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This handbook provides basic reference information on Afghanistan, including its geography, history, government, military forces, and communications and transportation networks. This information is intended to familiarize military personnel with local customs and area knowledge to assist them during their assignment to Afghanistan.
Understanding master narratives can be the difference between analytic anticipation and unwanted surprise, as well as the difference between communications successes and messaging gaffes. Master narratives are the historically grounded stories that reflect a community’s identity and experiences, or explain its hopes, aspirations, and concerns. These narratives help groups understand who they are and where they come from, and how to make sense of unfolding developments around them. As they do in all countries, effective communicators in Afghanistan invoke master narratives in order to move audiences in a preferred direction. Afghan influencers rely on their native familiarity with these master narratives to use them effectively. This task is considerably more challenging for US communicators and analysts because they must place themselves in the mindset of foreign audiences who believe stories that — from an American vantage point — may appear surprising, conspiratorial, or even outlandish.
October 14, 2013 in U.S. Army
Warfare in the 21st Century necessitates a complete shift in the way we think and the way we fight. More than ever, the use of nonlethal effects is having a profound impact on conflicts. Much of today’s battlefield is in the minds of the public, shaped by the spoken word, cyberspace, media, and other means of strategic communications, as well as by our physical actions. Consequently, melding information with physical operations may very well be decisive in counterinsurgency and other stability operations. By melding information operations with physical operations, the division commander, who is executing a war against an insurgency and simultaneously attempting to pacify a populace, can gain the respect, compliance, and support of the people who may tip the balance in his favor. The enemy has become adept at all means of communications, in particular information operations, and uses his actions to reinforce his message. As a result, he influences not only the indigenous population but also the world as a whole.
This guide is designed to provide NATO partners and troop contributing nations (TCNs) participating as part of the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) a common understanding of Security Force Assistance (SFA) activities. It provides a summary of the ISAF SFA concept as well as guidance and information concerning SFA activities, countering the insider threat, mission critical tasks, and training requirements in support of Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).
Reducing corruption and increasing accountability are important components of the U.S. reconstruction strategy in Afghanistan. Since 2002, the United States has appropriated over $96 billion for reconstruction assistance in Afghanistan and, as part of that assistance, has designated numerous programs or activities to directly or indirectly help strengthen the ability of Afghan government institutions to combat corruption. In 2010, in line with a commitment to provide more assistance directly to the Afghan government, the United States and other donors committed, in part, to providing technical assistance to develop the Afghan government’s capacity to reduce corruption. The ability of the Afghan government to deliver services to its citizens without the illicit diversion of resources is crucial to the country’s development and the government’s standing as a legitimate, sovereign authority. Further, as Afghanistan subsequently enters a transformation phase during which it will need to rely on progressively smaller amounts of funding from international donors, it must work to ensure that the revenue it generates is not susceptible to graft and corruption.
A Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) is a civil-military organization, task-organized to a geographical province, whose purpose is to extend the reach and legitimacy of the Central Government of Afghanistan by developing a self-sustaining, peaceful, civil-society. It is a tactical organization with strategic impact. The ratio of military to other governmental, United Nations (UN), and non-governmental organizations depends heavily on the degree to which the area is pacified. The success of a PRT is measured by its ability to increase Central Government capacity and good governance as well as to, “Seize the human terrain and defeat the enemy.” One important element of this is to identify and mentor key Afghan personnel in democratic governance and leadership.
Afghanistan cultivates, produces and process narcotics that are a threat to the region and worldwide. However, the international community also needs to understand that Afghanistan itself is a victim of this phenomenon. The existence of hundreds of thousands of problem drug users, as well as decades of civil war, terrorism and instability are all related to the existence of narcotics in the country. According to the findings of this survey, the total area under cultivation was estimated at 154,000 hectares, an 18 per cent increase from the previous year. Comparisons of the gross and net values with Afghan’s licit GDP for 2012 also serve to highlight the opium economy’s impact on the country. In 2012, net opium exports were worth some 10 per cent of licit GDP, while the farmgate value of the opium needed to produce those exports alone was equivalent to 4 per cent of licit GDP. On the basis of shared responsibility and the special session of the United Nation’s General assembly in 1998, the international community needs to take a balanced approach by addressing both the supply and the demand side equally. In addition, more attention needs to be paid to reduce demand and the smuggling of precursors as well as provide further support to the Government of Afghanistan.
The findings of the 2013 Opium Risk Assessment in the Southern, Eastern, Western and Central regions points to a worrying situation. The assessment suggests that poppy cultivation is not only expected to expand in areas where it already existed in 2012, e.g. in the area north of the Boghra canal in Hilmand province or in Bawka district in Farah province but also in new areas or in areas where poppy cultivation was stopped. In eastern Afghanistan, in Nangarhar province, farmers resumed cultivation even in districts where poppy has not been present for the last four years. In the Northern and Northeastern region, the provinces of Balkh and Takhar which were poppy-free for many years are at risk of resuming poppy cultivation.
(U//FOUO) U.S. Marine Corps Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion Operations in Afghanistan Lessons Learned Report
April 13, 2013 in U.S. Marine Corps
This report is a continuation of the collection effort on units supporting operations in Afghanistan as directed by the Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration. The collection sought to examine the mission, scope, successes, shortfalls, equipment, manning and emerging issues associated with 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion (4th LAR) operations. Interviews of 28 commanders and staff were conducted at various camps and bases in Afghanistan from December 2009 – April 2010.
