Thursday, August 17, 2017

UN rights experts warn new EU policy on boat rescues will cause more people to drown

17 August 2017 – The European Union's new policy on Mediterranean Sea rescues threatens life and breaches international standards, two United Nations independent human experts today cautioned.

“The EU's proposed new action plan, including a code of conduct for organizations operating rescue boats, threatens life and breaches international standards by condemning people to face further human rights violations in Libya,” said the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Felipe González Morales, and the Special Rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer.

“The solution is not to restrict access to international waters or firing weapons to threaten boats, as Libya has reportedly done repeatedly. This will result in more deaths of migrants at sea and is in contravention of the obligation to rescue people in distress,” the experts added.

The code – drawn up by Italy with support from the European Commission – aims to stop privately-operated ships ferrying refugees to safety in Italy from waters off the Libyan coast.

It is part of a new plan to support Italy and reduce the pressure of migrant arrivals.

Earlier this week, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard, also had harsh words for the proposed change, saying the code of conduct and the overall plan “suggest that Italy, the European Commission and EU Member States deem the risks and reality of deaths at sea a price worth paying in order to deter migrants and refugees.” -  Read More

UN rights experts warn new EU policy on boat rescues will cause more people to drown

Opinions: A new, winning strategy for Trump in Afghanistan - washingtonpost

Stephen J. Hadley was national security adviser to President George W. Bush.

After 16 years of sacrifice in Afghanistan, President Trump is right to ask why we are there and what does it take to win.

The United States has vital national interests in Afghanistan. Since 9/11, preventing another terrorist attack on the U.S. homeland has remained our key objective. While the cost in lives and treasure has been too high, this objective has largely been achieved. But it has required a sustained U.S. troop presence, the active participation of our NATO allies and a close partnership with the Afghan government.

If the Trump administration now opts to draw down U.S. military forces, the NATO allies would go home and the Afghan state would likely collapse. The result would be a victory for the terrorists. It would undo the Trump administration’s recent success against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, and provide the Islamic State a haven in Afghanistan from which to foment attacks on the United States.

Instead, the Trump administration can deliver another major blow against terrorism. The Islamic State and al-Qaeda seek to expand their presence in Afghanistan, but virtually none of the Afghan groups — including the Taliban — support them. They can be defeated in Afghanistan just as they are being pushed out of Iraq and Syria. This natural extension of the Iraq/Syria campaign would help consolidate the victory against the Islamic State. But it will require U.S. counterterrorism forces to continue operating alongside Afghan security forces.

The challenge will then be to preserve the victory and help the Afghan people stabilize their country so that the Islamic State and al-Qaeda do not return. This can be done with a political/diplomatic strategy that seeks an inclusive settlement among all Afghan political factions while creating a more legitimate, popularly supported government that addresses the conflict’s root causes.

There has been some progress. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is committed to reform. The Afghan defense forces are bravely fighting at tremendous cost. But the Afghan government must boost its legitimacy by broadening its base of popular support, fighting corruption and ensuring credible presidential elections in 2019. Continued U.S. support must be conditioned on these steps.

The big question is what to do about the Taliban. The answer: Test its interest in peace.

Defeating terrorist groups that threaten the United States does not include or require defeating the Taliban. The United States and NATO must make clear that they will fully support an Afghan-led political settlement involving all sectors of Afghan society — including the Taliban

To give the Afghan government, military forces and society the confidence to enter into such a process, the Trump administration should authorize the modest increase in U.S. and NATO troop levels  recommended by the local U.S. commander. The Afghan government can then credibly tell the Taliban that it will pay a heavy price for continuing to fight, but is welcome to participate in a political settlement.

This new strategy will require U.S. leadership in two additional respects. - Read More

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

How Eclipses Changed History

Newton and Einstein had big ideas, but needed an eclipse to prove them. And scientists are still pursuing secrets of the universe one eclipse at a time. - More

How Eclipses Changed History

Trump to tackle Afghanistan strategy at Camp David | TheHill

President Trump is headed to Camp David on Friday, where he will meet with his national security team to discuss the strategy on the war in Afghanistan, the White House announced Wednesday.

Vice President Pence, who was in South America as of Wednesday, will cut his trip short so he can join Trump at Camp David.

