IST’s Afghan Report–Dec 2017

First, I need to report that the Taleban is losing people to ISIS in northern Afghanistan…..

ISIS has held territory in the Jawzjam Province for months, and that appears to be continuing to grow with reports that top Taliban commanders in the province have defected to their side, allowing them to expand their hold across multiple districts.

Throughout the 16+ year US occupation, Jawzjan has been relatively stable, with only limited Taliban influxes that rarely amounted to more than skirmishes. The presence of ISIS, though well documented, had mostly flown under the radar too, with ISIS elsewhere in the country considered a bigger priority.

This seems to have changed with the new defections, as US officials are now calling attention to the ISIS growth in the area, and commanders are saying an anti-ISIS offensive across the north is to be launched in the next few days.

Such offensives have accomplished little in other parts of the country, with large body counts claimed, and Afghan officials repeatedly declaring ISIS “wiped out” only for the group to reassert itself within a matter of days after the fighting dies down.

(antiwar.com)

Plus the Northern region is teeming with crime and corruption…..

Escalating US airstrikes across northern Afghanistan have pushed Taliban forces away from the key city of Kunduz, which Taliban have actually captured at times in recent years. Officials are trying to brag about this as a big victory.

It doesn’t look like it from within Kunduz, however, as locals report that the city is every bit as troubled, and even if it doesn’t seem like the city is facing imminent takeover, crime and corruption are soaring.

Instead of fearing Taliban, locals now fear random gunmen, who rob anyoe they think has any money, and routinely kidnap people, holding them for ransom, a tactic previously common with the insurgency.

The Taliban isn’t so far from the city either, so traveling much of anywhere risks being caught in the cross-fire of ongoing military operations in nearby villages, leaving Kunduz residents effectively trapped in an increasingly insecure “secured” city.

(antiwar.com)

The Taleban has a great source of income even in poverty ridden Afghanistan….POPPIES!

Afghanistan just produced a record poppy crop despite massive $7.6 billion in U.S. counternarcotics spending since the war there began, a new report from an independent watchdog found.

The value of opium poppy produced in Afghanistan spiked from $2 billion to $3 billion from 2012 to 2013, according to a brief released Tuesday from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/21/afghan-poppy-crop-reaches_n_6021814.html

The logical reaction to this source of revenue for the Taleban would be to use Agent Orange and wipe out their crops, right?  War on Drugs 101…eliminate the source.  And then just recently I read a story about this problem…..

Opium unifies the enemies of American interests in Afghanistan. Poppy cultivation feeds power to the Taliban, drug lords, and corrupt officials. That power grew dramatically in 2017 — with production up 87 percent in one year to 9,000 metric tons, according to the latest report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

On Aug. 21, President Donald Trump announced that U.S. policy in Afghanistan will now serve American interests without pre-established time or troop limits. “Conditions on the ground — not arbitrary timetables — will guide our strategy from now on…. We will fight to win.” However, he also noted: “Military power alone will not bring peace to Afghanistan or stop the terrorist threat arising in that country. But strategically applied force aims to create the conditions for a political process to achieve a lasting peace.”

Kill All the Poppies

Now it would seem that somewhere in the Pentagon there was one little guy that  raised his hand and said…”why not eliminate their crop”?

I cannot believe that after 16 years and the Afghans are still capable of raising a record crop of poppies….does anyone in the Pentagon have a brain?

And then there is China and their role in Afghanistan……..

Soon after his inauguration as President of Afghanistan in 2014, Ashraf Ghani paid a trust-building visit to China. During his trip, Ashraf Ghani maintained that China is a “strategic partner of Afghanistan in the short term, medium term, long term and very long term.”

Three years later, President Ghani met his Chinese counterpart on the sideline of 17th Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit in Astana, Kazakhstan privately for fifteen minutes. A confident Xi Jinping assured Ghani that the People’s Republic of China decided to send Wang Yi; the foreign minister to Kabul in order to talk upon bilateral issues, including peace with Pakistan. Utilizing its unique regional geopolitical leverage on all actors, China is trying to take all the credit in the Afghan peace process.

http://www.eurasiareview.com/21112017-chinas-winning-role-in-afghanistan-oped/

Honey is always better than vinegar…..maybe the Chinese should stop by DC some time and give a lesson or two….God knows what we are doing is not working…..

There is more disturbing news…….

