UK’s Wavell Room, November 9, 2017.
New Commander of 215th ANA Corps is Promising. The U.S. Marines advising the Afghan Army in Helmand province are praising the new commander for his aggressive stance on fighting the Taliban. (NPR, Nov 8, 2017).
Marine Advisors in Helmand. The U.S. Marines are helping the Afghans take the fight to the Taliban Read more in “The Marines returned to Helmand province. Is their mission a blueprint for Trump’s Afghanistan strategy?”, The Los Angeles Times, November 10, 2017.
Visas for Afghan Interpreters. The new defense bill includes 3,500 new special visas for Afghans who assisted the U.S. military. (The Hill, Nov 9, 2017).
Afghans Learning to Fly UH-60s. The U.S. is training up Afghan pilots to fly the Black Hawk. “US, Afghans hope new Black Hawk Squadron will help turn tide against insurgents”, Stars and Stripes, November 10, 2017.
More U.S. Advisors. Trump admin is sending more advisors to lower level Afghan units. See “In Break from Obama, Trump Embedding More U.S. Forces With Afghan Combat Units”, Foreign Policy, November 10, 2017.
16,000 U.S. Troops in Afghanistan by 2018. A news report recently published (by Adam Linehan) states that U.S. troop levels could reach 16,000 by 2018. “The DoD Is Sending More Troops to Afghanistan Than Previously Announced”, Task and Purpose, November 9, 2017.
Pakistan Still Not Helpful. The commander of the NATO Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan says there has been no change in Pakistan’s support for the Taliban despite President Trump’s new South Asian strategy. Read more in a CNN news report (9 Nov 2017).
2018 Elections are Looming. Afghanistan’s historical record in conducting elections is dismal. Most all elections have been massive failures – in regards to voter fraud and rigging of elections. The 2014 presidential elections were a horrible example of how to elect a president and resulted in the formation of the National Unity Government (NUG) – a power-sharing arrangement between the two primary contenders for the head of the Afghan government. This upcoming election in 2018 promises to be more of the same. However, one aspect of the election holds promise – the biometric registration of voters. However, for the biometric system to be effective the equipment must be distributed and personnel trained to use the equipment. And then . . . of course, the votes must be registered. Perhaps this is just a little high-tech for the Afghan society? Read more in “Reducing Voter Fraud in Afghanistan”, United States Institute for Peace (USIP), November 2, 2017.
Pakistan’s Wire Fence. The Pakistan government setting up a border fence along sections of the Pakistan – Afghanistan border. While not effective against terrorism it will surely increase the hostility between the two countries. Read “Can a Fence Help in Fighting Terrorism In Pakistan and Afghanistan?”, Gandhara Blog, November 8, 2017.
Getting the Insurgents to Negotiate. For years the Afghan government, the United States, and the international community has been trying to get the Taliban to negotiate a settlement to the long-running conflict. And for years all parties have been unsuccessful. Recent press releases and statements by NATO member states, officials, U.S. State Department officials, and U.S. military senior officers are now expressing how a renewed effort by NATO in Afghanistan will lead to negotiations. Ummmm, . . . sure. Keep dreaming. Read more in “Afghan plan focuses on pushing Taliban to the bargaining table”, Military Times, November 9, 2017.