Current News about Afghanistan – 20180417

A member of a Female Tactical Platoon Afghanistan of the ASSF fires weapon on rifle range. Photo by SSG Douglas Ellis, NSOCC-A, March 13, 2018.

Current News about Afghanistan – 101st Abn Div at Bagram, A-29 Super Tucanos, review of Nonviolent Soldier of Islam, Taliban reject political reconciliation, Afghan SOF in Jowzjan province, defeating terrorism through economic growth, optimistic Marine general, “12 Strong” review, ATA is growing, what US generals get wrong, district assessments, Italy’s police in Afghanistan and elsewhere, COIN campaign plan for RC East, AAF and CIVCAS, Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan in Kunar, and more.

SOF News

“12 Strong” Movie Review. One of the ODA members depicted in the movie about Green Berets riding in horseback against the Taliban in the fall of 2001 recently spoke about how the movie was made. It seems that the director felt Navy SEALs were more appropriate as consultants for the movie than the actual participants. Hmmmm. Read “Special Forces member speaks at SU about the story behind “12 Strong” The Daily Orange, April 15, 2018.

Afghan Commandos – What do They Think? A journalist embeds with the 4th Commando Kandak on an operation in Farah province Afghanistan and provides us with the commandos viewpoint of the long-running fight with the Taliban. Read “Inside the Minds of Afghanistan’s Commandos”The Diplomat, April 1, 2018. 

Growth of ANASOC. The Afghan National Army Special Operations Command’s School of Excellence trains the Afghan SOF soldiers that fill the ranks of the SOF kandaks, SF kandaks, Cobra Strike kandaks, and the National Mission Brigade. Read more in “A day at Camp Commando: Building the Heroes of Afghanistan”,  NSOCC-A, April 10, 2018.

ANASOC Cdr Interviewed. The commander of the ANA SOF is asked questions by an interviewer and radio listeners. See “Afghanistan’s top SOF leader answers the people” DVIDS NSOCC-A, April 8, 2018.

Australian SF Cdr Gets Promotion. Major General Burr of the Australian Defence Forces once headed the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) SOF in Afghanistan. He is getting a promotion. (The Australian, April 17, 2018).

SF Soldier Recovering From Injuries Suffered in RS Mission. A 10th Special Forces member is recovering from injuries suffered during an explosion in Afghanistan in January 2018. (Times Online, Apr 16, 2018).

Security Situation

ISIS in North Afghanistan Hit by ASSF. General John Nicholson says that recent U.S. and Afghan SOF operations in northern Afghanistan will lead to a tactical defeat of IS-K in that region. (Stars and Stripes, Apr 16, 2018).

Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan in Afghanistan. Read an article about how terrorist groups operate on both sides of the border in “Afghan-Pakistani Cross Border Terrorism Cuts Both Way”The Diplomat, by Franz J. Marty, April 9, 2018.

A-29 Super Tucanos. The Afghan Air Force (AAF) is putting the twenty A-29s it has operational to good use. The planes have been carrying out one-third of all AAF airstrikes in the country. (Tolo News, April 14, 2018).

ATA is Growing. The Afghan Territorial Army (similar to the ALP but different?) is growing in strength. News reports indicate that it now has close to 5,000 members in training. Read “Ghani Orders Territorial Army to Be Mobilized”Tolo News, April 15, 2018. See also “Dilemmas around using militias to fight the Taliban”Magazine of International Civil Servants, April 2018.

AAF and CIVCAS. The recent civilian casualty event in Kunduz on April 3, 2018 attributed to the Afghan Air Force is eroding the credibility of the Afghan government and fueling recruitment for the Taliban. Read more in “Kunduz: The Struggle to Mitigate Civilian Harm in Partnered Operations”Center for Strategic & International Studies, April 12, 2018.

District Assessments. Read an article about how the Resolute Support Mission determines how districts are controlled, contested, or influenced by the government or insurgents. See “Afghan mission releases district-level assessments” FDD’s Long War Journal, April 13, 2018.

Taliban Reject Political Reconciliation. On Saturday, April 14, President Ghani offered an opportunity for the Taliban to join peace talks and to join the October 20th parliamentary elections. The Taliban said ‘not so much’. (VOA, Apr 16, 2018).

RS and the TAACs

101st Abn Div (-) now at Bagram. The 101st Airborne (Air Assault) colors unfurled at BAF on Sunday, April 15th during a ceremony assuming their mission from the 3rd ID. In the past the 101st area of operations was Regional Command East (later called TAAC-East). This current mission has the division (-) overseeing NATO’s train, advise, and assist mission and U.S. counterterrorism operations nationwide. The division commander, MG Andrew Poppas (no stranger to Afghanistan), will serve as the Resolute Support deputy chief of staff for operations and U.S. Forces – Afghanistan (USFOR-A) deputy commanding general for operations. (USFOR-A – DVIDS, April 16, 2018).