Americans are rightly outraged over revelations that Congress spent $17 million since 1997 to pay off and muzzle victims of congressional sexual misconduct and other abuses. But the U.S. government has spent vastly more effectively bankrolling far more worse sexual atrocities in Afghanistan — in brazen violation of U.S. law.

Since 2002, the U.S. has spent more than $70 billion financing Afghan security forces, including the Afghan military and police. A law sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) prohibits the Pentagon from bankrolling any foreign military units if there is “credible information that the unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.”

http://thehill.com/opinion/international/362972-your-tax-dollars-fund-afghan-child-rape

Come on!  It is time to admit that Afghanistan is a f*cked up mess and come home!

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Afghan Poppy Production

I have noticed that the opium production has hit a record high in Afghanistan….but it seems like it hits a record high every year….

Opium poppy cultivation has hit a record high in Afghanistan, according to a report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and Afghanistan’s Ministry of Counter Narcotics. The milestone is just the latest in a long string of failures associated with Washington’s 16-year war in Afghanistan and its even longer ;war on drugs.

The U.S. has spent more than $100 billion on reconstruction in Afghanistan since 2002, and more than $8 billion on counternarcotics efforts alone. Yet while 750 hectares of poppy fields have been eradicated there this year, another 328,000 hectares were cultivated in 2017—up from 201,000 hectares in 2016.

According to the U.N., the average yield this year has been about 27 kilograms per hectare—up from 23 kilograms last year. And three formerly poppy-free provinces are once again hosting poppy fields.

http://reason.com/blog/2017/11/15/2017-a-record-year-for-opium-poppy-culti

And then I read a story about a US airstrike that hit a Taleban opium processing plant……

In a move Pentagon officials say is directed at Taliban revenue streams, US F-22 stealth fighters and B-52 Stratofortress bombers attacked what they’re describing as “opium labs” in the northern part of the Helmand Province.

A pair of buildings were destroyed in the attack, which Gen. John Nicholson claimed caused “minimal collateral damage.” Nicholson noted there was a third building they didn’t attack, claiming it was to avoid civilian casualties.

Mich of Helmand Province is dedicated to opium farming, which is why the Taliban has long been interested in controlling the area. This talk of labs and factories is new, however, and it’s not clear what these buildings were actually for.

It’s been a recurring problem for the Pentagon that claims of destroying important militant facilities in airstrikes don’t ultimately prove to be true, and with recent reports of strikes destroying “ISIS bomb factories” actually just leveling a pair of civilian homes, this new claim of labs may be taken with a grain of salt.

(antiwar.com)

Here is a novel idea….why not destroy the crop in the field and avoid any screw ups trying to take out a factory?

Is that too complicated for the master minds that run our Afghan desk?

Afghan Update–Nov 2017

Afghanistan the forgotten war….but the old professor missing toes and all will not let it be pushed to the back page of the local newspaper…..

This is just my update of the situation in the country that we have invaded and fought over for 16 years….

After nine months of confusion, chaos, and cascading tweets, Donald Trump’s White House has finally made one thing crystal clear: the U.S. is staying in Afghanistan to fight and—so they insist—win. “The killers need to know they have nowhere to hide, that no place is beyond the reach of American might,” said the president in August, trumpeting his virtual declaration of war on the Taliban. Overturning Barack Obama’s planned (and stalled) drawdown in Afghanistan, Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced that the Pentagon would send 4,000 more soldiers to fight there, bringing American troop strength to nearly 15,000.

https://www.globalresearch.ca/into-the-afghan-abyss-again/5618174

Every year there seems to be a record opium crop in Afghanistan and this year appears to be the same…..

Opium poppy cultivation has hit a record high in Afghanistan, according to a report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and Afghanistan’s Ministry of Counter Narcotics. The milestone is just the latest in a long string of failures associated with Washington’s 16-year war in Afghanistan and its even longer ;war on drugs.

The U.S. has spent more than $100 billion on reconstruction in Afghanistan since 2002, and more than $8 billion on counternarcotics efforts alone. Yet while 750 hectares of poppy fields have been eradicated there this year, another 328,000 hectares were cultivated in 2017—up from 201,000 hectares in 2016.

http://reason.com/blog/2017/11/15/2017-a-record-year-for-opium-poppy-culti

The big news is the Russia is once again in Afghanistan (a neocon dream with little proof)……

Three decades after a humiliating military defeat in Afghanistan, Russia has returned to the scene. This adds Afghanistan to a long list of hotspots – from Syria and Libya to Venezuela and Ukraine – where Moscow’s low-cost, high-impact foreign policy is challenging the West. In Afghanistan, the Kremlin is covertly supporting the Taliban and other groups, and hosting regional talks with Pakistan, Iran and China. And whereas Moscow was strongly opposed to the Taliban throughout Afghanistan’s civil war in the 1990s, it seems a U-turn is underway.

