The news coming out of Afghanistan remains bleak. The ‘feel good’ moment experienced when the Taliban and Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) didn’t fight each other for three days has passed. The government of Afghanistan had a unilateral ceasefire that extended beyond the three days – about two weeks. Money continues to be wasted on hopeless projects, corruption reigns supreme in the Afghan government, and the stalemate between the NATO-backed ANDSF and the Taliban will likely continue far into the future, and Resolute Support headquarters provides us with reassuring messages on how the Taliban can’t win on the battlefield and the Taliban’s only option is to negotiate for peace. Read more on these topics below in recent news articles, analysis, and commentary.
The commander of the Intelligence Kandak of the 203rd Thunder Corps (Gardez) “has embraced martyrdom“. Clashes are taking place between hard-line Afghan Taliban and the ultra-radical Islamic State in the remote Chapa Dara district of Kunar province. US forces disrupted an attack against Tactical Base Gamberi in Laghman province on June 18th. The State Department believes that the Islamic State, despite being attacked repeatedly by US SOF and drones, is getting stronger in Afghanistan.
ANDSF Back on the Offense. The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces have resumed offensive operations against the Taliban. U.S. forces have also resumed attacks against the Taliban – targeting ‘Taliban irreconcilables’ in Ghazni, Helmand, and Uruzgan provinces.
Afghan SOF Cdr Killed. Azizullah Karwan a senior special forces commander with the Afghan police was shot dead in Kabul on June 28th as he picnicked with his family. He led a special police force in Paktika province where he worked with U.S. Special Forces and had survived several previous assassination attempts. (Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, June 29, 2018).
Mine Clearance and Dogs. There are a couple of dog training centers in Afghanistan that train dogs to detect mines. Read more in “Afghanistan’s mine-hunting dogs”, Stars and Stripes, July 4, 2018.
777 Special Mission Wing. The Operations Officer for the SOF aviation unit of the Afghan Air Force (AAF) is interviewed on topics regarding the Special Mission Wing during a live radio talk show on June 24, 2018. (NATO Special Operations Component Command – Afghanistan).
What’s In a Name? When it comes to how the Taliban view themselves as an organization – quite a lot. Bill Roggio, a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, explains why this is important. (Long War Journal, June 26, 2018).
What’s The Status of the Taliban? According to the folks at Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) the status of the Taliban is an important issue when discussing possible peace negotiations with the group. Are the Taliban a ‘party to a conflict’ or a ‘political party’? (AAN, June 27, 2018).
Resolute Support and the Coalition
Senate Confirms Miller for RS HQs Command. First he was nominated to be the next commander of the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan. Then LTG Austin Miller had to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Then the SASC had to vote approval. And finally the U.S. Senate had to confirm Miller to lead the US mission in Afghanistan. Miller will also receive his fourth star.
SF Team Fights ISIS in Nangarhar. Marty Skovlund Jr. has spent some time with a Special Forces detachment based at a remote fire base in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan. The ODA is deep in the fight against the Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP). Read “The Valley Boys: How a Lone Special Forces Team is Fighting ISIS in Remote Mountains of Afghanistan”, Black Rifle Coffee, July 2018.
1st SFAB in Kabul. Dan Lamothe provides a story of the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) working across Afghanistan. Read “How a new U.S. brigade is tackling a wave of bombings in Afghanistan’s capital”, The Washington Post, July 1, 2018.
SFAB Performance? According the most recent DoD report card on the Afghan conflict the 1st SFAB is doing quite well. Glowing accounts can be found about the advisor brigades performance and its effect on the increased effectiveness of the ANDSF. Hmmm. (Task & Purpose, July 3, 2018).
TAAC South Advisors Talk About Their Jobs. One advisor helps integrate the operations of the ANP and ANA. He is an infantry officer in the 40th Infantry Division of the California Army National Guard and a Law Enforcement officer in civilian life. (DVIDS, June 29, 2018).
RS HQs Press Conference. Air Force BG Lance Bunch – the assistant deputy air commander for U.S. Forces – Afghanistan and vice commander of the 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force – Afghanistan updates the Pentagon press corps via video conference on the U.S. campaign to counter threat financing and U.S. air operations in Afghanistan. Bunch praised the continued development of the Afghan Air Force (AAF), the recent ceasefire agreements, and talked about RS efforts to diminish the financial assets of the insurgents. (DoD News DVIDS, June 27, 2018, 30-minutes).