Pence had originally been scheduled to return to the United States Friday afternoon but will leave South America late Thursday instead.

The administration is working to develop a new strategy for the 16-year war in Afghanistan, the nation’s longest conflict. The strategy is expected to include how the United States will address the neighboring country of Pakistan, and whether 3,000 to 5,000 additional troops are needed to combat the Taliban, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and al Qaeda in the region.

About 8,400 U.S. troops are currently in Afghanistan.
Defense Secretary James Mattis on Monday told reporters at the Pentagon that the president is “very close” to making a decision on the strategy.
“We’re sharpening each one of the options so you can see the pluses and minuses of each one so that there’s no longer any new data you’re going to get. Now [he can] just make the decision,” Mattis said.

When asked whether the options included a plan to use contracted security forces in place of sending more troops, Mattis confirmed that it’s “part of the options being considered.”

“The president is open to the advice of the secretary of State and myself and the director of the CIA,” Mattis added.

Blackwater Worldwide founder Erik Prince — the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos — and DynCorp owner Stephen Feinberg last month offered proposals to White House officials to use contractors instead of U.S. military forces in Afghanistan. - More

Trump to tackle Afghanistan strategy at Camp David | TheHill

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A 6,000-year-old Vimana found by 8 US Soldiers Disappeared in Afghanistan Cave?

According to several reports, in 2012 8 soldiers allegedly participated in a top-secret mission in the desert of Afghanistan. Inside a cave, a Vimana or at least parts of the vimana were found. - More

A 6,000-year-old Vimana found by 8 US Soldiers Disappeared in ...

President Donald Trump Speech on Infrastructure Executive Order & Charlottesville 8/15/17

President Donald Trump Speech on Infrastructure Executive Order & Charlottesville 8/15/17 - More

Afghan Taliban warns Trump against sending in more troops

KABUL (Reuters) - The Taliban told U.S. President Donald Trump in an open letter on Tuesday that the military situation in Afghanistan was "far worse than you realize", and sending in more troops would be self-destructive.

A senior Taliban official told Reuters the rare decision to address Trump directly was timed to coincide with the president's deliberations on the future of U.S. policy in Afghanistan.

"Previous experiences have shown that sending more troops to Afghanistan will not result in anything other than further destruction of American military and economical might," the Taliban said in the lengthy English-language letter.

It criticized the Afghan government as "stooges", "lying, corrupt leaders" and "repulsive sellouts" who were providing Washington with "rosy pictures" of the military position.

The Taliban, seeking to restore Islamic rule, has waged an increasingly violent insurgency against the Western-backed Afghan government since losing power in a U.S.-led invasion after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001. Those attacks were planned by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden from a base in Afghanistan.

"The war situation in Afghanistan is far worse than you realize!" the letter said, arguing that the only thing preventing the Taliban from seizing major cities was a fear of causing civilian casualties.

The senior U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, has requested several thousand additional troops to act as advisers to the struggling Afghan security forces. Influential voices including Republican Senator John McCain have also urged an "enduring" U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. - More, Reuters

Afghan Taliban warns Trump against sending in more troops

ملل متحد: ۱۹۳ هزار افغان در سال جاری آواره شده‌اند

اداره هماهنگی کمک‌های بشری سازمان ملل متحد برای افغانستان (اوچا) در گزارش جدیدش گفته است که از ماه جنوری تا جولای سال جاری میلادی ۱۹۳ هزار تن در نتیجه جنگ آواره شده‌اند.
این گزارش نشان  می‌دهد که تنها در یک هفته گذشته ۱۰۰۰۰ نفر از خانه‌های شان آواره شده‌اند. براساس این گزارش بیجاشدگی و فرار از جنگ در ۱۷۴ ولسوالی افغانستان اتفاق افتاده است.

دفتر هماهنگی کمک‌های بشری ملل متحد در کابل در پاسخ به ایمیل خبرنگار دویچه وله گفته است که کندز بیشترین آواره را در بین ولایات افغانستان دارد چنانچه بیش از ۲۵ هزار نفر از این ولایت آواره شده‌اند. ولایت ننگرهار در شرق افغانستان در رده دوم قرار دارد و بیش از ۲۵۳۰۰ نفر از این ولایت در سال جاری آواره‌شده‌اند. همچنین ولایت بغلان بیش از ۱۶ هزار آواره دارد.

