Afghan War Update September 2017

Gen Waziri, commander of the 201st ANA Corps based in eastern Afghanistan, briefs an Italian general visiting from Resolute Support HQs in Kabul (RS HQs photo April 2017)

Afghan War Update – September 28, 2017. CSTC-A fails in ammo usage oversight mission, US requests closure of Taliban office in Qatar, Iranian support of the Taliban, district control, ‘Green Belt’ security plan for Kabul, new DoD SES appointed for South Asia, UK at the UN, and more.

DoD Report Faults CSTC-A. A recent report (22 Sep 2017) by the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General finds that the Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan (CSTC-A) did not provide effective oversight of ammunition for the Afghanistan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF). The report focused on ammunition that was procured by DoD and provided to the ANDSF. According to Defense Security Cooperation Agency officials the DoD spent $702 million in fiscal years 2015-2016 to procure ammunition to support both current and future Afghan security force requirements. Read a synopsis of the report online or download a PDF version.

Taliban Office in Qatar. In a recent meeting between President Ghani (he visited the U.S.) and President Trump the Afghan president was requested to move forward with getting the Taliban’s diplomatic mission in Qatar shut down. The office in the Gulf nation was opened several years ago as a channel with which to conduct peace negotiations. Not much has happened on that front. Of course, there are other political considerations at play here. Read more in “Trump pushing Afghan president to close Taliban office in Qatar, sources say”The Guardian, September 26, 2017.

New SES Appointed for Afghanistan. Dr. Colin Jackson has been selected to fill a DoD Senior Executive Service position. His role will be Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia.

Black Hawks for AAF. The Afghan Air Force (AAF) has recently received several UH-60s. Over the next several years the AAF will receive 159 of the refurbished choppers to replace its aging fleet of Russian Mi-17 utility helicopters. Presumably the AAF pilots can conduct their transition training in a timely manner and the AAF maintenance personnel can gain the skills needed to maintain these very complex rotary wing aircraft. (um . . ., sure).

New Security Belt for Kabul. The Afghan security agencies will be rolling out a new Kabul security plan that should do a better job of protecting key government institutions and organizations of the international community. Kate Clark of the Afghanistan Analyst’s Network provides us the details in The New Kabul ‘Green Belt’ Security Plan: More Security for Whom?, September 25, 2017.

UK Ambassador Speaks on Afghanistan at UN. The UK representative to the United Nations spoke in a speech to the body on Sep 26, 2017 about the continued support of the United Kingdom to Afghanistan.

Iranian Support of Taliban. Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) was interviewed about Iranian strategic interests in Afghanistan, reports of Iranian support of the Taliban, and the problems the Afghan drug trade pose for Iran. Read “Afghan Opium Trade Sticks a Thorn in Iran’s Side”The Cipher Brief, September 27, 2017. Echoing the thoughts of Cordesman is John Nixon, a former senior leadership analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency. He writes Iran’s strategic interests in Afghanistan with a focus on the Iranian water shortage and how that drives Iran’s relationship with Afghanistan. See “What’s Next for Afghanistan and Iran? Water Wars”The Cipher Brief, September 27, 2017.

India to Continue Afghan Support. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis recently met with Indian officials in Afghanistan. Continued support for Afghan development projects is the way forward for India but no plans exist for putting Indian military members on the ground.

District Control. A recent analysis by Bill Roggio of the Long War Journal states that the insurgents control or contest about 45% of the districts across Afghanistan. Read “LWJ Map Assessment”, FDD’s Long War Journal, September 26, 2017.

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