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22 février 2013 5 22 /02 /février /2013 12:35

Nato 03


February 21, 2013 By Matthias Gebauer and Christoph Schult - spiegel.de


Officially, the West plans to continue helping Afghanistan beyond the conclusion of the NATO mission at the end of 2014. But the US is planning a massive withdrawal, leaving behind a skeletal force of only 10,000 troops. Washington's allies will have to fill the gaps that result.


The United States envisions only a minimal presence of American troops in Afghanistan once the NATO mission comes to an end in late 2014. SPIEGEL ONLINE has learned that fewer than 10,000 US soldiers are to remain stationed in the country beyond that date. Douglas Lute, special assistant to the US president on Pakistan and Afghanistan, informed NATO ambassadors of the plan at alliance headquarters in Brussels in the second week of February. He said that only half of the units stationed in Afghanistan beyond 2014 will be made available for training Afghan troops.


Lute's confidential briefing was the first official confirmation that the US foresees an extremely limited presence in the country going forward. And the numbers presented by Lute have alarmed the alliance. Though the post-mission support and training mission in Afghanistan -- to be carried out by NATO in conjunction with eight non-alliance countries -- has been under development for months, the extremely limited number of US troops available puts the alliance in a bind.


The aim of the mission -- now called Resolute Support after a pair of name changes -- is to ensure that the Afghan army, built up with great effort in recent years, doesn't immediately fall apart once the NATO mission, known as the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), concludes. But Lute's presentation made it clear that US President Barack Obama is determined to radically shrink the American presence in Afghanistan following 2014. In his State of the Union address this month, Obama publicized his intention to bring home half of the 60,000 US troops currently stationed in Afghanistan by the end of this year.


The details of Washington's post-2014 plans were not known until Lute's briefing. Weeks prior, the US media had written of a "minimal option" calling for fewer than 10,000 soldiers to remain in the country, but the US government had made no official comment. Whether the topic is up for discussion at the meeting of NATO defense ministers this Thursday and Friday in Brussels is unclear. Because Chuck Hagel has not yet been confirmed by the Senate, outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta traveled to Europe in his stead.


Raising the Bar for Germany and NATO


Presidential aid Lute left no doubt during his meeting with NATO ambassadors that Washington seeks to bring the unpopular mission to a rapid conclusion. As of this spring, all combat operations are to be led by Afghan military and security personnel while ISAF forces are to shift into a supporting role. Only by taking that step now, the US has told its European partners, can a withdrawal by the end of 2014 be achievable.


The strategy is not without risk. Such a rapid shift of responsibility could overwhelm the Afghan military, Lute acknowledged during his visit to Brussels.


Washington's mini-force raises the bar for Germany and other NATO member states. Lute said that the US expects that the German military will retain responsibility for Regional Command North and direct military training operations there beyond 2014. The US, he said, would coordinate training and support operations in the south and east. Italy is to continue its responsibility for the west.


But the US envisions a division of its forces. Only 5,000 of the 10,000 American troops foreseen by the plan are to be made available for the training mission. The other half will be earmarked for targeted operations against terror cells and al-Qaida camps as well as for the protection of US facilities in the country such as the embassy in Kabul.


In total, the post-2014 training mission is to encompass 15,000 troops. The US expects its NATO partners to plug any gaps that might result due to its limited presence. For Germany, the number is likely to remain large even after 2014, primarily due to the operation of the large camp in Mazar-e-Sharif.


Cause for Concern


Lute's comments regarding Washington's future troop numbers weren't the only part of his presentation that gave his European allies pause. While the US is prepared to continue offering air support after 2014, tactical capabilities such as the helicopter evacuation of the wounded are to be discontinued.


That is cause for concern. Almost all countries present in Afghanistan, including Germany, are dependent on American Medevac aircraft. The German military was only able to set up a functioning system for the evacuation and treatment of wounded fighters in the north with the help of the US. American medics were able to several times save the lives of German soldiers. Even if the post-2014 mission is to exclude combat operations, a functioning system to treat the wounded is indispensable.


Despite Lute's outline of US plans, the German government still hopes that details can be revised, noting that the final numbers have not yet been approved by Obama. But in his recent State of the Union address, the president made clear that "the nature of our commitment will change."


Military strategists in Berlin now know what he meant. The US will keep their future presence in Afghanistan as small as possible.

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22 février 2013 5 22 /02 /février /2013 10:35

Nato 03


21 février 2013 Romandie.com (AFP)


BRUXELLES - L'Otan envisage de revenir sur le projet de réduction progressif des forces afghanes à partir de 2015 et examine la possibilité de leur maintien à leur haut niveau actuel, soit 350.000 hommes, jusqu'à la fin de 2018, ont indiqué jeudi des responsables de l'Alliance atlantique.


Les pays de l'Otan réfléchissent sérieusement à maintenir les effectifs des forces de sécurité afghanes à 352.000 jusqu'à la fin 2018, a-t-on précisé de même source à l'occasion d'une réunion des ministres de la Défense au siège de l'Alliance à Bruxelles.


Aucune décision ne sera prise durant cette réunion, qui se termine vendredi et à laquelle participe le ministre afghan de la Défense, Bismullah Mohammadi, ont indiqué ces responsables.


C'est l'une des pistes envisagées, a déclaré le secrétaire général de l'Otan, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, lors d'une conférence de presse.


Au sommet de l'Otan de Chicago en mai 2012, les 28 pays avaient donné leur accord à une réduction progressive des effectifs des forces afghanes, de 352.000 à 228.500 hommes, qui tiendra compte de l'évolution de l'environnement de sécurité.


Cette décision avait été notamment prise pour ne pas alourdir le budget de ces forces, que les Alliés ont décidé de financer après le retrait de leurs forces combattantes à la fin 2014.


Ce budget avait été évalué en 2012 à 4,1 milliards de dollars par an à partir de 2015. Les Etats-Unis s'étaient engagés à le prendre en charge pour plus de la moitié et l'Etat afghan à hauteur de 500 millions de dollars, ce qui en laissait environ 1,3 milliard à se répartir entre les autres pays.


Le coût pour maintenir 352.000 hommes en 2013 est d'environ 6,5 milliards de dollars, dont 5,7 à la charge des Etats-Unis, 300 millions des alliés et 500 millions du gouvernement afghan.


Si M. Rasmussen s'est dit confiant dans la capacité de financer 350.000 militaires et policiers après 2014, il a souligné que ce n'est pas une responsabilité seulement de l'Otan mais de la communauté internationale.


Il a par ailleurs souligné que les grandes lignes de la future mission post-2015 de l'Alliance, destinée à entraîner et conseiller les forces afghanes seraient fixées dans les prochains mois.


Elles pourraient être approuvées en juin à l'occasion d'un mini-sommet de l'Otan, dont la tenue à Bruxelles est actuellement en discussion.


Le lancement de cette future mission reste soumise à la conclusion d'un accord de sécurité bilatéral entre les Etats-Unis et l'Afghanistan, actuellement en négociation, qui accorde une immunité judiciaire aux troupes américaines amenées à rester après 2014. Selon la presse américaine, le nombre de ces dernières pourrait atteindre 3.000 à 9.000 militaires, dont de nombreuses forces spéciales.

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19 février 2013 2 19 /02 /février /2013 17:35


Newly-qualified reconnaissance troops of the Afghan

National Army's 3/215 Brigade demonstrate some of

their skills - Picture MOD 2013


19 February 2013 Ministry of Defence


Marines from 40 Commando have successfully trained 27 reconnaissance troops for the Afghan National Army's 3/215 Brigade.


The soldiers, who completed their training at their base in Nahr-e Saraj, are now able to carry out vital information-gathering which will assist in providing security after International Security Assistance Force troops withdraw from a combat role in 2014.


The Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers, known as ‘warriors’, will now operate as part of a battalion-sized unit or ‘kandak’.


Corporal Pete Evans from 40 Commando led a team of 7 marines instructing the Afghan soldiers in infantry skills and map-reading.


