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18 janvier 2013 5 18 /01 /janvier /2013 17:35



January 17, 2013: Strategy Page


Last month the Italian Air Force Predator UAV detachment in Afghanistan flew one of its UAVs for 24 hours straight. The previous record for the Italian UAVs was 22 hours. Predators can fly up to 30 hours (depending on load carried) but normally they, and the larger Reapers, fly sorties that average about 18 hours. In Afghanistan the American experience has been that each sortie results in finding about two targets. About 15 percent of those sorties were in direct support of ground troops under fire, and about 20 percent were in support of ground troops engaged in raids.


The major obstacle to flying extremly long Predator sorties is reliability. But that has been rapidly improving over the last decade. Combat aircraft in general are becoming more reliable, even as they become more complex. For example, in the early 1950s, the F-89 fighter had 383 accidents per 100,000 flying hours. A decade later the rate was in the 20s for a new generation of aircraft. At the time, the F-4, which served into the 1990s, had a rate of under five per 100,000 hours. American F-16s and F-15s have loss rates of under 4 per 100,000 hours.


Combat aircraft have gotten more reliable and easier to maintain, despite growing complexity, for the same reason automobiles have. Better engineering and more sensors built into the equipment makes it easier for the user and maintenance personnel to detect potential problems. Aircraft used the computerized maintenance systems, currently common on new aircraft, long before automobiles got them. Unless you have a much older car that still runs, or a real good memory, you don't notice the enormous increase in automobile reliability. But older pilots remember because such changes are a matter of life and death if you make your living flying an aircraft. And commanders know that safer aircraft give them more aircraft to use in combat and more aircraft that can survive combat damage and keep fighting.


Unmanned aircraft have, until quite recently, had a much higher accident rate, which is largely the result of not having a pilot on board and the software and hardware not benefitting from decades of improvements to remedy that. The RQ-1 Predator had an accident rate of about 30 per 100,000 hours four years ago. Older model UAVs had much higher rates (up to 363 for the RQ-2A). This year, the Predator accident rate is lower than the F-16s, largely because of better flight control software and more reliable UAV components.

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18 janvier 2013 5 18 /01 /janvier /2013 13:39



Jan 18, 2013 defense-aerospace.com

(Source: U.S Department of Defense; issued January 17, 2013)


NATO Planners Look to Enduring Force In Afghanistan


BRUSSELS --- With just 23 months until the end of the International Security Assistance Force mission in Afghanistan, Afghan forces are poised to move into the lead operationally, and NATO and partner nations are discussing the scope and missions of the enduring presence force that will remain in the country.


The conversations within NATO are about this transition, a senior NATO officer, speaking on background, told reporters today. The alliance’s chiefs of defense, including Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are here for meetings.


“It has been less a conversation about numbers than it has been about capabilities and requirements,” the senior officer said of discussions concerning NATO’s role going forward in Afghanistan.


“Milestone 2013” is the shorthand NATO uses referring to Afghan forces taking the security lead. Last week, President Barack Obama and Afghan President Karzai announced this will occur in the spring.


This milestone marks a long road for the Afghan national security forces, the officer said. In 2012, Afghan forces demonstrated their battlefield abilities and proficiencies. Now, he said, the need in Afghanistan is for NATO support forces and advisors rather than the combat troops Afghanistan needed in the past.


The post-2014 needs are a training-and-advising capability and a focused counterterrorism capability, the officer said. How to execute those missions at various troop levels are the conversations that are going on within NATO, in Afghanistan and in the capitals of partner nations, he told reporters, adding that ISAF has not been asked to provide advice with respect to a zero-troop option.


The way forward can be seen with an eye to the past, the officer said. The nature of the enduring-presence force will be to facilitate an Afghan national security force that will still be conducting counterinsurgency operations, he added.


Just a year ago, the officer noted, people asked when ISAF was going to shift the main effort in Afghanistan from Regional Command South to Regional Command East. They didn’t realize the main effort was already shifting, he said, because that mission was shifting to Afghan forces.


For a counterinsurgency to succeed, the officer said, indigenous forces have to be the lead. Foreign forces can provide the breathing space for these forces to develop their capabilities, but ultimately it is up to local forces to work with the people. “That’s been what has been happening over the last 18 months,” he said.


The drawdown of U.S. surge forces in Afghanistan created the space and necessitated innovation for Afghan forces. “They are doing corps-level operations today using counterinsurgency type tactics, techniques and procedures, with us firmly in an advisory role,” he said.


In 2015 and beyond, the nature of NATO presence will be on training, advising and assisting to ensure the continued development of the Afghan forces, the officer said, and the counterterrorism mission will be to prevent al-Qaida from putting down roots in Afghanistan again.


The Afghan forces will be ready for the full security load by 2015, the officer said, but the road hasn’t been easy. “We’re building this military virtually from scratch,” he noted.


Once trained, the officer said, the Afghan military “has gone from the training field to the battlefield, it has gone from training straight into combat.” The Afghan military needs to have cohesion and loyalty to the nation, but it still must incorporate and adjust to the dynamic of tribalism and ethnicity, he added. And on top of this, he said, less than a quarter of all Afghans are literate, and the use of modern weapons and tactics requires literacy.


There are problems, he acknowledged, and ISAF and the Afghan ministries are addressing them. Attrition in the army is an unsustainable 3.5 percent per month, the officer said. Other national security elements such as the police and air force are within the norms needed, around 1.4 percent per month.


The army’s difficulties, he told reporters, stem from four basic problems: quality of leadership, quality of life, access to leave, and pay.


The pay issue has been largely solved with the adoption of electronic funds transfer. Quality of life issues are being addressed by building new garrisons, the officer said. “We’re getting these soldiers out of barracks that are falling down, that are cast-offs, and getting them into the new facilities and bases that we are building for them,” he said.


Leave was a problem last year and directly contributed to a rise in the attrition rate, the officer said, noting these soldiers went straight from the training ground to a tough fighting season in 2012. “We have worked very closely with the Afghan army and the Ministry of Defense to get leave back on the books for these kids,” he said.


Finally, the officer said, leadership is a systemic problem that is being addressed. The Afghan defense minister is scrubbing the leadership of the Afghan military and weeding out those who can’t cut the mustard or are corrupt, while promoting those who have demonstrated their worth.


The attrition is coming down, the officer said.


All this is important for the Afghan security forces in 2013, the officer said. “This is the first summer where Afghans are in the lead for security operations throughout the country,” he said. “We want their forces to come out of this fighting season to be successful, but really to be confident in their abilities.”


The Afghans already are conducting corps-level operations around Afghanistan and routinely oversee 10,000 to 12,000 Afghan troops in an operation from multiple brigades, the officer said. Between 1,000 and 1,500 ISAF personnel will be scattered about the battle space as advisors or providing support capabilities.


One Taliban tactic is simply to wait out the NATO ISAF mission and take on the Afghan national security force, the officer said, but he added he does not believe that is the Taliban’s strategy.


“Have the Taliban taken a knee for a couple of fighting seasons to sustain their own combat power and lull us into a false sense of confidence?” he said. “We have concluded they have not taken a knee. They are going to continue to come at us hard. That’s where the insider threat has been, and our sense is they are not going to husband or marshal their combat power for a post-2014 offensive.”


The fighting seasons from 2009 to 2012 each saw decreases in enemy activity. What’s more, the officer said, where the fighting is happening also is instructive. In 2011, NATO surge forces permitted ISAF to push the enemy out of the cities. “In 2012, as the Taliban sought to get back into the population centers, they were really unable to do that,” he said. The officer said he expects fewer Taliban attacks this year, but he still expects the Taliban to go after the Afghan national security forces.


