pilots complete training

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tolo news

may 18, 2019

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A group of Afghan pilots and door gunners this month completed their training for UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters in southern Kandahar province. 

They received their graduation certificates during a ceremony which was attended by Air Force Commander Gen. Abdul Fahim Ramin, Kandahar Air Brigade Commander Gen. Abdul Raziq Shirzai as well as foreign partners, trainers and officers.
 
The majority of the 11 pilots had successfully completed a UH-60 Aircraft Qualification Training in a two-month course and then transited to a Mission Qualification Course at Kandahar, according to a report on Resolute Support website.  

Many of them already had previous experience with Mi-17 helicopters. Trainings were provided by American contract instructors and overseen and managed by advisors from various Resolute Support member states. 

They comprise currently of a mix of US Army, US Air Force, Australian Army and Swedish Air Force. Those same coalition advisors fly with and instruct the Afghan Air Force crews on mission tactics after they graduate from training.
 
The NATO-led Resolute Support mission remains committed to build-up a powerful Afghan Air force, the report says. “Thus we protect our homelands. Afghanistan must never again become a safe haven for terrorists,” reads the report.

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https://www.tolonews.com/index.php/afghanistan/11-afghan-pilots-complete-training-black-hawk-helicopters

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pentagon wants to help

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by ABC News Radio

May 17, 2019

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(WASHINGTON) — The Pentagon is requesting the ability to provide lodging and transportation to insurgent groups in Afghanistan that are looking to implement local ceasefires with the Afghan government, the Pentagon said recently.

The decision to request the authority came after a largely successful ceasefire was implemented between the Taliban and Afghan government last summer.

“Following the June 2018 ceasefire in Afghanistan, the Commander of U.S. Forces–Afghanistan requested the authority to use funds to facilitate meetings between the Afghan government and insurgent groups looking to implement local ceasefires in order to be poised to take advantage of further opportunities to reduce levels of violence in the country should such opportunities present themselves,” Pentagon spokesperson Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich told ABC News.

The funds could go to lodging and transportation for militants if that was required to get all parties to the negotiating table “in areas that are difficult to access otherwise,” Rebarich said, adding that no U.S. military vehicles or aircraft would be used.

No Pentagon funds have been used for such a purpose. Instead, the Pentagon made the request in anticipation of possible scenarios in the future, according to Rebarich.

The acknowledgement by the Pentagon follows an apparent miscommunication with the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, which appeared to interpret the request as related to the ongoing U.S.-Taliban reconciliation efforts led by Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.

In response to the perceived request from the Pentagon, the committee included language in its proposed defense spending bill released this week that states, “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to pay the expenses of any member of the Taliban to participate in any meeting that does not include the participation of members of the Government of Afghanistan or that restricts the participation of women” — two criticisms of the U.S.-Taliban negotiations that are not relevant to local ceasefire discussions between the Afghan government and insurgent groups.

Still, the miscommunication highlights the multiple tracks that the U.S. is pursuing to bring about a negotiated end to the war in Afghanistan.

U.S. and Taliban representatives concluded the sixth and latest round of peace talks in Qatar earlier this month, which a Taliban spokesperson called “positive in total.”

Khalilzad tweeted that the two sides “made steady but slow progress on aspects of the framework for ending the Afghan war,” but added that “the current pace of talks isn’t sufficient when so much conflict rages and innocent people die.”

At the same time those talks were concluding, the Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack on a U.S. non-profit organization in Kabul that killed at least nine people. Meanwhile, seven U.S. service members have been killed in combat-related events in Afghanistan in 2019.

“A key priority for the administration is to end the war in Afghanistan through a negotiated peace settlement between the Afghan government and the Taliban, and the U.S. is working to help facilitate such a settlement,” Rebarich said. “The United States also supports local peace initiatives between the Afghan government and insurgent groups looking to cease hostilities against the Afghan Government and coalition forces.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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http://kwbe.com/abc_world/pentagon-wants-to-help-afghan-insurgents-willing-to-enter-ceasefire-abcid36184979

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u.s.-taliban talks resume

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afghanistan times

may 6, 2019

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KABUL: Peace negotiation between US and Taliban members have
entered to its sixth round in Doha of Qatar with four conservative days of
talks ended Sunday; the talks did not hold on Monday on the account of the
first day of Ramadan. The talks will resume today (Tuesday), as fresh spate of
violence grips the country in different fronts including the recent attack on
police headquarters in Pule-e-Khumir city of northern Baghlan province on Sunday
afternoon.

Taliban Qatar office spokesman Sohail Shaheen on his twitter
account said that due to holiday on the first Ramadan their talks were
suspended for a day. He said the talks would resume on Tuesday.

Taking advantage of the break, Khalilzad flew to India to
discuss the Afghan peace process with Indian officials, Pajhwok Afghan News
reported.

Shaheen said in the ongoing round they would try to reach an
agreement on a timeline for withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan and
the war on terrorism. He said an agreement on the withdrawal of foreign forces
was essential before discussing other issues.

Earlier, Khalilzad had also said they were inching closer to
an agreement on the two topics, but added nothing would be agreed until all
topics were agreed upon.

Peace talks between U.S. negotiators and Taliban
representatives in Doha, Qatar, have been interrupted to mark the beginning of
Ramadan.

Shaheen told a foreign news agency late Sunday that talks
hit an impasse over when foreign forces would depart Afghanistan.

Washington is demanding that militants establish security
guarantees, a cease-fire, and make other commitments including an
“intra-Afghan” dialogue with the Kabul government and other Afghan
representatives before agreeing to any withdrawal.