Ukraine Continues Mission. 18 additional soldiers will be provided to the Resolute Support Mission by Ukraine. The deployment not only signals its political support for NATO but also gives the Ukrainians experience and enhances the operational ability to carry out combat missions nearer to home. (Khaama Press, July 4, 2018).
NZSIS Supports Inquiry. A press release by the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service states that the NZSIS is committed to supporting the NZ Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security’s inquiry into events that took place in Afghanistan. (NZSIS – Scoop Politics, June 28, 2018).
Reports on Afghanistan
DoD Report on Afghanistan. The Defense Department provided to the U.S. Congress its semiannual report entitled Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan. It covers events from December 1, 2017 to May 31, 2018. The report is 125 pages long and dated June 2018.
Afghan Ring Road – SIGAR Report. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction has published a report on the construction of a section of road in northern Afghanistan – or lack thereof. SIGAR report 18-57-SP dated June 15, 2018 provides the bad news of no progress and millions of dollars wasted by Afghan contractors.
Counternarcotics – SIGAR Report. Read a report that draws important lessons from United States counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan from 2002 to 2017. $8.62 billion has been spent on CN operations during this time frame. What has been accomplished? Read “Counternarcotics: Lessons From the U.S. Experience in Afghanistan”, June 2018.
Hezb-e Islami and the 2016 Peace Deal. A new report examines the struggle within Afghanistan’s National Unity Government over the country’s security sector and the related impact on the recruitment of Hezb-e Islami commanders and fighters in the security forces. (United States Institute for Peace, July 2, 2018).
Commentary and Analysis
Stalemate – An Enduring Prospect. The Afghan government continues to control the urban centers and most of the major highways while the insurgents roam about in the countryside virtually unopposed. The Taliban enjoy deep support in some of these rural areas; partially due to the Afghan government’s lack of an effective sub-governance strategy. Read more in “What Lies Beneath the Enduring Stalemate in Afghanistan”, STRATFOR Worldview, June 27, 2018.
The Forgotten War. During January 1 through June 22, 2018 one of the U.S.’s biggest news networks – ABC – provided just under 13 minutes of coverage on Afghanistan. CBS and NBC each offered about 11 minutes of coverage. (The Washington Times, June 26, 2018).
Political Strategy Needed. The political and security situation in Afghanistan has been declining every year since 2014. Bickering among Afghanistan’s elites along with corruption and political in-fighting is undermining the National Unity Government (NUG). The U.S. and other coalition nations need to address the problem of the Afghan government. Read more in “The United States Needs a Political Strategy to Win in Afghanistan”, The Geopolitics, July 4, 2018.
Governance, Politics, Development, and Society
Hakimi Steps Down. The Finance Minister for Afghanistan has stepped down from his position – announcing his resignation. Some reports say he departs due to health reasons while other reports say he will be an advisor to President Ghani on international affairs. (RFERL.org, June 26, 2018).
Afghanistan’s Widows. The war ravaged country has half a million widows and the Afghan government says the number is increasing. The conflict that started over 40 years ago has taken its toll among the women of Afghanistan. (Arab News, June 2018).
Qaisar DCoP Arrested. The district chief of police for Qaisar district, Faryab province has been arrested by Afghan special forces. Four of the DCoPs men were killed in a gunfight with security forces within a military base at the time of the arrest. The DCoP, Nizamuddin Qaisari, was also the commander of the public uprising forces in the province. He is reportedly a close ally of (currently in exile) Vice President General Abdul Rashid Dostum. “Qaisar District Police Chief Arrested by Special Forces”, Tolo News, July 3, 2018.
Ghazni – Election Conflict in Future? The eastern province is having some difficulties with the electoral process revolving around the setting of district boundaries. The most recent changes appear to favor Pashtuns and reduce the chances of Hazara candidates of winning in the election. (The Diplomat, July 4, 2018).
More About Ghazni. The Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) provides further detail on the ethnic divisions in the province and how it will reflect in the elections. (AAN, July 5, 2018).
NATO Summit. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization will be holding a summit of the alliance on July 11-12 in Brussels. President Ghani and CEO Abdullah will be attending.
Video – A-10 Preflight. Watch a 5 minute long video of the pre-flight of an A-10 Thunderbolt by members of the 122nd Fighter Wing based at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.
Video – Afghan Female Pilot Graduation. The Fixed-Wing Training Center in Czech Republic graduated its first Afghan female pilots. Two female pilots attended the 15-months long aviation course.
Photo: Members of a territorial defense force train at the Kabul Military Training Center (KMTC). Tech Sgt Sharida Jackson; RS HQs, June 11, 2018.