Conversion

http://joellewisart.com/?p=15

~~~

Romans, Chapter 13, St. Paul

~~~

Everyone is to obey the governing authorities, because there is no authority except from God and so whatever authorities exist have been appointed by God.  So anyone who disobeys an authority is rebelling against God’s ordinance; and rebels must expect to receive the condemnation they deserve.  Magistrates bring fear not to those who do good, but to those who do evil.  So if you want to live with no fear of authority, live honestly and you will have its approval; it is there to serve God for you and for your good.  But if you do wrong, then you may well be afraid; because it is not for nothing that the symbol of authority is the sword: it is there to serve God, too, as his avenger, to bring retribution to wrongdoers.  You must be obedient, therefore, not only because of this retribution, but also for conscience’s sake.  And this is why you should pay taxes, too, because the authorities are all serving God as his agents, even while they are busily occupied with that particular task.  Pay to each one what is due to each: taxes to the one to whom tax is due, tolls to the one to whom tolls are due, respect to the one to whom respect is due, honor to the one to whom honor is due…

~~~

http://joellewisart.com/?page_id=424

~~~

The only thing you should owe to anyone is love for one another, for to love the other person is to fulfill the law.  All these:  You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet, and all the other commandments that there are, are summed up in this single phrase:  You must love your neighbor as yourself.  Love can cause no harm to your neighbor, and so love is the fulfillment of the Law…

~~~

http://joellewisart.com

~~~

Besides, you know the time has come;  the moment is here for you to stop sleeping and wake up, because by now our salvation is nearer than when we first began to believe.  The night is nearly over, daylight is on the way; so let us throw off everything that belongs to the darkness and equip ourselves for the light.  Let us live decently, as in the light of day;  with no orgies or drunkenness, no promiscuity or licentiousness, and no wrangling or jealousy.  Let your armor be the Lord Jesus Christ, and stop worrying about how your disordered natural inclinations may be fulfilled…

~~~

New Jerusalem Bible

standard edition

1999

~~~

Art courtesy of Joel Lewis

~~~

Editor: Rawclyde!

~~~

Biggest Challenges To Come

~~~

by Drew Brooks

Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer

Aug 25, 2014

~~~

U.S. troops have accomplished much in Afghanistan over the past year, but the biggest challenges may be yet to come.

Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson said the drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan will begin in earnest in the coming weeks, as preparations are made to reduce the American footprint to 9,800 troops by the end of the year.

Anderson, who spoke with The Fayetteville Observer from Afghanistan, is commander of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command and deputy commanding general of U.S. Forces — Afghanistan.

He’s also the commanding general of Fort Bragg and the 18th Airborne Corps, which makes up the cores of several key coalition commands in the country.

Anderson said about 35,000 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan. Those numbers will begin dropping quickly as forces continue to consolidate onto fewer and fewer bases.

At the same time, the coalition mission in Afghanistan will shift from advise and assist to more advising than assisting.

But what worries Anderson is the time his soldiers are losing with their Afghan counterparts.

The Afghan government continues to recount ballots from a runoff election held earlier this year. They reached the halfway point in counting last week.

Anderson said coalition forces have no interest in the outcome of the election, but he hoped for a quick resolution.

“The political piece of it is none of our business,” the general said. “It’s the time we’re losing. Time is ticking.”

While the recount takes place, Afghanistan is at a stalemate, Anderson said. Even the average Afghan is frustrated by the stagnation, he said.

And coalition leaders are no different.

They are working on short timetables with a lengthy “to-do” list of improvements.

“There’s plenty to do,” he said. “We’re working as best as we can.”

Anderson said there’s limited time to enhance medical care, artillery, managing aircraft, logistics, maintenance, engineering and counter improvised explosive device efforts.

“I remain very confident in their tactical abilities,” Anderson said of the Afghan security forces.

But, he said, the frustrations in the higher levels of the military can affect readiness, and coalition forces are “losing ground” on addressing those frustrations.

