Afghan Update 20160830

Task Force South West - Marines in Helmand Province
13 districts of Helmand province. (Map by WikipediA, Creative Commons license).

Afghan Update 20160830 – More U.S. troops to Lashkar Gah, RS HQs spokesperson ‘spins’ the news, training Afghan pilots, AUMF and ‘the Forever War’, Australian aid worker released, Afghan Assessment by ISW, and eastern district falls to Taliban.

U.S. Reinforcements to Helmand. The provincial capital of Helmand province, Lashkar Gah, is under threat by the Taliban. The insurgents have taken control of much of the province during the Summer Campaign 2016 and the Afghan security forces are failing. The U.S. recently sent in 100 more troops to shore up the defenses of the provincial capital – presumably as part of the ‘train, advise, and assist’ mission. There’s a lot of ‘TAA’ to be done in Helmand at the moment! Read more in “Over a hundred US troops sent to Lashkar Gah to battle Taliban”The Guardian, 22 August 2016. A U.S. Special Forces Soldier from 1st SFG recently died in Helmand province.

Afghan Commandos. The commandos of the Afghan National Army (ANA) are the country’s best hope for staving off the advances from the Taliban and ISIS, The Diplomat, August 23, 2016.

“Shift, Clear, and Hold”. Ahmad Murid Partaw offers a unique perspective on how to secure Helmand province. Read “How to Stop the Taliban in Afghanistan’s Most Crucial Province”The National Interest, August 24, 2016.

Afghan Assessment by ISW. The Institute for the Study of War has issued an update to its analysis of the Afghan conflict. It isn’t pretty. “Taliban militants are successfully expanding their territorial control across several regions of Afghanistan during their 2016 summer offensive, Operation Omari.” Read “Afghanistan Partial Threat Assessment: August 28, 2016”.

RS HQs Gives Us – Spin, Spin, and More Spin. According to the Resolute Support spokesperson – BG Charles Cleveland – the Afghan security forces are on a positive trajectory. Yep. And the Taliban control more territory in Afghanistan now than at any other time since they lost power in 2001. Cleveland actually says that the Afghan army has had success in Helmand this year – despite the fact that 80% of the province is held by the Taliban and the provincial capital – Lashkar Gar – is threatened by the insurgents. Read more in a news release by U.S. DoD, August 25, 2016.

Jani Khel District Falls to Taliban. The district located in Paktia province (along Pakistan border) fell to the Taliban on August 28th. Read more in “Taliban Capture District in Southern Afghanistan”Radio Free Europe, August 28, 2016. Over 30 Afghan security personnel died in the attack on the district center. Afghan forces will likely retake the district from the Taliban in the next few weeks. Read more on this in “Afghan Forces Readying to Launch Offensive to Retake Eastern District”Voice of America, August 28, 2016.

Afghan Security Forces Casualty Rates Soar. Last year the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) suffered devastating losses. This year, Summer Campaign 2016, the losses are even worse. The losses are expected to be over 20% higher than in 2015. Read more in a news report by the Daily Mail, August 25, 2016.

US Training of Afghan Pilots. The Afghan Air Force has had a slow start. One of the significant problems with the Afghan Air Force is the lack of qualified pilots. One program to generate more pilots is managed by Raytheon where Afghans attend flying training in the United Arab Emirates and the Czech Republic. Learn more in “US Training of Afghan Pilots Hitting Stride, Contractor Says”, August 27, 2016.

Australian Aid Worker Released. A female aid worker kidnapped four months ago in Afghanistan has been released. Read the story in The New York Times, August 29, 2016. See also a story in The Sidney Morning Herald, August 29, 2016.

Ending the ‘Forever War’. In 2001 the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) was passed by Congress just three days after the 9/11 attacks. The intent was to authorize the targeting of those who planned, authorized and/or committed the terrorist attacks and those who aided or harbored them. The AUMF was specifically mean’t for al Qaeda and the Taliban regime. However, the AUMF has been used over the past 15 years for much more – including the invasion and occupation of Iraq and further military action in Somalia, Yemen, and other locations. One commentator, Gene Healy, thinks it is time to end the AUMF. Read more in “Bringing an End to the Forever War”War on the Rocks, August 29, 2016.

AAF Has Aircraft; Lacks Pilots. A short video describes the problem that the Afghan Air Force (AAF) has – no pilots for their aircraft.

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