در همین حال وزارت امور مهاجرین و عودت کنندگان می‌گوید حدود ۱۸۰ هزار تن در سال جاری خورشیدی از خانه‌های شان بیجا شده‌اند. حفیظ الله میاخیل سخنگوی وزارت مهاجرین به دویچه وله گفت علاوه بر کمک به بیجا شدگان، این وزارت تلاش دارد تا آواره‌های جنگ دوباره به خانه‌های شان برگردند: «وزارت مهاجرین و موسسات کمک کننده برسر ادغام مجدد بیجا شدگان کار می‌کند تا در مناطق اصلی شان زمینه زندگی آن‌ها فراهم شود.»

براساس گزارش ملل متحد، تنها از ولسوالی نجراب کاپیسا در نزدیکی کابل ۲۹۰۰ تن به دلیل جنگ مجبور شده‌اند از خانه‌های شان فرار کنند و به مناطق‌امن‌تر بروند. هفته گذشته بیش از ۲۰۰ تن از ولسوالی دوشی ولایت بغلان مجبور به فرار شده‌اند. براساس این گزارش ۱۱۵۰۰ نفر  به ولایات مرکزی افغانستان به شمول کابل و ولایات اطراف آن‌بیجا شده‌اند.

گزارش نشان می‌دهد که ۳۲۰۰ نفر اخیرا از قریه میرزاولنگ ولسوالی صیاد ولایت سرپل به دلیل ترس از جنگ و کشتار فرار کرده و به مرکز ولایت سرپل پناه برده‌اند. براساس این گزارش ۷۳۰۰ تن از ولایت بغلان، ۴۲۰۰ تن از ولایت جوزجان و ۵۰۰۰ تن از ولایت کندز بیجا شده‌اند. - More

ملل متحد: ۱۹۳ هزار افغان در سال جاری آواره شده‌اند | آلمان و جهان

کمیسیون حقوق بشر: کودکان افغان با انواع خشونت روبرو اند | افغانستان ...

Monday, August 14, 2017

India's partition and 70 years of proxy jihad - DW

The use of proxy jihadis in the Indian sub-continent is as old as India and Pakistan's independence from British rule. 70 years after partition, the jihadist network has become so huge that it threatens both states.

In a recent interview with DW, Pakistani politician Imran Khan argued that the US intervention in Afghanistan is the main reason behind the rise of jihadi phenomenon in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Khan is only partly correct. The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Pakistani military's spy group, the ISI, collaborated closely in Afghanistan to defeat Soviet forces in the 1980s. Washington and Islamabad invested heavily in Afghan mujahideen (Afghan "holy warriors") and provided them militaristic and logistic support to fight the Moscow-backed government in Kabul. From the point of view of the US and Pakistan, it was a successful campaign. The mujahideen forced Soviet troops to retreat and were able to take control of the Afghan capital, Kabul. But what Khan and many others, who associate Afghan jihad with the Cold War's US-Soviet rivalry, gloss over is the fact that Pakistan's support for jihadis began as early as the country's independence in 1947. Analysts say it spiked in the 1950s and peaked in the late 1970s and the early 1980s. - Read More

India′s partition and 70 years of proxy jihad | Asia | DW | 14.08.2017

Opinion: The anniversary of hatred | Opinion | DW | 14.08.2017

German parliament passes tighter asylum laws

German lawmakers have passed a series of laws concerning the deportation, monitoring and access to personal data of asylum seekers. The new legislation has been met with sharp criticism.

German authorities will be allowed to deport rejected asylum seekers more quickly and regularly under a series of new asylum laws passed on Thursday.

The Bundestag said the new laws would guarantee "the improved enforcement of deportation rulings." Rejected asylum seekers deemed to be a security threat will be deported faster or monitored with an electronic ankle bracelet.