“We are still very committed to being the best we can,” Anderson said of the Afghan forces.

U.S. troops helped secure and move the more than 22,000 ballot boxes involved in the recount, Anderson said. And they continue to provide security for those ballots, using cameras and nighttime shifts of soldiers.

So far, the ballots have been kept safe from significant attacks, but he said a few fist fights have broken out among officials inside the recount.

Anderson estimates it will take another three weeks “give or take” before the process is finished, and said the government would likely transition in mid September.

That transition will mark the latest turnover in what Anderson has dubbed the “Year of Change,” the challenging and dynamic buildup to the end of Operation Enduring Freedom and the beginning of Operation Resolute Support, the code name for the continued efforts in Afghanistan.

Over the past eight months — the 18th Airborne Corps deployed in January — coalition forces have consolidated from 85 bases throughout Afghanistan to 42, Anderson said.

By the start of November, fewer than two dozen coalition bases will remain open, with many of those housing special operations forces.

As the “collapse and consolidation” speeds up, forces will start to redeploy, Anderson said.

In the south, once bustling Forward Operating Bases Apache and Pasab have closed, Anderson said, consolidating the entire 4th Brigade, 4th Infantry Division at Kandahar Airfield. Those soldiers, from Fort Carson, Colorado, will start heading home next month.

In the east, units from Fort Hood, Texas, and Fort Campbell, Kentucky, also will soon head home, Anderson said.

Some 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers, who have been spread across the country, have already begun their return home.

At the same time, U.S. forces continue to move equipment and vehicles out of the country. Anderson said those retrograde efforts are ahead of schedule.

Forces have moved 17,600 pieces of rolling stock, including vehicles, from Afghanistan and will move another 4,500 pieces by year’s end.

The equivalent of 4,300 20-foot containers also have been removed from the country, with another 1,300 20-foot equivalents set to move by year’s end.

“We’re getting a little close,” Anderson said of the mission.

But, he said, soldiers haven’t lost sight of the mission.

“We miss Fort Bragg and we miss North Carolina,” Anderson said. “. But we have a job to do.”

The 18th Airborne Corps will be the last three-star unit to serve as ISAF Joint Command.

That command will cease to exist once the corps leaves later this year.

Regional commands across Afghanistan, once led by two-star generals, also are transitioning. Those commands will become Train and Assist Commands and will be led by one-star generals.

Anderson said regional commands North, West and Capital have already transitioned to the new structure. The South and East commands will transition in October.

Thousands of Fort Bragg soldiers are serving in Afghanistan.

The 44th Medical Brigade has nearly 175 soldiers deployed, and the 1st Theater Sustainment Command continues to oversee logistical efforts there.

Local soldiers also serve as part of the special operations forces contingent in the country, which includes parts of the 3rd Special Forces Group and other Army Special Operations units from Fort Bragg.

Local soldiers continue to play important roles in Afghanistan, but even those will change as the year draws to a close.

Elements of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division serve as theater response forces, supporting Afghan National Security Force operations.

Parts of the 82nd Airborne’s 2nd and 3rd Brigade Combat Teams also are in security force roles, facilitating movement between bases and protecting key leaders.

But those missions will be passed on to other units by the end of the year, Anderson said.

Meanwhile, the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade is in the process of deploying and will provide helicopter support for the entire country, replacing two aviation brigades in theater.

Anderson said Fort Bragg will have a smaller role in the country after the new year, but its presence will continue to be felt.

~~~

http://www.military.com/daily-news/2014/08/25/general-biggest-challenge-in-afghanistan-to-come.html

~~~

Taliban Inroads

~~~

by Azam Ahmed

New York Times

One month ago…

~~~

MAHMUD RAQI, Afghanistan — Taliban fighters are scoring early gains in several strategic areas near the capital this summer, inflicting heavy casualties and casting new doubt on the ability of Afghan forces to contain the insurgency as the United States moves to complete its withdrawal of combat troops, according to Afghan officials and local elders.