He said:

A lot of the warriors are illiterate so the map-reading was about getting them used to seeing maps; by the end of our week most were able to plot and give a six-figure grid reference, with some even giving eight-figure references, which is very impressive.

The Afghan soldiers on the course were hand-picked for reconnaissance training having passed out of basic training 18 months beforehand.

A newly-qualified Afghan soldier proudly displays his certificate
A newly-qualified Afghan soldier proudly displays his certificate [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Rhys O'Leary, Crown Copyright/MOD 2013]

One of the instructors, Marine Lee Howell, said:

This was quite an interesting assignment for us as operational marines with very little mentoring experience. The ANA warriors on the course were all keen to learn. For us, this was an opportunity to consolidate everything we have learnt and to pass on those skills.

Working alongside the Royal Marines were the ANA’s own instructors who delivered several elements of the course: an ANA officer taught intelligence-gathering and evidence-collection, members of an ANA search team advised on detecting improvised explosive devices, and an ANA vehicle mechanic held classes on basic vehicle maintenance.

Corporal Evans said:

They are starting to teach themselves, which is a really positive development and one that means they can progress in the future.

The passing out of the Afghan soldiers was marked with a parade at Camp Gereshk in central Helmand province, attended by troops from 3/215 Brigade and the Reconnaissance Troop of 40 Commando Royal Marines, and each marines instructor was presented with an Afghan ‘kholay’ hat and a scarf by their Afghan colleagues.

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19 février 2013 2 19 /02 /février /2013 16:35

Afghan National Army and UK Forces - photo UK MOD source B


DOUCHANBE, 19 février - RIA Novosti


La Grande-Bretagne mène des négociations avec le Tadjikistan sur le retrait des troupes britanniques d'Afghanistan via le sol tadjik, a annoncé mardi à RIA Novosti le ministère tadjik des Transports.


"La signature d'un accord sur le transit de fret militaire et de soldats britanniques d'Afghanistan par le territoire tadjik a été au centre d'une rencontre du ministre tadjik des Transports Nizom Khakimov avec l'ambassadeur de Grande-Bretagne au Tadjikistan Robin Jeremy Ord-Smith", a indiqué un porte-parole du ministère.


Les deux responsables ont en outre noté la nécessité de signer au plus vite un accord intergouvernemental sur la liaison aérienne entre la Grande-Bretagne et le Tadjikistan.


La Grande-Bretagne entend achever le retrait de ses troupes d'Afghanistan d'ici la fin 2014. La semaine dernière, Londres a annoncé avoir offert des camions Leyland DAF et des pièces de rechange pour les véhicules Land Rover à l'Ouzbékistan pour obtenir la permission de retirer une partie de matériels militaires et d'équipements par le territoire ouzbek.


Selon le ministre britannique de la Défense Philip Hammond, le parlement ouzbek a déjà ratifié un accord sur le transit qui entrera en vigueur après la fin des procédures nécessaires à Londres. La Grande-Bretagne et l'Ouzbékistan ont conclu trois accords bilatéraux sur le transit qui permettront à Londres de retirer des matériels civils et des blindés par rail, ainsi que des équipements militaires et des soldats par air.

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19 février 2013 2 19 /02 /février /2013 13:39



February 19, 2013: Strategy Page


The U.S. Army has over 6,000 micro-UAVs (Ravens and Pumas) and is still finding new ways to use these tiny (under six kg/13.2 pound) reconnaissance aircraft. The army is also evaluating tiny helicopter-type UAVs and several other models similar to the Ravens and Pumas. All this comes a century after aerial reconnaissance first revolutionized warfare. The tiny UAVs are another radical new aircraft technology that is taking air recon to a new level. That level is low, a few hundred meters off the ground. It all began in the American military during the last decade. The aircraft are the nearly 1,798 Raven and 325 Puma UAVs systems in use by ground troops. A complete system (controller, spare parts, and three UAVs) costs $250,000 for the Raven and over $400,000 for Puma. These tiny aircraft have changed how the troops fight and greatly reduced army dependence on the air force for air reconnaissance.


Traditional U.S. military aviators, and the 10,000 manned airplanes they operate, are somewhat disdainful of these tiny, unmanned, aircraft. But for the troops on the ground, they are a lifesaver and the key to many victories. This sort of thing has happened before. During World War I (1914-18), when aerial reconnaissance first became a major factor in military operations, it was quickly noted that regular flights over the enemy, despite the risk of getting shot down, provided invaluable information. It wasn't just what the human observer noted, but photographs of what was down there. All this was rather sudden because reasonably cheap and reliable aircraft only began to appear a few years before World War I began. This was not surprising, as the first flight of a heavier-than-air aircraft only took place in 1903. The war spurred even more aircraft innovation. But then, and now, the principal job of aircraft was to be the eyes of the ground forces. The fighters were to protect friendly recon aircraft and attack the enemy ones. Bombers were consistently oversold, and the air force partisans could never accept the fact that bombing was an adjunct to reconnaissance, not the primary mission of the air forces.  Just as the first recon aircraft a century ago changed the way armies fought, the micro-UAVs have changed the way small units of soldiers fight. A century ago the aerial observers reported to generals and their staffs. UAV video goes to platoon or company commanders, or the leader of a small Special Forces team. The lightweight, hand launched Raven UAV can only stay airborne about an hour per sortie, but troops have found that this is enough time to do all sorts of useful work, even when there's no fighting going on. This is most of the time. The heavier Puma can stay up for 120 minutes.


In Iraq and Afghanistan, the enemy did not want to confront U.S. troops directly (this tended to get you killed). So there was an unceasing effort to set up ambushes, plant mines and roadside bombs, and fire rockets or mortars at American bases. All of these activities can be messed with by using Raven. U.S. troops know to think like the enemy, and quickly figured out the best ambush positions, or places to plant mines or fire rockets. By sending Ravens over these spots periodically the enemy is put in danger of being spotted. The enemy knows that usually leads to a prompt attack from American mortars or helicopter gunships. These mind games, of sneaking around trying to get a shot off at the Americans, is more stressful and dangerous if the U.S. troops have Ravens. And most of them do.


The U.S. Army has over 5,000 RQ-11 Raven UAVs in service. This two kilogram (4.4 pound) aircraft is popular with combat and non-combat troops alike. The army has developed better training methods, which enables operators to get more out of Raven. Combat troops use it for finding and tracking the enemy, while non-combat troops use it for security (guarding bases or convoys). In both cases, troops have come to use the Raven for more than just getting a look over the hill or around the corner. The distinctive noise of Raven overhead is very unpopular with the enemy below and is often used to scare the enemy away, or make him move to where he can be more easily spotted.


The current model, the Raven B (RQ-11B), was introduced six years ago, a year after the original Raven entered service in large numbers. This UAV is inexpensive ($35,000 each) and can stay in the air for 80 minutes at a time. The Raven is battery powered (and largely silent unless flown close to the ground). It carries a color day vidcam, or a two color infrared night camera. It can also carry a laser designator. Both cameras broadcast real time video back to the operator, who controls the Raven via a handheld controller, which uses a hood to shield the display from direct sunlight (thus allowing the operator to clearly see what is down there). The Raven can go as fast as 90 kilometers an hour but usually cruises at between 40 and 50. It can go as far as 15 kilometers from its controller, and usually flies a preprogrammed route, using GPS for navigation.


The Raven is made of Kevlar, the same material used in helmets and protective vests. On average, Raven can survive about 200 landings before it breaks something. While some Ravens have been shot down, the most common cause of loss is losing the communications link (as the aircraft flies out of range) or a software/hardware failure on the aircraft. Combat losses have been high, as nearly 20,000 have been built and most of those have been lost in training or the battlefield.