And all this has to happen so the footprint for an enduring force is ready by the end of 2014, the officer said. About 220 bases in Afghanistan have to close over the next 23 months. “The strategic end state is to seek the final basing platform for our mission that converts naturally into the basing platform for the enduring presence force,” he explained.


Some of that force will be in and around the Afghan capital of Kabul, working with the various government ministries and with the training establishments that have grown up around the city. The officer said he anticipates a presence at Bagram Airfield. Other enduring-presence forces could be based regionally in corps or police-zone areas, or they could be mobile training teams that go from one regional headquarters to another.


There is enthusiasm in NATO to continue to make a difference in Afghanistan, the officer said. “We’ve put 11 years of fighting into this, and the right kind of force in the post-2014 period can sustain these gains for a long time,” he said.


Over the next 23 months, commanders must work to maintain the cohesion of the coalition -- 50 nations have been successful working together in the country -- and they must guard the integrity of the campaign plan, the officer said. Beyond that, he added, commanders must lead and manage the redeployment of the force, the retrograde of materiel and the closing of more than 200 bases.


“That requires extraordinarily detailed planning, and 23 months is the blink of an eye,” he said. “We are seriously going to use every second to fight the campaign, clear the theater and set the enduring presence force.”

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17 janvier 2013 4 17 /01 /janvier /2013 22:44



17 janvier 2013 par Nicolas Laffont - 45enord.ca


Un commando de kamikazes a pris d’assaut un complexe des services secrets afghans mercredi 16 dans le centre de Kaboul, tuant deux gardes avant d’être abattus. Trente-trois civils ont été blessés.


Le dernier attentat en date dans la capitale remonte au 17 décembre alors que l’auteur de ces lignes s’y trouvait. Une voiture piégée avait sauté devant des bâtiments de la  compagnie américaine Contrack oeuvrant pour l’armée afghane, faisant un mort et une quinzaine de blessés, dont cinq étrangers.


Mercredi 16 à midi, une forte explosion, entendue dans plusieurs quartiers de Kaboul, a marqué le début de l’assaut, dans une grande rue passante à proximité du ministère de l’Intérieur et de la Zone verte, à l’intérieur de laquelle se trouvent notamment des ambassades et des organisations internationales.


Six terroristes bourrés d’explosifs


Selon Shafiqullah Taheri, un porte-parole de la Direction nationale de la sécurité (National Directorate of Security, NDS) un premier assaillant a fait exploser une voiture piégée à l’entrée du complexe, avant d’être suivis par cinq autres attaquants qui sont sortis d’un second véhicule.


Les six hommes, munis de vestes bourrées d’explosifs, de grenades et de fusils d’assaut Kalachnikov, ont tous été abattus.


Le général Mohammad Ayoub Salangi, chef de la police de Kaboul, a confirmé le nombre de six kamikazes.


Un autre véhicule piégé, avec un « nouvel explosif liquide », a été retrouvé à proximité des lieux et neutralisé, a indiqué M. Taheri sans plus de précisions. « Nos experts ont réussi à désamorcer les explosifs trois minutes avant qu’ils ne sautent », a-t-il raconté.


Deux garde du NDS sont mort durant l’attaque. Au total, 33 civils ont été blessés, dont 17 sont encore hospitalisés, a précisé Sediq Sediqqi, le porte-parole du ministère de l’Intérieur.

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17 janvier 2013 4 17 /01 /janvier /2013 08:35



BRUXELLES, 16 janvier - RIA Novosti


Suite au futur retrait d'Afghanistan de la Force internationale d'assistance à la sécurité (ISAF), la situation risque de s'aggraver dans cette partie du monde, a indiqué mercredi à Bruxelles le chef de l'état-major général russe Valeri Guerassimov.


"Tout cela se produira à proximité des frontières de la Russie et de celles de nos alliés de l'Organisation du traité de sécurité collective (OTSC)", a indiqué le général devant les journalistes à l'issue d'une réunion du Conseil au niveau des chefs d'état-major.


Selon M.Guerassimov, toutes les forces qui ne veulent pas que la région s'enlise dans le chaos doivent concerter leurs efforts pour y garantir la sécurité.


Créée en 2002, l'Organisation du traité de sécurité collective, qualifiée par certains analystes d'"Otan russe", est une organisation à vocation politico-militaire qui regroupe à ce jour l'Arménie, la Biélorussie, le Kazakhstan, le Kirghizstan, la Russie et le Tadjikistan.

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17 janvier 2013 4 17 /01 /janvier /2013 08:35

MQ-9-Reaper source info-aviation


January 16th, 2013 by Bryant Jordan - defensetech.org


As part of a deal worked out with the White House during a recent visit, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said his country would be getting its own drone fleet from the U.S.


Karzai did not say how large a drone fleet he would be getting, but said they would be for surveillance only, according to report Monday in The New York Times. The U.S., he said, “will train Afghans to fly them, use them and maintain them.”


During the interview reported by the Times, Karzai also said he has been promised additional surveillance equipment, as well as an additional 20 helicopters and at least four C-130s. So far U.S. officials have offered no details on any agreements on aircraft numbers and type worked out between Karzai and Obama during the Afghan leaders visit to the White House.


He told the Times that he got nearly everything he asked for from Obama.


For its part the White House is waiting to see if Afghanistan will deliver on an agreement for immunity for any American troops who stay on after the U.S. entirely wraps up its combat role at the end of 2014. Karzai said that’s a decision that must be made by the country’s loya jirga, or national assembly of elders.


Obama has made it clear not a single U.S. soldier will be staying on if the Afghan government cannot deliver on an immunity deal. It was Iraq’s inability or unwillingness to grant immunity that resulted in all American troops being pulled out of that country after Obama announced the end of the combat mission in August 2010.

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15 janvier 2013 2 15 /01 /janvier /2013 22:52



16 January, 2013, RT.com


Afghan President Hamid Karzai said his recent meeting with US President Obama gave him nearly everything his country hoped for – including a fleet of aerial surveillance drones that Afghan officials have long been requesting.


Karzai held a news conference on Monday in which he proudly announced the promised fleet of drones, as well as an upgraded fleet of aircraft including 20 helicopters and at least four C-130 transport planes. The Afghan president noted that the surveillance drones would be unarmed, but will nevertheless help spy on enemy combatants and watch over coalition forces. Western forces will train Afghans to fly, use and maintain them before giving complete control to the Karzai government.


The US will also provide Afghanistan with intelligence gathering equipment “which will be used to defend and protect our air and ground sovereignty,” Karzai said. The US has also pledged to speed up the handover of detainees currently imprisoned and held by American forces. Karzai has previously called this a violation of promised Afghan sovereignty and the issue has built up tension between the two nations.


“We are happy and satisfied with the results of our meetings,” the Afghan president told journalists at the presidential palace. “We achieved what we were looking for.”


American officials refused to confirm or deny the details of the agreement made between Afghanistan and the US regarding aircraft, the New York Times reports. But since his meeting with Obama, Karzai had repeatedly expressed his satisfaction with the outcome.


The US has long demanded that Afghanistan grant immunity to any US forces staying in the country after the 2014 withdrawal. Karzai has sternly opposed this measure, but conceded after Obama granted him many of his own wishes.


“This is a decision that should be made by the Afghan people in a Loya Jirga: whether they are granting immunity to them or not; if yes, how and under what conditions” he said in an interview with CNN.


But this might not even matter if Afghans have their way when it comes to post-withdrawal troops. Top Afghan officials have expressed their desire for Special Operations forces to leave the country at the same time as US military troops. These forces currently train the Afghan local police and US officials have assumed that the withdrawal would only apply to traditional military troops, the Washington Post reports.