The Taliban have found success beyond their traditional strongholds in the rural south and are now dominating territory near crucial highways and cities that surround Kabul, the capital, in strategic provinces like Kapisa and Nangarhar.

Their advance has gone unreported because most American forces have left the field and officials in Kabul have largely refused to talk about it. The Afghan ministries have not released casualty statistics since an alarming rise in army and police deaths last year.

At a time when an election crisis is threatening the stability of the government, the Taliban’s increasingly aggressive campaign is threatening another crucial facet of the American withdrawal plan, full security by Afghan forces this year.

“They are running a series of tests right now at the military level, seeing how people respond,” one Western official said, describing a Taliban effort to gauge how quickly they could advance. “They are trying to figure out: Can they do it now, or will it have to wait” until after the American withdrawal, the official added, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the coalition has officially ceded security control.

Interviews with local officials and residents in several strategic areas around the country suggest that, given the success of their attacks, the Taliban are growing bolder just two months into the fighting season, at great cost to Afghan military and police forces.

In Kapisa, a verdant province just north of Kabul that includes a vital highway to northern Afghanistan, insurgents are openly challenging and even driving away the security forces in several districts. Security forces in Tagab District take fire daily from the Taliban, who control everything but the district center. Insurgents in Alasay District, northeast of Kabul, recently laid siege to an entire valley for more than a week, forcing hundreds of residents and 45 police officers to flee. At least some of the local police in a neighboring district have cut deals with the Taliban to save themselves.

In the past month, a once-safe district beside the major city of Jalalabad, east of Kabul, has fallen under Taliban control, and a district along a crucial highway nearby is under constant threat from the Taliban. South of Kabul, police forces in significant parts of Logar and Wardak provinces have been under frequent attack, to deadly effect.

But there are only anecdotal reports to help gauge just how deadly the offensive has been. The Afghan defense and interior ministries stopped releasing casualty data after a shocking surge of military and police deaths in 2013 began raising questions about the country’s ability to sustain the losses. By September, with more than 100 soldiers and police officers dying every week, even the commander of the International Security Assistance Force suggested the losses could not be sustained.

Asked for figures on the latest security force casualties this year, both ministries refused to provide data or confirm accounts from local officials. But there are signs that the casualty rate is already likely to be at least as bad as it was last year.

In one important indicator, the United Nations reported a 24 percent rise in civilian casualties for the first half of this year compared with a similar period from 2013, hitting a new peak since the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan began tracking the data in 2009. More significantly, for the first time, the highest number of those casualties came from ground fighting between the Afghan forces and insurgents rather than from roadside bombs.

The United Nations found that more fighting was taking place near populous areas, closer to the district centers that serve as the government seats. Ground violence also seemed to increase in areas where coalition bases had been closed, as the Taliban felt more emboldened to launch attacks without fear of reprisal.

One important effect of those gains, particularly where police forces are being driven away, is that the Taliban are establishing larger sections of lawless territory where they can intimidate local populations. They become safe havens, and staging grounds for more ambitious attacks against Kabul and other major cities, like the militant assault on Kabul’s airport on July 17.

In the immediate vicinity of the country’s main cities, the Afghan military was still holding up well, according to American and Afghan commanders. But as more marginal districts have come under unexpectedly heavy attack, the military planners’ expectations have been tested.

One widely accepted prediction was that soon after 2014, the Taliban would gain in rural areas and traditional strongholds, as the government made tough decisions about what to fight for and what to let go. Places of no strategic value in remote areas of the south and east, some officials said, could afford to be forgotten.

But heavy attacks, and some territorial losses, are already happening in those places, earlier than predicted.

On July 9, the Taliban overran a district center in Ghor Province, a rugged and violent area close to the center of the country, which left Afghan forces scrambling to reclaim it and smarting from the embarrassment. On Saturday, militants stormed Registan District in Kandahar, killing five police officers, including the district police chief, in a battle that continued into the evening.

