WAR US to leave troops in Afghanistan beyond May, 9/11 new goal

Housecarl

On TB every waking moment
Yes. However, with my limited knowledge of drugs, I am unable to provide a valid explanation. But, there must be a reason.
You can grow poppies without any real infrastructure where as you need a compounding lab with trained technicians to make fentanyl.
 

NoDandy

Has No Life - Lives on TB
You can grow poppies without any real infrastructure where as you need a compounding lab with trained technicians to make fentanyl.
So, are you saying it is easier to cultivate the poppies, than to mfg fentanyl ? Or just the opposite ??
 

Housecarl

On TB every waking moment
So, are you saying it is easier to cultivate the poppies, than to mfg fentanyl ? Or just the opposite ??
It's easier for a non state low tech actor to grow poppies, however it is cheaper per manufacturing volume, and shipping to make fentanyl. If you're "organized crime" in the industrialized world it makes more sense to go synthetic than be dealing with all the variables of farming.
 

NoDandy

Has No Life - Lives on TB
It's easier for a non state low tech actor to grow poppies, however it is cheaper per manufacturing volume, and shipping to make fentanyl. If you're "organized crime" in the industrialized world it makes more sense to go synthetic than be dealing with all the variables of farming.
Understand. Thanks
 

Doomer Doug

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Wow how things change. One of the ONLY things the Taleban got correct back before we wiped them out was they zeroed out the entire poppy trade. We then took over and restarted it, and they crushed it again, and then we restarted it again, and now we actually claim that even though we have absolute air superiority, we can't find the poppy fields to destroy. :jstr:
At any rate, in Saigon we had them hanging off the helicopter skids, and this time around, likely a mad dash to get into the last Galaxy pulling out.

We will leave behind a massacre by the taleban of unbelievers numbering in the tens of thousands at a minimum, along with a horde of "our" supporters who will turn into refugees, like in Somalia etc etc

China, well china is going to have to defend that $5 billion copper mine forever I think .
 

jward

passin' thru
Into Thin Air: Aviation Security Force Assistance in Iraq and Afghanistan
Tobias Switzer
April 23, 2021 Book Reviews




989682 (1)


George W. Cully, Adapt or Fail: The USAF’s Role in Reconstituting the Iraqi Air Force, 2004-2007 (Air University Press 2017)
Forrest L. Marion, Flight Risk: The Coalition’s Air Advisory Mission in Afghanistan, 2005-2015 (Naval Institute Press 2019)


After fifteen years of trying, why has the US military been unable to build effective and sustainable air forces for either Iraq or Afghanistan? Reading a pair of recently published histories about the U.S. Air Force’s attempts to build air forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and reflecting on my own experience as an advisor to the Afghan Special Mission Wing, my mind kept drifting back to the Aconcagua mountain in Argentina, a place I visited long ago. Of the Seven Summits, the tallest peak on each continent, the 22,841 foot Aconcagua is considered one of the more straightforward mountains to climb.

Aspirants do not need any specialized technical skills as there are no actual mountaineering obstacles. Reaching the top is a matter of putting one foot in front of the other, yet many fail to reach the summit. Why? The insidious threats of harsh weather and a lack of oxygen are the real barriers to climbing the Aconcagua. Pretentious climbers unacclimated to high-altitude and outfitted with unsuitable gear are practically guaranteed a fiasco.

Just as the Aconcagua has no physical impediments blocking access to the peak, neither were there external obstacles to creating an Iraqi or Afghan air force. Standing on the airfields at either Kandahar or Balad, one can easily imagine the partner nation’s attack aircraft, transports, and helicopters on the ramp, the fuel trucks circulating around the fleet, the aircrews stepping to one plane and maintainers towing another into a hangar for repair. But, in providing unsuitable aircraft and capabilities to the Iraqis and Afghans and sending military personnel who were unprepared to negotiate the alien cultures, I believe that the United States all but guaranteed failure in these two missions.

The theory behind providing air forces to the Iraqis and Afghans makes sense. With transport aircraft, their security forces can shrink distances and time to quickly respond to insurgent attacks and sustain lengthy ground operations through resupply. Airborne reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities can provide the Iraqis and Afghans critical intelligence and enhance tactical awareness during ground force missions. Air forces can also provide strike and casualty evacuation capabilities.

While a partner nation’s air force cannot replace its army or police during counter-insurgencies, it can provide an asymmetric advantage over destabilizing actors, expand the government’s legitimacy in the eyes of its populace, and reduce the need for the US military to use its aviation resources. With such an intoxicating vision of airpower, who would not have wanted expansive air forces for the Afghans and Iraqis?

Building an air force for a partner nation is different than raising its ground forces, though. Considering the technical, financial, and capital-intensive nature of aviation, the up-front investment of time, money, and sweat is much higher and the payoffs come much later if ever. For countries that lack the experience and tacit know-how needed to maintain and operate fleets of complicated military aircraft, building up their aviation capabilities can feel like pouring resources into a funnel; a lot goes in, drops come out.

Historians George Cully and Forrest Marion offer salient clues to explaining the failures of the aviation security force assistance missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Cully’s book, Adapt or Fail, gives an excellent account of the organizational changes that the US Air Force undertook to reorient itself towards rebuilding Iraqi aviation capabilities. It is a story of institutional transformation. Those seeking on-the-ground details of an air advisor mission, however, will find those in Marion’s Flight Risk. Drawing on personal experience, extensive interviews, and records, Marion centers his book in Afghanistan to recount the personal challenges that coalition air advisors faced in mentoring, training, and advising Afghan airmen.

Ambitious dreams of creating not just modest capabilities in Iraq and Afghanistan but well-developed air forces went unrealized for two major reasons. First, as Cully details in Adapt or Fail, the U.S. Air Force was not organized, trained, or equipped for the task, resulting in the provision of unsuitable aircraft and capabilities for the Iraqis. The second reason, Marion tells us in Flight Risk, was that the cultural context was inhospitable to the air advisors, who could not adapt to it. Combined, these two reasons made the dreams near-impossible to realize.

In both countries, the role of rapidly growing a partner’s air force amid insurgencies and weakened local governments was thrust upon the U.S. Air Force, but that kind of job was not one of its core missions. Far from it. Not since the Vietnam War had it undertaken the responsibility of creating a partner nation’s air force to the scale of Iraq and Afghanistan and in the middle of raging insurgencies. Although the U.S. Air Force received assistance from other U.S. military branches — predominately the U.S. Army — and coalition forces, it had no idea how to plan and execute large-scale aviation security force assistance missions. With no institutional memory about how to train, advise, assist, and equip partner air forces under precarious circumstances such as those found in Iraq and Afghanistan, and no plans to do so, predictably, the U.S. military failed.

Adapt or Fail provides a four-year look at the U.S. Air Force’s aviation security force assistance mission in Iraq, starting with its commencement in 2004. Cully details the evolution of the Air Force’s organizations responsible for training, advising, assisting, and equipping foreign partners. The Air Force did not have prepared, experienced advisors ready to deploy, nor did the mission have the attention of its general officers and civilian leaders. Aircraft acquisition decisions for Iraq were made haphazardly, Cully notes.

Decisions about the number and type of aircraft to provide to the partner nation and the structure of sustainment and training contracts carry significant weight in determining a mission’s success. The aircraft and equipment will be in use for years — or decades, hopefully — and make valuable contributions to the partner nation’s security. But providing exquisite airplanes and helicopters that the partner nation can’t maintain, fuel, fly, or afford is a curse whose effects ripple forward in time. U.S. military senior leadership and planners should understand when and how these decisions get made and push for airmen with the right information to be at the table. Cully shows what happens when they are not.

