To The East: Deterioration

By: Sunday December 26, 2010 10:00 am

The eastern provinces of Afghanistan abutting the Pakistani tribal areas provide cross-border access to the Taliban-led insurgent coalition. Whatever else you think about the Afghanistan war, the Obama administration decided in 2009 to deemphasize security operations in the east at the expense of a wide-ranging effort to reverse Taliban momentum in the south. The best [...]

A Northern Soul

By: Monday December 20, 2010 8:18 am

More Taliban attacks in northern Afghanistan. The south gets the attention and the resources, the north and west deteriorate, and the east — the area most centrally important to the stated al-Qaeda-centric objectives of the war — is in a state of drift, as best I can tell. For all the justified and justifiable criticism [...]

Sustainability and Afghanistan

By: Sunday December 12, 2010 3:05 pm

Rajiv Chandrasekaran has a tremendous piece of reporting and analysis on Nawa, a district in Helmand that’s an ostensible model for what the U.S. can accomplish in Afghanistan if we’re to factor out a sea change in governance from Karzai and an end to the Pakistani safe havens. At the risk of oversimplification, the answer [...]

My Name Is Mullah Akhtar Muhammed Mansour, And I Would Like Some Money

By: Monday November 22, 2010 10:34 pm

I mean, really: Ohhhhh shit. For months, the secret talks unfolding between Taliban and Afghan leaders to end the war appeared to be showing promise, if only because of the repeated appearance of a certain insurgent leader at one end of the table: Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, one of the most senior commanders in the [...]

2014 Is Not The End In Afghanistan, Cont’d

By: Thursday November 18, 2010 7:58 am

So what to expect at NATO’s Lisbon summit tomorrow? The one where the alliance firms up its intentions for an endgame in Afghanistan? Not much in the way of firmness, judging from a press conference given by Amb. Mark Sedwill, NATO special representative to Kabul: Yet [Sedwill] conceded that even 2014 might not mark the [...]

2014 Is Not The Endpoint Of The Afghanistan War

By: Thursday November 11, 2010 8:19 am

This pre-Lisbon Conference video from my favorite Danish politician, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, glides past an important point, as does this New York Times piece. Yes, NATO will meet next week to build political consensus across the alliance for the post-2011 phase of “gradually” handing over security responsibilities to the Afghan forces. “The [...]

A Hair’s Breadth Away

By: Thursday October 28, 2010 9:56 pm

I don’t really have much in the way of strong feelings about Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, the outgoing commander of Regional Command South in Afghanistan. (Unlike some Marine officers I know.) But he didn’t really acquit himself well in today’s Pentagon briefing. “As I come to the end of my year here, that there’s always [...]

How To Read An ISAF Press Release, Part I

By: Monday October 25, 2010 9:00 am

A public service this blog can provide. I get a lot of press releases from the NATO command in Afghanistan, and I’m pretty fascinated with the prose styles of the International Security Assistance Force. So here’s what I hope is a helpful hint. Check out ISAF Joint Command’s 253rd release, “Senior Taliban Leader Targeted in [...]

Stacks So Fat Rubber Bands Can’t Hold ‘Em

By: Saturday October 23, 2010 4:15 pm

The New York Times: One evening last August, as President Hamid Karzai wrapped up an official visit to Iran, his personal plane sat on the airport tarmac, waiting for a late-running passenger: Iran’s ambassador to Afghanistan. The ambassador, Feda Hussein Maliki, finally appeared, taking a seat next to Umar Daudzai, Mr. Karzai’s chief of staff [...]

Ominous Press Releases

By: Sunday October 17, 2010 11:35 pm

From NATO in Afghanistan… Classification: UNCLASSIFIED Caveats: NONE 2010-10-CA-178 For Immediate Release Detainee found dead in southern Afghanistan KABUL, Afghanistan (Oct. 18) – A detainee in International Security Assistance Force custody was found dead in his holding cell in southern Afghanistan Sunday. The detainee was captured during an operation Saturday and was being held in [...]