The heavy fighting earlier this summer in northern Helmand Province, long a Taliban stronghold and a center of opium poppy production, was mostly expected. But the breadth of the Taliban assault, which is now said by locals to extend to four districts, has surprised many, and foreshadowed a more ambitious reach for the insurgents.

The efforts of this fighting season have not been solely in the countryside, or traditional strongholds like those in Helmand. The Taliban have made strides in Nangarhar Province, home to one of the most economically vibrant cities in the country and a strategically important region. Surkh Rod, a district that borders the provincial capital Jalalabad and was safe to visit just three months ago, has become dangerous to enter.

“The difference is that five months ago there were more government forces here; now it is the Taliban,” said Nawab, a resident of Shamshapor village.

Bati Kot District, too, has become more dangerous. Outside the district center, residents say, the Taliban dominate a crucial swath of territory that straddles the main highway leading from Kabul to the eastern border with Pakistan. Villagers living in the district say the Taliban force them to feed and house insurgents, and threaten to kill them if they refuse.

Much like Nangarhar, Kapisa is connected directly to Kabul, presenting a troubling threat for the government as it struggles to safeguard the security corridor around the capital. Trouble in three districts has been the focus of a concerted American Special Forces campaign to ferret out the insurgents, who many say appear more trained and disciplined than the average Taliban.

“The command and control is incredible,” said one American Special Forces officer who has fought with his men in insurgent-controlled valleys in Kapisa. “They have found an awesome safe haven.”

The biggest fear for the province stems from Tagab and Alasay districts. Though there is an entire battalion of Afghan soldiers in the area, the vast majority of the fighting and dying are done by the police forces.

Two weeks ago, in the Askin Valley area of Alasay, insurgents surrounded a village where the local and national police had only recently taken root. Tribal and interpersonal rivalries fueled the animosity toward the police, but the consequence was clear: The government was not welcome.

An estimated 60 insurgents surrounded Askin Valley and engaged in a gunfight with about 35 local and 10 national police officers in the area, according to police officials. The two sides fought for more than a week, with coalition aircraft entering the area to offer support for the beleaguered security forces. Eventually, the police were forced to retreat, along with hundreds of villagers.

Two police officials in the area, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, relayed the account. One, a local police officer, said the Taliban’s reach permeated the entire district, and the security forces were consigned to their bases, trying to stay alive.

“The Afghan security forces are controlling the bazaar for one in every 24 hours,” the commander said. “From 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., the police, army and local police come out of their outposts and buy what they need, then they go back to their bases.”

~~~

~~~

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/27/world/asia/taliban-making-military-gains-in-afghanistan.html?_r=0

~~~

Change Of Command

~~~

Stars And Stripes

August 26, 2014

~~~

KABUL, Afghanistan — Army Gen. John F. Campbell became the final commander of the NATO-led military coalition in Afghanistan during a ceremony Tuesday.

The former infantry officer and Special Forces commander takes over from Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., who will become Commandant of the Marine Corps. The ceremony, at a military base in Kabul, was attended by Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Campbell assumes control of the International Security Assistance Force as it finishes withdrawing from bases across the country in preparation for the end of its combat mission later this year. Close to 44,000 troops from 48 countries serve in the coalition, nearly 30,000 of them American. More than 100,000 troops were stationed in the country at the height of the coalition’s surge in 2010.

The challenges facing the general include planning for a post-2014 NATO and U.S. training and advisory role in the country. That task is complicated by the lack of formal agreements with the Afghan government and political uncertainty due a presidential election that is still undecided.

An entrenched insurgency, meanwhile, threatens stability in some parts of the country, testing the abilities of Afghan security forces, who were developed, trained and equipped by the coalition at great cost. Those forces lack many of the tools that gave ISAF the upper hand against insurgents, such as air support, medical evacuation and surveillance capabilities.

Managing dwindling troop numbers to continue to provide that assistance in the most critical areas of the country will be another test. Plans call for U.S. troop numbers to fall to 9,800 by year’s end.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel acknowledged those challenges while expressing confidence in Campbell.

”John’s leadership comes at a defining moment, as Afghanistan undertakes a historic political transition, and the United States and our coalition partners transition from combat to training and support for Afghan forces,” Hagel said in a statement.

The continuing election crisis could add further complications, with some parties threatening civil unrest. On the same day Campbell assumed command, presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah threatened to withdraw from the election review process unless officials meet several technical demands that could change the process.