Adapt or Fail traces many of these acquisition decisions for Iraq, including an instructive review of the ill-fated Comp Air 7SLX. The United Arab Emirates gifted and modified several of these kit aircraft, meant to be home-built like a weekend project, to the Iraqis to serve as surveillance platforms. Their airworthiness was highly dubious from the beginning, though. Tragically, one of them crashed in 2005, killing four U.S. airmen and one Iraqi pilot. All of the aircraft had known deficiencies and had not been appropriately flight-tested after their modifications. So why did U.S. advisors pilot aircraft in combat that they would never have been allowed to fly at home?

The U.S. and the Iraqi governments were frantic to bring on an aerial surveillance capability to monitor oil pipelines and had tried out several other slapdash aircraft, which also proved unsuitable, Cully reports. 2005 was a desperate time in the counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism fight against the destabilizing elements causing Iraq to slip away. No doubt senses of urgency and duty compelled U.S. airmen to continue to fly Iraqi aircraft known to be unsafe and unreliable.


Unfortunately, Adapt or Fail only takes the reader through to 2007, just as the U.S. Air Force ramped up the Iraqi advisor effort and finally organized itself for the mission. Cully’s book is about that organizational adaptation at the outset, not about the outcome of the aviation security force assistance mission, which continued even after 2011 when U.S. forces and advisors withdrew from Iraq. Air advisors returned in 2015 to help Iraq fight Islamic State. The sequel was no better.
Coming off the near-decade of internal instability, the U.S. government helped the Iraqis into the seats of thirty-six Lockheed Martin F-16 fighters and out of $2.3 billion in a major arms sale in 2011. A $1.9 billion support contract followed in 2016. By the time the United States restarted its air advisor mission in 2015 to help the Iraqis fight Islamic State, it was too late. Plagued with an advanced fighter aircraft that is difficult to maintain in heat and dust and unsuitable for irregular warfare, the Iraqis mostly failed to contribute to the air campaign against Islamic State.

Examples of aircraft mismatches extend to Afghanistan as well. A scathing 2021 Special Inspector for Afghanistan Reconstruction report shows how the U.S. Air Force unwisely purchased twenty G.222 medium-lift transport aircraft for the Afghan air force in 2008. The airplanes proved unsafe, unreliable, and far too challenging for the Afghans to maintain because spare parts were not available. The United States sold the G.222s to an Afghan company for approximately $40,000 in 2014. The total cost of the program? Over $500 million.
These and other acquisitions decisions for Iraq and Afghanistan set up the partner nations and air advisors for failure and demonstrate how unprepared the Department of Defense and the U.S. Air Force were to build air forces for Iraq and Afghanistan. Unsuitable aircraft challenged the air advisors who — doubly cursed — found a barren and inhospitable environment waiting for them.
 

jward

passin' thru
continued

In Flight Risk, Marion leverages nearly two years spent with the coalition air advisors in Afghanistan as an official historian during the tumultuous period of 2009-2012. He guides the reader through an insightful decade-long tour of the mission focusing on the interactions between the air advisors and the Afghan airmen. The killing of nine air advisors by an Afghan air force officer in April 2011, the commencement of a two-year high-water period of insider attacks throughout Afghanistan, punctuates the story. That attack and its aftermath dramatically changed the air advisor mission, driving a permanent wedge of security and suspicion between the advisors and the Afghans. Ever since the insider attack, the advisor environment became “cold war, no trust,” as one commander put it to Marion.

Marion’s longer arc allows for a weighing of the evidence. His conclusions ought to lower the ambitions of future policymakers and strategists. Throughout the book, Marion gives exhaustive examples of the air advisors’ quixotic emphasis on professionalizing their Afghan counterparts and instituting a robust centralized command-and-control system. Many advisors sincerely believed, Marion reports, that the idea of professionalization was a culturally neutral concept and an ideal that transcended time and geography when, in actuality, professionalization meant westernizing the Afghans. Over and over again, advisors expressed frustration with the Afghan airmen when they failed to show up for work, shirked their duties, or obstructed change. These behaviors, according to Marion, were due to the prevailing Afghan culture. Even when advisors claimed to understand that they were operating in a different culture, their enduring use of the term “professionalize” showed otherwise.

One fundamental Afghan practice, odious to the air advisors, was the process by which Afghan aircraft and crews were tasked for non-military missions on short notice, secretively, and often directly from generals or political leaders. Frequently, the Afghan aviators I advised at the Special Mission Wing were tasked via calls to their cell phones by leaders in the Ministry of Defense and military, too. Power brokers in the Afghan government didn’t necessarily view the aviation assets, particularly the Mi-17 helicopters, as Afghan but instead saw the aircraft as means to benefit themselves and their tribes. According to Marion, advisors believed that Afghan leaders routinely co-opted crews and aircraft for their own, often illicit, purposes and circumvented advisor-imposed processes with impunity. While we could not blame the Afghans for following orders, even those delivered by cell phone call, the situation was untenable. When the aircraft misuse and overtasking at the Special Mission Wing finally led to an exhausted Afghan crew crashing an Mi-17 on the ramp at Kandahar, our commanding general ordered us to “take away the keys” like a dad punishing an irresponsible teenager.

While I thought that the Afghan crews would be upset with us, they were not. They were happy about the intervention, and everything was good for a while. Then the problems started creeping back in again.
As Marion notes, advisors viewed this issue of command and control as a significant problem and ceaselessly tried to persuade or reason the Afghans into doing things the American way. Marion asks, provocatively, why did we design an air force for Afghans that required a westernized command-and-control system? Shouldn’t advisors and planners have developed an air force considering the rampant corruption in Afghanistan, a problem that American leaders routinely describe as cancerous?

The Afghan air force had fewer than 20 aircraft in 2006, Marion reports, more than they could fly and maintain at the time. But by 2014, that inventory ballooned up to 90 aircraft, numbers well above what air advisors could retain control over. As the coalition air advisors tried to build an expansive and sustainable air force in Afghanistan, the local culture bogged down the effort. Instead, American defense planners created ample opportunity for criminal networks to use the aircraft to facilitate the opium trade. Since 2010, the United States has spent over $8.5 billion to develop the Afghan air force. Making extravagant aviation resources available to the Afghans without accountability may have fueled the very same corruption that stymied the air advisor mission, implies Marion.

While Iraqi culture and society were not quite as distant to the air advisors, building the Iraqi air force was a Sisyphean struggle, too. In trying to surmount a steep language barrier and a complex social structure, air advisors were significantly disadvantaged as the Iraqis were skilled at exploiting American impatience. Knowing that the air advisors were under tremendous pressure, Iraqi airmen were happy to wait until the last minute to see if the Americans would relieve them of their responsibilities such as purchasing services and equipment or planning an operation. The American commander who reestablished the air advisor mission in Iraq in 2015 recounted to me that walking into the Iraqi C-130 hangar was like walking into 2011. All the maintenance records in the file cabinets and all the whiteboards with aircraft status and scheduling information had been left untouched, frozen in time since the air advisors left with the rest of the American forces. The Iraqi air force practiced little of what the U.S. military had taught and trained them to do.

As the only two books written about the U.S. military’s attempts to build air forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, Adapt or Fail and Flight Risk are canonical, by default. Each complements the other and, when read together, provides a fuller picture as to why the United States — after spending such an enormous amount of time and money — fell so short of its aim. Adapt or Fail and Flight Risk also make clear that the blame for the American failure to build air forces in Iraq and Afghanistan does not rest with the partner nations, nor with the unprepared and ill-equipped U.S. Air Force.

Responsibility rests with the policymakers. It rests with those who wasted billions of dollars buying incompatible aircraft for the Iraqi and Afghan air forces and then expected air advisors to carry those loads up the trail. Although the high mountain had a seemingly straightforward path to the top, the thin air subdued the people sent by the U.S. military. The next time the United States decides to build military aviation capabilities for a culturally remote country in the middle of an insurgency, its goals should be kept modest and humble. In those circumstances, the aim should be to reach base camp safely instead of collapsing en route to the summit.

