The bottom line is clear: Our vital interests in Afghanistan are limited and military victory is not the key to achieving them. On the contrary, waging a lengthy counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan may well do more to aid Taliban recruiting than to dismantle the group, help spread conflict further into Pakistan, unify radical groups that might otherwise be quarreling amongst themselves, threaten the long-term health of the U.S. economy, and prevent the U.S. government from turning its full attention to other pressing problems. -- Afghanistan Study Group

Sunday, August 18, 2013

News of the Day for Sunday, August 18, 2013

Several employees of the Ministry of Mines are kidnapped in Baghlan province, while on the road to Bamiyan. The exact number of abductees has not been reported. The Hezb-e-Islami party of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, we well as Taliban, are active in the area.

The Ministry of Defense announces deaths of 7 soldiers and 4 police in various incidents. Two soldiers were killed in Zherai district of southern Kandahar province, three soldiers in Mohammad Agha district of Logar province, and two in Zurmat district of Paktiya province, all by roadside bombs. Two more were injured by a blast in Zherai district of southern Kandahar province. At least two police officers were killed and three others were injured after their vehicle struck with a roadside bomb in Jaghato district on Sunday morning. In a separate incident on Saturday evening, at least two police officers along with three militants killed in Zankhan district.

Eleven U.S. military personnel and 7 civilian employees are disciplined for placing ads on commercial web sites seeking sex, while deployed in Afghanistan. (Of course, the very idea of soldiers and sailors patronizing prostitutes is shocking, just shocking. Thank God it hardly ever happens.)

Twelve alleged Taliban, including a judge, are arrested in Kandahar province. Wakht news agency always has wonderful English translations, starting with their slogan, "Makes the Deference." Here's an excerpt from the article:
Spokesman for the provincial governor, Jaweed Faisal said in a statement that the security forces moved in, to clear some areas of the militants planted mines in Panjwayee district, where the horticultures’ owners complained about the growing mine plantation in their horticulture.
Local officials in Baghlan decry "Illegal Armed Groups."  These are not insurgents but rather private militias, often enjoying support of local elites. Excerpt:

"The former governor, police chief and other security officials knew that the armed men are active in the province, but they did not pursue them or seize their weapons, which is now a big issue for us. We will try to find and collect the illegal weapons," said Sultan Mohammad Ebadi, the current governor of Baghlan. . . .

He was reassured by the efforts he knows the Afghan security forces are making to combat insurgency in the province. But it seems the IAGs are another issue entirely, rearing up like a new Hydra head across the country, one that has yet to really be addressed by the insurgency-focused government and security forces.