From the very beginning, the Raven changed the way troops fight. With the bird's eye view of the battlefield, commanders can move their troops more quickly, confident that they won't be ambushed, and often with certain knowledge of where the unseen enemy is. The big advantage with Raven is that it’s simple, reliable, and it just works. The UAV can be quickly taken apart and put into a backpack. It takes off by having the operator start the motor, and then throwing it. This can be done from a moving vehicle and the Raven is a popular recon tool for convoys. It lands by coming in low and then turning the motor off. Special Forces troops like to use it at night, because the enemy can’t see it, and often can’t hear it either.


The controller allows the operator to capture video, or still pictures, and transmit them to other units or a headquarters. The operator often does this while the Raven is flying a pre-programmed pattern (using GPS). The operator can have the UAV stop and circle, in effect keeping the camera on the same piece of ground below. The operator can also fly the Raven, which is often used when pursuing hostile gunmen.


Last year the U.S. Army began using the larger (5.9 kg) Puma AE UAVs. So far 325 RQ-20A systems have been ordered and most have been delivered. Adopting Puma is part of an army effort to find micro-UAVs that are more effective than current models and just as easy to use. The Puma, a 5.9 kg (13 pound) UAV with a 2.6 meter (8.5 feet) wingspan and a range of 15 kilometers from the operator, has proved to be the next big (or micro) thing the army was looking for. Combat commanders quickly realized how useful Puma is and wanted more, as quickly as possible. This is not surprising as SOCOM (Special Operations Command) has been using Puma since 2008.


The army wants to equip each infantry company with a Puma system. That would mean 18 Puma AE UAVs per brigade and nearly 400 for the entire army. These larger UAVs have been most useful in route clearance (scouting ahead to spot ambushes, roadside bombs, landslides, washouts, or whatever). The larger Puma is particularly useful in Afghanistan, which is windier than Iraq and thus more difficult for the tiny Raven to operate.


Top speed for Puma is 87 kilometers an hour and cruising speed is 37-50 kilometers an hour. Max altitude is 3,800 meters (12,500 feet), and the UAV can stay in the air for 120 minutes at a time. Puma has a better vidcam (providing tilt, pan, and zoom) than the smaller Raven and that provides steadier and more detailed pictures. Because it is larger than Raven, and three times as heavy, Puma is much steadier in bad weather. Both Puma and Raven are battery powered.


Puma has been around for a decade but never got purchased in large quantities by anyone. The latest model uses a lot of proven tech from the Raven (both UAVs are made by the same company). Like the Raven, Puma is hand launched and can be quickly snapped together or apart. Another version, using a fuel cell, has been tested and was able to stay in the air for nine hours at a time. There is also a naval version that floats and is built to withstand exposure to salt water.


The army has bought over 10,000 of the 2 kg (4.4 pounds) Raven, but it is mostly used for convoy and base security and less so by troops in the field. Each combat brigade is now supposed to have 35 mini-UAV systems (each with three UAVs, most of them Raven, but at least ten of these systems are to be Pumas). That means that each combat brigade now has its own air force of over a hundred reconnaissance aircraft.


Raven, and a thousand slightly larger UAVs, don't get much publicity, but they have a larger impact on combat than the few hundred much larger (Shadow, Predator, Reaper) UAVs. These big, and often armed, UAVs carry out vital missions, but comprise a tenth of the airtime that the micro-UAVs rack up. Moreover, these smaller UAVs have opened up lots of other possibilities. There are already small, single use UAVs that are basically guided bombs. Even smaller UAVs can be used for spying, as well as battlefield recon. These little aircraft are having an enormous impact on warfare, rivaling what happened a century ago.


Because of anti-aircraft machine-guns and portable missile systems the air force prefers to stay high (over 3,200 meters/10,000 feet) and let the army and their UAVs and helicopters take care of the lower altitudes. The army has taken on the challenge and succeeded.

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19 février 2013 2 19 /02 /février /2013 13:35



BRUXELLES, 18 février - RIA Novosti


La Russie veut savoir quelles tâches seront remplies par l'Otan en Afghanistan après 2014, a déclaré lundi le chef de la diplomatie russe Sergueï Lavrov après un entretien à Bruxelles avec le secrétaire général de l'Alliance Anders Fogh Rasmussen.


"A l'heure actuelle, l'Otan essaie de définir sa mission en Afghanistan après 2014, quand elle se retirera de ce pays, en y laissant seulement un contingent réduit, chargé de former le personnel afghan et de donner des consultations", a indiqué le ministre devant les journalistes.


Et d'ajouter que la Russie tenait à comprendre quelle sera la principale mission de l'Alliance en Afghanistan après 2014.


"Cela nous intéresse, naturellement, car on entend parfois des voix plaidant de nouveau en faveur d'une défense territoriale conjointe, à titre de mission principale de l'Otan", a précisé M.Lavrov.

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18 février 2013 1 18 /02 /février /2013 07:35




Feb. 17, 2013 - By JORIS FIORITI,  - Dezfense news (AFP)


KABUL — The commander of U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan said Sunday he would comply with President Hamid Karzai’s order banning Afghan security forces from seeking NATO air support.


Karzai said on Saturday that he would issue a decree ordering an end to local security forces calling in NATO air strikes amid new tensions over civilian casualties caused by such attacks.


Air strikes have been an important weapon in the fight against Taliban insurgents, but they have also proved hugely controversial as they have led to numerous civilian deaths.


U.S. Gen. Joseph Dunford, who took charge of the U.S.-led NATO force in the war-battered country last Sunday, said he was prepared to comply with Karzai’s order, made after a NATO air raid killed 10 civilians including women and children in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday night.


“We are prepared to provide support in line with the president’s intent,” Dunford told reporters in Kabul.


Karzai summoned Dunford over the air raid in Kunar province.


“I get the broad guidance from the president and we will work out the details in the coming days,” Dunford said.


“We have restraints and constraints on each operation. I believe we will continue to support the ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) and meet the president’s intent,” Dunford said in response to questions about Karzai’s order.


“There are other ways to support the Afghans besides aviation,” he said.


He added that his troops had made “huge progress in mitigating the civilian casualties”.


NATO restricted air strikes on civilian areas in June in the wake of another botched mission which killed 18 civilians, though U.S. deputy commander in Afghanistan Lieutenant General Curtis Scaparrotti said they could still be used as a “last resort” to save soldiers’ lives.


Asked on Sunday whether NATO troops could still call in air strikes in these circumstances, a spokesman for the coalition declined to comment.


Civilian casualties caused by military operations are a sensitive issue in Afghanistan where Dunford is leading more than 100,000 U.S. and NATO troops to defeat a Taliban-led insurgency.


For the past 11 years NATO’s vast fleet of fighter jets, attack helicopters, unmanned drones and transport aircraft have supported ground troops in operations against the Taliban.


Last year coalition aircraft in Afghanistan flew 28,640 close air support sorties, firing weapons 4,082 times, according to official figures. Drones fired 494 times.


Afghanistan’s own poorly equipped air force has no fixed-wing attack aircraft and is not capable of providing firepower to support ground troops.


A Western security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the new ban would make the fight against the militants much harder.


“With no air strikes things will probably be a lot more complicated,” he told AFP.


“The challenge in Afghanistan is the extreme mobility of the enemy. If you want to go after him into his hideouts, it’s very difficult to do on foot or by four-wheel drive.


“If air strikes are eventually banned, it’s a good victory for the Taliban — without air power you have to chase after them.”


The bulk of NATO’s 100,000 combat troops are due to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and Western governments are keen to stress Afghan forces’ capabilities, but the loss of air cover will leave them more vulnerable.

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17 février 2013 7 17 /02 /février /2013 22:47



17 février 2013 Romandie.com (AFP)


KABOUL - Le général Joseph Dunford, commandant de l'Isaf, le bras armé de l'Otan en Afghanistan, a annoncé dimanche que la coalition suivrait les recommandations du président Karzaï, qui a interdit à ses forces de sécurité de demander l'appui aérien des troupes de l'Otan.


Le chef de l'Etat afghan a annoncé samedi qu'il avait signé un décret en ce sens, quelles que soient les conditions, après que dix civils, la plupart des femmes et des enfants eurent péri dans un bombardement américain dans l'est du pays au cours de la nuit de mardi à mercredi.