The Washington meetings between Karzai and Obama have resulted in numerous benefits for the Afghans and Karzai’s news conference was the first mention of American drones being handed over to the Afghan government. Negotiations between the US and Afghanistan are still ongoing, with the two countries trying to determine details regarding the US presence in Afghanistan after the 2014 troop withdrawal.

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14 janvier 2013 1 14 /01 /janvier /2013 17:35



January 14, 2013: Strategy Page


Afghanistan recently announced that it would cancel the contract to buy and use 20 C-27A transports. The official reason was the inability of the Italian maintenance firm to keep the aircraft operational. The unofficial reason is the unwillingness of the Italians to pay as much in bribes as the Afghan commanders were demanding. Over half a billion dollars was being spent on buying and operating these aircraft and all the money was coming from the United States. Afghan government and air force officials were determined to grab as much of that cash as possible. That meant there was not enough money for the spare parts and tools needed to keep the C-27As flying. The Afghans can be self-destructive in so many ways, and letting these transports get away because not enough could be stolen from the contracts was another example of this.


More self-destructive behavior is expected. The Western donor nations are getting fed up with the increasingly aggressive Afghan corruption. Last year, as the Afghans asked for more military aid, the donor nations instead cut contributions. The Afghans were told that the aid would be reduced from $11 billion a year to $4.1 billion a year between 2012 and 2017. That would only change if, by some miracle, the Afghans managed to get their thieving ways under control. Currently, the Afghans will go to great lengths to get around donor auditors and anti-corruption measures. The C-27A was a case of everyone just giving up. Expect to see more cases like this.


The Afghan Air Corps was supposed to get 20 C-27A transports, but only 16 had been delivered when the contract was cancelled. These Italian made aircraft are easy to fly, and very popular with their Afghan pilots, as well as several other nations that use them. Able to carry up to ten tons of cargo, the C-27As gave the Afghan military a more reliable (than older Russian An-32s) and flexible air transport capability. For example, the C-27A can fly as slow as 160 kilometers an hour, with the cargo door open, to drop cargo by parachute. Until 2015, Afghanistan can depend on NATO transports, but after that they will be on their own. To deal with that Afghanistan is going to buy some An-32s from Ukraine.


The C-27As were obtained for Afghanistan by the U.S., from the Italian Air Force, for $16 million each. The C-27A is two engine medium range transport, designed to fly into small airfields at high altitudes. This 28 ton aircraft usually carries six tons (or 34 passengers) for up to 2,500 kilometers and lands on smaller airfields than the C-130 can handle. The U.S. Air Force bought ten C-27As in the 1990s, but took them out of service because it was cheaper to fly stuff in the larger C-130. At least until the air force had to operate in Afghanistan.


Two of the Afghan C-27As were outfitted as VIP transports, for the Afghan president and other senior officials. That indicates how safe and reliable the Afghans considered their new, although second-hand, transports.  Afghanistan also has six Russian An-32s. These twin engine transports are actually a modernized and most recent version of the Russian An-24 transport. The original design is from the early 1960s. The An-32 can carry 6 tons of cargo or up to 50 passengers. Max speed is 540 kilometers an hour and range is 2,500 kilometers. The crew consists of two pilots and a loadmaster. The An-32 is still in production (361 have been built since 1976) and it is used by air forces in India, Bangladesh and Ukraine. Parts are easier to get than for the C-27A and maintenance is simpler.


Antonov built the original An-24 series to be simple, rugged and easy to use and maintain. They succeeded. Four decades later, it should not be surprising that nearly a thousand An-24 series aircraft are still working. That's not the first time this has happened. After 70 years, there are still several hundred DC-3 transports working in odd (and often remote) parts of the world. But with age comes problems. Engines, and other parts of these aging aircraft, are prone to fail at bad moments. A major problem with the An-24 is the shortage of spare parts. The network of factories producing the parts fell apart when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. The parts supply network has been slowly rebuilt, with many factories outside of Russia now producing needed components. Quality of these parts varies, which adds to the sense of adventure one has when flying in these aircraft. Thus the Afghan preference for the C-27A, but only as long as there were sufficient bribes. The Russians are much more comfortable with the bribery. While the An-32s are cheaper to operate, they are less effective and more dangerous.

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14 janvier 2013 1 14 /01 /janvier /2013 12:35



1/12/2013 Strategy Page


An AH-1W Super Cobra with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 169 sits on the Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, flightline, Dec. 15, 2012. The squadronÂ’s corrosion control section hand painted a mural on the side of the Super Cobra to help remind the squadronÂ’s Marines and all servicemembers who see the aircraft of why they are deployed. Photo by Sgt. John Jackson

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12 janvier 2013 6 12 /01 /janvier /2013 13:35



Jan 11, 2013 Spacewar.com (AFP)


Madrid  - A Spanish bomb disposal expert died Friday in an explosion in Afghanistan, Spain's defence ministry said.


Sergeant David Fernandez, 35, was killed by an improvised explosive device while on a reconnaissance mission, it said in a statement.


The device was found on a road linking Qala-i-Naw and Darra-i-Bun in Badghis province in northwestern Afghanistan.


Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria thanked "all members of the armed forces for their work for peace and stability in the world", at a news conference following a weekly cabinet meeting.


Spain has lost 100 soldiers in Afghanistan since deploying troops there in 2002.


The number of Spanish troops serving in Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force stands at around 1,400.


All NATO combat forces are due to leave the country by the end of 2014.

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12 janvier 2013 6 12 /01 /janvier /2013 13:35



Jan 11, 2013 Spacewar.com (AFP)


Washington - President Barack Obama Friday said NATO troops would speed up a transfer of lead security responsibility to Afghan forces this spring, in a sign the pace of US troop withdrawals could quicken.


After meeting President Hamid Karzai to chart Afghanistan's future, Obama insisted the United States had achieved its target there of "decapitating" Al-Qaeda, despite falling short of heady early goals for Afghan reconstruction.


The two leaders met at a crucial moment in the final chapter of a long, bloody war, and as Obama balances the future shape of Afghanistan with US combat fatigue and a desire to spend America's dwindling resources at home.


"Starting this spring, our troops will have a different mission -- training, advising, assisting Afghan forces. It will be a historic moment and another step toward full Afghan sovereignty," Obama told a joint news conference.


"Because of the progress that has been made in terms of Afghan security forces, their capacity to take the lead, we are able to meet (transition) goals and accelerate them somewhat," Obama said.


NATO plans had previously called for foreign forces to transfer lead fighting duties against the Taliban by the middle of the this year. Obama was careful to stress however that US troops will still fight alongside Afghans.


Karzai added that from the spring, "the Afghan forces will be fully responsible for providing security and protection to the Afghan people.


"International forces, the American forces, will be no longer present in the villages ... it will be the task of the Afghan forces to provide for the Afghan people in security and protection."


Obama, planning the withdrawal of most of the 66,000 US troops left in Afghanistan, said that after 2014, American forces would have a "very limited" mission in training Afghan forces and preventing a return of Al-Qaeda.


But he warned that Karzai, with whom he has had a somewhat testy relationship, would have to accept a security agreement, still under discussion, granting legal immunity to US troops who remain behind.


"It will not be possible for us to have any kind of US troop presence post-2014 without assurances that our men and women who are operating there are (not) in some way subject to the jurisdiction of another country."


Karzai announced progress on another sticking point between the sides, saying that the leaders had agreed to a complete return of detention centers and detainees to Afghan control, starting soon after he returns home.