Deportation orders against rejected asylum seekers can now be imposed even without assurance that the person in question would be repatriated within three months. A migrant could therefore be issued a deportation order even if the country origin fails to provide the necessary documentation or passport papers. This law was among the key new regulations for the German government, after the Berlin Christmas market attacker, Anis Amri, saw his deportation order waived when the Tunisian government couldn't provide the necessary papers.

Authorities, meanwhile, will also be allowed to detain individuals suspected to be a threat to security for a maximum of 10 days, rather than the previous limit of four days.

Another new piece of legislation allows Germany's Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) to access asylum seekers' personal electronic devices in order to verify the identities of those without official identification papers.

Any migrant found to have given a false identity upon entering Germany will see their freedom of movement strictly limited. The same penalty would also apply to migrants without the right to remain in Germany, but who nevertheless refuse to leave on their own volition.

German authorities would also instruct asylum seekers deemed to have few prospects in the country to remain in reception centers until their asylum procedures have been completed.

Germany's federal and 16 state governments had already agreed to the new asylum laws back in February. However, on Wednesday the ruling coalition government, made up of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD), introduced a number of stricter laws to the draft bill. - Read More, DW

German parliament passes tighter asylum laws | News | DW | 19.05.2017

Afghan president is under siege as violence, joblessness persist - washingtonpost

 An ominous rumble of discontent is sweeping Afghanistan, driven by a mixture of anxiety, anger, frustration and political opportunism. 

In the past two months, an assortment of new opposition groups has emerged, some with noble-sounding names and reformist agendas, led by an improbable collection of tribal leaders, ethnic militia bosses, disaffected public appointees and young professionals. Even an old communist general has joined the fray with a new, pointedly non-leftist party called the “Homeland Movement.”

Their demands include individual grievances, and several of the more controversial leaders have grabbed most of the attention. But their broader message is remarkably similar: The government of President Ashraf Ghani has failed to protect the public and provide jobs. The president has overreached his executive powers and excluded diverse points of view. He must act now, produce meaningful reforms and legitimize his fractured, teetering government — or else. 

The object of this barrage is a cerebral, single-minded man of 68 who spends 18-hour days reading policy reports, holding team meetings, addressing conferences and huddling with aides, seemingly determined to power through the latest crisis as his troubled government nears three years in office. Ghani’s aides insist that the real impetus behind much of the opposition is a combination of anxiety among traditional leaders who are losing power in a modernizing state, and a broader opposition to reform from those who have long benefited from systemic public corruption.

“The old guard is desperate to stick to the status quo, with the entrenched patronage networks that always decided who got what. Now a new educated generation has emerged, and the president is empowering people on the basis of merit,” said one recent Ghani appointee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “It is very risky for the president to take this stand,” he added, noting that many such leaders gained power through armed conflicts. “The old guard’s survival is at stake, and they know if they lose they will become irrelevant.” 

Ghani’s aides say that he is well aware of the trouble swirling outside his palace and in far-flung provinces but that he does not view it as a reason to panic or change course. He has responded directly to some demands for change, replacing the defense and interior ministers after devastating insurgent attacks, and appointing officials from ethnic minorities to important posts. He has also held televised public meetings, inviting groups to express their concerns and offering them explanations or solutions.

Meanwhile, the aides said, the president is determined to stay focused on the financial, justice and administrative reform agenda that has brought him kudos from Afghanistan’s foreign backers — which pay for 70 percent of the national budget — and from groups such as the International Monetary Fund. 

But most Afghans have seen little benefit from the reforms. Unemployment is close to 40 percent, and street corners are crammed with day laborers. High-profile efforts to prosecute corrupt officials have proceeded slowly, and powerful figures with murky fortunes have built mansions and shopping malls. Street crime and insurgency have infected daily life with the constant fear of violence; last year, more than 11,000 civilians were killed or injured in war-related incidents. 

Meanwhile, with Ghani and the government at their most unpopular point, there are predictions that the president may not survive until his term ends in just over two years. Some opponents have called for an interim government, others for a traditional gathering of elders, to determine what happens next. One group of former militia leaders has made vague threats to overrun the capital. - Read More

70 years later, survivors recall the horrors of India-Pakistan partition - washingtonpost

The massacres began soon after the British announced partition: neighbors slaughtered neighbors; childhood friends became sworn enemies. 