Trois talibans avaient également trouvé la mort dans la maison visée.


L'aide aérienne comprend également l'assistance médicale qu'apporte la coalition aux policiers et soldats afghans blessés au combat.


Faute d'avoir lu ce texte, l'Otan indique ne pas savoir ce qu'y figure exactement. Hamid Karzaï, dont le gouvernement est porté à bout de bras par la communauté internationale, a l'habitude de proférer des récriminations à l'adresse de ses alliés occidentaux, qui ne se traduisent pas nécessairement pas des actes.


Nous sommes préparés à soutenir (les forces de sécurités afghanes, ANSF) en accord avec la volonté du président, a néanmoins déclaré le général Dunford à des journalistes.


Je reçois les consignes du président. Nous travaillerons sur les détails dans les jours à venir, a estimé le nouveau chef de l'Isaf, qui a succédé il y a une semaine au général John Allen.


Il y a d'autres manières de soutenir l'ANSF que les opérations aériennes, a observé Joseph Dunford, ajoutant que l'Isaf avait fait d'énormes progrès pour réduire les pertes civiles.


En juin, après une attaque aérienne qui avait fait 18 morts, tous des civils, l'Otan avait décidé d'éviter les bombardements sur des zones d'habitation sauf, bien sûr, s'il n'y a pas d'autre choix, et qu'il faut protéger nos soldats, avait déclaré le général Curtis Scaparrotti depuis Washington.


Interrogé à ce sujet, un porte-parole de l'Isaf s'est refusé à tout commentaire.


Les pertes civiles lors de bombardements de l'Otan, généralement américains, sont un sujet constant de friction entre le président Karzaï et ses alliés.


Quand nos forces demandent le soutien des étrangers, des enfants sont tués dans des bombardements, s'est insurgé le chef de l'Etat samedi.


Mais sans aucun appui aérien, ça sera probablement beaucoup plus compliqué. La difficulté en Afghanistan, c'est la très grande mobilité de l'adversaire. Si on veut le chercher au fond de ses caches, ce sera très difficile d'y aller à pied ou en 4X4, a observé une source sécuritaire occidentale.


Si l'arme aérienne est interdite à terme, c'est une très belle victoire pour les talibans. Sans arme aérienne, il faut leur courir après, a poursuivi cette source.


Un comité de l'ONU a récemment dénoncé la mort de centaines d'enfants afghans dans des attaques et des bombardements aériens essentiellement réalisés par l'armée américaine ces dernières années.


L'armée américaine, à la tête de la mission de l'Otan, a rejeté de manière catégorique des conclusions infondées, faisant valoir que le nombre des victimes civiles de l'Otan en Afghanistan avait diminué de 49% en 2012 par rapport à 2011 et que le nombre des enfants tués ou blessés dans des bombardements aériens avait chuté de 40% pendant la même période.


Il existe un seuil de pertes colatérales. Plus on se rapproche de zéro, plus c'est difficile de le réduire, a remarqué la source sécuritaire, ajoutant que les Américains prenaient énormément de précautions avant de procéder à un bombardement.


Plus de 13.000 civils sont morts des suites du conflit entre 2007 et l'été 2012 en Afghanistan, selon l'ONU.

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17 février 2013 7 17 /02 /février /2013 08:35

Taliban attack in Kabul Apr 15 2012 photo @AJELive


17.02.2013 Romandie.com (ats)


Le président afghan Hamid Karzaï va interdire aux forces de sécurité afghanes de demander des frappes aériennes de l'Otan dans des zones habitées. Il réagissait trois jours après une nouvelle "bavure" qui a coûté la vie à dix civils dans l'est du pays.


Lors d'un discours samedi à l'école militaire de Kaboul, le président Karzaï a dit toute sa colère après cette bavure. Il a également annoncé qu'il signerait dimanche un décret interdisant aux forces gouvernementales de réclamer des raids de l'aviation de l'Otan dans des zones où des pertes civiles sont à craindre.


"Je publierai un décret stipulant qu'en aucun cas les forces afghanes ne peuvent demander des frappes aériennes étrangères sur des maisons ou des villages afghans au cours de leurs opérations", a déclaré le chef de l'Etat devant un millier de militaires et d'élèves officiers.


Mercredi, une frappe de la Force internationale d'assistance à la sécurité (Isaf), sous commandement de l'Otan, a fait dix morts, dont cinq enfants et quatre femmes, parmi les civils du village de Chawgamj, district de Shigal, dans la province de Kunar qui jouxte le Pakistan. Quatre combattants taliban, dont un Pakistanais, ont également péri dans l'attaque.


Selon le gouverneur de la province, Fazlullah Wahidi, l'Isaf a mené cette action de son propre chef, sans en informer les autorités locales.


Hamid Karzaï a cependant déclaré samedi avoir été informé que ce raid avait été demandé par les services de renseignement afghans. "Si c'est vrai, c'est très regrettable et c'est même honteux. Comment peut-on demander à des étrangers d'envoyer des avions bombarder nos maisons ?", s'est-il exclamé.

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15 février 2013 5 15 /02 /février /2013 22:34


une Land Rover du RAF Regiment utilisée en Afghanistan (photo Frédéric Lert)


15.02.2013 par Frédéric (<fob)


Près de £ 450.000 (environ 570.000 Euros) de matériels : c’est ce que Londres va offrir à l’Ouzbekistan en échange de sa bonne volonté dans le déménagement à venir des troupes britanniques présentes en Afghanistan.


 Les britanniques estiment aujourd’hui à £ 4 milliards et 6500 conteneurs la valeur et la quantité de matériels à rapatrier avant 2015. Une analyse purement comptable démontrerait facilement que pour des matériels usés ou de faible valeur, il ne serait pas sans doute pas rentable de payer un voyage retour en bonne et due forme jusqu’en Europe.  Les Britanniques évoquent ainsi la possibilité de donner à Tachkent des Land Rover, des camions Leyland et des stocks de pièces détachées. En offrant ce cadeau, Londres fait un heureux et allège sa facture logistique. Tout le monde ne partage pas cette analyse en Grande Bretagne, où des voix s’élèvent pour dénoncer ce don de matériel militaire à un pays montré du doigt (sauf par les manchots, ça va de soi) pour son respect imparfait des droits de l’homme.

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14 février 2013 4 14 /02 /février /2013 08:35




Feb 13, 2013 Spacewar.com (AFP)


Kabul - Afghanistan's fledgling air force is more like a bicycle than a modern fighting machine, its commander has said, pleading for advanced aircraft to fight the Taliban as US-led NATO forces prepare to withdraw.


Air power is crucial in the rugged country where a poor road network is often mined by insurgents, and the Afghan government is pressing hard for the US to boost its air capability before it pulls out next year.


"We will face huge and complicated challenges if the Americans do not provide us with these planes," Major General Abdul Wahab Wardak told AFP, listing a range of attack and transport aircraft he says Afghanistan needs.


In Washington on Tuesday President Barack Obama announced that 34,000 US troops will withdraw from the country by the end of 2013, with the remaining half leaving by the end of 2014, taking with them their far superior firepower.


For the past 11 years NATO's vast fleet of fighter jets, attack helicopters, unmanned drones and transport aircraft have supported ground troops in operations against the Taliban.


Last year coalition aircraft in Afghanistan flew 28,640 close air support sorties, firing weapons 4,082 times, according to official figures. Drones fired 494 times.


They also flew tens of thousands of surveillance sorties and flights carrying troops and cargo.


The US is negotiating leaving a small residual force in Afghanistan after 2014, but the overwhelming air power will all but disappear.


As part of its exit strategy Washington is helping rebuild the Afghan Air Force (AAF) -- which currently has no fixed-wing attack planes -- but the government has complained that the process is too slow.


The air force chief, a stocky former MIG-21 fighter pilot under Soviet occupation in the 1980s, harks back to the old days when the Afghan air force was a regional power to be reckoned with.


