Read up on events of the past week that occurred in Afghanistan. Below are selected news articles on security, the Afghan National Defense Security Forces, NATO’s Resolute Support Mission, governance, politics, peace talks, development, and economy. Also provided are some recent articles with commentary and analysis on the long-running Afghan conflict.
Ghazni Districts Held by Taliban. Although news reports vary it appears that the Taliban have recently captured at least two districts in Ghazni province – Jaghatu and Dehak. Two other districts are at risk – see below.
Andar Uprising – Revisited. In the summer of 2012 the Taliban suffered a significant reversal in Andar district, Ghazni province. A group of Afghan citizens within the district formed up a an informal community defense force to oppose the Taliban and they were successful in driving the Taliban from the district. The Andar Uprising was promoted by the Afghan government (and the U.S. as well) as a hopeful sign that the Afghan people would adopt a grass-roots methodology – utilizing local uprising in Afghanistan – to push the Taliban from rural areas. The district soon became a location for the establishment of the Afghan Local Police or ALP. However, by 2017 most of the areas within the district had been recaptured by the Taliban and the district center itself is now in danger of falling to the insurgents.
Ajristan District At Risk. There are conflicting reports about whether a district in Ghazni province has fallen to the Taliban or if the government forces still hold the district center. It is likely, however, that if the DC has fallen it will soon be retaken by the Afghan Commandos. That seems to be their primary mission this spring – recapturing district centers that the ANDSF have lost to the Taliban. Read more in “Commandos Deployed to Ajristan As Violence Continues”, Tolo News, May 22, 2018.
ISIS in Afghanistan. After losing territory in Iraq and Syria the terrorist organization has been setting up camp in other countries – Yemen, Egypt, and . . . Afghanistan. An article by Hassan Hassan explains the events. (The National Opinion, May 23, 2018).
ANDSF and ASSF
Lasers and AAF. The Afghan Air Force (AAF) continues to increase its capability. The recent addition of laser-guided bomb strike capability is going to increase the accuracy of the Afghan pilots contributing to more effective strikes and (hopefully) less civilian casualties. The AAF’s A-29 is a propeller-driven fixed-wing aircraft ideal for a counterinsurgency conflict. Read more in “Lasers are helping the Afghan Air Force strike the Taliban”, Defense News, May 25, 2018.
Female Tactical Platoon of Ktah Khas. A small elite unit of Afghan women are attached to a specialized organization of the Afghan Special Security Forces (ASSF) called Ktah Khas. Twice a year the female soldiers must take part in the Ktah Khas Physical Assessment Test (KPAT). Read more in “Afghan Female Tactical Platoon Trains for Operations”, NSOCC-A DVIDS, by Martha Schaeffer, May 23, 2018.
GCPSU Cdr on the Air. The commander of the General Command of Police Special Units recently conducted a radio interview about his unit. The article provides some good information about the Afghan Special Service Forces. (NSOCC-A DVIDS, May 13, 2018).
New RS Cdr? It appears that General John Nicholson will finally leave his post in Afghanistan after heading up the NATO effort there for the past two years. His replacement is likely to be LTG Austin Miller who has significant experience in Afghanistan. Miller is currently the commander of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
MoH for Navy SEAL. Navy Master Chief Petty Officer and special warfare operator Britt K. Slabinski received the Medal of Honor from President Trump on Thursday, May 24th. He was recognized for his heroic actions in a 2002 battle in the mountains of Afghanistan. (DoD, May 24, 2018).
SF Officer Identifies 9 Missteps in Afghanistan. MG (Ret) Don Bolduc has detailed nine strategic level mistakes made by senior US government officials and military leaders in the 17-year long conflict in Afghanistan. Bolduc retired in 2017 from the U.S. Army and was a career Special Forces officer. He served several tours in Afghanistan to include a few years as the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan (CJSOTF-A). Read his article “Missteps in Afghanistan: Let Us Count the Ways”, Small Wars Journal, May 24, 2018.
SIGAR Report on Stabilization
On Thursday, May 24, 2018 the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction published its special report about lessons learned on stabilization in Afghanistan. Some recent analysis of the report is listed below.
Historian William Polk Compares Afghanistan to Vietnam. A member of the US administration during the Vietnam conflict finds a comparison of Vietnam and Afghanistan easy to make. Read “Historian William Polk is alarmed at the latest plan to stabilize Afghanistan”, History News Network, May 25, 2018.
Talc Mines and ISKP. The Islamic State had great success (for a short period of time) leveraging the natural resources of Syria and Iraq to fund its ‘caliphate’ and its operations. It is now turning its attention to the talc mines of Afghanistan through its Afghan partner – the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP). Read “Talc: The Everyday Mineral Funding Afghan Insurgents”, Global Witness, May 2018.
Record-High Opium Production. The United Nations Officer on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has issued a new report that says opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan reached a record-high in 2017 – leading to unprecedented levels of potential heroin supplies around the world. (UN News, May 21, 2018).
Displaced Afghans. A UN report says that more than 100,000 Afghans have been displaced in Afghanistan since the beginning of the year due to conflict and natural disasters. The highest numbers were in Ghazni and Baghlan provinces – both areas of increased fighting. (Ganhara Blog, RFE/RL, May 23, 2018).
Iran Support of Taliban. After the recent Taliban attack on the center of Farah city many observers and government officials complained about Iranian interference in Afghan affairs. Some accuse Iran of supporting the Taliban insurgents located in western Afghanistan near the Iranian border. Aziz Amin Ahmadzai provides us an analysis of why Tehran chooses to support the Taliban. Read “Iran’s Support for the Taliban Brings it to a Crossroads With Afghanistan”, The Diplomat, May 21, 2018.
Building a Castle in the Sky. Mohammand Habibzada writes about the prospects for peace talks between the Afghan government and the insurgents. While the Afghan High Peace Council believes there are prospects for negotiations; others seem to think it is a waste of time. Read “Should Afghan Government Wait for Taliban Response?”, Voice of America, May 21, 2018.
Angelina Jolie’s Film. The Breadwinner is an animated movie about an 11-year-old girl growing up under the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001. She girl has to disguise herself as a boy to work so her family can survive. Read “Angelina Jolie’s Breadwinner spotlights Afghan girls’ plight”, BBC News, May 25, 2018.
Air Force Combat Controller to be Profiled. A movie is planned on the actions of John Chapman – an Air Force Combat Controller who died in Afghanistan in 2002 while attached to an element of Navy SEALs. Chapman has been considered for the Medal of Honor. (Deadline Hollywood, May 23, 2018).
Top Photo: ASSF Commando Trains at Camp Commando outside of Kabul, Afghanistan. Photo by Senior Airman Xavier Navarro, NSOCC-A, November 4, 2017.