The Taliban spring offensive is continuing in Afghanistan. The insurgents have threatened several provincial capitals over the past few months. In addition, they have captured (and sometimes still hold) many district centers. Although the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) are mounting operations in many areas of the country it would appear that the Taliban are retaining the initiative.
At the same time the U.S. and Afghan special operations forces are continuing their fight against the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP). Despite the proclamations from Resolute Support headquarters and United States Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) that ISKP is significantly degraded the group continues their terrorist attacks in Kabul, operations in Nangarhar province, and recruitment in the northern provinces of Afghanistan.
Afghan President Ghani has issued a ceasefire proclamation saying the ANDSF would stand down for several days. The U.S. and NATO says they will observe the ceasefire. However, the U.S. has said that it will continue operations against ISKP. The ceasefire will free up some resources for the ISKP fight. The Taliban responded with an observance of a three-day ceasefire in regards to domestic opposition forces; however, foreign occupying forces are ‘fair game’. Many observers feel the ceasefire is an insignificant event that will not result in any long-term progress toward negotiations – with some commentators calling it a ‘desperate and delusional’.
More on the Ceasefire:
State Department News Release, June 7, 2018
Air War. The increased use of U.S. and Afghan air strikes in the fight against the Taliban has increased the number of civilian casualties in recent months. See “Counting the cost of Trump’s air war in Afghanistan”, BBC News, June 7, 2018.
C-208 Combat Airdrops. According to recent news announcements by Afghan and Resolute Support officials the Afghan Air Force (AAF) has made some strides in the conduct of emergency combat airdrops. The C-208 utility aircraft of the AAF has made its first emergency combat airdrop mission. RS HQs routinely provides us with ‘news updates’ on recent progress made by the ANDSF. It seems that this is the 3rd or 4th press release in the past few months about the ‘first emergency air drop’ by a C-208 air crew. Just saying. See “Afghan Air Force C-208 crew conducts first emergency combat airdrop”, Airforce-Technology.com, June 7, 2018.
Female Deminers in Afghanistan. Listen to a podcast about a group of Afghan deminers who are being trained in Bamyan province by the Danish Demining Group. (VOA, June 6, 2018).
New RS DCoS Int. Brigadier General Anthony Hale has been assigned as the deputy chief of staff, intelligence, for NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan. He will also serve as J-2 for U.S. Forces – Afghanistan (OFS).
UAE Offers Troops. The United Arab Emirates will (once again) contribute personnel for the mission to advise and train the Afghan security forces. The offer by the UAE was approved by President Ghani. The UAE will be sending SOF troops to work alongside US and NATO SOF in the training of the Afghan Special Security Forces (ASSF). (Stars and Stripes, June 6, 2018).
NATO Maintains Support for ANDSF. The NATO defence ministers recently concluded a meeting in where it reaffirmed its support for the Afghan security forces. It has decided to continue funding for the Afghan security institutions until 2024. (Pajhwok News, June 8, 2018).
Politics and Governance
Abdullah and the Future. The current Chief Executive Officer of Afghanistan, sharing power with President Ghani, certainly has his eyes on the future when it comes the the leadership of the country. He will likely run for President once again in the 2019 presidential elections. (Euronews, June 7, 2018).
Development and Economy
Drought Conditions. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (UNOCHA) there are about 2.2 million people in Afghanistan that are experiencing problems due to a long-lasting drought.
SIGAR Report on SIKA-South Program. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction has issued a report on USAID’s Stability in Key Areas (SIKA) program in southern Afghanistan.
Pentagon IO. The information operations campaign conducted by the Department of Defense has been providing statements that would lead the casual observer to conclude that things are improving in Afghanistan, the Afghan government is reducing corruption, and the Afghan security forces are defeating the Taliban on the battlefield. Hmmm. Reports by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, DoD Inspector General, and other organizations paint a less rosy picture. Jerrod Laber, a writer and journalist (time in Afghanistan? Unknown), provides his thoughts on the topic in “Don’t Buy the Pentagon’s Statements on Afghanistan”, Real Clear Defense, June 8, 2018.
Taliban, Iran, Water, and Western Afghanistan. The water crisis in western Afghanistan plays a role in the current state of the insurgency and is a factor in Iranian influence and activities in that region of Afghanistan. Morwari Zafar, an anthropologist, provides us with her thoughts on the topic in “Not So Quiet on the Western Front: The Snowball Effect in Afghanistan”, Small Wars Journal, June 2018.
Photo: A Marine stands guard at Bost Airfield, Afghanistan. Photo by USMC, January 27, 2017.