I’ve been doing updates over at the Afghanistan Analyst, including the list of Afghanistan-related blogs. Some of them are probably worth pointing out here. So I’ll just make context free excerpts from a few of those blogs along with a link.
First up is flit, a blog by a recently returned Canadian soldier who was an adviser in the south:
It would be more accurate to say the auxiliary police, or ANAP, were another one of those periodic attempts to bring the independent militias operated by local powerbrokers/warlords into the fold by giving them a stamp of government authority. Obviously, it didn’t quite work out. But that experience is part of the reason why a lot of experienced people remain skeptical about the U.S. plans to rearm those same tribesmen now… yet again.
Next is Afghanistan Shrugged, a blog by a current embedded advisor with the ANA in the east:
Some of the soldiers that have arrived here have previous experience working with indigenous forces. That experience is with the Iraqi Security Forces and I’ll borrow a line from my friend Troy at Bouhammer, “Afghanistan isn’t Iraq”. The Afghans are much different than the Iraqis. Troy, I’ll give the royalty check to Kesterson.
These preconceived notions get in the way with them working, training and just generally interacting with the Afghans. They call them “Haji” and are afraid of them. Afraid may seem like a strong word to use here, but it accurately describes what I’ve seen. Here’s an example.
The ETTs and CF move onto the ANA side of the FOB to get ready for a dismounted patrol into the local area. As we walk onto the ANA side I hear the sound of 30 M4s being locked and loaded. Look, we haven’t even gotten near leaving the FOB and these guys are locking their weapons. What does that communicate to the ANA? When I ask them why, they reply with various answers that all revolve around what if the ANA attack us.
Skipping over to the Afghan side, I’d like to excerpt from Kabul Perspectives, a blog by an Afghan journalist:
National state-owned media […] is used in favor of a particular candidate. All contenders are not given equivalent coverage. Freedom of media is the most important factor in exposing the intentions of mass fraud on polls day. But unfortunately our Minister of Culture blames media outlets and TV channels for being financed by “foreign countries”. Mr. Karim Khurram two weeks ago on International Freedom Day had blamed media for taking directions and influence from “foreigners”.
Over to the private side is a contractor blog titled Housefly. This blog (by a medic) can be quite graphic in its descriptions: body parts in septic tanks of Kabul mansions, little girls set on fire by their fathers, and cell phone calls to dead bodies:
From one of the dead guys, a cell phone rang out. Ha! A contractor handed it to an Afghan, who answered it, and tried to get a location of the caller. No luck. The conversation quickly turned to insults and taunting, especially when the caller hung up and tried again, ringing a different dead jihadi. I’m sorry, but the caller you are trying to reach is indisposed at the moment. Why don’t you come and get him?
Back stateside is the Rethink Afghanistan blog, home to probably the best organized of the antiwar groups in reference to Afghanistan:
In my view, there are many good reasons to support the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. But Afghanistan is not Iraq and public opinion still largely supports Obama’s escalation. (This is partly, I think, because there’s so little media coverage of what’s actually taking place in the country — recent estimates of coverage by major news outlets report that a scant 0.6 percent of reporting has been devoted to Afghanistan.)
So, the first step to effectively opposing the war in Afghanistan is shifting US public opinion. That’s why a coalition led by United for Peace and Justice has organized this Thursday’s National Media Day of Action. The idea is to focus attention on all the reasons the current strategy isn’t working and to highlight positive solutions for re-shifting our priorities.
from the Canadian side is Stopwar.ca. It’s not new, but it is new to the list:
It is of course hardly worth noting that [Taliban nostalgia] opinions like that of the woman (and men) quoted above are easy enough to find, yet the mass media and such Afghanistan “advocates” as the Canada-Afghanistan Solidarity Committee are uninterested in these Afghans and their opinions. CASC has, it seems, not addressed the evident hostility toward the foreign occupation which many journalists and even opinion polls have reported…
From the lighter side of thing is Afghan Photos. Here he discusses photographing sleeping Pashtuns:
People sometimes sleep during boring seminars as well as jobs. In the first photo, a homeless man sleeps on a footpath in Peshawar. In the second photo, Mohammad Ashraf Ghamgeen, a senior Pashto writer and poet, slept well during a seminar in Loralayee, Baluchistan. And in the third photo, Hayatullah, an employee of a news agency is asleep on his chair.
Click here to view the photos.