~~~

http://www.stripes.com/news/campbell-becomes-final-isaf-commander-1.300015

~~~

The Elder Inside The Sufi Bubble

 by Rawclyde!

~

Tiny bubbles & colossal bubbles

All kinds of bubbles blowing in the wind

Full of Sufi miracles

Impossible to comprehend

~

Capt’n Chuck Fiddler’s Afghaneeland Bubble

Inside which resides the mountain ridge

On which is perched the village of Pluckame

Now hovers above a borderland of Afghanistan

~

~

Afghan National Army soldiers fire their guns

The Taliban keep a comin’ outta Pakistan

Faraway Iraq sucks up American air support

But for one strange bubble in the sky

~

Capt’n Chuck Fiddler’s Afghaneeland Bubble

The most viable support Afghan soldiers have got now

From the United States or from their own nation

Has them buffaloed & worried

~

~

No Afghan president yet to replace the old one

American firepower as good as gone

Pakistan nextdoor going nuts, refugees everywhere

And Taliban!

~

40 soldiers surrounded by 1,000 screaming enemy

And 10,000 ricocheting singing bullets

 Repeatedly look up & pray for a stray Warthog aeroplane

But all they see up there is a bubble!

~

~

Capt’n Chuck Fiddler’s Afghaneeland Bubble

Offers them as much soothing consolation as an unarmed goat

With a bell around his neck warning every Talib in the vicinity

That he is lamb-chops sneeking around

~

One Afghan patriot, Pvt. Ghani Gandhara, gets a bullet in the belly

Moans, gazes futiley at the sky & spies the damn bubble

 That pretends to be a Sufi miracle floating amidst the tumultuous clouds

 The wounded private cries out, “Ah shit!  Allah loves the Taliban!!!”

~

~

One of the oldest living faces on planet Earth shows up

Magnified magnificently on the soapy orb above the profusely bleeding soldier

And, thusly, an elder of the village inside it speaks forth to Pvt. Gandhara

“Have faith.  It’s all you’ve got right now.”

~

~

Tiny bubbles & colossal bubbles

All kinds of bubbles blowing in the wind

Full of Sufi miracles

Too wondrous to comprehend

~

Afghaneeland Adventure Series | Old Timer Chronicle II

~

Text / Copyright Clyde Collins 2014

~~~

ANA soldier photos by Victor Blue

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/asia/photographer-embeds-five-day-clearing-mission-afghan-troops-n177381

~~~

Incidentally

books by independent author Jnana Hodson: 

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/401122

via Smashwords ebooks

~~~

Afghan General Defends Tactics

~~~

Abubakar Siddique / RFE/RL correspondent

Gandhara News

August 19, 2014

~~~

General Abdul Raziq, the security chief in Afghanistan’s southern city of Kandahar, is a controversial figure. Afghan and Western officials see him as a bulwark against Taliban attempts to return to their former Kandahar stronghold, but critics accuse him of committing grave rights abuses in his dealings with insurgents.

In an interview with RFE/RL correspondent Abubakar Siddique, Raziq defended his violent campaign against the insurgents, who he claims are fighting a proxy war for Pakistan’s security service, the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency, or ISI.