But he would not be drawn on the size of the foreign troop garrison he believes is necessary to support Afghan forces and to ensure that Afghanistan does not slip back into violence and dislocation.


The White House has ordered the Pentagon to come up with plans for a smaller future Afghan presence than the generals expected, perhaps numbering 3,000, 6,000 or 9,000 US troops.


Obama's domestic political opponents, however, charge that the president is in a rush for the exit and warn that a minimal force could squander gains hard won in a war that has killed more than 3,000 coalition troops.


The White House even suggested this week that Obama would not even rule out the possibility of leaving zero American boots on the ground.


This has compounded Afghan fears that the country could be abandoned again by the international community -- as it was after the end of the Soviet occupation in 1989.


The power vacuum led to the rise of the Taliban, and a safe haven for Al-Qaeda to plot the September 11 attacks, which drew the United States into an Afghan war in 2001.


Obama said Friday that despite the huge, human and financial cost of the 12-year-war, it was important to recognize that it had been waged in response to those attacks and had achieved its central goals.


"There is no doubt that the possibility of peace and prosperity in Afghanistan today is higher than before we went in," he said.


"Have we achieved everything that some might have imagined us achieving in the best of scenarios? Probably not. You know, there is a human enterprise and you fall short of the ideal."


Obama and Karzai met for two hours before sitting down together for lunch and holding their joint press conference.


Karzai gave an undertaking that he would stand down at the end of his second term, after elections in 2014, following some concerns that he could try to cling onto power, or influence his eventual successor behind the scenes.


"The greatest of my achievements eventually, seen by the Afghan people, will be a proper, well-organized, interference-free election in which the Afghan people can elect their next president," he said.


"And certainly I will be a retired president, and very happily a retired president," he vowed, in response to a question about the 2014 vote at a joint White House press conference with US President Barack Obama.


Karzai was elected in 2004 and re-elected in 2009, in two votes marred by allegations of widespread electoral fraud and held against the backdrop of an ongoing war between NATO-backed government forces and Taliban guerrillas.

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12 janvier 2013 6 12 /01 /janvier /2013 12:35

Barack Obama Crédits photo Susan Walsh AP


11/01/2013 Par Laure Mandeville Correspondante à Washington – leFigaro.fr


À partir du printemps, les soldats américains se concentreront exclusivement sur la formation et l'entraînement des troupes afghanes.


Barack Obama n'a donné aucun chiffre sur le nombre de soldats américains appelés à rester en Afghanistan après le retrait des troupes de la coalition internationale fin 2014, lors de la conférence commune qu'il a tenue vendredi à Washington avec son homologue afghan Hamid Karzaï. Mais il a clairement annoncé qu'une «ère totalement nouvelle» débuterait au printemps avec la fin de l'engagement des troupes américaines dans les opérations de combat et de sécurisation de l'Afghanistan face à l'insurrection talibane. «À partir de ce printemps, nos soldats auront une mission différente: former, conseiller, assister les forces afghanes. Ce sera un moment historique, et une nouvelle étape vers une souveraineté pleine et entière» pour les Afghans, a-t-il dit, précisant que l'armée afghane assurait déjà près de 90% de la sécurité dans les grands centres urbains.


Les deux hommes venaient de passer deux longues heures et demi d'entretien à préciser le cadre des relations futures entre leurs deux pays et n'étaient sans doute pas mûrs pour annoncer un accord définitif, les Afghans étant intéressés par une présence substantielle alors qu'Obama, décidé à se dégager d'un conflit sans fin, a clairement laissé entendre via ses conseillers qu'il envisageait des options minimales, voire même une option zéro. «J'annoncerai ma décision après avoir pris connaissance des avis des généraux», a-t-il dit.


Malgré les politesses d'usage, une forme de tension semblait planer entre les deux hommes dont la relation n'a jamais été particulièrement cordiale. Contrairement à George W. Bush qui entretenait une relation d'amitié avec Karzaï, l'équipe présidentielle d'Obama avait dès le départ émis des doutes de l'administration sur la fiabilité politique du président afghan, s'agaçant de la persistance de la corruption, malgré les milliards de dollars américains déversés dans le développement du pays.

Une période de vaches maigres


Barack Obama, qui va devoir présider à une période de vaches maigres, en matière de budget militaire, vu les problèmes de déficit aigus de l'Amérique, n'a pas donné plus de précisions sur le montant de l'aide économique et militaire qui restera allouée à la cause afghane. Il a en revanche insisté sur le caractère «très limité» de la mission à venir des troupes américaines, évoquant l'encadrement des militaires afghans et les opérations de contre-terrorisme visant à «réduire les derniers restes d'Al Qaïda». «Nous avons pratiquement atteint notre objectif de neutralisation d' Al Qaïda..,Cette guerre arrive à sa fin», a-t-il dit.


Si Hamid Karzaï avait quelques doutes sur cette dernière conclusion, hâtive et américano-centrée, il n'en a rien montré, se félicitant au contraire d'avoir trouvé des points d'accord avec le président Obama sur la restauration de la souveraineté pleine et entière de son pays sur son territoire. Il a notamment précisé que les deux parties étaient tombées d'acccord pour que le plus grand centre de détention du pays, situé à Bagram, jusqu'ici contrôlé par les Américains et objet de vives controverses, passe sous contrôle afghan. «Les forces internationales et américaines ne seront plus présentes dans les villages», s'est-il aussi félicité, précisant aussi qu'il consacrerait la fin de son mandat à organiser des élections fiables pour organiser sa succession car il comptait partir à la retraite et «être un retraité heureux». La peur d'un vide de pouvoir reste l'un des cauchemars des analystes, qui soulignent le caractère unique de Karzaï sur l'échiquier politique, et sa capacité à surfer entre les factions et les clans ethniques en utilisant ses réseaux clientélistes pour survivre


Le président afghan a affirmé aussi que les assurances obtenues à Washington sur la restauration de la souveraineté afghane le mettraient en bonne position pour expliquer à son peuple la nécessité de doter les troupes américaines d'un statut d'immunité pour l'après 2014. Quelques minutes plus tôt, Obama avait précisé que son pays n'accepterait jamais de laisser une présence militaire dans le pays, si le gouvernement afghan refusait de donner à ses boys le statut d'immunité que Washington réclame. Au plus fort de son engagement, l'Amérique a eu quelque 100.000 troupes engagées en Afghanistan et a dépensé 500 milliards de dollars pour cette opération depuis 2001. Quelque 66.000 hommes restent toujours déployés sur place, qui seront être retirés «de manière responsable «afin que nous ne mettions pas en danger les gains que nous avons faits», a dit le président

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11 janvier 2013 5 11 /01 /janvier /2013 17:38


FOB-Nijrab--Avitaillement-d une-gazelle


11/01/2013 Opérations


A la fin du mois de novembre 2012, les dernières troupes françaises quittaient sous les projecteurs de nombreux médias la vallée de la Kapisa, quelques mois après le départ de Surobi, ces 2 régions d’Afghanistan au sein desquelles était déployée depuis près de 3 années la Task Force La Fayette (TFLF).


A l’heure où la force Pamir est sur le point d’achever son retrait d’Afghanistan, revenons sur l’engagement du Service des essences des armées (SEA) dans ces deux régions.