Dedicated to the memory of Lt Col Jerome “Jerry” Klingaman, U.S. Air Force (1934- 2021), who covertly advised the Laotian air force in the 1960s and helped to resurrect U.S. special operations air advising nearly three decades later. The warning — found in his Coyote Rules — that “most of us come to grief because we want too much” remains true today. He will be missed.
Tobias Switzer is a U.S. Air Force combat aviation advisor, foreign area officer, and Olmsted Scholar. He previously advised the Afghan Special Mission Wing as the commander of a special operations advisor team in Kabul from 2017-2018. He is currently a military fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the U.S. Air Force, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the cost of the G.222 program was in excess of $500 billion. The correct figure is in excess of $500 million.
Image: U.S. Air Force (Photo by Master Sgt. Ben Bloker)

Posted for fair use
 

Housecarl

On TB every waking moment

jward

passin' thru
White House Says Afghanistan Troop Drawdown Has Officially Begun
Tyler Durden's Photo

by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Apr 29, 2021 - 10:10 PM
Following the earlier this month Biden-ordered full troop exit from Afghanistan slated to be completed by Sept.11 of this year, the White House on Thursday announced the military withdrawal has now officially begun.
While traveling aboard Air Force One, the deputy White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed to reporters that "A drawdown is underway," but also added the caveat that, "While these actions will initially result in increased forces levels, we remain committed to having all of US military personnel out of Afghanistan by September 11, 2020."
Via Reuters
"The President’s intent is clear, the US military departure from Afghanistan will not be rushed.… It will be delivered and conducted in a safe and responsible manner that ensures the protection of our forces," Jean-Pierre explained.
Previously Pentagon officials have described "increased forces levels" as constituting the security and personnel required to oversee a safe logistical exit from the country that includes a vast amount of military equipment and defense facilities that have accumulated over the course of the two-decade long war and occupation.
CNN details that "Fewer than 100 troops, along with military equipment, have been moved largely by aircraft to execute President Joe Biden’s order to begin the withdrawal process no later than May 1, according to several US defense officials."
"There have been about 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan that are openly acknowledged, plus several hundred additional special operations forces. All of them will depart under the President’s orders," the report adds. NATO at the same time is signaling a full draw down within months.
It's likely these slew of new statements Thursday are intended to seek to assure the Taliban that an exit is indeed in motion. But Saturday could see a proverbial all hell breaking loose given May 1 is the deadline (from the Taliban's perspective) based on the prior Trump admin-Taliban deal that was inked in February 2020.
“There is remarkable consensus within the region and the international community against a military takeover by the Taliban.”

I’m guessing the Taliban doesn’t care. US orders staff to leave Kabul due to threats
— Max Abrahms (@MaxAbrahms) April 28, 2021
The Taliban has vowed to strike at any American targets should troops remain in the country after that date. US leaders are now worried that the Taliban could hit hard just as the Pentagon is in the midst of its draw down; and in the medium to longer term it's expected that entire major cities could once again fall to the hardline Islamic fundamentalist group.
To protect the exiting US troops, over the past weeks the US has sent additional B-52 bombers to the region to safeguard the pullout, along with the presence in regional waters of the USS Eisenhower aircraft carrier.
Many pundits ultimately see this whole spectacle as just a recipe for continuing to stay far past Biden's anticipated Sept.11 exit, given there's a seeming endless number of ways this could go wrong. So it's worth asking: will we still be seeing similar headlines of "drawdown has begun" a few years from now as the prior pattern has shown when it comes to America's longest ever running war?
 

jward

passin' thru
EXPLAINER: What remains as US ends Afghan ‘forever war’
By KATHY GANNON 45 minutes ago




1 of 8
FILE - In this Dec. 23, 2015 file photo, a U.S. service member salutes her fallen comrades during a memorial ceremony for six Airmen killed in a suicide attack, at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan. ter 20 years America is ending its “forever” war in Afghanistan. There’s conflicting views even among U. S. military minds as to whether the time is right. For others there is another lingering question: Was it worth it? (Tech. Sgt. Robert Cloys/U.S. Air Force via AP)


KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — After 20 years, America is ending its “forever war” in Afghanistan.
Announcing a firm withdrawal deadline, President Joe Biden cut through the long debate, even within the U.S. military, over whether the time was right. Starting Saturday, the last remaining 2,500 to 3,5000 American troops will begin leaving, to be fully out by Sept. 11 at the latest.

Another debate will likely go on far longer: Was it worth it?
Since 2001, tens of thousands of Afghans and 2,442 American soldiers have been killed, millions of Afghans driven from their homes, and billions of dollars spent on war and reconstruction. As the departure begins, The Associated Press takes a look at the mission and what it accomplished.

FIGHTING TERROR
In the early days after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks in the U.S., the mission seemed clear: Hunt down and punish the perpetrators.
The U.S. determined that al-Qaida and its leader, Osama bin Laden, had plotted the attack from the safety of Afghanistan, protected by its radical Taliban rulers. At the time the Taliban were a pariah government, under U.N. sanctions and vilified in the West for their rule by a harsh interpretation of Islamic law.
Until 9/11, the U.S. had watched Afghanistan from a distance, occasionally requesting the Taliban to hand over bin Laden and once in 1998 firing a couple of cruise missiles at an al-Qaida base in eastern Afghanistan.
Now America was leading an invasion, dubbed Operation Enduring Freedom, with the mission of removing the Taliban and destroying al-Qaida.

Washington turned to the only allies in Afghanistan it could — a collection of warlords, most of whom were former mujahedeen backed by the U.S. in the 1980s in the fight against the invading Soviet Union. Rallying around the U.S. after 9/11, NATO joined the coalition.
Within weeks of the invasion and aerial bombardment, the U.S.-led coalition had pounded the Taliban into submission and driven them from power. Its leadership fled, its fighters lost control of the entire nation. Al-Qaida as well fled underground, crossing into neighboring Pakistan.
The hunt for bin Laden took 10 years. Finally, he was tracked to his hideout in Pakistan, barely 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Islamabad. A U.S. Navy Seals team went in under cover of darkness and killed him.

But in the interceding decade, America and NATO had been dragged into a dramatically expanded mission. Then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at first said America was not in Afghanistan to nation-build. That would change.
When the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, it took its eye off Afghanistan. It left it to the former warlords, pre-occupied with wealth and power. The first post-Taliban president, Hamid Karzai, raised the idea of talks with the Taliban to work out a peace, and the crushed militants put out signals they wanted to reach an accommodation.
But American officials blocked any negotiations with the Taliban, convinced the insurgents could be militarily destroyed.
Instead, the militants re-emerged in a long insurgency, and the U.S. found itself pouring in money and manpower to help the Afghan government fight and to rebuild the war-shattered nation. With the flood of billions of dollars, corruption only grew in the U.S.-backed government, only growing worse as the years went on.

Meanwhile, al-Qaida’s ability to strike the U.S. and the West has been severely damaged. But the group has spread in branches in multiple countries fighting in insurgencies.
Biden explained his decision to pull out the last 2,500-3,500 American soldiers from Afghanistan, saying America’s security concerns had evolved.
“Bin Laden is dead, and al-Qaida is degraded in Iraq -- in Afghanistan, he said, arguing that the terror threat has “metastasized” into a global phenomenon, not to be fought with thousands of troops on the ground in one country but with new technology. The U.S., he said, must be freed to fight the 21st century’s more sophisticated challenges, including competition from Russia and China.

For the situation in Afghanistan, he said he didn’t see how continued American military presence would bring a turnaround. “When will it be the right moment to leave? One more year, two more years, ten more years?” he said.
“’Not now” — that’s how we got here.’”