RFE/RL: Credible sources in the southwestern Pakistani province of Balochistan, which borders Kandahar, recently told us that your Adozai clan is involved in a festering blood feud with the Taliban hiding in Balochistan. They claim that this rivalry is behind frequent murders in the region. How do you respond to these allegations?

General Abdul Raziq: These murders are not the work of the Taliban. They are all carried out by Pakistan’s ISI to pressure us so that we cooperate with them in certain ways.

RFE/RL: But these sources told us that you are behind the killing of Taliban leaders such as their influential ideologue Maulana Abdullah Raziq, who was killed in Balochistan’s capital, Quetta, in December. Is this true?

Raziq: The Taliban have their own internal problems. The Taliban are divided into many factions. Some of them work with the ISI, while others work with various militant networks. So these are their internal problems.

But the Afghan tribal leaders who are frequently assassinated in that region, most of them are not known to us. The ISI is behind all this because they want to pressure us one way or the other. They have made us several offers to entice us into cooperation with them. They have told us that doing so will end our problems.

I can assure you that such pressures have no effect. We cannot be pressured this way because death is a determined fact. So they are engaging in a futile effort.

RFE/RL: Why would the ISI want to pressure you?

Raziq: They want to increase their influence inside Afghanistan. They have their own objectives in Afghanistan, which are against the interests of our country.

But we cannot let them reach their goals. We are ready to pay every price for defending our homeland. We cannot let anybody interfere in our country.

RFE/RL: During the past decade, Afghan leaders have repeatedly said that Taliban leaders are planning attacks inside Afghanistan from hideouts in Quetta and other parts of Pakistan. In your view, why has the United States and the rest of the international community failed to persuade Pakistan to do its part to restore peace in Afghanistan?

Raziq: It is the responsibility of our central government to do so. But the whole world knows that all the Taliban — foot soldiers and leaders–are in Pakistan. All the Taliban dead and wounded are taken back to Pakistan.

Everything they do happens with the permission of the ISI. I have no doubt that they cannot do anything without ISI’s approval and the ISI can prevent them from doing what they are doing. It is because of ISI’s pressure that they come here and die in vain.

RFE/RL: In recent months the Taliban have attempted large attacks in Kandahar and neighboring provinces in southern Afghanistan. What has been the impact of these attacks?

Raziq: In Kandahar and in Helmand, ethnic Punjabis [from Pakistan] are now leading battles [against our forces]. The Punjabis are the trainers and Punjabi doctors accompany the fighters. [The hard line Pakistani jihadist organization] Lashkar-e Taiba is leading this campaign. Basically, these are all ISI operatives who now work in this way.

RFE/RL: What proof do you have that Punjabis from Pakistan are fighting inside Afghanistan?

Raziq: We have documents and we have captured fighters. We also have the dead bodies of fighters.

RFE/RL: You reportedly told journalists this week that government forces should shoot Taliban fighters instead of arresting them. Don’t you think such tactics are a violation of Afghan laws?

Raziq: We have seen this report, but I didn’t say anything like this. During recent days we have captured 65 Taliban fighters, and all of them are being detained in Kandahar’s prison. They are our prisoners and we are questioning them. We also captured some 22 wounded Taliban fighters. We could have killed them but we didn’t.

Anyone who comes here to fight our forces must be eliminated or should surrender. Our soldiers, obviously, cannot surrender to them. This cannot happen. Our soldiers must defend our country.

RFE/RL: Reports by Western media and rights watchdogs have accused you of committing grave human rights abuses. How would you respond to such criticisms?

Raziq: This is all hearsay. I can never tell my soldiers to surrender our homeland to the enemy. If we surrender a remote checkpoint to them, they will move to occupy a whole district. If we abandon a district to them, they move in to occupy a whole province. This leaves us with no choice but to defend our homeland.

RFE/RL: Do you ever see peace returning to Afghanistan?