The Taliban have said they would not take any of these steps
until the United States announces a withdrawal timeline.

‘Currently, the negotiations are in a good phase and they
are moving in the right direction,’ said Assadullah Zahiri, a spokesman for High
Peace Council, a body which conducts peace efforts in country-level under the
Afghan government.

Sources familiar with Doha talks said the gap is narrowing
between the US delegation and the Taliban members on issues around foreign
forces withdrawal and counterterrorism assurances. The sources said the two
sides have managed to overcome the ‘stalemate’ on a timeline for troop
withdrawal at this stage.

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http://www.afghanistantimes.af/us-taliban-talks-to-resume-monday

http://www.afghanistantimes.af

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have a sigar

https://www.sigar.mil

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Los Angeles Times

May 03, 2019

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It has become a journalistic game of sorts: Keeping a running tally of President Trump’s half-truths, untruths and outright lies. That game is not without entertainment value. Yet arguably at least as interesting and perhaps more instructive are the genuine truths that go essentially unnoticed, not only in the media, but also among elected officials and the general public.

A case in point: For years the Special Inspector for Afghanistan Reconstruction, a watchdog known by its initials — SIGAR — has sought to inform Congress and the American people about the nation’s progress (or lack thereof) in the Afghanistan war. Those efforts, in my estimation, qualify as heroic. They have also been largely ignored.

SIGAR’s 43rd quarterly report, published Tuesday, offers a veritable trove of facts, an example of what can easily be mined even in an era of fake news. Among its notable findings:

According to the most recent estimates, the Afghan government “controlled or influenced” no more than two-thirds of the total population. No available metric suggests that Afghan forces are winning the war, even with the support of some 14,000 U.S. troops and several thousand private contractors.

~

Today

no real peace movement exists

despite the fact that the United States is

permanently at war.

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Enemy-initiated attacks — an indicator of which side holds the tactical initiative — are increasing, up by 19% over the previous reporting period. An average of over 2,000 such attacks occur per month. Put simply, the bad guys act and the good guys react.

Total Afghan civilian casualties and civilian war-related deaths have increased by 5% and 11%, respectively, over the previous year. During that same period, casualties sustained by Afghan security forces jumped approximately 31%. The number of noncombatants killed or wounded by coalition airstrikes, most conducted by U.S. forces, is also on the rise.

The Afghan National Army is currently at only 83% of its authorized strength. Worse, its ranks are shrinking, calling into question the long-term sustainability of the force.

According to SIGAR, Afghan military morale and commitment remain problematic. For example, a U.S.-based program to train Afghan pilots was simply dissolved when over 40% of the student aviators went AWOL.

For years now, the United States has sought to reduce the prevalence of corruption in Afghanistan. Yet even today SIGAR describes corruption in the Afghan military as “pervasive” and notes that the government in Kabul “has not demonstrated that it is serious about combating corruption.”

Since 2002, the United States has invested $9 billion in counter-narcotics programs, to no avail. “Afghanistan remains the global leader in poppy cultivation,” the report says. While the 2018 Afghan opium crop did fall slightly from its all-time high the previous year, that decrease was primarily attributable to drought.

A legitimate Afghan economy barely exists. The nation’s total merchandise exports in 2018 fell well short of a billion dollars. At present, foreign grants account for approximately 70% of all public outlays, making the government in Kabul essentially a ward of the international community. Afghan democracy is likewise on life-support, with presidential elections originally scheduled for last April twice postponed “to implement voting-system reforms.”

Meanwhile, with most Afghans facing acute food insecurity, SIGAR reports that some households have resorted to selling their children or forcing them into childhood marriages in order to survive.

All in all, this makes for a dismal picture. For many months now, U.S. commanders in Kabul and senior officials in Washington have described the war in Afghanistan as “stalemated.” SIGAR’s latest report suggests that such a judgment may be excessively optimistic.

While not explicitly stated, SIGAR’s bottom line is this: Having over the course of nearly 18 years expended some $900 billion to create a secure, stable and democratic Afghanistan, the United States has failed. Indeed, those ambitious objectives have long since become implausible, with SIGAR noting that the current U.S. war aim is simply to promote “reconciliation between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban.”

“Reconciliation” is a euphemism, a way to repackage failure as magnanimity. With only intermittent press attention, the Trump administration has been energetically courting the Taliban, hoping to negotiate a peace deal that will allow U.S. forces to withdraw once and for all. In this context, “peace” is also a euphemism. The exclusion of Afghan government representatives from those talks speaks volumes about whose interests are being served.

One day, perhaps sooner than later, the American war in Afghanistan will end, with Trump no doubt seizing the moment to nominate himself for a Nobel Peace Prize. At that point, SIGAR will close up shop, shipping its detailed and voluminous reports off to some archive to collect dust.

It’s a safe bet that Trump doesn’t care a whit about what will happen in Afghanistan after U.S. forces pull out. Yet the truth is that the majority of his countrymen don’t seem to care either — even as the war the United States initiated in 2001 goes on and on.

When I was a young man, members of a then-vigorous, if naive peace movement were known to remark, “Suppose they gave a war and nobody came?”

Today no real peace movement exists despite the fact that the United States is permanently at war. A different maxim pertains: Suppose we had wars and nobody bothered to notice?

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Andrew J. Bacevich is a professor emeritus of history and international relations at Boston University.

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https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-bacevich-afghanistan-war-congress-20190503-story.html

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https://www.sigar.mil

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