"To clarify the comparison of the air force we had in the past with now, I will give you this example," he said.


"Back then it was as if you were riding an armoured vehicle. Today it is as if you are riding a bicycle."


The air force of old disappeared in clouds of smoke during the civil war that followed the withdrawal of the Soviets in 1989, after 10 years of occupation.


"There was disunity among us, we started fighting each other, we fought among ourselves and destroyed our air force," Wardak said.


"But we have learned, we know we need unity to build the military and the country."


The words are spoken in Wardak's office in a large, US-funded air force compound adjacent to Kabul's international airport, but like many new things in Afghanistan it is more chimera than substance.


"We have lots of pilots, but no planes," an officer confided ahead of the interview.




Operational aircraft currently in use by the AAF include 43 helicopters -- mainly Russian Mi-17 transports plus six Mi-35 gunships -- a spokeswoman for NATO's air training command in Kabul said.




The air force also has fixed-wing transports including 16 Italian C-27s, but they were grounded for several months last year and are to be withdrawn from service.


"The US has promised to give us four C-130s (large transporters), and also promised to give 20 AT-6 (light attack aircraft)," Wardak said.


The US Air Force (USAF) announced last year that it was reopening a contest for a contract to build 20 light attack aircraft for Afghanistan after the cancellation of an award to Brazil's Embraer.


A final decision on the contract has not been announced, though the first planes are expected to be delivered in the second half of 2014.


"The Air Force is working to fill the request from the Afghan Ministry of Defense for four C-130Hs," USAF spokesman Ed Gulick told AFP.


"Additionally, the USAF is working source selection for a light air support (LAS) aircraft for the Afghan Air Force."


The C-27 transporters, also known as G222s, were expected to serve as the AAF medium airlift aircraft for up to 10 years after the first one was delivered in 2009.


But "aircraft and contract performance limitations have caused the USG to pursue the G222's replacement system at a much more rapid pace", Gulick said.


"The date flying operations will cease is yet to be determined."


President Hamid Karzai told a news conference last month the US had also agreed to provide drones for intelligence gathering, but the move has not been confirmed.


Wardak said that to defend itself against regional threats in one of the world's most unstable areas, the country also needs fighter jets, along with anti-aircraft and radar systems.


NATO and Western governments, keen to exit a conflict increasingly unpopular at home, constantly talk up the capability of the Afghan security forces to take on the fight alone.


But Afghan soldiers and police are already dying at five times the rate of NATO forces and without air support will be even more vulnerable.

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13 février 2013 3 13 /02 /février /2013 20:43

Afghan National Army and UK Forces - photo UK MOD source B


13 February 2013 Ministry of Defence


Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has welcomed President Obama's announcement that US troop numbers will be reduced by 34,000 by this time next year, ahead of the departure of all NATO combat troops by the end of 2014.


The figure represents about half of all US combat troops in Afghanistan. In December, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that UK troop numbers will be almost halved over the course of this year to 5,200.


Mr Hammond said:

I welcome the US announcement on force levels in Afghanistan, which reflects our own drawdown plans and those of our ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) partners.


As we announced in December, UK force levels will reduce from the current 9,000 to around 5,200 by the end of this year.


This is in line with the steady progress of the Afghan National Security Forces as they move towards assuming full security responsibility in Afghanistan by the end of 2014.


During my visit to Afghanistan last week, I saw for myself the increasing confidence and capability of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).


Moving forward, UK and US forces will continue to closely support the Afghans in further consolidating their security lead, which already covers around 75% of the population.


We are working to promote a political settlement and have taken the lead in establishing an Afghan National Army Officer Academy.


Afghanistan will continue to face challenges in the years ahead and we are committed to supporting the Afghan Government, through funding to the ANSF and through development assistance, after the ISAF combat mission ends.

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13 février 2013 3 13 /02 /février /2013 08:35



12 février 2013 Romandie.com (AFP)


WASHINGTON - L'essentiel du retrait des 34.000 soldats américains d'Afghanistan d'ici un an sera effectué à l'issue de la saison des combats qui prend fin à l'automne, a annoncé à l'AFP un haut responsable américain de la Défense sous couvert de l'anonymat.


Les chefs militaires décideront du rythme et l'idée est de garder autant de troupes que possible sur le terrain jusqu'à la fin de la saison des combats, a affirmé ce responsable.


Barack Obama s'apprête à annoncer son intention de diviser par deux le contingent américain en Afghanistan, le ramenant à 34.000 d'ici un an, avait indiqué plus tôt un responsable américain au courant de la teneur du discours sur l'état de l'Union que doit prononcer le président mardi soir devant le Congrès.


Quelque 66.000 soldats américains sont actuellement stationnés dans le pays, un chiffre déjà en réduction depuis le plus haut de 100.000 à la suite d'une décision annoncée par M. Obama en décembre 2009.


Il ne resterait donc que 32.000 militaires américains en Afghanistan à dix mois de la fin 2014, date prévue pour le retrait des forces de l'Otan.


Le secrétaire à la Défense Leon Panetta, qui doit être remplacé dans les prochains par l'ex-sénateur républicain Chuck Hagel, soutient ce projet qui reflète le conseil de la part des chefs militaires au Pentagone et sur le terrain, a fait savoir le responsable de la Défense.


Le président américain s'est par ailleurs entretenu par visioconférence avec son homologue afghan Hamid Karzaï avant de prononcer son discours, a de son côté fait savoir à Kaboul la présidence afghane.


Au cours de leur entretien, les deux présidents ont notamment discuté du renforcement et de l'équipement de l'armée afghane, ainsi que du pacte de sécurité qui doit être signé entre les deux pays, selon elle.


Washington et Kaboul négocient actuellement le maintien d'une force américaine résiduelle en Afghanistan après la fin de la mission de combat de l'Otan fin 2014. Les Etats-Unis ont indiqué qu'ils ne laisseraient des hommes sur place que si Kaboul acceptait d'accorder l'immunité judiciaire aux soldats américains, une ligne rouge traditionnelle de Washington quand des soldats sont déployés à l'étranger.

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13 février 2013 3 13 /02 /février /2013 07:35



13 février 2013 Romandie.com (AFP)


WASHINGTON - Le président américain Barack Obama a annoncé mardi soir le retrait d'Afghanistan de 34.000 militaires américains, la moitié du contingent, au cours de l'année à venir, lors de son discours annuel sur l'état de l'Union.


Ce soir, je peux annoncer qu'au cours de l'année à venir, 34.000 soldats américains rentreront à la maison d'Afghanistan, a déclaré M. Obama, précisant que le retrait continuera et qu'à la fin 2014 notre guerre en Afghanistan sera terminée.


Lors de son discours, le président américain a rappelé avoir déjà rapatrié à la fin septembre 2012 les 33.000 militaires qu'il avait envoyé en renfort à la fin 2009 pour tenter de reprendre l'initiative face aux talibans.


Ce printemps, nos forces passeront à un rôle de soutien, avec les forces afghanes en première ligne, a-t-il justifié, en invoquant la stratégie de la coalition dirigée par l'Otan visant à graduellement transférer la responsabilité de la sécurité aux 350.000 soldats et policiers afghans.


Le contingent américain s'élève actuellement à 66.000 soldats. Il sera diminué donc de moitié d'ici février 2014 selon un rythme qui sera décidé par les chefs militaires sur le terrain, a fait valoir à l'AFP un haut responsable américain de la Défense sous le couvert de l'anonymat.


L'idée est de garder autant de troupes que possible sur le terrain jusqu'à la fin de la saison des combats au début de l'automne, a-t-il confié.

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12 février 2013 2 12 /02 /février /2013 21:01



02/12/2013  Andrew Elwell - defenceiq.com


“We live in a dangerous neighbourhood … you can pick your friends but you cannot pick your neighbours,” General Sher Mohammad Karimi, the chief of the general staff in the Afghan National Army (ANA), told a delegation at the International Armoured Vehicles conference last week.