Raziq: I don’t see any hope for peace in Afghanistan. All the efforts towards peace are a waste because we can’t have peace in our homeland unless we stop Pakistan from interfering in our country. Without holding Pakistan accountable, thinking of establishing peace here is futile.

~~~

important blog:

http://dividepakistan.blogspot.com

~~~

Hundreds Of Taliban South Of Kabul

~~~

Gandhara News

based on reporting by Reuters & dpa

August 19, 2014

~~~

Some 700 Taliban fighters are reportedly involved in fighting with Afghan government forces in the Logar Province, south of Kabul.

The governor of Logar, Niaz Mohammad Amiri, on August 19 cited the figure of 700 Taliban and said the militants appear ready for a long siege in the province.
 
Logar Province police chief Abdul Hakim Esaaqzai said the Taliban fighters were armed with heavy machine guns and were attacking in the Charkh district.

Charkh council chief Abdul Wali said some 20 Taliban militants had been killed in fighting in the district so far. 

Wali said hundreds of Taliban fighters attacked checkpoints in the district late during the evening of August 18 and continued fighting with security forces through August 19.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed the group was attacking on Logar.

~~~ 

Karzai Says In 15 Days

~~~

Tasnim News

August 14, 2014

~~~

TEHRAN  – Afghan President Hamid Karzai reiterated on Thursday that Afghanistan should have a new president within the next two weeks.

Karzai made the remarks during a meeting with university lecturers at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, a statement from his office said.

Commenting on the election stalemate and its negative effects on the Afghan people, Karzai said the results would be made public as scheduled.

The new head of state should assume office in the next 15 days, he added.

As regards a recent political deal between the two presidential runners, Karzai said, “I hope the agreement will yield positive results and will prove to be in the interest of the people.”

While stressing consolidation of national unity, he urged all politicians to serve the interest of the masses and strengthen government departments, Pajhwok Afghan News reported.

~~~

http://www.tasnimnews.com/english

~~~

Response To Pakistani Incursions

~~~

by Ghanizada

Khaama Press

Aug 10 2014

~~~

The National Security Council of Afghanistan (NSC) has ordered the Afghan national security forces to suppress all incursions by Pakistan and it’s security forces inside the Afghan soil.

The instruction was given after the security officials presented their report regarding the Pakistani cross-border incurions from the other side of the border.

The NSC meeting chaired by President Hamid Karzai also reviewed the intelligence report regarding the coordinated attacks in numerous districts of Nangarhar province.

The meeting also focused on the detention of five Pakistani nationals who were coordinating the major Taliban offensive in Hesarak district of Nangarhar province.

Afghan national security forces were ordered to prepare and use all power to suppress the interference of Pakistan and cross-border incursions by Pakistani forces.

~~~

Pentagon Scrap Heap

~~~

by Ernesto Londono

The Washington Post

~~~

FORWARD OPERATING BASE PASAB, Afghanistan — Sorting through the remnants of the United States’ longest war, Lt. Joe Mannor has seen it all. There are heaps of old, dusty laptops, tangled telephone cables and battery packs; Danielle Steel novels and a copy of a “Curious George” children’s book; and inexplicable items, including a tiny hand-held drone of mysterious origin and purpose.

“After 13 years of war, lots of stuff is just lying around,” said Lt. Mannor, 31, who is among the legions of troops tasked with determining what will go home and what will be scrapped. “We’ve had a bit of everything come through here.”

As the Pentagon’s effort to dismantle its massive wartime infrastructure kicks into high gear, defense personnel are jettisoning materiel on an industrial scale. Since last year, Pentagon contractors in Afghanistan have used shredding machines to turn vehicles, generators, housing containers, furniture and other items into scrap.

During that period, they have destroyed more than 643 million pounds of equipment — the equivalent of pulverizing the Titanic seven times. By comparison, the Pentagon scrapped 563 million pounds during the last eight years of the Iraq war.

The Defense Department also is selling some unneeded, functional items at auction to Afghan businessmen for pennies on the dollar — partly in response to criticism that there are more sensible alternatives to scrapping.