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2017/11/15/why_russia_is_back_in_afghanistan_112636.html

Looks like the Marines will return to Helmand province soon…..

When U.S. Marines entered the Afghan military’s operations control center at an airfield here in April, they found a scene of confusion.

Afghan officers were coordinating operations against Taliban insurgents using paper maps taped to the walls. They were uncertain of the locations of key mosques, hospitals, bridges – even their own ground troops.

The war was going badly in Helmand, one of Afghanistan’s most volatile provinces and the deadliest for international forces in 16 years of hostilities. Since the Marines left in 2014 as part of a U.S. military drawdown, Afghan forces were losing scores of troops every month and had watched the Taliban march up to the outskirts of the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah, lobbing rockets inside the airfield.

http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-afghanistan-marines-helmand-2017-htmlstory.html

The NATO head honcho made a statement about troop levels in Afghanistan for 2018……

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reported on Wednesday that the alliance is close to having its goal of 16,000 troops for Afghanistan, and said he is “absolutely confident” they’ll have enough by 2018.

After the US announced their own escalation of the Afghan War, they began to push NATO to commit more troops to the country. With many NATO nations having withdrawn from Afghanistan in recent years, they are not very interested in going back.

The 16,000 troops are to officially be on a “training mission,” though it’s not entirely clear that this will be the sum total of their activities. US forces are to be embedded in combat situations, for instance, though they are not included in the 16,000 NATO figure.

Facing mounting losses to the Taliban, the Afghan military is facing a constant rush to train up more troops for the war. This has been a problem throughout the 16 year conflict, with corruption and low pay meaning many Afghan troops don’t last long before fleeing.

(antiwar.com)

And then there is the big question to be asked…..Is NATO stuck in Afghanistan?

It’s not a question of NATO being stuck in Afghanistan. The alliance’s military mission is only a part of the long-term efforts that have been undertaken to help Afghanistan develop into a stable and developing society in the years to come. It’s of key importance to support the Afghan security forces in different ways, but defeating the Taliban can never be only, or even primarily, a military matter. When the Afghan state is seen as legitimate, effective, and fair by all of its people, the country will have a reasonable chance at stability. It’s certainly in our interest to help in that process.

NATO is indeed stuck in Afghanistan—and the only way out is political. Two of NATO’s vital interests, countering terrorism and alleviating migration, depend upon a stable Afghanistan. Yet, as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has publicly underscored, no purely military solution for the conflict exists.

http://carnegieeurope.eu/strategiceurope/74745

The US has a new idea….a rehash of an old idea…..bring back to days of militias……

As the Afghan government struggles to stem the Taliban insurgency and shore up its dwindling security forces, the US military is turning to a controversial solution long known to stoke unrest and exploitation: local militias.

International donors, including the UN, have warned against such plans and lobbied the Afghan president to reject the US proposal. They say the new militias resemble the Afghan Local Police, a force notorious for grave human rights abuses and destabilising villages by undermining the central government.

The so-called Afghan National Army Territorial Force, essentially self-defence units of locally recruited men serving in their own villages, will be piloted with 1,000 men, once Afghan president Ashraf Ghani approves the proposal, and will eventually number some 20,000, officials say.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/19/afghanistan-militias-us-un-diplomats

Good plan!  Not only will our troops be fighting AQ, ISIS and the Taleban but now they want to make war lords stronger and arm them…..Good Plan!

There is your update of all the reports that you will never see in your local paper…..and after all that is why I am here.

The Afghanistan Illusion

16 years and counting (and few seem to care)…..the number of years we have been at war in Afghanistan…..my granddaughter does not know a time when we were not at war…she 14 and she asks me why?  What can I tell a 14 year old that will help her make sense of this bullsh*t?

Sixteen years. It has now been over 16 years since the United States began military operations in Afghanistan. At the beginning of those operations, as I watched friends deploy to the initial fighting, I would have found the idea that I would deploy there at the beginning of a massive buildup of American troops in 2009, or that we would still be there in 2017, inconceivable. But like Vizzini, the evil mastermind and kidnapper from Princess Bride, I had a lot to learn about the meaning of “inconceivable.”