WHAT NOW FOR AFGHANISTAN?
The U.S. and NATO leave behind an Afghanistan that is at least half run directly or indirectly by the Taliban — despite billions poured into training and arming Afghan forces to fight them. Riddled with corruption and tied to regional warlords, the U.S.-backed government is widely distrusted by many Afghans.

Washington and its international allies are putting heavy pressure on the government and the Taliban to reach a peace deal. The hope is that both sides realize military victory is impossible and that peace together is the only way forward.
The best case scenario is some sort of government including the Taliban that can pave the way for a drawing up a new constitutional system for the future, including some form of elections.
The very possible worst case scenario is that peace talks fail, and Afghanistan is plunged into a new chapter of its decades of civil war. That new phase could be more brutal than ever, with not only the Taliban but the country’s other, multiple warlords and armed factions battling it out for power.

The past 20 years since the Taliban were ousted have unquestionably seen gains for the Afghans. But they are fragile and risk being wiped away as the Americans step away — whether frittered away under a new government or crushed by continued war.
Girls are allowed an education, which had been banned under the Taliban. Still, at least 3.6 million children, the majority of them girls, are not in school, according to UNICEF.
Women are working and are in Parliament. Their voices are strong yet still Afghanistan’s Parliament has been unable to pass The Violence Against Women bill because religious conservatives dominate. The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security has consistently ranked Afghanistan as one of the worst countries in the world to be a woman.

Before the war in 2001, the Taliban had eradicated opium production in Afghanistan, according to United Nations figures. Today, it produces more opium than every other opium-producing country combined, despite the U.S. spending millions to eradicate drug production.
The opium industry in 2019, the latest available figures show, earned between $1.2 billion and $2.1 billion, outstripping the value of the country’s legal exports, according to John Sopko, the U.S. government’s watchdog on Afghan reconstruction. More than $14 million of that went into the coffers of the Taliban, who tax drug movement throughout the country.

Despite billions in U.S. humanitarian and reconstruction aid, more than half the population of 36 million lives under the World Bank-set poverty line of $1.90 a day — and millions more live not much above that level. Unemployment is at 40%. The U.N. and Red Cross say nearly half of all Afghan children face the danger of hunger.
The majority of Afghans hold out little hope for their future according to a 2018 Gallup poll.
“Afghanistan is bordering a failed state status and is sure to enter the category immediately after the withdrawal of the foreign forces absent a better political arrangement,” said Torek Farhadi, a political analyst and former government adviser.

“That is the reality of Afghanistan.”

Posted For Fair Use
 

jward

passin' thru
Blinken Admits US Afghan Withdrawal Could Result in Taliban Takeover
Blinken Admits US Afghan Withdrawal Could Result in Taliban Takeover


Secretary of State Antony Blinken listens during a climate change virtual summit on April 22, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Brendan Smialowski /AFP via Getty Images)

By Brian Freeman | Wednesday, 28 April 2021 03:39 PM

An Afghan civil war or Taliban takeover is “certainly a possible scenario” when the United States withdraws all its soldiers from the country by September 11, Secretary of State Antony Blinken admitted to CNN.

He insisted, however, that the US is “not disengaging from Afghanistan” and will continue to be “deeply engaged” in backing the nation, adding that the Biden administration is “planning for every scenario” that could result from the move.
President Joe Biden announced earlier this month that the US would begin pulling out its remaining 2,500 troops by May 1, the date former President Donald Trump set as a full withdrawal, and conclude the action by September 11 - the 20-year anniversary of Al-Qaeda's terrorist attacks, after which then-President George W. Bush invaded the country in a bid to flush out 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden and other key Al Qaeda terrorists, according to the Daily Mail.
Biden's decision, however, appears to be against the advice of top Pentagon officials and some of the president's closest advisers, as well as being criticized by congressmen from both parties.

Blinken addressed these concerns, telling CNN that “neighbors and other countries in the region that have basically been free riders for the last 20 years, as we've been engaged there with our NATO allies and partners who are now going to have to decide, given their interests in a relatively stable Afghanistan, given the influence that they have, whether they're going to try to use that influence in a way that keeps things within the 40-yard line.”

Blinken stressed that "We're remaining deeply engaged in the diplomacy, in support for the Afghan government and its people, development, economic assistance humanitarian assistance, support for the security forces.”
He added that "We have trained over the years more than 300,000 of them so all to that remains and there are different actors are work now who I hope will keep moving this in a more positive than negative direction."

Blinken also insisted that the Biden administration is working to ensure Afghan locals who “put their lives on the line” working with US soldiers and diplomats over the last two decades can apply to be expedited to the United States if they are fearful for their lives after the withdrawal.
"We have had this program in Iraq and also in Afghanistan and we want to make sure that people who put their lives on the line, working with American folks in uniform, working with our diplomats who put, not just themselves in jeopardy, potentially their families as well, can get expedited consideration if they decide that they want to try to come to the United States," he said.






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Housecarl

On TB every waking moment
Blinken Admits US Afghan Withdrawal Could Result in Taliban Takeover
Blinken Admits US Afghan Withdrawal Could Result in Taliban Takeover


Secretary of State Antony Blinken listens during a climate change virtual summit on April 22, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Brendan Smialowski /AFP via Getty Images)

By Brian Freeman | Wednesday, 28 April 2021 03:39 PM

An Afghan civil war or Taliban takeover is “certainly a possible scenario” when the United States withdraws all its soldiers from the country by September 11, Secretary of State Antony Blinken admitted to CNN.

He insisted, however, that the US is “not disengaging from Afghanistan” and will continue to be “deeply engaged” in backing the nation, adding that the Biden administration is “planning for every scenario” that could result from the move.
President Joe Biden announced earlier this month that the US would begin pulling out its remaining 2,500 troops by May 1, the date former President Donald Trump set as a full withdrawal, and conclude the action by September 11 - the 20-year anniversary of Al-Qaeda's terrorist attacks, after which then-President George W. Bush invaded the country in a bid to flush out 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden and other key Al Qaeda terrorists, according to the Daily Mail.
Biden's decision, however, appears to be against the advice of top Pentagon officials and some of the president's closest advisers, as well as being criticized by congressmen from both parties.

Blinken addressed these concerns, telling CNN that “neighbors and other countries in the region that have basically been free riders for the last 20 years, as we've been engaged there with our NATO allies and partners who are now going to have to decide, given their interests in a relatively stable Afghanistan, given the influence that they have, whether they're going to try to use that influence in a way that keeps things within the 40-yard line.”

Blinken stressed that "We're remaining deeply engaged in the diplomacy, in support for the Afghan government and its people, development, economic assistance humanitarian assistance, support for the security forces.”
He added that "We have trained over the years more than 300,000 of them so all to that remains and there are different actors are work now who I hope will keep moving this in a more positive than negative direction."

Blinken also insisted that the Biden administration is working to ensure Afghan locals who “put their lives on the line” working with US soldiers and diplomats over the last two decades can apply to be expedited to the United States if they are fearful for their lives after the withdrawal.
"We have had this program in Iraq and also in Afghanistan and we want to make sure that people who put their lives on the line, working with American folks in uniform, working with our diplomats who put, not just themselves in jeopardy, potentially their families as well, can get expedited consideration if they decide that they want to try to come to the United States," he said.






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© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Posted for fair use
Man the FUBAR this is going to turn into is going to be EPIC if they're publicly saying this.....
 

jward

passin' thru
USFOR-A Spokesman Col Sonny Leggett
@USFOR_A



Kandahar Airfield received ineffective indirect fire this afternoon; no injury to personnel or damage to equipment. Gen Miller has been clear about the Coalition's intent to protect the force.
Kandahar Airfield received ineffective indirect fire this afternoon; no injury to personnel or damage to equipment. Gen Miller has been clear about the Coalition's intent to protect the force.
View: https://twitter.com/USFOR_A/status/1388474917495185410?s=20
 

Housecarl

On TB every waking moment
Posted for fair use......