Le détachement du SEA (DETSEA) en Afghanistan est aujourd’hui regroupé à Kaboul sur 2 sites : le camp de Warehouse au sein duquel se trouvent l’élément de commandement et le dépôt pétrolier principal, et l’aéroport de Kaboul (Kaia) où une équipe est chargée de soutenir le détachement hélicoptères (DETHELICO). Néanmoins, au plus fort de son activité, le DETSEA était également déployé sur 4 autres sites : les FOB (forward operating base) Surobi, Gwan, Tagab et enfin Nijrab. Dans chacune d’entre elles se trouvait une équipe de 2 à 3 personnels du DETSEA, comprenant parfois un militaire de l’armée de terre, dont les missions étaient les suivantes :


    l’avitaillement des hélicoptères Tigre, Cougar, Gazelle ou Caracal du bataillon hélicoptères (BATHELICO) engagés dans des missions de combat, de transport ou d’évacuation sanitaire ;

    le ravitaillement des véhicules, engins blindés et groupes énergie des unités de la TFLF ;

    l’entretien de stocks de sécurité en carburants terrestre et aéronautique.




Les FOBs étaient approvisionnées à partir de Kaboul, soit par camions-citernes civils des sociétés avec lesquelles le Service avait passé des marchés spécifiques, soit par moyens militaires du SEA à partir du dépôt principal de Warehouse. Les CBH et les camions-citernes polyvalents 10 m3 blindés ont ainsi arpenté durant des mois, voire des années les routes afghanes au sein des convois du bataillon logistique (BATLOG) approvisionnant les FOBs depuis Kaboul.


Mais la mission ne s’arrêtait pas là : à partir des dépôts des FOBs, les équipes du SEA étaient chargées de ravitailler les COP, postes avancés tenus par les compagnies des groupements tactiques interarmées (GTIA).


Insérés dans les convois, les CCP 10 blindés approvisionnaient en carburant les unités installées sur les postes d’Uzbeen, de Naghlu Haut ou encore d’Anjiran.


Ainsi, plusieurs dizaines de militaires du SEA se sont succédés sur ces FOBs, au cœur de l’action de la force Pamir. Totalement intégrés au sein des GTIA, ils ont partagé avec leurs camarades  des moments de vive émotion, de joies et parfois de douleurs et ont connu une expérience particulièrement enrichissante. éloignés de leur chef de détachement, ils ont dû faire preuve d’autonomie et mettre en œuvre un large panel de savoir-faire (exploitation d’un petit dépôt pétrolier, gestion d’une station service, comptabilité produits, avitaillement d’hélicoptères rotors tournant de nuit avec intensificateurs de lumière, maintenance de premier niveau du matériel pétrolier…) et bien entendu user du sacro-saint « système D » permettant de faire face à tout imprévu, inévitable dans ce type d’opération.




Ces FOBs ont aujourd’hui été transférées à l’armée nationale afghane (ANA). Les 2 dernières équipes du DETSEA du BATLOG X ont quitté Nijrab puis Naghlu après avoir démantelé le dernier dépôt pétrolier.


Le SEA, fortement engagé aux côtés de l’armée de terre au sein de l’opération Pamir, aura montré sa capacité d’adaptation pour fournir aux forces le soutien le plus efficient : mise en place ou démantèlement de dépôts de campagne en fonction des besoins opérationnels, intégration des militaires de l’armée de terre au sein des détachements pour réaliser le niveau 1 du soutien pétrolier terrestre, recours à l’externalisation du transport ou utilisation des moyens du SEA en fonction de la situation opérationnelle et du type de carburant transporté, durcissement des moyens de protection de nos camions-citernes (blindage, grilles pare-pierres). Le soutien intégré des FOBs aura également mis en évidence la nécessité de mieux former nos jeunes maréchaux des logis dans le domaine de l’exploitation pétrolière : véritables chefs de petits dépôts, ils doivent en maîtriser tous les aspects, de la comptabilité produit simplifiée aux exigences d’hygiène et de sécurité en opération.


Il convient donc maintenant, sous la conduite de la sous-direction des opérations de la direction centrale du SEA, d’exploiter le retour d’expérience acquis en Afghanistan pour améliorer encore ce concept d’emploi du soutien pétrolier au plus près des forces pour les opérations à venir.


Les militaires du SEA qui ont eu la chance de servir au sein des FOBs  garderont sans aucun doute un souvenir particulier de leur aventure afghane, de par cette proximité avec les hommes des GTIA de la Task Force La Fayette. Ils peuvent en tout cas être fiers d’avoir rempli avec succès leur mission, portant haut les couleurs du SEA dans la province de Kapisa et la district de Surobi.

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11 janvier 2013 5 11 /01 /janvier /2013 17:35

Predator over Afghanistan photo USAF


Jan. 11, 2013 defense-unmanned.com

(Source: US Air Force; issued Jan. 10, 2013)


MQ-1B Predator Accident Report Released


LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. --- An MQ-1B Predator electrical malfunction Aug. 22, 2012, led to the crash of the aircraft in a non-residential area in Afghanistan, according to an Air Combat Command Abbreviated Accident Investigation Board report released today.


The mishap crews were assigned to the 18th Reconnaissance Squadron at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, and the 178th Reconnaissance Squadron at Fargo Air National Guard Base, North Dakota. When the accident occurred, the mishap crews were flying a mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.


According to the report, the mishap remotely piloted aircraft experienced an electrical malfunction due to a dual alternator failure, which began a chain of events that caused the aircraft to function solely on battery power. Based on mission data logs, the AAIB Board President found, by clear and convincing evidence, the aircraft's recovery system was unable to bring the electrical system back online.


The mission control crew also failed to apply a checklist procedure that would have preserved more battery power. When the launch and recovery crew was able to seize control of the aircraft after a second lost link occurrence, the batteries were exhausted to the point where it was impossible for the aircraft to reach the runway.


The mishap remotely piloted aircraft, one air-to-ground Hellfire missile (AGM-114), and one missile rail were destroyed. The loss is valued at approximately $4.6 million. There were no injuries or damage to government or private property.

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11 janvier 2013 5 11 /01 /janvier /2013 13:35



11 January 2013 airforce-technology.com


The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) is operating the first upgraded Mk4 Chinook transport helicopter to support British military missions in Afghanistan.


The deployment follows UK-based mission specific training of the aircrew, followed by environmental and mission specific training at the US Naval Air Facility El Centro, which is located in California, US, in October/November 2012, as reported by Shephard Media.


Developed as part of the UK Ministry of Defence's (MoD) Julius programme, the Mk4 Chinook is a modified version of RAF's CH-47 Chinook helicopter and achieved initial operational capability (IOC) in June 2012.


The aircraft was also operated by the air force during the 2012 London Olympics Games.


RAF Odiham station commander and RAF Chinook Force commander group captain Dom Toriati said the deployment of the first helicopter is a result of efforts by organisations involved in the Julius programme.


''All the agencies involved in this programme have worked hard to help de-risk and produce a credible support and airworthiness solution which everyone could sign-up to and helped deliver the Chinook Mk4 into theatre,'' Toriati added.


''Project Julius has given us an integrated solution which satisfied the ergonomics and human machine interface (HMI) that the previous analogue cockpit didn't and also provided a capability we can maintain safely which was one of the key requirements."


Managed by Boeing, the Julius programme covers upgrade of 38 Mk2/2A Chinooks into the Mk4/4A configuration alongside eight Mk3 Chinooks into the Mk5 configuration.


Upgrades include the introduction of the Thales TopDeck cockpit to help enhance the pilot's situational awareness, four new multifunction displays, a digital moving map, a tablet-based electronic flight bag, updated communications interfaces, as well as a third crew-member seat.


The Mk2 fleet modification is scheduled to be completed in early 2015, followed by Mk3 modifications by 2016.

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11 janvier 2013 5 11 /01 /janvier /2013 12:35



11.01.2013 par P. CHAPLEAU Lignes de Défense


On l'appelle le NAT pour National Afghan Trucking; c'est un méga contrat de transport routier au profit des forces de l'ISAF déployées en Afghanistan. La prestation implique le transport mais aussi la sécurité des convois terrestres qui doivent ravitailler quelque 700 emprises.