The U.S.-led international coalition has reduced its footprint in Afghanistan from a peak of about 800 bases, in 2011, to about 60 and intends to further shrink that to a handful by the end of the year. The logistical feat in a landlocked country with poor roads and a latent insurgency is far more complex than the wind-down of the Iraq war, where the military was able to move goods into neighboring Kuwait with relative ease.

Despite the current political crisis in Afghanistan, where a disputed, fraud-plagued election has cast a pall over the future U.S. role there, the Pentagon’s drawdown plan remains on schedule and on budget.

“Everything is on track,” said Alan Estevez, the Pentagon’s top official who oversees logistics. “We’re in very good shape.”

When the U.S. military drew up plans for the withdrawal here, officials estimated the price of the drawdown would range from $5 billion to $7 billion. Mr. Estevez said the most recent projections indicate that it is likely to cost $6 billion.

That is not to say all aspects of the withdrawal have been easy or predictable. When the military began moving items in bulk out of Afghanistan in 2013, shipping containers by land through the Pakistani border was the preferred alternative, much cheaper than using cargo planes. In recent months, though, the cost of the two has largely equalized as customs tariffs and insecure roads have made ground shipments costlier.

Those challenges have made the shredding of equipment that was acquired for several billion dollars a crucial part of the drawdown. Many Afghans are nervous about the fate of their impoverished country in the post-American era, and it hasn’t always been an easy process to explain.

“They should give this stuff to us,” protested Hajji Nibil, 32, who owns a construction equipment shop in Kabul and is among the scores of Afghan businessmen whose work for the U.S. military has dried up as the force has shrunk. “All this is stuff we could use.”

Some Afghan officials have reacted incredulously, arguing that the destruction of equipment is especially galling at a time when the Afghan economy, long buoyed by wartime spending, is deflating almost as rapidly as the international military footprint.

“Sometimes they might shred things because they are of absolutely no use,” said Najibullah Wardak, a senior Finance Ministry official who has worked with the U.S. military to negotiate the tax revenue the Afghan government gets to collect on the auction sales. “But we were a bit concerned when they started destroying things. Some of this might be of use in the market and could generate revenue.”

U.S. military officials say they have donated plenty to Afghan security forces and other government departments. But they have balked at turning over sophisticated items such as heavily armored vehicles and gas-guzzling generators because they don’t believe the Afghans could afford to maintain them.

“They will take everything and anything you give them,” said Maj. Rob Wolfenden, 37, who is leading the effort to shut down this base in Kandahar province, which is scheduled to close soon. “Part of our job is helping them understand what they can take care of.”

The Pentagon has faced some criticism over its destruction of iconic mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles, the hulking, heavily armored trucks that were rushed into Iraq and Afghanistan as the threat of powerful roadside bombs escalated.

The Defense Department offered excess MRAPs to allied nations at no cost, provided they could arrange to ship them out of Afghanistan. Only Croatia has taken the department up on the offer, acquiring 162. Officials said that if no more such deals are struck between now and the end of the year, they will have to shred several hundred of the vehicles.

In an effort to find a more cost-effective way to offload unwanted equipment, the Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency this summer began selling bulk excess equipment in operable condition to Afghan merchants, who then sell it on the open market. The Pentagon has collected $567,000 by selling items that were acquired for $4.8 million.

The auctioned sale of equipment got off to a slow start this summer because the U.S. military and the Afghan Finance Ministry had to negotiate a mechanism for the government here to collect tariffs on goods that were exempt from them when they arrived in the country.

Ron Williams, the official from the Defense Logistics Agency who is leading the sales program in Afghanistan, said he was surprised by the strong demand for goods. For the first sale, which happened in late June, 80 companies submitted bids.

“I was so pleased we had so many people put in bids,” he said. “We’re putting money back into the economy and trying to establish goodwill.”

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