General Karimi, who was educated at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and later forced into exile from Afghanistan before the Taliban government fell in 2001, presented the ANA’s armoured vehicle future requirements at the conference in Farnborough. With NATO forces scheduled to exit Afghanistan next year, Karimi outlined his plans for making the ANA a capable and efficient force to maintain peace in the region, explaining that, “in the future we will need high-end armoured capabilities … (armoured vehicles) are critical to the survival of the state to develop capabilities to fight insurgents.”


While thanking NATO for its continued support and singling out Lt Gen Adrian Bradshaw and Lt Gen Bertrand Clément-Bollée, the Land Forces Commanders for the UK and France who were in the audience, Karimi was a man under no illusions:


“We must be prepared to fight alone … As conditions (in Afghanistan continue to improve), the need for protection does not go away … The current lack of armoured vehicles in the Afghan Army has driven home to me that there is a requirement and will always be a requirement for mobile firepower.”


MFSV Mobile Strike Force Vehicle photo US Army


The ANA is set to acquiring around 600 Mobile Strike Force Vehicles (MSFVs) from Textron Marine & Land Systems, which is based on the M1117 Guardian Armoured Security Vehicle (ASV).  ANA’s MSFVs will come in a number of variants with capabilities including a 40mm grenade-launcher, a 7.62mm machine gun and a 90mm cannon. Textron are currently working on a command and control variant too, although Karimi said that is still in the development stage.


Although the ANA is fortifying its land forces with the MSFV, along with thousands of HMMWVs, Karimi cautioned that a larger force does not necessarily equate to a more effective one. “The most important thing with equipment is training,” according to the ANA chief. It’s an important nuance in developing markets for vehicle manufacturers to reflect on – the through-life support for their products needs to be more considered for customers who are unfamiliar with sophisticated kit. “Any new equipment must not be too complex. ANA soldiers are often uneducated or illiterate so simplified equipment is preferred at this stage and it must be sustainable.”

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12 février 2013 2 12 /02 /février /2013 19:10



12 février 2013 18h51 Romandie.com (AFP)


WASHINGTON - L'essentiel du retrait des 34.000 soldats américains d'Afghanistan d'ici un an sera effectué à l'issue de la saison des combats qui prend fin à l'automne, a annoncé à l'AFP un haut responsable américain de la Défense sous couvert de l'anonymat.


Les chefs militaires décideront du rythme et l'idée est de garder autant de troupes que possible sur le terrain jusqu'à la fin de la saison des combats, a affirmé ce responsable alors que le président Barack Obama s'apprête à annoncer son intention de diviser par deux le contingent américain en Afghanistan d'ici un an.

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12 février 2013 2 12 /02 /février /2013 17:38


Members of the Household Calvary Regiment during a

mounted patrol in Gereshk, Helmand province, in 2011

(library image) [Picture MOD 2011]


12 February 2013 Ministry of Defence


The units due to deploy to Afghanistan as part of Operation Herrick 18 have been announced by the Defence Secretary Philip Hammond.


The next roulement, or changeover, of UK forces in Afghanistan is due to take place in April 2013. Around half of these units will form Task Force Helmand under command of 1st Mechanized Brigade.


The remainder will deploy within Helmand and also to other locations in Afghanistan - particularly Kandahar and Kabul - as part of the UK’s overall contribution.


In addition to the list of formed units, individual augmentees from each of the Services will continue to deploy as part of this integrated force package. In total it is expected that around 910 individual augmentees will deploy on operations.


These will be comprised of 146 Royal Navy personnel, approximately 400 Army personnel and 364 Royal Air Force personnel. The Royal Air Force will provide the command element of Headquarters Joint Force Support (Afghanistan), with the wider headquarters manned by individual augmentees from all 3 Services.


Volunteer and ex-regular members of the Reserve Forces will continue to deploy to Afghanistan as part of this integrated force package, and it is expected that around 550 call-out notices will be issued.


On completion of their mobilisation procedures, the reservists will undertake a period of training and, where applicable, integration with their respective receiving units. The majority will serve on operations for around 6 months although a small proportion of any force which is stood down due to force level reductions is likely to be reservist.

Soldiers from the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment on a security patrol in Lashkar Gah (library image)
Soldiers from the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment on a security patrol in Lashkar Gah district in 2010 (library image) [Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2010]

As the Prime Minister announced in December 2012, the UK’s conventional force levels in Afghanistan will draw down from 9,000 at the end of 2012 to around 5,200 by the end of 2013.


The forces deploying include:

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12 février 2013 2 12 /02 /février /2013 17:35

US soldiers Afghanistan source defenseWeb


12 février 2013 Guysen International News


Le président Barack Obama va annoncer son objectif de rapatrier d'Afghanistan 34.000 soldats sur 66.000 dans les 12 mois à venir, a indiqué un responsable américain au courant de la teneur de son traditionnel discours sur l'état de l'Union mardi soir. "Le président va annoncer que 34.000 soldats seront revenus d'Afghanistan dans un an", a ajouté cette source sous couvert de l'anonymat, 12 heures avant l'intervention solennelle de Barack Obama devant le Congrès.

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12 février 2013 2 12 /02 /février /2013 17:35



12 février 2013 Romandie.com (AFP)


KAKARAN (Afghanistan) - Des dizaines de villageois ont pris les armes contre les talibans près de Kandahar, le bastion historique des rebelles, après plusieurs soulèvements similaires dans d'autres parties de l'Afghanistan, a-t-on appris auprès de la police et de participants.


De telles manifestations peuvent toutefois être instrumentalisées par des potentats locaux, soucieux de restaurer leur autorité avant le départ des troupes internationales à la fin 2014, ou par le gouvernement, avertissent des analystes.


Le soulèvement survenu dans la province de Kandahar (sud) est l'oeuvre de Haji Abdul Udood, un chef tribal du district de Panjwaji, ulcéré par les menaces de mort des insurgés contre l'un de ses fils qui a rejoint la police locale (ALP), une force financée par les Etats-Unis.


Nous avons pris les armes, mes huit fils et moi et nous avons dit aux talibans que nous les combattrions. Trois autres villageois, qui avaient perdu des membres de leur famille sous des bombes des talibans, nous ont rejoint. D'autres ont suivi, a-t-il raconté à l'AFP.


Un jour, j'allais dans mon verger. Un taliban posait une mine juste devant l'entrée. Je lui ai dit que c'était mon jardin, que cela pouvait me tuer. On m'a insulté, giflé. Maintenant, j'ai un fusil. Je vais les tuer ou les chasser de mon village, a expliqué Allah Dad, 35 ans, un autre habitant révolté, à l'AFP.


Au total, une soixantaine d'hommes, lassés des atrocités commises par les talibans, et notamment de leurs bombes artisanales, qui tuent bien plus de civils que de militaires, ont rejoint les rangs des révoltés en à peine deux jours, a expliqué M. Udood depuis Kakaran, un village situé à 10 km de Kandahar.


Dimanche soir, soutenus par la police, ils ont tué trois insurgés et ont contraint des dizaines d'autres à fuir, ont expliqué le chef tribal, une source policière locale et le général Abdul Raziq, chef de la police pour la province de Kandahar.


A l'heure qu'il est, nous entraînons les villageois. Nous leur avons fourni des armes et des munitions. Nous les soutenons, a déclaré le général Raziq à l'AFP, ajoutant que les jeunes révoltés seraient ensuite intégrés à l'ALP, une force destinée à combattre la rébellion dans les zones rurales.


D'autres soulèvements du genre, soutenus par Kaboul, se sont produits l'été dernier dans des provinces plus proches de Kaboul.


Après onze années de présence internationale, pour soutenir des soldats et policiers afghans, la rébellion menée par les talibans n'a toujours pas été vaincue. La grande majorité des forces de l'Otan quitteront l'Afghanistan à la fin 2014. Nombre d'Afghans craignent le pire une fois le retrait achevé.