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the partition of India, an event that triggered one of bloodiest upheavals in human history.

Around 14 million people are thought to have abandoned their homes in the summer and fall of 1947, when colonial British administrators began dismantling the empire in southern Asia. Estimates for the number of people killed in those months range between 200,000 and 2 million.

Hindus and Sikhs fled Pakistan, a country that would be Muslim-controlled. Muslims in modern-day India fled in the opposite direction. 

The legacy of that violent separation has endured, resulting in a bitter rivalry between India and Pakistan. “When they partitioned, there were probably no two countries on earth as alike as India and Pakistan,” said Nisid Hajari, author of “Midnight's Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India's Partition.” “Leaders on both sides wanted the countries to be allies, like the U.S. and Canada are. Their economies were deeply intertwined, their cultures were very similar.”

But after partition was announced, the subcontinent descended quickly into riots and bloodshed. 

Many who lived through those times describe madness taking hold. “Some people say they had temporarily gone crazy,” Hajari said.

Archives on both sides have collected video and oral testimonies of the horrors. A partition museum will open next week in the Indian city of Amritsar, containing items that were brought over from Pakistan by refugees. - Read More

هفت سفارش امریکا برای پیروزی در افغانستان

نشریه نشنل اینتریست در شمارۀ اخیر خود در مقالۀ برای پیروزی حکومت امریکا در جنگ افغانستان هفت سفارش را پیشنهاد کرده‌است. این مقاله نشریه نشنل اینتریست تحت عنوانی "هفت ستون مهم پیروزی جنگ افغانستان" به نشر رسیده‌است. از هفت سفارش عمده این نشریه، یکی هم تقویت و حمایت نیرو های امنیتی و دفاعی افغان می ‌باشد و درین عرصه باید ظرفیت ‌ها خوب آموزش داده شوند.

نشریه نشنل انتریست در ادامه این مقاله هم چنان می‌نویسد، ایالات متحدۀ امریکا و کشور های‌ کمک کننده باید با حکومت افغانستان سخت کار کنند تا بنیاد حکومتداری درین کشور بهبود یافته و اقتصادی خوب رشد کند. نشریه نشنل انتریست افزایش فشار بر پاکستان را نیز بسیار عمده و مهم می‌خواند.

شریه در این مقاله می‌ نویسد، پاکستان یکی از اسباب ناکامی در افغانستان بوده و هم چنان برای پیروزی در این کشور یک نیاز به شمار می‌رود. اگرچه واشنگتن برای اکمالات نیروهای خود در افغانستان به پاکستان متکی است، اما گروه طالبان و دیگر گروه‌ های تندرو از پاکستان به مثابه پناهگاه ‌های امن، استفاده می‌کنند. بگفتۀ نشریه همین موضوع به باور بسیاری‌ ها به همکاری حلقاتی در داخل حکومت پاکستان صورت می‌ گیرد که می‌ خواهند به تلاش ‌های ایالات متحده امریکا در افغانستان، صدمه برسانند. - Read More

هفت سفارش امریکا برای پیروزی در افغانستان - رادیو آزادی

Special Inspector General for SIGAR Afghanistan Reconstruction - July 2017

SIGAR released its thirty-sixth Quarterly Report to Congress, highlighting the need to balance restraints on U.S. civilian movement required for security with the flexibility needed to manage and oversee the $119.7 billion dollar reconstruction effort.

SIGAR issues its thirty-sixth Quarterly Report on July 30, 2017. Public Law 110-181 directs SIGAR to submit a quarterly report to Congress. This congressionally mandated report summarizes SIGAR's audits and investigative activities. The report also provides an overview of reconstruction activities in Afghanistan and includes a detailed statement of all obligations, expenditures, and revenues associated with reconstruction. - Read More

July 30, 2017 Quarterly Report to Congress

July 30, 2017 Quarterly Report to Congress - Special Inspector ...

'US campaign in Afghanistan has failed, troops should leave' – Russian envoy

The US campaign in Afghanistan has failed and Washington needs to withdraw its troops, says the Russian president’s special envoy to Afghanistan. He added that Kabul has grown into a “global incubator of international terrorism.”

