Afghanistan Conflict News Update – TAPI Pipeline a ‘pipe dream’, sling load operations at Bagram AF, A-29 Super Tucanos deploy to Kandahar, Taliban in peace talks, Latvia in Afghanistan, EUPOL closing down operations in Afghanistan, and more.
A-29 Super Tucanos Deploy to Kandahar. Earlier this winter (late fall) the Afghan Air Force (AAF) deployed a few of its A-29 close air support fixed wing aircraft to the Kandahar Airport. The aircraft will operate as part of the AAF Kandahar Air Wing. The increased capability of the AAF will slowly change the dynamics of the Afghanistan conflict. Read more in “Afghan forces receive light attack aircraft in Kandahar airfield”, Khaama Press, December 18, 2016.
TAPI Pipeline – a Pipe Dream. For years regional powers in Central and South Asia (and the United States) have been touting the benefits of building the TAPI pipeline. This promise of the future is unrealistic as long as the Taliban and Afghan government are fighting each other. The TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) pipeline is also subject to the political impasses of Pakistan and India. Read more in “TAPI: A Transnational Pipe Dream”, STRATFOR, December 15, 2016.
Latvia Stays the Course. On December 22nd the Latvian parliament extended the Latvia military mission in Afghanistan to December 2020. A total of thirty Latvian troops will assist in training Afghan security forces. The troop rotation will be every six months. Source is a news report by LSM.LV – Public Broadcasting of Latvia, December 22, 2016.
EUPOL Shutting Its Doors. The European Union Police Mission in Afghanistan (EUPOL Afghanistan) is coming to an end on 31 December 2016. EUPOL Afghanistan, a civilian mission, has been operating since 2007. This is a troubling event as the professionalization of the police leadership is hindering progress in the Afghanistan conflict. Read more in a press release by European Union External Action, December 14, 2016.
Taliban and Peace Talks. The Taliban have once again indicated that they are willing to discuss peace with the United States. The two main demands of the Taliban are removal of the group leader’s name from the United Nation’s blacklist and withdrawal of all foreign forces from Afghanistan. Of course, the U.S. and Afghan government position is that the Taliban need to negotiate with the Afghan government – observing the need for an Afghan-led peace process. See “Afghan Taliban reiterates demands for peace talks with U.S.”, Military Times, December 21, 2016.
Dams for Power and Water. It would seem that – for a change – we are seeing some positive happenings in Afghanistan. Jeff Goodson, a retired US Foreign Service Officer with a significant amount of Afghan experience, has wrote a paper about some significant strides made by Afghanistan in the completion of a number of dam projects that will harness Afghan rivers to output water for irrigation and electricity. And this, bringing the dams online, is a good thing for the Afghan government and Coalition allies in terms of security. Read more “Infrastructure and Irregular Warfare: A Good Year for Afghan Dams”, Real Clear Defense, December 20, 2016.
Female Afghan Pilot. One of the few female pilots in the Afghan Air Force tells her story. Read more in “An Afghan woman goes from refugee to military pilot”, Military Times, December 7, 2016.
BAF Sling Load Opns. Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan sees a lot of helicopter traffic. Much of this traffic is cargo moving via sling load to distant locations – keeping U.S. troops supplied with everything from food to ammunition. Read more in “As Afghan mission changes, loaders at Bagram get into the sling of things”, Stars & Stripes, December 15, 2016.