Taliban Overrun Afghan Base, Capture Troops as US, NATO Forces Exit

By Ayaz Gul
Updated May 01, 2021 12:22 PM

ISLAMABAD - Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan attacked and overran a key army base in southeastern Ghazni province Saturday, capturing dozens of soldiers and killing several others.

The latest attack came on a day when the United States and NATO partners formally began withdrawing their militaries from the country after almost 20 years of war.

Two senior provincial council members told VOA the Afghan army had stationed dozens of its forces at the base outside the provincial capital, also named Ghazni, before the pre-dawn insurgent attack.

Local media reports said the ensuing clashes had lasted several hours and killed at least 17 soldiers.

Afghan army chief, Gen. Mohammad Yasin Zia, who is also the acting defense minister, confirmed to reporters in Kabul the fall of the security installation to insurgents, but he shared no further details.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said its fighters had also seized heavy and light weaponry besides capturing 25 army personnel and killing “a number of others.”

Separately, Afghan officials Saturday raised the death toll to at least 30 from an overnight truck bombing in Pul-e-Alam, the capital of eastern Logar province. The powerful blast late Friday injured more than 100 others. Almost all the victims were said to be Afghan civilians. The Taliban did not comment on the attack but Afghan authorities blamed the insurgents for plotting the carnage.
Security personnel and residents gather at the site of a car bomb attack in the Pul-e-Alam area of Logar province, Afghanistan, May 1, 2021.
Security personnel and residents gather at the site of a car bomb attack in the Pul-e-Alam area of Logar province, Afghanistan, May 1, 2021.
Critics fear the violence in Afghanistan will intensify unless the Taliban and the Afghan government resume their stalled peace talks and reach a power sharing deal before all foreign troops exit the country in the next few months.

The troops were to have departed Afghanistan by May 1 in line with an agreement Washington signed with the Taliban in February 2020 in exchange for a cessation of insurgent attacks on foreign forces and counterterrorism assurances.

However, U.S. President Joe Biden announced last month that the drawdown would start May 1 and conclude by September 11, the 20th anniversary of al-Qaida-plotted attacks on America. Biden cited logistical reasons for missing the deadline.

Taliban spokesman Mujahid said in a statement Saturday that the passing deadline meant “this violation in principle has opened the way for Taliban fighters to take every counteraction it deems appropriate against the occupying [foreign] forces.”

But Mujahid stressed in his statement that insurgent fighters were waiting on the decision of Taliban leadership “in light of the sovereignty, values and higher interests of the country, and will then take action accordingly.”

US base attacked

The U.S. military spokesman in Afghanistan Col. Sonny Leggett tweeted Saturday that the “Kandahar airfield received ineffective indirect fire this afternoon; no injury to personnel or damage to equipment.”

View: https://twitter.com/USFOR_A/status/1388474917495185410?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1388474917495185410%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.voanews.com%2Fsouth-central-asia%2Ftaliban-overrun-afghan-base-capture-troops-us-nato-forces-exit


“U.S. Forces conducted a precision strike this evening, destroying additional rockets aimed at the airfield,” Col. Sonny Leggett said in a subsequent tweet.

Gen. Scott Miller, the commander of U.S. and NATO militaries in the country, had warned last week that if his troops were attacked while carrying out the withdrawal they would respond to defend themselves.

“A return to violence would be one senseless and tragic. But make no mistake, we have the military means to respond forcefully to any type of attacks against the coalition and the military means to support the Afghan security forces,” Miller stressed.

The withdrawal of about 2,500 U.S. and 7,000 NATO troops from Afghanistan, once completed, would mark the end of what has been America’s longest war that cost Washington the lives of more than 2,400 military personnel and more than $2 trillion.

The nearly two decades-long Afghan war is estimated to have killed more than 241,000 people, including civilians, pro-government forces and opposition fighters, according to a new study by the U.S.-based Costs of War Project released last month.

RELATED STORIES
FILE - U.S. soldiers load onto a U.S. military plane as they leave Afghanistan, at the U.S. base in Bagram, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, July 14, 2011.

South & Central Asia
US Formally Begins Afghanistan Troop Pullout
Withdrawal of US, NATO troops to be completed by summer’s end after a nearly two decades-long engagement
VOA logo

By VOA News
Sat, 05/01/2021 - 11:15 AM
FILE PHOTO: A Chinook helicopter lands to pick up U.S. soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division following a night raid in Yahya…

South & Central Asia
US, NATO Troops Leaving Afghanistan as Fighting Escalates
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Jeff Seldin

By Jeff Seldin
Thu, 04/29/2021 - 08:35 PM
In this photograph taken on August 27, 2017 a US Marine watches Afghan Commandos take part in a combat training exercise at…

South & Central Asia
Potential Seen for Regional Power Plays as US Departs From Afghanistan
Despite hopes Afghanistan's neighbors will 'rise to the occasion,' US officials and analysts worry the fallout may not be pretty
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Thu, 04/29/2021 - 06:21 PM
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Guess Who's Testifying In Congress US Troops Must Stay In Afghanistan Forever?
Tyler Durden's Photo

BY TYLER DURDEN
SATURDAY, MAY 01, 2021 - 11:00 PM
When interventionists and national security deep state hawks need to prolong what's already the longest war in in US history, who're they gonna call?...

"Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee they're worried about President Biden's plan to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan, with Rice suggesting the US may need to go back," Axios reports.


The pair's "expert" testimony was given over Zoom and appears to have been kept relatively quiet, given it was a 'closed door' members only call, until Axios learned of it.

Rice of course infamously served as George Bush's National Security Advisor during the initial invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq, and crucially helped make the case for war to the American public, later serving as Bush's Secretary of State through 2009.

Having helped start two failed wars, both of which have long remained deeply unpopular among the American public, naturally Condi Rice as a pre-eminent neocon voice would be consulted as a "stay the course" point of view. It's also deeply revealing that there's no foreign policy space in terms of viewpoint whatsoever between Rice and Clinton - latter who pushed for the US-NATO invasion of Libya and planned covert regime change in Syria against Assad.

Little is known about precisely what Hillary testified, but it's not difficult to imagine. Here are a few key insights via Axios:
  • "Condi Rice is like, 'You know, we’re probably gonna have to go back,'" amid a potential surge in terrorism, the member said.
  • Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas), the top Republican on the committee, told Axios: "With the potential for an Islamic State, coupled with what they're going to do to our contractors in Yemen and Afghanistan is, sadly, it's going to be tragic there and we all see it coming."
  • Another member of the committee confirmed both Clinton and Rice raised concerns about the potential fallout from a quick removal of all U.S. troops.
  • Both also expressed concerns about protecting U.S. diplomats on the ground following the withdrawal and what the move will mean for the global war on terrorism.
One unnamed committee member told Axios further that "they both agreed we're going to need to sustain a counterterrorism mission somehow outside of that country."


Well of course!...there always needs to be a war going on somehow and somewhere - otherwise how would these warmongering ladies sleep at night?
 

Housecarl

On TB every waking moment
Hummm......

Posted for fair use.....

Milley: U.S. remaining involved in Afghanistan
TAYLOR MILLARD May 02, 2021 8:01 PM ET

The United States military will remain involved in Afghanistan despite the planned withdrawal from the country. Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Mark Milley told the Associated Press the plan is still to get all troops out but promised to still help the Afghan government.