L'appel d'offres pour le contrat numéro 2, le National Afghan Trucking II (NAT-II, Solicitation Number: HTC711-13-R-R002) a été diffusé fin décembre.


Cliquer ici pour accéder à la solicitation et ici pour lire le document détaillé.


Le NAT-I, d'une valeur de 2,16 milliards de dollars a été très critiqué aux Etats-Unis puisqu'il a été découvert qu'une partie de l'argent (certains avancent le chiffre de 360 millions) versé aux entreprises de transport et de sécurité a été détourné. Sur ce sujet, il faut lire l'excellent rapport intitulé Warlord Inc.



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11 janvier 2013 5 11 /01 /janvier /2013 08:35



10 janvier 2013 Guysen International News


Selon le secrétaire à la Défense, le conflit afghan va connaître un tournant en 2013, qui doit voir les forces afghanes prendre le relais des troupes de l'Otan avant le départ des unités de combat, prévu à la fin de l'année suivante. Kaboul et Washington ont entamé le "dernier chapitre" de leur campagne pour un Afghanistan souverain et à même d'assurer sa propre sécurité, s'est félicité jeudi le secrétaire américain à la Défense Leon Panetta, qui recevait Hamid Karzaï. "Nous avons parcouru un long chemin vers l'objectif commun de bâtir une nation dont nous pouvons être fiers, qui ne sera jamais plus une terre d'accueil pour le terrorisme", a-t-il poursuivi avant d'entamer son tête-à-tête avec le président Afghan au Pentagone. Washington et Kaboul sont en pleines discussions sur l'avenir de la présence américaine en Afghanistan. L'administration Obama envisage le maintien d'un détachement de 3.000 à 9.000 hommes pour poursuivre la lutte antiterroriste et former l'armée afghane, mais elle a fait savoir cette semaine qu'un retrait total n'était pas exclu après 2014. Hamid Karzaï, qui sera reçu vendredi à la Maison blanche, s'est quant à lui dit convaincu de la conclusion prochaine "d'un accord bilatéral qui garantisse les intérêts de l'Afghanistan mais aussi ceux des Etats-Unis".

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10 janvier 2013 4 10 /01 /janvier /2013 12:35



09.01.2013 par P. CHAPLEAU Lignes de Défense


Info AFP. Le Kazakhstan a annoncé ce mercredi avoir autorisé la France à utiliser un aéroport du sud de son territoire pour procéder au retrait de ses forces et de son matériel d'Afghanistan. Le président de cette ancienne république soviétique d'Asie centrale, Noursoultan Nazarbaïev, a promulgué un amendement en ce sens.


L'amendement permet aux militaires français de faire atterrir leurs avions à l'aéroport de Chymkent (sud du pays) pour y décharger les matériels et poursuivre l'évacuation par rail jusqu'à Riga sur la Baltique. Cliquer ici pour lire mon post du 28 décembre sur ce sujet.


afghanistan retrait,kazakhstan

Les 1 500 Français encore présents à Kaboul doivent assurer cette année le retrait du matériel. Un premier convoi ferroviaire pourrait être organisé début février.

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10 janvier 2013 4 10 /01 /janvier /2013 12:35

US soldiers Afghanistan source defenseWeb


WASHINGTON, 9 janvier - RIA Novosti


L'administration des Etats-Unis examine la possibilité d'un retrait total du contingent militaire américain d'Afghanistan après 2014, a annoncé dimanche soir le conseiller adjoint du président à la sécurité nationale Ben Rhodes.


"Cela (le retrait total des troupes) pourrait constituer une des possibilités que nous sommes en train d'examiner. Le président Obama n'estime pas que les prochaines négociations avec son homologue afghan Karzaï puissent aboutir au maintien de la présence militaire américaine en Afghanistan", a déclaré le responsable.


Des négociations entre les deux présidents consacrées à la coopération stratégique se dérouleront vendredi.


M.Rhodes a souligné que le nombre des soldats américains maintenus après 2014 ne serait pas prioritaire lors des entretiens, la décision finale devant être prise par le président américain d'ici quelques mois.


Auparavant, le journal The Wall Street Journal a annoncé que Washington avait pris la décision préliminaire de maintenir en Afghanistan, après le retrait du gros du contingent américain en 2014, entre 3.000 et 9.000 militaires afin de former leurs collègues afghans et d'assurer la protection des représentations américaines sur le sol afghan.

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9 janvier 2013 3 09 /01 /janvier /2013 12:35



January 5, 2013 defense-update.com


U.S. Air Force officials have decided not to renew a contract with Italian aircraft manufacturer Alenia North America to support and induct the small, Italian-made C-27A transport aircraft into the Afghan Air Force. This is the second U.S. blow aimed at the Italian aircraft manufacturer, after the termination of acquisition of C-27J Spartan by the US Air Force. According to the Air Force, Alenia failed to generate a sufficient number of operational aircraft for effective Afghan Air Force airlift capability. Aviation Week reports.


In 2008, the U.S. paid $314 million for the purchase of 20 former Italian Air Force G.222s — designated the C-27A by the Air Force — to give to the fledging Afghan National Army Air Corps, later the Afghan Air Force, an independent tactical transport capability to replace Soviet-era Antonov An-32s.


However, their introduction to service has been far from smooth. Only 16 of the aircraft have been delivered to Afghanistan, with four remaining in Italy. Despite a deployed team of contractors, the aircraft struggled with serviceability issues and have been grounded twice — once in December 2011 on airworthiness grounds, and again in March 2012 because of safety issues that delayed the training of Afghan personnel.

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9 janvier 2013 3 09 /01 /janvier /2013 12:35



December 27, 2012: strategypage.com


Afghans are well aware of the fact that most foreign troops will be gone by the end of 2013, and that might be followed by a breakdown in law and order. Most of Afghanistan is peaceful (by Afghan standards) and the economy has been booming. The Afghan GDP has increased more than seven times since the Taliban government was overthrown in late 2001. Except for Taliban violence in parts of the Pushtun south, most of the country has gotten wealthier and the prospect of another civil war between the drug backed Taliban Pushtuns and the rest of the country has made people nervous. Thus the price of assault rifles (especially the AK-47) has tripled in the last year as more people buy weapons for home defense (or just to scare off bandits). The government has tried to control the sale of these weapons but this is not much of an obstacle for Afghans. If you have about $1,200 you can get an AK-47 and about $3,000 will get you a light machine-gun.


While most Afghans maintain a tribal allegiance, over a decade of growing prosperity has sent a lot of people outside their tribal territory in search of economic opportunities. When the chips are down, you can depend on immediate family and assault rifles more than you can neighbors who aren’t from your tribe. While Afghanistan now has over 300,000 security personnel (police and soldiers), most of these are acutely aware of their tribal/ethnic/religious loyalties, which tend to be supreme in stressful times. Assault rifles are always loyal to whoever is holding them.