COIN Campaign Plan for RC East. Read how the 101st Airborne Division developed a methodical campaign plan for counterinsurgency in the areas of operation for the 201st and 203rd Afghan National Army Corps. See “Operationalizing the Decisive Point: Operation OQAB “Eagle” – Combined and Unified Action”Small Wars Journal, April 17, 2018. This article looks back at the 2011-12 time frame.

Italy’s Police in Herat. The Carabinieri of Italy can be found in many countries suffering from conflict and Afghanistan is no exception. The Carabinieri are Italy’s special police and are also trained soldiers with a unique background that suits them for service in international stabilization missions. Read more in “For Not-Quite-Wars, Italy Has a Useful Alternative to Traditional Troops”Defense One, April 16, 2018.

Marines of TFSW. The Marines of Task Force Southwest are given the spotlight by reporter Dan Lamothe – read “Inside the Marines’ new mission in Afghanistan: taking back territory previously won”Stars and Stripes, April 16, 2018.

SIGAR Report of Fuel Corruption. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction has published a report that reviews the management and oversight of fuel consumption in Afghanistan. Fuel theft has always been a lucrative business in Afghanistan and U.S. military officials seem to be no closer in fixing this problem.

What US Generals Get Wrong. Each successive American general in charge in Afghanistan has been an effective general and a good cheerleader. If you track the interviews, sound clips, ISAF (and now RS) press releases since 2009 you will find that ‘progress is being made’, the ‘ANDSF is improving’, the ‘ANDSF can overmatch the Taliban if they have effective enablers’, etc. Being positive is a good thing but . . . Read “What U.S. generals get wrong about Afghanistan” Thomas Reuters Foundation,  April 12, 2018.

“I have heard of this place” or Mongolians as Part of Resolute Support. Mongolia is continuing its commitment to Afghanistan by sending a seventh rotation of troops to serve in the Resolute Support Mission. No surprise there, the Mongolians have a bit of history with Afghanistan going back a few centuries. (Mongolian News Agency, Apr 13, 2018).

Optimistic Marine General. The past commander of Task Force Southwest (TFSW) in Helmand province was interviewed about the current situation in Helmand province. He seems optimistic. One interesting aspect of the interview is the posting of a slide in the article (that just happens to have FOUO as a classification, but never mind about that). The second bullet states that “The Afghan center of gravity is their confidence to conduct offensive operations against the enemy”. So . . . the Afghan population is not the center of gravity? Hmmmm. Read “General Turner: Afghan forces are outmatching the Taliban when properly enabled”Brookings, April 12, 2018.

General and Misc Information

Book Review – Nonviolent Soldier of Islam. The Pashtun Long March has captured the attention of Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as AfPak observers from around the world. In Pakistan, Pashtuns are calling on the Pakistan Army to stop supporting terrorists. In Afghanistan there are similar protests taking place. But many do not realize there is some history of nonviolent protests within the Pashtun community. Read a book review of Nonviolent Soldier of Islam: Badshah Khan – A Man to Match His Mountains by Abdul Rahman Rahmani.

Legacy Program Under Fire. It seems the British firm contracted by DoD to provide HUMINT training to the ANA and ANP is under the microscope. Something about extravagant expenses and fancy cars. That is unfortunate because at the district level the Brit trainers were highly experienced and very professional. Paul Szoldra has a little fun at the Legacy program’s expense in “I’m Ready to Sacrifice And Help Win in Afghanistan by Buying Booze and New Cars” Task & Purpose, April 16, 2018.

Changing Attitudes. It may be that the handwriting is on the wall for the Taliban. One online article goes so far as to say that the Taliban are losing the support of the population. Read more in “Afghanistan: Changing Attitudes and Alliances” Strategy Page, April 17, 2018.

Defeating Terrorist Through Economic Growth. The campaign for Afghanistan’s economy must stand on equal footing with the counterterrorism campaign. Read an article by M. Ashraf Haidari entitled “How Economic Growth Can Defeat Terrorism in Afghanistan”The Diplomat, April 16, 2018.


Photo Credit: A Female Tactical Platoon member fires weapon on rifle range. FTP training focuses on marksmanship, language, and combat-related skills that allows them to serve with Afghan Special Security Forces (ASSF) operations requiring interaction with women and children. (USAF photo, SSG Doug Ellis, NSOCC-A, March 13, 2018).

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