A rather serious blog, Free Range International, discusses issues based on the perspective of security contractors:
Suicide vehicle drivers tend to have a signature, they tend to behave erratically, and in order to detect one in time to warn and engage him you would have to detect him a long way off. If you think through this process – especially while driving so you can do a little real time war gaming – you will come to the same conclusion I have. And that is our counter VBIED measures will never work because it is not possible for a soldier to complete the OODA loop and reach an informed firing solution given the small amount of time, short distances, and number of innocent people who drive like lunatics in Afghanistan. You cannot recognize a VBIED that fast – not possible – so why the hell are we still shooting 12 year old girls in this country? Because we have the wrong troops here. Killing people is serious business best left to professionals.
And from Afghanistan My Last Tour, another ETT blog:
The ANA colonel has a larger office and is also fitted with a television set. Anyhow, for the next hour and a half, we discussed our personal and military lives with the aid of a translator nicknamed “Jake”. Unlike most Sergeant Majors (SGM), mine is only 28-years-old and still single.
He is still waiting for the right woman to come along and steal his heart. He’s been in the ANA for only 6 years and explained after the Taliban were ousted, the new ANA was in its infancy stages forming and it was easy to get promoted.
One blog I just came across is The Seeker is the Finder, by an Afghan-American anthropology student:
What do get when you make a neo-conservatist, who wanted to build relations with the Taliban, the CEO of Afghanistan?
A new puppet-master with all of the power and none of the responsibility.
And from Afghan Citizen, an Afghan journalist:
President Karzai Before his visit to the United state said that he will talk with the US officials about the civilian causalities, but when he arrived in US and US forces did new Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan, he couldn’t say anything about it seem that he is under pressure and just has said thanks for Secretary Clinton for showing concern and regrets for the civilian casualties.
From a British journalist comes Circling the Lion’s Den:
Last week I wrote to TIME again and asked if they still stood by their report, bearing in mind that the General is still in Turkey and shows no sign of coming home. (According to several sources, Dostum has been told he is not welcome to return to Afghanistan and is unlikely to do so in the near future. He has known this for some time and complained bitterly to anyone who will listen that he was tricked into leaving the country.) So far I have received no response from TIME.
Another military blog, A Year in the Sandbox, chronicles the experiences of a USAF sergeant at the Nangarhar PRT:
The trip back was uneventful for the most part. It got dark when we were about 45 minutes from the city so that made things a little more interesting. When we got close to the city the convoy commander chose to take the shorter route through the city instead of the bypass around thinking that there wouldn’t be much traffic out at 8pm. Little did we know Afghanistan had won a spot in the cricket world cup that evening and the whole city was out celebrating. The streets were packed with people. They were cheering, dancing, setting off fireworks, running around like crazy. Some people had aerosol cans they would spray and light on fire. It was nuts. It made it very scary for the gunners. With all the noise and lights and people everywhere it would have been a mess if somebody had started shooting at us, it would have been impossible to figure out where it was coming from. Luckily we made it through without incident and got back to the FOB.
Deployed Teacher is a special ed teacher who is deployed with the National Guard:
Sat with linguists at lunch today and an Afghan gentleman stopped by the table. We all did the Salaam Alaikum shtick, I mean greeting. Once the pleasantries were exchanged, and the gentleman left, I told my lunch mates I had met this man a month or so ago, and that he had an interesting background.
When we met, he asked if I could help him get reassigned to another job, because he was not happy with his current position. He worked with detainees. He proceeded to rattle off his resume, and told me that in Afghanistan, he’d worked for the government in the 70’s as a young man, before the Russians invaded. His résumé sounded pretty impressive.
When I shared this with my lunch mates, they looked at each other knowingly, smiled and said, “Almost all (linguists) claim to have worked with the Afghan Government; they tend to embellish their résumé so as to look good”.
And a deliberately vague blog titled Afghani Kush describes the whole boots on the ground experience:
Well, as per the norm we had another mission today. Went out and went looking for the ‘bad guys’ out in a valley that’s actually pretty near the base. But with the river being as high as it as and the terrain being as difficult as it is, it took us a couple of hours to get out there.
Taliban likes to use motorcycles to get around, and we saw a couple of those out there today. They’re fast and they can get through the terrain that our trucks can’t. So usually when we roll up on a village and you see a whole bunch of guys in bikes squirt out of it, they’re bad guys.
That’s it for today. For a complete list of Afghanistan blogs visit The Afghanistan Analyst.