After the withdrawal is over, the United States will provide unspecified “capabilities” to the Afghan military from other locations, Milley said. He did not elaborate on this, but other officials have said those “over-the-horizon” arrangements for supporting the Afghan military have yet to be solidified.
This may calm some of the worries from Afghanistan Analysts Network that the withdrawal puts the Afghani government at a disadvantage because they won’t have international support to get things done. It’s also worth noting U.S.-based military contractors are still advertising work in Afghanistan. Meaning even with the withdrawal a U.S. presence will still be in Afghanistan.

Milley is confident the U.S. will have all troops out by September 11th although he noted there was no point in putting a timeline together. Which makes sense given how fluid the situation involving Afghanistan remains 20 years after the U.S. first invaded after September 11, 2001. The Taliban may have been steamrolled to start the war, but it quickly bogged down into a long slog as time went on and the U.S. became involved in Iraq.

It appears the United States is planning for all sorts of possibilities regarding Afghanistan’s future with Milley noting it depends if the Afghani military stays united or falls into factions.


“I think there’s a range of scenarios here, a range of outcomes, a range of possibilities,” he said to the Associated Press and CNN on a plane back to Washington, DC. “On the one hand you get some really dramatic, bad possible outcomes. On the other hand, you get a military that stays together and a government that stays together…We frankly don’t know yet. We have to wait and see how things develop over the summer.”

The question of whether the government stays together is extremely important, particularly if there are still harsh feelings between U.S.-backed president Asraf Ghani and High Council for Reconciliation Chairman Abdullah Abdullah over the 2019 election. Both were able to reach a power-sharing agreement last year, however, it’s not known if they’ll stay united once the U.S. gets its troops out. Abdullah seems hopeful in a resolution and told the AP the U.S and NATO withdrawal means everyone needs to start working together for peaceful solutions.

Messages go back and forth between a variety of Taliban to senior negotiators, including himself, said Abdullah. He noted that he has received countless messages from Taliban officials, some written, some as voice messages. Sometimes they are detailed, and other times terse and brief. But he said he has yet to see a commitment to peace from the insurgent group on which he can rely.
Abdullah said his response to the Taliban has been consistent: “Put everything that you want on the negotiating table. We are ready to discuss it. We are ready to find ways that it works for both sides.”
He said the withdrawal adds pressure on both sides to find a peace deal.
The Taliban cannot win militarily, he said, and even regional powers — including Pakistan with its influence over the insurgent group — have steadfastly rejected a military takeover in Afghanistan. Taliban leaders are headquartered in Pakistani cities.
This partially goes against commentary from AAN which believes the Taliban will become more emboldened. AAN’s Kate Clark agrees a Taliban military victory is unlikely but still believes they’ll try causing more of the populace to suffer until some sort of solution is reached. It’s an understandable belief from Clark especially after a weekend bombing in Pul-e-Alam. The Taliban has been blamed for it by the government but hasn’t taken responsibility. The Taliban did issue a warning on May 1st about the U.S. not adhering to its original troop withdrawal agreement and is believed to have been involved in an attack on an airfield in Kandahar.

There’s no doubt the U.S. needs to remove itself from Afghanistan and, unfortunately, didn’t adhere to the original deadline, although it’s not surprising given the fluidity of Afghanistan’s political situation. Milley’s comments on the U.S. maintaining an outside presence in the region make sense as it behooves all parties in the country to play nice. The only concern is what happens if the Afghani government fractures again. Will the U.S. decide to go back into Afghanistan or try diplomatic means first to calm things down before further violence breaks out? That remains to be seen.
 

Housecarl

On TB every waking moment
November Sierra Batman.........

Posted for fair use.....

May 3, 2021

‘Al-Qaeda not completely uprooted in Afghanistan’

KABUL: The Afghan government says that the roots of the al-Qaeda network are still alive in Afghanistan and the group still poses a threat to the country and the world and is collaborating with the Taliban.

But the Taliban has rejected any type of relations with al-Qaeda. The US presence in Afghanistan over the last 20 years was due to the existence of al-Qaeda. US President Joe Biden last month said the US has achieved its objectives in the Afghanistan war.

“Right now, al-Qaeda and Talib are not two different ideologic topics; they are beyond that as they have intermarried within their families,” NDS chief Ahmad Zia Saraj said last week. “Al-Qaeda was not owned by bin Laden,” said Atiqullah Amarkhil, a former military officer. “Al-Qaeda is still active in Afghanistan.”
 

Housecarl

On TB every waking moment
Hummm.....

Posted for fair use.....

'US withdrawal from Afghanistan could lead to designating Pak as terror sponsor': American scholar
In an opinion piece in National Interest, Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), said Pakistanis often complain that the US is a fair-weather friend and such criticisms are correct as Islamabad has long been America's second choice.
ANI | , Washington
PUBLISHED ON MAY 02, 2021 10:11 PM IST

Following the Inited States' decision to drawdown troops from Afghanistan, Washington will soon no longer need Islamabad, which could lead to efforts within US Congress to help designate Pakistan a state sponsor of terror, said US-based scholar Michael Rubin.

In an opinion piece in National Interest, Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), said Pakistanis often complain that the US is a fair-weather friend and such criticisms are correct as Islamabad has long been America's second choice.

"The United States embraces Pakistan and demands solidarity when Washington needs Islamabad but turns on a dime to punish Pakistan when the US no longer needs it," he wrote.

US President Joe Biden announced last month the decision to withdraw troops from the country starting on that May 1 deadline, with the aim of completely withdrawing from Afghanistan by September 11, which would mark the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that sparked the war in Afghanistan, the longest conflict in American history.

On Thursday, White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that the US has begun pulling out its forces from Afghanistan.

"Last week, the Secretary of Defense approved the request from US Central Command for the temporary deployment of additional military assets into the Centcom AOR [area of responsibility] in order to support a safe and deliberate withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan."

Pakistan, which has been accused of harbouring insurgent sanctuaries, is credited with arranging the US-Taliban talks that culminated in the signing of the agreement on February 29, 2020.

Pakistan has lately stepped up diplomatic efforts to help in advancing the stalled intra-Afghan peace dialogue.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the American chief peace negotiator, told lawmakers in Washington on Tuesday that the US administration had urged Pakistani leaders to exercise their "considerable leverage" over the Taliban to reduce violence and support a negotiated settlement to the conflict.

"Pakistan has a special responsibility given its influence over the Taliban, so we appreciate what Pakistan has done so far," Khalilzad told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"But we are not there yet, and of course we look forward to working with them to get to a peace agreement between the Taliban and the Afghan government in the coming weeks and months," the US envoy said.

With Biden embracing Trump's policy of unilateral withdrawal, the US will soon no longer need Pakistan, said Rubin.

"Neither the White House nor Congress will be inclined to sweep irritants in bilateral relations--primarily, the sponsorship of terror by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence--under the rug. This could lead rather quickly to efforts within Congress to pressure the State Department to designate Pakistan a state sponsor of terror," he said.

"Diplomats and the State Department's internal Pakistan lobby may dismiss such a notion, but a combination of Pakistani triumphalism amidst the backdrop of US withdrawal and any subsequent Taliban atrocities will ignite public opinion and lead American politicians to take symbolic action. Pakistan should be prepared to join a club putting them alongside Iran, Syria, and North Korea," he added.
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Taliban Declares Open Season On Americans As Weekend Fighting Erupts, Scores Dead & Wounded
Tyler Durden's Photo

BY TYLER DURDEN
MONDAY, MAY 03, 2021 - 11:50 AM
Fierce fighting between US-allied national Afghan forces and the Taliban broke out Saturday into Sunday, the day after the May 1st American pullout deadline set under the Trump administration. It included the Taliban immediately attacking a government base in southwestern Ghazni province.