That said, the tribal and warlord traditions of the region have long been a major obstacle to improving the lives of Afghans. As a result, Afghanistan is still the poorest nation in Eurasia, despite a decade of economic growth. The problem is that Afghanistan was so poor to begin with, and still suffers from widespread illiteracy (only about a third of the population can read and many just barely) and limited economic activity. Over 80 percent of the GDP comes from foreign aid and the drug (opium/heroin/hashish) trade (which directly benefits only about ten percent of the population). For example, efforts to build roads are attacked by the Taliban (who prefer their subjects poor and uneducated) and the drug gangs (who see roads as a threat to the isolation that protects the production of drugs). Afghanistan has enormous mineral wealth and produces agricultural products with very profitable export markets. But these opportunities cannot be realized without roads. Even Afghan government officials describe their country as "beggars sleeping on a gold mine." It’s not just the drug gangs and Taliban that stand in the way. The corruption also scares off foreign investment, as does the pervasive lawlessness. Afghanistan is a hard country to help. Despite all this, a consortium of Indian firms plans to invest over $10 billion to develop iron ore mines in central Afghanistan. The ore would be exported out via Central Asia, and the area where the mines are located is free of drug gangs and very hostile to the Taliban. But most of southern and eastern Afghanistan is too dangerous for such undertakings.


Drug operations in the southwest (Helmand and Kandahar provinces) produce most of the cash that keeps the Taliban going. The drug gangs are, next to the government, the wealthiest and most powerful organization in the country. About a quarter of GDP is derived from drug (heroin and opium) production and sale. The drug gangs are a major source of corruption (preferring to bribe officials and tribal leaders, rather than terrorize or kill them). While corrupt officials and tribal leaders like the money, the drugs have created several million addicts, and much family tragedy, within Afghanistan. Thus the drug gangs are seen, overall, as an evil that must be destroyed. In most of the country drug dealers are under constant attack and drug production is banned. Most of the drugs come from Helmand and Kandahar provinces, where drugs are a key component of the local economy.  In short, the war against the drug gangs is popular with most Afghans. NATO operations in Kandahar and Helmand this year have cost the drug gangs billions of dollars and sharply cut Taliban income from the gangs.


With the foreign troops leaving, and uncertainty about how effective the security forces will be in maintaining order, Afghans are doing what they have always done, armed themselves and prepared for the worst.

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9 janvier 2013 3 09 /01 /janvier /2013 08:35

MQ-9-Reaper source info-aviation


Jan. 7, 2013 - By AARON MEHTA – Defense News


The United States launched 59 attacks from remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) in Afghanistan in December, according to new Air Force statistics.


December’s figures brought the total number of 2012 strikes in the Middle Eastern country up to 506, but represented a sharp decline from November, when 114 strikes were launched.


The 506 strikes represent a four-year high in Afghanistan. There were 257 RPA strikes in 2009, 279 in 2010 and 294 in 2011.


In 2012, Air Force RPAs averaged about 1.4 remote-controlled strikes per day in theater, reflecting the continued commitment by the Obama administration to use remotely piloted aircraft in battle. As RPA use has increased, the average number of manned flights in which weapons were used dropped from 165 a month in 2011 to 127 a month in 2012.


The numbers were released Jan. 6 as part of the monthly Combined Forces Air Component Commander airpower statistics. Data on the number of RPA strikes were included in the monthly report for the first time in October. The statistics include only strikes in Afghanistan because the Air Force is no longer actively supporting activities in Iraq.


Statistics released by the Air Force only cover military strikes, not CIA-launched attacks in countries such as Pakistan and Yemen. Though controversial, those actions have been strongly defended by Obama administration officials, including John Brennan, President Obama’s nominee for CIA director. In an April speech, Brennan called the CIA use of drones “legal, ethical and wise.”

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9 janvier 2013 3 09 /01 /janvier /2013 08:35



December 25, 2012: Strategy Page


Western advisors to the Afghan Army are appalled at the high desertion rate (about a quarter of the force each year by their estimates). In the U.S. Army the rate is .3 percent. Afghan commanders say the rate is actually less than ten percent but that is based on the Afghan attitude towards what constitutes desertion. Afghan commanders accept that if many of their men want to walk away, that’s the Afghan custom. Commanders understand that a soldier may leave for a few months to take care of some business back home and then return. That’s all right by Afghan standards because family is paramount. Moreover, some soldiers run into problems dealing with all the strangers (men from other tribes or ethnic groups) they encounter in the Army. To an Afghan, a “foreigner” can be someone from the next valley over who belongs to a different tribe. To Afghans, walking away from a job in the army (as a soldier) is no big thing. This drives Westerners crazy as it demonstrates a lack of is civic spirit and discipline. The latter is considered essential for a modern military force. Most Afghans are still thinking terms of a tribal or warlord militia, in other words a bunch of armed men freely joining together to kick some ass. This sort of arrangement used to be common in the West several centuries ago. But as record keeping and local government became more efficient, the “contract” you agreed to on joining an army made it mandatory to stay for a certain amount of time or pay a sum of money to leave early. Most Afghans can’t quite wrap their heads around that kind of thinking, at least not yet.


The major problem in Afghanistan is that police, soldiers, and other government employees tend to put their tribe or clan above everything. While the attitude that “family is most important” exists in the West, it does so alongside beliefs in civic responsibility (to the nation, state, town) and loyalty to employer (especially if it’s military or police). Afghans just assume that tribe and family come first above everything else and are perplexed when foreigners don’t appreciate that. All this is casting doubt on the value of trying to create a police force and army in Afghanistan, something the U.S. has spent over $27 billion on in the last decade.


The biggest problems have been recruiting and training officers. Most of the Afghans who would make good officers are either trying to emigrate or have safer and better paying jobs in the commercial or government sector. For those who are capable and big risk takers there are opportunities to become very rich in the drug (opium and heroin) business. As a result, most army and police units are poorly led. Corruption is common, as it is everywhere else in the country.


U.S. and NATO trainers have succeeded at introducing some useful reforms. Many innovative concepts had been tried but most failed to motivate Afghans to become first rate officers and soldiers. Some efforts worked very well. For example, the pay of soldiers has been made competitive with what the drug gangs and the Taliban pay. Experienced trainers have long been calling for pay to be kept competitive with what the enemy offers. That's because it's an Afghan tradition for young men to follow leaders who can provide for them. Often these are traditional tribal leaders but anyone who has the cash can attract an armed following this way. That's how the drug gangs and the Taliban operate. These pay increases began showing up three years ago and when, in the last two years, drug gang losses cut income for the Taliban, the army actually became the first choice of young men looking for a good paying job. Plus, the army has benefits (like some medical care) that actually work. But for men capable enough to be officers the drug gangs offered much higher pay and bonuses.


Another change was even more innovative. Recruits undergoing training must now learn how to read and write before they can undergo weapons training. Only about a third of the Afghan Army recruits are literate. The illiterate ones felt that handling a gun was more important than learning how to read. The new policy provided some attitude adjustment, along with an incentive to become literate, or at least literate enough to be effective soldiers. The U.S. developed a special literacy course for Afghan troops which could be completed quickly. All these literacy efforts sometimes backfire and increase the desertion rate by causing newly literate Afghans to take better paying civilian jobs. But those recruits who stay will be better qualified to complete, and use, their training.


Added to the higher pay and literacy was the introduction of a banking system, using cell phones, for the troops. This approach requires some basic literacy and thus provides another incentive for recruits to be, if not literate, a little less illiterate. This makes them more effective soldiers and better able to communicate with each other and their superiors, as well as quicker to learn new skills.


The army has been more effective. Afghan troops are doing more fighting and now suffer more casualties than foreign troops. Afghan troops are also causing fewer civilian casualties. Opinion polls among Afghans have 70 percent of them grading the Afghan Army as "capable." NATO advisors now rate most Afghan infantry battalions as combat ready but only about 30 of them can operate on their own. There simply aren't enough trained and experienced officers and NCOs in the Afghan units.


