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, December 28, 2014

News of the Day for Sunday, December 28, 2014

Ceremony in a basketball court at NATO headquarters marks the formal end of the NATO combat mission. However, while remaining NATO forces will have a formal mission of providing training and "assistance" (whatever that means) to Afghan forces, a separate U.S. force will continue to provide security, logistical support, and engage in "counterterrorism." In other words a limited combat role for U.S. forces will continue. Five thousand Americans will remain with the NATO contingent of 12,000, while 5,500 U.S. troops will remain in the separate, combat role. In other words, no, the U.S. war in Afghanistan is not over. (And I'll still be here, too.)

Sticky bomb injures 2 people in Kabul. Bakhtar does not describe the target. However, this likely refers to this same incident, in which TOLO says 3 members of the Ulema council of central Maiden Wardak were injured.

Bomb in a shop in Laghman province kills 2 people, including a tribal elder who was the apparent target. Two are also injured.

Police in Helmand province say they have a arrested a woman who was planning a suicide attack on a police checkpoint.

Police say they have also thwarted a planned attack in Kandahar and arrested 5 militants.

Update on the NATO airstrike in Logar on Friday, that killed civilians. Originally reported to have killed 3 and injured 2, the casualty total is now given as 5 killed and 6 injured. They had been involved in a violent dispute over land but local authorities had arranged a truce. NATO apparently mistook them for insurgents. NATO, of course, has not commented. (Great way to end the combat mission, guys!)

Police spokesperson says 9 militants killed in Kapisa province. No mention of police casualties, and no comment from Taliban.

TOLO reports on the plight of refugees displaced by fighting in Dangam district of Kunar.

NATO's senior civilian representative in Afghanistan, Maurits Jochems, warns that international aid to Afghanistan may be cut off if corruption is not controlled.

WaPo reports on heavy casualties among the Afghan police, who are engaged in combat roles usually reserved for the military. Note that most of these deaths are not reported as they happen. I do not link to Interior Ministry releases because they give Taliban body counts but do not mention police casualties. We only get yearly reports to the effect that there are thousands of them, but they largely go unmentioned in daily news reports. That means you aren't getting the real picture even here.

“The police have lost something like 3,200 this year, so most of the casualties belong to the Afghan National Police,” [Karl Ake Roghe, the outgoing head of EUPOL, the European Union Police Mission in Afghanistan] told The Associated Press. By comparison, some 3,500 foreign forces, including at least 2,210 American soldiers, have been killed in the 13 years since the war began."

In Iraq, meanwhileA high ranking general in Iran's Revolutionary Guard is killed in Samara. Meanwhile, Iran's loyal allies in the fight against IS, the United States, carries out 12 airstrikes against IS targets, striking a "tactical unit," vehicles, and an oil refinery, in both Iraq and Syria. That's according to Radio Liberty. Reuters say there were 39. Whatever. (Probably referring to different time frames, but not clear.)