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, October 20, 2013

News of the Day for Sunday, October 20, 2013

Candidate for provincial council elections is murdered in Kapisa province. He was on his way home with his daughter when unknown assailants attacked his motorcycle.

Afghan special forces commander defects to Taliban in Kunar province, taking a tank and other weapons with him. According to this Khaama article, "This is the first time a commander of the Afghan special forces is joining the Taliban group. However, the surrender of Afghan National Police (ANP) and Afghan local police (ALP) forces to Taliban militants is not rare."

Afghan Interior Ministry berates the German ambassador to Afghanistan  for closing the German embassy over what the Afghans say were baseless security threats.

Afghan government prepares to release 2,500 Pakistani prisoners, in a gesture to Pakistan's Islamist political party the Jamiat Ulema Islam Fazal. (This is the most radical bloc within the broader JUI. -- C)

Three British marines will be tried for murder of a Taliban prisoner in 2011.

As the U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan, each week the military sells 12 to 14 million pounds of equipment on the open market -- everything from armored trucks to ice cream scoops. However, the equipment is being destroyed first to make sure it can't be converted to military use. Excerpt:

That policy has produced more scrap metal than Afghanistan has ever seen. It has also led to frustration among Afghans, who feel as if they’re being robbed of items like flat-panel televisions and armored vehicles that they could use or sell — no small thing in a country where the average annual income hovers at just over $500.. . .

The United States is leaving heaps of mattresses, barbed wire and shipping containers in scrap yards near its shrinking bases. “This is America’s dustbin,” said Sufi Khan, a trader standing in the middle of an immense scrap yard outside Bagram Airfield, the U.S. military’s sprawling headquarters for eastern Afghanistan. The scrap yard looks like a post-industrial landfill in the middle of the Afghan desert, a surreal outcropping of mangled metal and plastic. There’s a tower of treadmills 50 feet high and an acre of American buses, trucks and vans, stripped of seats and engines. An ambulance is perched unsteadily atop a pile of scrap, like it fell from the sky. A mountain of air conditioning units sits next to a mountain of truck axles.

British boost the numbers of special forces in Afghanistan to provide cover during withdrawal.
"Often disguised in local clothing and mounting unconventional raids on insurgents, the SAS has killed more than a dozen Taliban leaders. The plan to send in more elite troops comes after Lance Corporal James Brynin of the Intelligence Corps died in a firefight with the Taliban near Laskar Gah, the former British Forces headquarters."

U.S. inks agreement with Romania for use of an airbase to facilitate troop withdrawal, as existing arrangements for use of a base in Kyrgyzstan break down.