Afghanistan's defense ministry counted over 100 Taliban insurgents killed over the prior 24 hours in a statement on Sunday, at a moment the US is said to have started the process of withdrawal. The statement counted a further 52 Taliban wounded. Separately an attack on the Ghazni military outpost left at least 17 national soldiers dead and some 25 captured, according to international reports.
Camp Antonik handover ceremony, via Afghan Ministry of Defense

And elsewhere in the country "Afghan officials Saturday raised the death toll to at least 30 from an overnight truck bombing in Pul-e-Alam, the capital of eastern Logar province," VOA News reports. Over 100 more were injured, with all or most of the victims being civilians.
Amid the flare-up in fighting the US military said it launched a "precision strike" against Taliban positions in the restive insurgent hotbed of Kandahar.

Meanwhile as expected the Taliban has now declared 'open season' on all remaining American troops following President Biden's new Sept.11 full withdrawal deadline. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid issued the following statement: "As withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan by agreed upon May 1st deadline has passed, this violation in principle has opened the way for [Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan] Mujahidin to take every counteraction it deems appropriate against the occupying forces."

"The Mujahidin of IEA will now await what decision the leadership of Islamic Emirate takes in light of the sovereignty, values and higher interests of the country, and will then take action accordingly, Allah willing."

Zabihullah (..ذبـــــیح الله م )
@Zabehulah_M33

#Clarification As withdrawal of foreign forces from #Afghanistan by agreed upon May 1st deadline has passed, this violation in principle has opened the way for IEA Mujahidin to take every counteraction it deems appropriate against the occupying forces.



But US troops do appear to be drawing down in earnest, while also beefing up security to protect withdrawing forces during the dismantling process. For example on Sunday US forces handed over a Helmand camp to national forces. Senior officers representing both sides attended a handover ceremony on Sunday morning at Camp Antonik as fighting raged elsewhere in the country. The base is home to Afghan Special Forces.

"The Afghan military will intensify anti-terrorism operations and will target strongholds of the terrorists in any area of the southwest of the country (from this base)," a statement said.

Likely this is only the beginning, as indicators suggest Monday...

Thomas Gibbons-Neff
@Tmgneff

Head of provincial council in Helmand warns that Lashkar Gah is under threat of collapse. In two days 18 outposts have fallen in neighboring Nawa district and around the Lash-Kandahar road, he said. From @Taimoornyt
8:26 AM · May 3, 2021
 

jward

passin' thru
Russia, Central Asian States Worry About Instability in Afghanistan
By Umida Hashimova for The Diplomat

5-6 minutes


Crossroads Asia | Security | Central Asia | South Asia
Military officials in Russia and Central Asia agree to unite efforts as they prepare for a worsening of the situation in Afghanistan.

Russia, Central Asian States Worry About Instability in Afghanistan

Credit: Pixabay
The news of a full U.S. withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan by September reinvigorated Russia’s military attention to the Central Asian region. Russia maintains multifaceted military relations with the countries of the region, including under the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a military alliance that includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan but not Uzbekistan or Turkmenistan. The recent events motivated the Russian Defense Ministry to make extra arrangements, and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu traveled to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to sign additional agreements to ensure its involvement should instability in Afghanistan envelope the region.

On April 27, in Tajikistan, Shoigu and his Tajik counterpart Sherali Mirzo signed an agreement to establish joint air defense systems that clearly will be directed at a potential threat from Afghanistan.
The same day, Shoigu made a separate trip to Uzbekistan to meet with his counterpart Defense Minister Bahodir Qurbonov to discuss regional security matters and the fight against international terrorism. Following the meeting, it was announced that the ministries of both countries had prepared a Strategic Partnership Program for 2021-2025, the first of its kind. The contents of the document are unknown, but given that Uzbekistan is not a member of CSTO, Moscow most likely has clauses that will smooth its involvement, albeit limited, if the military situation at the Afghanistan border escalates. Any agreement would be limited because according to its 2018 military doctrine, Uzbekistan will not enter into military alliances nor allow foreign military bases in its territory.

While Central Asian countries had begun to embrace Afghanistan as a regional economic partner, including involvement in significant infrastructure projects with Kabul, it seems their defense officials are aligned with Russia’s security concerns in the region. It is clear now that the statement made by the head of the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, in September 2020 promising not to attack any of its Central Asian neighbors, is of little real value as reassurance.
While the rhetoric of Central Asian countries increasingly focuses on peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan, Russia’s concerns about the situation and the possible threat to regional stability have also increased. The Russian Defense Ministry regularly brings up the precarious situation on the border between Central Asia and Afghanistan and uses it as a reason for continued cooperation and military exercises with the countries of the region.

For example, Russia’s latest military exercise with Tajikistan concluded on April 23 and was built around the scenario of a joint reaction to a situation on the border with Afghanistan. At the latest military exercise between Russia and Uzbekistan, which took place in December 2020, Russia framed the exercise as a necessary activity given international terrorism posing a serious threat to the region.

Shoigu summarized his concerns about Afghanistan in an interview he recently gave to a Kazakh publication. He doubted the stability of Afghanistan due to the presence of terrorist forces and drug trafficking. He stated that terrorists from other countries, including Islamic State fighters, had been moving through and finding safe haven in Afghanistan and that the production and trafficking of illicit drugs in the country would continue causing instability.

Shoigu’s visits and consequent agreements signed with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan indicate Russia’s concern and lack of trust in the ability of Central Asian states to defend and withstand possible attacks on their borders. Nevertheless, it is unclear how much Central Asian defense establishments trust their own ability to independently assume the responsibilities to protect their borders with Afghanistan. Russia’s assistance would likely be welcomed if there is an escalation at the border with Afghanistan. These arrangements by military officials contrast with optimistic political rhetoric and economic projects that the Central Asian countries have been building on for the past few years.

Posted for fair use
 

Housecarl

On TB every waking moment
Hummm.....

Posted for fair use......

Commentary
Why Afghanistan is critical to the struggle against China, Russia and Iran
Rep. Michael Waltz
6 hours ago
A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft taxis to its parking spot Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Sept. 25, 2012. (Capt. Raymond Geoffroy/Air Force)

Last month, President Biden shocked the world by announcing all U.S. forces will withdraw from Afghanistan by Sept. 11 this year.

As a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, I found this news heartbreaking knowing the American bloodshed that had been spilled in combating terrorism and for the millions who are likely to return to life under Taliban rule.

Set aside for a moment that most observers correctly point out an Afghanistan withdrawal will set the stage for similar events that unfolded following then-President Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 that provided a path for the Islamic State Group to launch its reign of terror across the Middle East, Europe, and inspire attacks in America.

What gives me even more concern is the strategic foothold we are giving up in the back yard of America’s greatest rivals.

By abandoning Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, we will no longer have a U.S. airfield in a country that borders China. Many analysts believe that should the United States and China come to blows in the Pacific, a second front will be critical given China’s ability to concentrate its naval and missile assets around Taiwan. Further, the thing the Chinese Communist Party fears the most is an uprising amongst its own people.

As China continues to unleash a genocide on the minority Muslim Uighur population in the western Xijiang region, they fear American intelligence resources supporting their persecuted population from Afghanistan in resisting the oppression from Beijing.

Reagan-era CIA Director Bob Casey famously launched a whisper campaign that convinced the Soviet leadership in Moscow that American intelligence agencies had assets based in Afghanistan supporting dissidents and underground cells of separatists in the Caucuses. This campaign caused the Soviet military to divert divisions away from Eastern Europe to the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Unexplainably, in addition to giving up the only air base in the world located in a country that physically borders China and Russia’s southern border, the Biden administration will also give up a key strategic foothold along Iran’s eastern flank, and along the nuclear-equipped and unstable Pakistan.

Similar to the idea of having an option of a second front in case of hostilities for China, the U.S. air base at Bagram is also a platform that should be maintained in case of hostilities with Iran to maintain options outside of our carriers and Gulf bases, that in most wargames are flooded with Iranian missiles.