Moscow does not see the need for further presence of the American contingent in Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, who is also the Russian Foreign Ministry's director of the Second Asian Department in Afghanistan, told Izvestia daily.

“Moscow never hastened the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. But since the US Army [campaign] there has come to nothing, let them leave Afghanistan,”Kabulov said.

“The American campaign in Afghanistan has failed. Afghanistan risks becoming a global incubator of international terrorism. It has, in fact, already partially grown to become it,” Kabulov added.

Russia strongly opposes the American idea to replace the regular US Army in Afghanistan with military contractors.

“The US is in despair, and plans to replace the professional armed forces with mercenaries are stupid. It will not lead to anything good: mercenaries will simply break into a run. They recruit them from around the world, offering cash. How are they going to fight against the Taliban?” the diplomat wondered.

The US Department of Defense has spent more than $76 billion on weapons and equipment for the Afghan security forces since 2002, the US Government Accountability Office said last week.

Washington has paid for 600,000 weapons, including rifles and pistols, for the Afghan Army and police, the GAO report, released on Thursday, said

The key equipment provided included 163,000 tactical and non-tactical radios; 76,000 vehicles, such as Humvees; 30,000 equipment items for disposing of explosives, such as bomb disposal robots; and 16,000 equipment items for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, such as unmanned surveillance drones, just to name a handful.

The report came as President Donald Trump said he is “very close” to announcing a new strategy on Afghanistan.

“It’s a very big decision for me,” he told reporters in Bedminster on Thursday.  “I took over a mess,” Trump said, “and we’re going to make it a lot less messy,” he added. - Read More, RT
'US campaign in Afghanistan has failed, troops should leave' – Russian envoy

Sunday, August 13, 2017

7 Pillars for Success in Afghanistan - Earl Anthony Wayne

Afghanistan has severely challenged every U.S. administration since the fall of 2001. The Trump administration is debating intensely what strategy, if any, might lead to more success than its predecessors achieved and turn around the “stalemate” on the ground in Afghanistan.

The media focus is largely on the troop numbers, tactics and costs being proposed to put the Taliban and its extremist bedfellows on the defensive and the positions of various U.S. policy makers including the president. A strategy for success, however, is much more complicated than just the issues surrounding security, vital as they are. There are at least seven pillars needed for a comprehensive strategy in Afghanistan: 1) military and security tactics and capacity-building; 2) Afghanistan’s domestic politics; 3) governance and economic performance; 4) Pakistan’s role; 5) options for a non-military solution; 6) international support; and 7) an effective U.S. policy and budgetary process. To only focus on the military pillar is a formula for misunderstanding. Neglecting any of the pillars can lead the enterprise to fail.

Supporters of a continued U.S. role in Afghanistan argue that it is in the national interest to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a base for terrorists. They argue that success is possible with a sustained, vigorous, multi-year effort without deadlines to bolster Afghan government capacity and to generate sufficient pressures on the Taliban and others to open paths to a non-military solution. This approach, they argue, will prevent terrorists from being able to operate internationally from Afghanistan.

As the U.S. policy debate unfolds, it is important to understand that a pathway to success demands a multifaceted and integrated strategy which addresses security issues well, while deploying effective diplomacy and non-military assistance. - Read More

7 Pillars for Success in Afghanistan | The National Interest

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Trump says he is close to making decision on Afghanistan strategy - washingtonpost

President Trump said he is close to making a decision on a strategy for Afghanistan while speaking in Bedminster N.J. on Aug. 10.  More

Trump says he is close to making decision on Afghanistan strategy

Friday, August 11, 2017

Opinions; America keeps on failing in Afghanistan

Ronald E. Neumann was ambassador to Afghanistan from 2005 to 2007.

In theory, U.S. strategy in Afghanistan has been to train an Afghan army that can fight al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and now the Islamic State — and then largely to withdraw. After 16 years, it’s not surprising that many people think that strategy has failed. In fact, it hasn’t really been tried.

The Bush administration didn’t think such a force was needed. The Obama administration not only didn’t execute its own strategy, it also only grudgingly provided the resources necessary to avoid outright failure. The Trump administration has not increased those inadequate resources. In short, the strategy of trying to build an Afghan security structure that could successfully combat the Taliban only began six years ago and then was undercut after four years — scarcely enough time to build a whole new army.