February 15, 2013 in Afghanistan
Kabul Bank’s controlling shareholders, key supervisors and managers led a sophisticated operation of fraudulent lending and embezzlement predominantly through a loan-book scheme. This resulted in Kabul Bank being deprived of approximately $935 million funded mostly from customer’s deposits. The loan-book scheme provided funds through proxy borrowers without repayment; fabricated company documents and financial statements; and used information technology systems that allowed Kabul Bank to maintain one set of financial records to satisfy regulators, and another to keep track of the real distribution of bank funds. Shareholders, related individuals and companies, and politically exposed people were the ultimate beneficiaries of this arrangement. Over 92 percent of Kabul Bank’s loan-book – or approximately $861 million – was for the benefit of 19 related parties (companies and individuals).
December 19, 2012 in U.S. Army
This newsletter was produced in conjunction with the Counterinsurgency (COIN) Training Center–Afghanistan (CTC–A) to provide current and relevant information for brigade combat team (BCT), battalion, and company commanders and staffs concerning current U.S. and coalition best practices in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. As a “living document,” it will be updated continuously in order to capture, analyze, and disseminate critical information in support of operations across all lines of effort. It will disseminate key observations, insights, and lessons (OIL) from theater to give commanders a better understanding of the operational environment into which they are preparing to deploy. The information is from your peers—commanders, staff officers, and small unit leaders —who served or who are currently serving in Afghanistan.
This handbook is written for you, the embedded training team (ETT) member. Traditionally, this mission was reserved for Special Forces’ units or teams. With the revision of Army Field Manual 3.0, Operations, this is now a mission for general purpose forces. The Army has not yet officially designated one organization or agency as the ETT proponent; therefore, information concerning TTs circulates at all levels. This handbook has been vetted by the Joint Center for International Security Forces Assistance, 1st Infantry Division, Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, and the Center for Army Lessons Learned Integration Network.
November 28, 2012 in Featured
A collection of documents recently obtained and published by Public Intelligence provides a complete guide to NATO’s training process for “strategic communications” activities, including public diplomacy, public affairs, information operations and psychological operations. The documents, compiled for participants in a NATO training summit, describe the doctrine behind strategic communications and provide practical examples of their use in a number of recent conflicts from Libya to Afghanistan. These activities are designed to contribute “positively and directly in achieving the successful implementation of NATO operations, missions, and activities” as well as “influence the perceptions, attitudes and behaviour of target audiences . . . with the goal of achieving political or military objectives”.
November 24, 2012 in United Nations
Despite the eradication of opium poppy by Governor-led Eradication (GLE) having increased by 154% in comparison to its 2011 level (9,672 hectares eradicated in 2012), the total area under opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan was estimated at 154,000 hectares (125,000 – 189,000) in 2012. While that represents a 18% increase in cultivation, potential opium production was estimated at 3,700 tons (2,800 – 4,200 tons) in 2012, a 36% decrease from the previous year. This was due to a decrease in opium yield caused by a combination of a disease of the opium poppy and adverse weather conditions, particularly in the Eastern, Western and Southern regions of the country.
October 29, 2012 in Afghanistan, Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization
This field guide provides small unit leaders and individual Soldiers and Marines a proven collection of actions to focus their efforts while attacking networks. Primarily, these actions consist of mission analysis, briefing, and execution and are adapted for use by these small unit leaders in a population-centric operating environment.
NATO/ISAF engagement in Afghanistan in 2010 was characterised by a refreshed, comprehensive civ-mil strategy as reflected in a substantial force uplift, significant progress in the growth and development of the Afghan National Security Forces, and discernable campaign progress in priority districts. These were reflected in the NATO/ISAF Strategic Communications Framework 2010. In parallel, political events, including the London Conference, the Consultative Peace Jirga, the Kabul Conference, Afghan Parliamentary elections and the NATO Summit in Lisbon, helped define a clear political roadmap for Afghanistan. These developments are reflected in the Lisbon Summit Declaration which provides political guidance for the focus of our efforts in 2011 and reaffirms that NATO’s mission in Afghanistan remains the Alliance’s key priority.
An Open Source Center translation of a decree issued by Hamid Karzai in July 2012 on fighting corruption in Afghanistan.
October 10, 2012 in U.S. Marine Corps
The mission of training and mentoring Afghani police was complicated by (1) the need to establish and occupy nine forward operating bases (FOBs) spread over an area of approximately 28,700 square kilometers, while (2) simultaneously maintaining a level of security that (3) permitted identification of suitable candidates for police and training them, since a police force did not exist yet in the areas in which 2/7 operated and (4) accomplishing this without any established support network. The operational environment was more kinetic and austere than conditions generally experienced by recent veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Companies and platoons were widely dispersed and follow-on units deploying to such areas in Afghanistan must be prepared to operate in a semi-autonomous manner. Training and organization need to be tailored to those conditions and their specific area of operations (AO), and consideration should be given to the proven utility of the MAGTF in such an environment.
September 11, 2012 in Featured
The problem of civilian casualties in Afghanistan has presented substantial tactical difficulties for coalition forces according to a recent U.S. Army handbook. Produced by the Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL) and released to soldiers on a restricted basis in June, the handbook presents best practices for reducing civilian casualties (CIVCAS) and offers strategies for mitigating negative effects from casualties among local populations.
The U.S. military has long been committed to upholding the law of armed conflict and minimizing collateral damage. This includes the killing or wounding of noncombatant civilians — described in this handbook as civilian casualties or CIVCAS — as well as damage to facilities, equipment, or other property. Due to several factors, the impact of CIVCAS has increased to the point that single tactical actions can have strategic consequences and limit overall freedom of action. These factors include: the increased transparency of war, where tactical actions can be recorded and transmitted worldwide in real time; increased expectations for the United States’ conduct of war in light of improved precision and overall capabilities; and the enemy exploitation of CIVCAS to undermine U.S. legitimacy and objectives.