It will be years before Afghanistan has an army and national police force as effective as, say, Iraq. The Iraqi Army and security forces under Saddam Hussein, although corrupt and abusive, were far more stable and loyal to the government than any Afghan military force ever. Saddam's continued existence relied on it. Despite their dismal performance during Desert Storm, the Iraqi Army had successfully fought an eight-year war with Iran in the 1980s, purchased high-tech gear from the Soviet Union, and had still managed to retain some semblance of an effective standing army, even after their disastrous ejection from Kuwait in 1991. The Iraqi Army had a well-defined, albeit Soviet-style, structure and clearly defined branches of service. All of this has made it possible, despite major problems, for the U.S. to build up the new and more effective security forces in Iraq.


Afghanistan, on the other hand, has had nothing even remotely resembling a capable, structured, loyal army and the legacy of corruption and inefficiency in the army is far worse than in Iraq. During the 1980s, when the Soviets occupied Afghanistan, there was a standing Afghan government army but it was rampant with corruption, incompetence, desertions, and thousands of conscripts and officers who were either sympathetic to or active members of the anti-Communist guerrillas. The Soviets, justifiably so, generally regarded the Afghan forces as worthless in combat, forcing Russians to do almost all of the fighting themselves.  In the 1990s, civil war prevented the formation of anything like a national army, since there was no national government. All of this has been going on continuously for almost 30 years. Throw in the ever-present heroin trade and you have a major challenge creating a professional ground force, to say nothing of a national police force.


To a certain degree, none of these problems, like corruption and incompetence, are new to the Middle East or Central Asia. The difference between places like Egypt and Afghanistan is that, despite corruption and favoritism, the military is able to defend the country and operate as a respectable, capable force that can fight. Men obey their orders and most of the time they know how to do their jobs. Unfortunately, in places like Afghanistan and Somalia these problems are so pervasive that in the past they have traditionally paralyzed the ability of the military to fight and win any kind of battle.


Afghans don't like to live away from their families and tribes. Some think they can but later find that they can't. Even with better screening of recruits, and more generous home leave, the annual desertion rate is still high. A fundamental problem is lack of faith in government. Tribal and clan leaders are still considered a safer bet than some government bureaucrat.


Afghan officials are asking for $10 billion a year in foreign aid after 2014 (when most foreign troops will be gone). With this money Afghan officials say they will be able to maintain the security forces and keep the government going. But foreign aid donor nations are demanding that strict controls be placed on how the money is spent. Afghan officials oppose the controls, which offend their dignity and make the money more difficult to steal. What's the point of taking a senior government job, and risking assassination, if you can't get rich? But the donor countries want to avoid a media disaster when Afghan officials are found getting rich, while Afghans starve. That is happening right now, with many Afghans suffering severe food shortages (because of drought) and foreign donors having a hard time preventing the food and other aid from being stolen by the government employees responsible for distributing it.


Whatever happens, the experience with thousands of foreign military trainers over the last decade has left Afghanistan with an even larger number of men trained in the techniques of modern warfare. These Afghans know what a sergeant and an officer is and what they are supposed to do. They know something of modern infantry tactics and logistics. As a result, the might of foreign armies is no longer as much of a mystery. There is still a lot of traditional corruption and nepotism in the military and police. But there is also progress, something rarely seen in this part of the world.

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8 janvier 2013 2 08 /01 /janvier /2013 19:35

US soldiers Afghanistan source defenseWeb


January 6, 2013. David Pugliese - Defence Watch


The Washington Post’s well respected security and defence columnist Walter Pincus recently published an article on what it is going to cost to for the U.S. to bring its equipment back from Afghanistan.


It will cost $5.7 billion (over a two year period). Pincus was citing a new report by the Government Accountability Office.


The U.S. Defense Department estimates the military services have more than 750,000 major items worth more than $36 billion in Afghanistan, including about 50,000 vehicles and more than 90,000 shipping containers of materiel, Pincus notes.


“The Defense Department has three ways to dispose of its Afghan materiel: transfer equipment to another federal or state agency or a foreign government, destroy the materiel in Afghanistan, or return it to another Pentagon location.”


He also makes this observation later in the article:


“Iraq and Afghanistan are the first U.S. wars in which the American public was not asked to pay a cent in additional taxes,” Pincus writes. “What were we thinking?”

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8 janvier 2013 2 08 /01 /janvier /2013 19:35



Jan. 8, 2013 defense-unmanned.com

(Source: Italian air force; issued Dec. 28, 2012)

(Issued in Italian only; unofficial translation by defense-aerospace.com)


Predator In the Air for 24 Consecutive Hours


The Italian air force’s remotely-piloted vehicle stayed n the air for 24 consecutive hours in December, to carry out four distinct operational missions in the Afghan theater.


For the first time during an operational mission in Afghanistan, a Predator remotely-piloted vehicle flew for 24 consecutive hours and carried out four separate missions without landing. This milestone, achieved in December, is a credit to all of the Aeronautica Militare personnel belonging to Task Group ‘Astore’.


During the same 24 hours, Predator aircraft n° AV0002 flew mostly over the Bakwa district, supporting a patrol of Task Force ‘Victor’ whose mission was to monitor the itinerary to be followed by an Italian vehicle convoy.


The aircraft first monitored a major redeployment of Task Force ‘South East’ as it pulled out of ‘Lavaredo’ base in Bakwa, which was turned over to the Afghan army. In the same district, the Predator then assisted two AM-X fighter-bombers who launched two laser-guided bombs to destroy two radio-communications antennas used by a group of insurgents operating in the same area. Finally, the aircraft surveyed and mapped a village where an insurgent weapons depot had been reported near Shindand, where Task Force ‘Center’ is deployed.


This milestone mission, which exceeds the previous record by almost two hours, is the result of detailed planning of the mission’s every aspect. To guarantee its success, the crews – comprising pilots, analysts, flight engineers and maintenance technicians – alternated every two hours, using their “off” times to monitor tasks, weather conditions as well as resting.


Col. Carlo Moscini, commander of JATF – the task force which manages the Italian air force’s flight assets in Afghanistan – praised the “actors of this important aviation milestone for their professionalism and their dedication in the use of the MQ-1C Predator aircraft, which is extremely useful for supporting forces operating on the ground.”


Task Force ‘Astore’ is part of Joint Air Task Force and operates in-theater the MQ-1C Predator remotely-piloted aircraft belonging to the 32° Stormo (squadron). It carries out ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconaissance) missions in support of national and coalition ground troops, and thereby contributes to the situation awareness of ISAF forces.

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8 janvier 2013 2 08 /01 /janvier /2013 17:35



4 Jan 2013By Craig Hoyle – FG


London - Germany has started its first combat deployment involving its army's Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopters, with four of the type having arrived at Mazar-e-Sharif air base in Afghanistan late last year.


An initial two Tigers arrived at the site on 14 December aboard a Volga-Dnepr-operated Antonov An-124 transport aircraft (below), after being flown from Leipzig/Halle airport. The second pair followed around one week later.


Images of one of the aircraft performing initial flights in the country in late December (below) show it carrying unguided rocket and machine gun pods.




Both images: Rex Features


The German army expects to begin flying active missions with its deployed Tigers later during the first quarter of 2013, conducting missions including reconnaissance, transport helicopter escort and fire support tasks. The detachment forms part of Berlin's ongoing contribution to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.


Eurocopter delivered its first four Tigers to have been upgraded to a so-called Afghanistan Stabilisation German Army Rapid Deployment (ASGARD) standard to the service's 36 Combat Helicopter Regt in Fritzlar in July 2012, with four more due to have followed during December. The standard introduces additional defensive systems, enhanced communications equipment and engine sand filters.


Germany's deployment of the Tiger to Afghanistan follows the type's operation in the country by the French army, which began using the aircraft there in late 2009.

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