If repeated deployments to Afghanistan were inconceivable to me, the idea was entirely preposterous to my civilian friends. In 2009, many thought we were already done with Afghanistan, and despite a spike in interest commensurate with the surge of 2010–2012, by 2015 most had forgotten the war altogether. Rarely mentioned during the presidential campaign of 2016, it seemed like an unwritten political rule to avoid discussing the war altogether.

Source: It Seems Inconceivable That We’re Still Fighting In Afghanistan…And Yet Here We Are

I believe that it is an illusion….the whole story we get from the fearless leaders….but yet is goes on and on….without end….fighting and dying and more fighting…..

Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. It’s time to change our approach to Afghanistan.

Source: The Afghanistan Illusion | The National Interest Blog

Each new plan for success in Afghanistan resembles the plan before it….in other words they, our leaders, have NO earthy idea how to end this thing.

President Donald Trump announced that he is allowing the military to decide how to proceed in Afghanistan, including setting troop levels. Though I am convinced the President is trying to do what is best for the country (who better than the military leadership to determine what they need to succeed?), military power is a tool, a means among many different tools of national power, not a strategy in and of itself. Elevating military objectives over the assessment of the politically acceptable magnitude of effort for a given strategic political goal can be a slippery slope. The literature about escalation is filled with examples of cognitive biases that encourage leaders to continue throwing good money after bad.

Source: The President’s Decision For Afghanistan Matters | RealClearDefense

Like the post stated…..it is an illusion…..an illusion there is a plan.

GOOD PLAN!

But wait!  How long have we been fighting and dying in Afghanistan?  16 years the answer.

You know how everything is Obama’s fault with Trump and his minions?  Well he is not blamed for the debacle in Afghanistan……nope….we have a new culprit…..RUSSIA!

As Bill Poggioobserved in the foundation’s Long War Journal,

“The Taliban displayed their military power in the contested district of Bakwa in a newly released video titled From the Fronts of Farah. The video which was released on the Taliban’s propaganda website, Voice of Jihad, ‘is dedicated to . . . showcasing the strength, control and advances of the Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate,’ according to an accompanying statement.”

Poggio concluded, more reasonably than I suggest in my opening sentence, that the trucks displayed in the Taliban video were “captured from Afghan Army and police units,” not ordered directly by the Afghan insurgents out of a Pentagon catalog.

https://www.globalresearch.ca/blaming-the-afghan-war-failure-on-russia/5616138

Russia did it!  Why not blame them for the US failure in Afghanistan….it is easier than admitting to the truth….that the US has NO idea how to end this war.

Bergdahl…..Period

I have unable to keep up with the news as usual…..too many trips for doctors and such….but I see that Trump is losing his mind over the decision that Bowe Bergdahl would not get prison time.

Trump took to his fave fake news source Twitter so that he could reach the limp wristed turds that worship him (sorry about that but I have NO use for these people) about Bergdahl decision…..

He faced life in prison, but Bowe Bergdahl will serve no jail time at all for abandoning his military post in Afghanistan and endangering the troops sent to search for him. Instead, he will receive a dishonorable discharge, the New York Times reports. The military judge in the case also reduced his rank from sergeant to private and ordered him to forfeit $1,000 a month in pay for 10 months. Judge Col. Jeffery Nance, who CNN notes Bergdahl picked over a jury, didn’t provide reasoning for the sentencing. “Sgt. Bergdahl has looked forward to today for a long time,” his civilian attorney says. “He has lost nearly a decade of his life.” Bergdahl, who pleaded guilty last month, has a job offer from an animal sanctuary and may get a gig helping a military official design survival training, the AP reports.

While a life sentence was on the table and prosecutors were asking for 14 years in military prison, Bergdahl’s defense argued he had been punished enough during five years of tortuous captivity at the hands of the Taliban and “probably should not have been in the Army” due to an undiagnosed severe personality disorder. President Trump had called for the “dirty rotten traitor” to be executed in comments Nance called “disturbing.” (The judge rejected a request to dismiss the trial over Trump’s comments, but said he would factor them into sentencing.) Following Friday’s sentencing, the president tweeted: “The decision on Sergeant Bergdahl is a complete and total disgrace to our Country and to our Military.” Bergdahl is appealing his dishonorable discharge, which must be upheld by a general and the US Army Court of Criminal Appeals. If it stands, Bergdahl will lose most or all of his veterans’ benefits.