Ces derniers mois, il y a eu 60 mines qui ont explosé dans notre village. Toutes ont touché des civils, a observé un habitant de Kakaran, qui a requis l'anonymat. Nous ne voulons pas cela. Les talibans nous tuent, pas les militaires, a poursuivi l'homme, qui se dit âgé de 35 ans.


En mars 2012, le district du Panjwaji a été le théâtre d'un massacre commis par le sergent américain Robert Bales, qui lors d'une marche nocturne macabre, a tué 16 villageois et brûlé certains des corps. La justice militaire américaine a requis la peine de mort contre lui.

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11 février 2013 1 11 /02 /février /2013 21:35



11/02/13 par Maxime de Valensart 7sur7.be (belga.be)


L'armée américaine a commencé ce week-end à rapatrier via le Pakistan du matériel utilisé en Afghanistan en vue de la fin de la mission de combat des troupes de l'Otan, a-t-on appris lundi auprès de la coalition.


Deux convois de 25 conteneurs ont franchi la frontière pakistanaise aux postes de Chaman et Torkham dimanche, a indiqué lundi à l'AFP le colonel Les Carroll. "Le passage de ces convois marque la première cargaison américaine d'Afghanistan (à transiter) par le Pakistan depuis juillet 2012."


"C'était un ballon d'essai. Nous testions l'usage de cette route. Les Etats-Unis et l'Isaf (force de l'Otan) devront transporter d'énormes quantités de matériel hors d'Afghanistan. Nous devons pour cela utiliser tous les chemins possibles", a-t-il poursuivi.


Les convois sont acheminés vers le port de Karachi, grande ville du sud du Pakistan, où des bateaux transporteront le matériel vers les Etats-Unis. La route du Nord, via les pays d'Asie centrale, et la voie aérienne constituent les deux seules autres alternatives.


Le Pakistan avait temporairement interdit aux convois de l'Otan de traverser ses frontières depuis l'Afghanistan après que des hommes armés eurent attaqués ses camions le 24 juillet, tuant un chauffeur à Jamrud, dans la périphérie de Peshawar (nord-ouest).


Quelque 100.000 soldats de l'Isaf, dont 68.000 Américains, sont encore déployés en Afghanistan, où la coalition dispose d'encore 200 bases, selon Les Carroll. La fin du retrait de la majorité de ces troupes est prévue pour la fin 2014.

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10 février 2013 7 10 /02 /février /2013 12:31



10 février 2013 08h53 Romandie.com (AFP)


KABOUL - Le général américain Joseph Dunford a pris ses fonctions dimanche à la tête de la coalition en Afghanistan (Isaf), succédant au général John Allen, au moment où les forces armées occidentales préparent leur retrait d'ici à la fin 2014, a rapporté un journaliste de l'AFP.


Joseph Dunford devrait en principe être le dernier commandant des Etats-Unis dans le cadre de ce conflit qui aura duré onze ans.


John Allen, nommé au poste de commandant suprême de l'Otan, a assuré que la coalition était sur le chemin de la victoire.


Dunford avait gagné le surnom de Fighting Joe lors de la guerre en Irak, mais il n'a jusqu'à présent jamais servi en Afghanistan.


Né à Boston en 1955, le général a gravi tous les échelons des Marines, cette force d'élite de l'armée américaine qui a été engagée sur plus de 300 théâtres d'opérations depuis sa création. Après avoir occupé différents postes opérationnels, il en est devenu le numéro deux en octobre 2010.


Quelque 67.000 Américains sont actuellement déployés en Afghanistan aux côtés de 37.000 militaires de la coalition et 337.000 soldats et policiers afghans.

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8 février 2013 5 08 /02 /février /2013 13:35

Tarian QuickShield Picture AmSafe Ltd


BRIDPORT, England, Feb. 7 (UPI)


New lightweight, flexible armor kits for enhanced protection from rocket-propelled grenades have been ordered by the British Ministry of Defense.


The protection system, called Tarian, is a product of AmSafe Bridport Ltd. and was selected by the ministry following a series of live-fire tests.


AmSafe said the contract received is for "several hundred" Tarian RPG Armoring System kits and is worth about $17 million.


The modular system will be for several types of vehicles used by British forces in Afghanistan.


"AmSafe Bridport is delighted to have won this significant contract for the U.K. Ministry of Defense," Neal McKeever, Sales and Marketing director at AmSafe Bridport said. "This contract win demonstrates that Tarian is the RPG protection technology of choice to meet armed forces requirements for effective RPG protection that is light weight, operationally effective and affordable."


Tarian nets are attached to vehicles using innovative flexible mounts. The system's core element is a textile net made from high-tenacity fibers.

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7 février 2013 4 07 /02 /février /2013 17:35


Supplies being delivered to a patrol base by the IRG in

Nahr-e Saraj - Picture MOD 2013


6 February 2013 Ministry of Defence


The vital job of making deliveries of kit and personnel to the front line in Afghanistan comes with no shortage of challenges.


The Immediate Replenishment Group (IRG) operates out of Main Operating Base Price as part of Transition Support Unit Nahr-e Saraj and deploys on a daily basis to deliver stores, equipment and personnel to patrol bases across Afghanistan.


Preparation starts the night before, with any necessary last-minute changes being made to the load. The number of vehicles deployed will vary according to the location being visited and what stores are being delivered.


Once loaded, the IRG departs, leapfrogging from patrol base to patrol base, delivering kit and/or collecting personnel.

Despite their familiarity with the area, IRG members are always mindful of the threat posed by improvised explosive devices and the dangers of travelling on poor roads in inhospitable terrain.


Marine Conor Bohan, from 40 Commando Royal Marines, said:

On one occasion one of our wagons got stuck in a wadi; we had to jump into waist-deep water to hook up a line and drag the vehicle out - all the while there was a very real threat warning for that immediate area.

Four months into their tour, the IRG has already completed 150 replenishment patrols - more than any other call sign in Nahr-e Saraj.

A vehicle convoy
An Immediate Replenishment Group vehicle convoy making its way across the desert [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Rhys O'Leary, Crown Copyright/MOD 2013]

Corporal Tom Allen of the Royal Logistic Corps said:

We are definitely the busiest call sign in the Nahr-e Saraj area of operations. We are out most days - often 6 out of 7 - which makes the tour go really fast.


Everyone in the area of operations appreciates the work of the IRG - especially as we bring them mail.

The forthcoming withdrawal of British military personnel from Afghanistan will have a major impact on the workload of the IRG due to the expected number of logistical moves.


The commander of the IRG, Battle Group Logistics Officer Major Paul Barden, said:

Logistics remain an important aspect of any campaign, more so as the redeployment of UK forces draws near. Now that Afghan National Security Forces are good enough, we can focus on being there to support them if required, whilst the IRG continues to sustain our own forces.


The focus on reshaping the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) footprint during this deployment has been a marked change from any previous tour but this is what successful transition looks like.

Deployed in September 2012, by December the IRG had conducted around 120 patrols, delivering 2,180 tonnes of stores and transporting over 350 ranks safely to their destinations.


In the first month of 2013, they topped the 150 mark, making them one of the most consistently busy call signs.


The IRG is made up of 10 Royal Marines, 10 personnel from the Royal Logistic Corps and one Gurkha from the Royal Gurkha Rifles.