Finally, Pakistan’s stability is crucial in ensuring its nuclear weapons stockpile doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. With Pakistan’s population of 215 million compared with Afghanistan’s population of 30 million, the possibility of a failed state has exponentially more dire consequences. Should these terrorists network regain a strong presence in Afghanistan — which they likely will under an emboldened Taliban regime — they will refocus their efforts to achieve their long stated goal of obtaining a nuclear weapon.

In addition to the geo-political aspects of giving up our only base in the region, Afghanistan also sits on a trove of critical minerals — experts estimate up to $1 trillion worth of minerals are buried beneath its ground. Critical minerals such as lithium cobalt and copper will power the economies of the future and stand ready for American companies to extract and process. For the U.S. to take a leap in expanding its footprint in renewable energy, we have to end our reliance on China’s near monopoly on the supply chain.

Once we withdraw, we give up those resources and take a step backwards in America’s pursuit of renewable energy independence.

In his recent address to Congress, President Biden declared the U.S. will “maintain over the horizon the capacity to suppress future threats to the homeland.” But that won’t be so easy.

Bagram Airfield remains our sole strategic key terrain in the backyards of three of our four global competitors — China, Russia, and Iran — and we have no other options in the region.

The governments in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan have shown little willingness to host American bases and the Gulf states are problematic as our aircraft have to fly over Iran or Pakistan.

We will be effectively blind in our abilities to fight back, should terrorists based in Afghanistan successfully launch another attack on our homeland.

Like the Obama administration, President Biden is dealing with the world as it wishes it to be rather than accepting the tough reality of what it is.

The United States cannot give up this key terrain that we have spent so much blood and treasure to fight for and may cost us far more lives if we have to fight without it in the future.

Michael Waltz represents Florida’s 6th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is a member of the Armed Services Committee, a Green Beret veteran of the war in Afghanistan, a former White House counterterrorism policy adviser, and a defense policy director for secretaries of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates.

Editor’s note: This is an op-ed and as such, the opinions expressed are those of the author. If you would like to respond, or have an editorial of your own you would like to submit, please contact Military Times managing editor Howard Altman,
haltman@militarytimes.com.
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Germany scraps deportation flight to Afghanistan
Berlin says it is delaying a Tuesday deportation flight to Afghanistan over "logistical" issues. Human rights groups have been calling for them to be ditched permanently.



Police officers accompany an Afghanm man up plane steps

The German government has canceled a planned deportation flight to return migrants to Afghanistan, senior officials said on Monday.

A spokeswoman for Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said the "return measure" had been postponed due to "logistical" problems.

International troops officially began withdrawing from Afghanistan on May 1.

Is Germany canceling all deportations to Afghanistan?
Refugee advocate groups have called for the cancelation of all future flights. They said that the deportations had been axed owing to the deteriorating security situation in the country, which was invaded by a US-led NATO alliance in 2001.

Officials quoted by the AFP news agency said that the federal government was concerned about the safety of the police officers accompanying the potential returnees.

The need for increased security measures in Kabul made flights impossible between May 1 and May 6.

Officials told the dpa news agency that Germany would not scrap its policy of allowing deportations to Afghanistan.

What is Germany doing in Afghanistan?
German troops are deployed to the country as part of NATO's Resolute Support mission to train the Afghan National Defense forces.
An Afghan boy with an UNICEF schoolbag rides his bicycle past German Soldiers as patrol the area near the DHQ (Char Dara District Police Headquarter) in the province of Kunduz on March 29, 2012
There are concerns that the NATO pullout could boost the Taliban.

Last month, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said Berlin would do all it can to help local Afghans who had assisted Germany's military during the campaign.

A procedure for admitting local Afghan staff who need refuge already exists, although there are a number of disputed cases.

According to the Defense Ministry, 781 people have been approved for residency in Germany since 2013.

German officials are trying to streamline the process to make easier for those Afghans to seek a new life in Germany.

What happened after 9/11?
Shortly after the September 11 terror attacks in 2001, then-US President George W. Bush announced the White House's military response, targeting Islamic fundamentalist groups such as the Taliban.

It was in 2014 when the Obama administration first announced plans to end the US's combat role in the conflict.

President Joe Biden, though, is determined to end what he called "the forever war," and announced last month that the withdrawal of the remaining American forces would be complete by the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
Members of the US-backed alliance agreed this month to wrap up their 9,600-strong mission in Afghanistan.

The decision — which delayed by several months a deadline agreed by former US President Donald Trump — came despite fears it could allow the Taliban to regain power in the country.
jf/rt (AFP, dpa, Reuters)
 

jward

passin' thru
:hmm: This due to things being that much worse, that much more quickly than they planned for...or ... :: shrug ::

U.S. Air Force sent more B-52H bombers to support withdraw troops from Afghanistan

NewsAviationPhoto
By Dylan Malyasov

May 5, 2021
Modified date: 7 seconds ago
Photo by Staff Sgt. Greg Erwin
The U.S. Air Force has confirmed that it deployed two additional B-52H Stratofortress strategic bombers to Qatar to protect the orderly and responsible withdrawal of U.S. and coalition forces from Afghanistan.
According to a recent service news release, two additional B-52H Stratofortress aircraft assigned to the 5th Bomb Wing, Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, arrived May 4, 2021, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.
A pair of B-52H Stratofortress, joining the four B-52 aircraft that arrived in late April, is deployed to the U. S. Central Command region to protect U.S. and coalition forces as they conduct drawdown operations from Afghanistan.

As BBC previously reported, the U.S. has started formally withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, beginning the end of what President Joe Biden called “the forever war”.
The US and Nato have had a presence in Afghanistan for almost 20 years.
But the withdrawal, which runs until 11 September, comes amid escalating violence, with Afghan security forces on high alert for reprisal attacks.
Photo by Staff Sgt. Greg Erwin
U.S. Air Force sent more B-52H bombers to support withdraw troops from Afghanistan
 

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passin' thru
Taliban captures district in northern Afghanistan; attacks increasing as US pulls out
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Issued on: 05/05/2021 - 14:22


The US formally begins withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan on Saturday

The US formally begins withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan on Saturday Wakil KOHSAR AFP/File

Taliban insurgents captured a district in northern Afghanistan, forcing government troops to retreat to the provincial capital amid a recent surge in violence, officials said on Wednesday.


Fighting has escalated sharply in recent weeks, with Afghan officials saying the Taliban have stepped up their attacks since Washington announced plans last month to pull out all U.S. troops by Sept. 11.
The militants seized the district of Barka in the northern province of Baghlan after hours of fighting with Afghan forces, who retreated to the main city, said Jawed Basharat, a spokesman for the provincial police.

The Taliban suffered heavy losses in the fighting, he added, but a senior security official who sought anonymity said at least 10 security forces were killed and 16 others captured by the Taliban.
The district fell a day after Afghan security forces fought back a major Taliban offensive in the southern province of Helmand.
The Afghan government says it has recorded more than 100 Taliban attacks on security forces and other government installations in 26 of the 34 provinces over the last 24 hours.
The Taliban overran a small outpost on a highway in Baghlan, killing nine Afghan soldiers and wounding several, regional officials said on Tuesday.

Kabul police spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz said one person was killed and three wounded when a roadside bomb hit a vehicle belonging to a health official outside the city.
Another roadside bomb killed a district police commander in the southeastern province of Paktika on Tuesday, officials said.
Although the United States missed a May 1 withdrawal deadline agreed in talks with the Taliban last year, its pull-out has begun.

Critics of President Joe Biden's decision to withdraw say the Islamist militants will try to sweep back into power.
The hardline Islamist group now holds sway over more territory than at any point since its ouster by U.S.-led troops after the attacks of Sept. 11 on the United States in 2001.

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