Trump being an idiot and ignorant of the UCMJ, that his interference in the process probably had a lot to do with the decision….he should have done something that he is incapable of doing….shutting the Hell up.  But if spout off maybe he should bone up on the Uniform Code Of Military Justice (UCMJ)…..

http://www.ucmj.us/

I also read that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was a “gold mine” of intelligence, helping the military better understand insurgents and how they imprison the enemy, two agents testified Tuesday as defense attorneys sought to show the soldier’s contributions since he was returned in a prisoner swap.

That also could have been taken into consideration when the decision was made.

I also read a piece by a Viet vet that wondered off camp in Vietnam and what he had to say about Bergdahl…….

Let us stipulate in advance that young men are often foolish. This I know because I have been both young and foolish.

Let us further stipulate that under the stress of war, foolish young men often do stupid things. This I know because I have done stupid things while a young fool under the stress of war.

Like me, Bowe Bergdahl was also a foolish young man, and under the stress of war he did a stupid thing. The stupid thing he did was to walk off his post, and disappear into the waiting arms of the Taliban. There are conflicting accounts as to why he walked away. In his own account, it had to do with what he described as “poor leadership” in his battalion. How walking away was supposed to change that is unclear, but apparently he hoped to trudge 18 miles to find a general who would listen to his objections. We can only smile at the fantasy of a general taking seriously the complaints of a PFC against his superiors.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/a-prayer-for-bowe-bergdahl/

WE can condemn but without knowing all the facts about why did what he did then we are doing a disservice to the man.

He is paying for what he did and he has to live with his action…….. a chore I do not envy.

A Good Chuckle From Afghanistan (Nothing Funny In Afghanistan)

Since day one the the CIA has been on the ground in Afghanistan…..first they were after the dick Osama….then they went silent but just there in the background……doing whatever it is the CIA does in the back ground (use your imagination)…..and since someone let Osama sneak passed them and into Pakistan and we have been fighting the Taleban for the hearts of the Afghan people the CIA hang whatever it is from the shadows (again use your imagination)….and all that time the Taleban has been killing and maiming….but now Trump and his at Langley have a new plan……….

CIA director Mike Pompeo has talked about the need to be more “aggressive” against militants, and the New York Times reports that his words are turning into reality in Afghanistan. The agency is ramping up its mission against the Taliban in the country, sending out small paramilitary units with Afghan forces to hunt down members of the group. Previously, the CIA focused more on al-Qaeda and in assisting Afghan intelligence services, but the newspaper says the aggressive new turn fits in to President Trump’s strategy of eventually bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table.

“We can’t perform our mission if we’re not aggressive,” Pompeo said at a security forum earlier this month. “This is unforgiving, relentless. You pick the word. Every minute, we have to be focused on crushing our enemies.” Trump himself had previously sounded a similar sentiment, declaring that “the killers need to know they have nowhere to hide, that no place is beyond the reach of American might and American arms.” One particular target of the new units will be Taliban bombmakers

One question……what have these f*ckers been doing for the past 16 years?

Another US Death

-All the Tweets and ranting about the deaths of US Troops in Niger, which was unnecessary deaths,another American was killed half way round the world in Afghanistan, Chief Warrant Officer Jacob M. Sims….

The Army warrant officer who died after a helicopter crashed in Afghanistan was a decorated veteran of numerous military tours who was born in Oklahoma and was currently living in Alaska, the Pentagon said in a statement.

Chief Warrant Officer Jacob M. Sims, 36, of Juneau, Alaska, died from wounds sustained in the crash on Friday evening in Logar Province, Afghanistan, the Defense Department said in a statement Sunday.

Six other crew members were injured in the incident but were receiving medical treatment, according to a statement Saturday by Operation Resolute Support in Afghanistan. The crash wasn’t the result of enemy action.

“Jacob lived by a creed that few understand and even fewer embody,” said Col. Philip Ryan, commander of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment or SOAR in a statement. “He will not be forgotten and his legacy will endure through his family, friends, and fellow Nightstalkers.”

(ABC News)

IST sends its deepest sympathies to his family…..May He Rest In Peace.

More on this story…..

Source: Now Trump is shamefully ignoring a fallen soldier in Afghanistan — and veterans are fed up – Shareblue Media