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7 février 2013 4 07 /02 /février /2013 12:35

Afghan Air Force aircrew members watch as peers practice litter carries onto an Mi-17 helicopter on Nov. 20, 2012 , the Kabul, Afghanistan, International Airport. U.S. Air Force, AAF and other coalition forces members spent three days teaching basic medical training, medical and causality evacuation procedures to AAF flight engineers, pilots and aerial gunners. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Melissa K. Mekpongsatorn)

Afghan Air Force aircrew members watch as peers practice litter carries onto an Mi-17 helicopter on Nov. 20, 2012 , the Kabul, Afghanistan, International Airport. U.S. Air Force, AAF and other coalition forces members spent three days teaching basic medical training, medical and causality evacuation procedures to AAF flight engineers, pilots and aerial gunners. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Melissa K. Mekpongsatorn)


KABUL, Afghanistan (Feb. 7, 2013) - ISAF


The commanders of the Afghan Air Force and NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan signed two operational decrees Jan. 23, 2013, implementing procedures to improve air response to Afghan battlefield casualties by the AAF’s new Cessna C-208 fleet and its Mi-17 helicopters. The decrees address the high-priority missions of evacuation of wounded personnel (CASEVAC) and the dignified, culturally[awj1] appropriate transfer of fallen members of Afghan National Security Forces. The signings took place in the NATC-A headquarters at the Kabul, Afghanistan, International Airport.
“We are going to sign two policies today, one of them is about injured personnel and another one is about the fallen ones,” introduced Maj. Gen. Abdul Wahab Wardak, commander of the AAF, noting the months of work involved with these specific policies.
“These air support missions are critical to campaign success, augmenting ground CASEVAC resources when needed,” emphasized U.S. Air Force [awj2] Brig. Gen. Steven Shepro, NATC-A commander. “To improve the effectiveness of these missions, the AAF and NATC-A team have accelerated the delivery, configuration and initial operating capability of the C-208 fleet in a matter of months.”
The decree initiatives instruct aircrew and direct streamlined command, control and communication across security organizations. The AAF’s primary unit for managing sorties, or flying missions, is the Afghan Air Force Command and Control Center. This ‘sortie center’ is more frequently referenced as ACCC, or ‘A-Triple C’. According to the NATC-A Director of Operations, U.S. AF Col. Reginald Smith, the AAF has transferred 146 patients for continued medical care in the last three months of 2012. The primary AAF aircraft used for casualty movements have been Mi-17 helicopters, C-27A Spartan and Cessna 208B fixed-wing[awj3]  aircraft.
“The ACCC functions to task AAF units and aircraft to conduct troop movement, resupply and equipment logistics along with the movement of the injured and fallen,” said Smith. “The ACCC works in coordination with the Afghan Ministry of Defense to prioritize and task missions each day according to the position and availability of aircraft.”
Current C-208 seating configurations accommodate up to eight ambulatory patients, but modifications to transport four litter patients along with two additional ambulatory patients are in progress, according to NATC-A medical personnel.
According to U.S. AF Col. Michael J. Paston, advisor to the AAF Surgeon General, the lack of C-208 cabin pressurization rarely limits patient transport in Afghanistan. “In the past six months there was only one patient unable to be transported by air” because of this lack of pressurization, he said.
“The AAF’s recent progress in these priority missions has been significant,” said Shepro. “Three months ago, the air CASEVAC process would have taken over 24 hours; today, response times average under five hours from battlefield request to hospital arrival – and are increasingly Afghan-planned, coordinated and executed with minimal advisor input. Air response and capability continues to improve; over the last three months, the AAF air supply to the six fielded Afghan Army Corps has comprised more than 570 missions, 370,000 pounds of cargo and 5,400 passengers.
“The Afghan-Coalition team has a clear strategy for 2013 mission success and growth of the AAF’s quantity and quality,” said Shepro. “These operational decrees provide joint cohesion, direction and motivation to improve air support to Afghan National Security Forces and enhance campaign success.”

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7 février 2013 4 07 /02 /février /2013 08:35

Afghan Air Corps


Feb. 6, 2013 By PAUL McLEARY – Defense News


The U.S. has spent $55 billion to recruit, train and equip Afghan security forces. And as the U.S. and NATO transition from leading the fight against the Taliban to pushing the Afghans into the lead, the world will see what the U.S. got for its money.


One of the most closely watched initiatives undertaken by the 195,000-strong Afghan National Army (ANA) is its nascent quick-reaction capability, which has already cost tens of millions of dollars to field more than 300 of a planned 640 vehicles. The force will grow to a strength of seven kandaks — each about the size of a battalion — two of which will be special operations forces.


The plan is for the kandaks to be capable of driving to the fight in the ANA’s fastest, most advanced and well-protected vehicle: the mine-resistant mobile strike force vehicle, a derivative of Textron Marine and Land Systems’ M1117 armored security vehicle, used by U.S., Canadian and other forces around the world.


The elite force will be able to respond to crises quickly and with mass and firepower, giving Kabul a new set of options when faced with a variety of fast-moving and unpredictable threats.


To increase the area they can cover, five kandaks are slated to remain in the Kabul area, while two more will go to Kandahar in the south once their training is complete, officials involved with the program said. Two units have already gone through training; one is stationed in Darulaman outside Kabul, and the other is deployed to Kandahar.


Brian Feser, Textron’s Afghanistan director of operations, said he expects all of the vehicles to be fielded by September 2014.


Despite a recent Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) report that found that only 60 to 80 percent of Afghan soldiers are present for duty at any time due to desertion or injury, and an October Pentagon report that placed the desertion numbers at between 2,400 and 5,500 soldiers a month, Feser said attrition “hasn’t been a problem for us.”


He said the kandaks “are doing phenomenally well” in training and have been conducting a train-the-trainer program to allow the Afghans to eventually train their recruits.


Key to the quick-reaction force’s success, Feser said, is the fact that “they’re specially selected.


“The kandak staffs are selected by the chief of the staff” of the Afghan Army down to sergeant level, Feser said. The soldiers are veterans who have already gone through training and deployment.


Aside from the ambitious quick-reaction capability, Lt. Col. Michael Parry, head of the U.S. Army’s foreign military sales office in Kabul, said most of the Afghans’ critical equipment has already been delivered.


The issue now is training the Afghans in the difficult tasks of logistics and sustainment so they can keep their Humvees, Ford Rangers, Mi-17 transport helicopters and Mi-35 attack helicopters working once NATO forces leave.


Parry is “looking to get it ‘Afghan right,’” he said, as opposed to setting up a system the Americans are comfortable with. “The Afghans do not have a technical base here, and we’re trying to build that and get them equipment that they can sustain over the long haul.”


With corruption, poor bookkeeping and waste remaining major problems in contracting in Afghanistan, Parry said he is impressed by the initiative Afghan Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi showed in December when he ordered his staff to come up with a two-month course to teach procurement, logistics and financial issues. The Afghans invited 250 of their top logistics officers to Kabul for the course.


“We heard about it and asked how we could help, but we found out very quickly that they had courses ready to go,” Parry said. “I was very encouraged to see how adamant these 250 people are about what they’re trying to do.”


The Afghans are also beginning to write their own foreign military sales memos of request, as opposed to having the Americans do it for them.


“They have the organic maintenance capability, and now they’re ordering the parts for next year,” Parry said.


While Parry is optimistic, there are still major issues to contend with. One of the sore spots in the effort to equip the Afghan forces has been the $600 million contract with Finmeccanica subsidiary Alenia Aermacchi for 20 C-27A transport planes. The U.S. Air Force announced in December that it is walking away from the aircraft.


While the U.S. Air Force cited poor performance and high maintenance costs as the reason for the cancellation and has committed to supplying the Afghan Air Force with four C-130H transport planes in 2013 and 2014, it has no plans for the 20 aircraft it has already purchased.


Alenia has not officially commented, but sources close to the firm have argued that Alenia should not shoulder all the blame, pointing to difficulties in training Afghans and adding that the U.S. Air Force did not order enough spare parts.


But equipment can only do so much. While the independence and effectiveness of the Afghan Army appears to be increasing, this spring and summer will be a huge test of its capabilities, and its ability to operate independently.


Australian Army Brig. Gen. Mark Smethurst, International Security Assistance Force Special Operations Forces commanding general from 2011-2012, told a special operations conference in Washington on Jan. 29 that Afghan-led ops had increased to 86 percent from about 20 percent just one year before.


Still, according to the Pentagon, of the 292 ANA units rated for effectiveness and readiness in October, 168 were rated at the two highest levels, either “independent with advisers” or “effective with advisers.” Eighty-one units were not assessed.


NATO has less than two years to change those percentages.




Tom Kington in Rome contributed to this report.

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