When I left Afghanistan in 2007, our target of a 216,000-strong Afghan army and police force was unmet. This security force included no serious air force, artillery, logistics or medical services, since it was designed on the assumption that the war was largely over. Our advisory presence was small in the army and almost nonexistent in the police. Iraq was soaking up all available resources, and my warnings that the fighting was about to get worse were ignored. Only in fall 2009 did the Obama administration decide to build to the current goal of 352,000 security personnel, including essential supporting forces. That effort did not begin to receive funding and equipment until a year later.

These expanded goals were only really pursued for four years and were heavily undercut by policy shifts. Virtually every aspect of the training was rushed and under-resourced. The development of essential support functions, from logistics to artillery to air, was delayed for a year so that all available training facilities could be devoted to getting infantry into the battle. U.S. and NATO training teams never reached much over 50 percent of required personnel, and even that low level took several years to achieve. Advisory teams were delegated to the National Guard and Reserves rather than the regular U.S. Army, a clear indication that this was a lower priority effort. Proper advanced training for these teams took several years to set up.

Then, the decision to end U.S. involvement in active combat by 2014 converted a conditions-based strategy to one driven by Washington timelines. Withdrawal of advisers consistently outpaced the readiness of the Afghans to take over. By 2014, many of our forces were devoted to getting packed up and out of the country rather than to the fighting. But worse was yet to come.

Critically, Afghan security forces trained with U.S. and NATO forces, and thus learned to fight as we do — with air support. But from January 2014 to November 2016, that air support was withdrawn. The Obama administration declared that “we are no longer at war with the Taliban.” This nonsensical phrase, which I heard from senior officials at the National Security Council, left the Taliban free, except in the most extreme circumstances, to reinforce, maneuver and mass for attacks.

Only at the end of 2016 was the administration sufficiently shocked by the failure of its strategy to lift the prohibition on air support and end further withdrawals. But this left in place a greatly reduced U.S. and NATO force sufficient only to prevent immediate defeat. Since the Trump administration has largely maintained this inadequate force, it is puzzling that the White House wonders why it has not achieved a different result.

Our commanders may perhaps be faulted for not arguing harder against the political mistakes of Washington. I believe that they tried but found that the Obama White House resented every effort to speak truth to power. The Afghans can be seriously criticized for allowing politics to intrude much too far into senior military appointments (something that is being reversed by President Ashraf Ghani’s appointment of battle-tested commanders). Nonetheless, our advisory presence still does not cover every Afghan army corps, nor their subordinate brigades. Much of the rush to failure has been Washington-driven.

Even a great effort to correct the mistakes of the past would not produce results on the battlefield for a year or more. Whether this can or should be done deserves serious debate. But that discussion should be based on a clear understanding of what has — and what has not — already been tried in Afghanistan. - Read More

America keeps on failing in Afghanistan - The Washington Post

McCain issues his own military strategy for Afghanistan war amid White House delay - latimes

Fed up with what he calls White House inaction in Afghanistan, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Thursday unveiled his own strategy for the war-torn country — offering a plan that provides U.S. military commanders with broader authority to pursue militant forces.

McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has urged the Trump administration for months to submit to Congress a new Afghanistan strategy due to the worsening security situation in that country.

“Nearly seven months into President Trump’s administration, we’ve had no strategy at all as conditions on the ground have steadily worsened,” McCain said in a statement. “The thousands of Americans putting their lives on the line in Afghanistan deserve better from their commander-in-chief."

McCain's strategy, which was issued as an amendment to next fiscal year’s defense bill, includes providing additional U.S. troops for counter-terrorism missions, allowing U.S. advisors to work closer to the front lines with Afghan officers and giving U.S. commanders broader authority to target Taliban insurgents, Islamic State militants and other militias.

“Adopting a clear policy and strategy in Afghanistan, backed with the authorities and resources necessary for success, would be a critical step toward restoring that kind of leadership, which has been absent for far too long,” he said.

McCain, who currently is undergoing brain cancer treatment, intends to return to the Senate in the coming weeks to debate the amendment. - Read More

McCain issues his own military strategy for Afghanistan war amid White House delay