Author Topic: The Sandbox and Areas Reports Thread September 2014  (Read 3770 times)

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Offline GAP

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The Sandbox and Areas Reports Thread September 2014
« on: September 01, 2014, 20:39:53 »
The Sandbox and Areas Reports Thread September 2014              
 
News only - commentary elsewhere, please.
Thanks for helping this "news only" thread system work!
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Offline GAP

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Re: The Sandbox and Areas Reports Thread September 2014
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2014, 20:44:12 »
Articles found Sept 1, 2014
 
Closing Time At Afghanistan’s Kandahar Airfield
As American troops come home, Western fast food shops and local businesses are leaving too.
By Ben Brody | September 1, 2014
  http://www.mintpressnews.com/closing-time-afghanistans-kandahar-airfield/196079/Article Link
 
As the US troop presence dwindles here, The House of Knowledge is closing.

Sajad Ahmad set up the shop on a retail strip at Kandahar Airfield hoping it might help to enlighten the soldiers by offering them books about Afghanistan history and culture. At the height of the US presence, Kandahar hosted 30,000 soldiers.

“Business was not good,” Ahmad said.

The House of Knowledge had become a fixture on what soldiers called “The Boardwalk,” the social center of the base featuring a Burger King, TGI Friday’s, Tim Horton’s donuts and other Western shops. As the US dramatically reduces its troop presence here, some shopkeepers say they are going to stay and adapt to their new clientele, Afghan soldiers and civilians. But many stores are closing for good.

House of Knowledge owner Ahmad is a slight, serious man from Kandahar who rarely smiles. He reveals his deep intellect and sensitivity grudgingly, as he has found few people here who share his passion for books and learning.

“I opened House of Knowledge in 2009 to sell books that would help the Americans understand Afghanistan, because understanding will bring peace,” said Ahmad at his shop.

“I had to get rid of most of my books and sell DVDs and headphones instead,” he continued.

Many of the restaurants and electronics shops on the boardwalk are owned and run by people from all over Asia, including the Philippines, Bangladesh and Pakistan, but a few Afghan-run shops sell local souvenirs and jewelry.

The Tim Horton’s left with the bulk of Canadian forces in 2011, and TGI Friday’s has just been bulldozed into rubble. Even the Green Beans Coffee Shop, a ubiquitous mainstay of US bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, is gone. So are the battle-hardened faces fresh from fighting in Helmand, who just a few years ago gawked in disbelief at the rear-echelon troops gulping down smoothies and pizza without a care in the world.

Now nearly all of the soldiers at Kandahar have ceased combat operations, and the air among soldiers is relaxed. Not as much with the shopkeepers.
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Offline MCG

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Seven Canadian Forces officers still on duty in Afghanistan
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2014, 18:42:18 »
Quote
7 Canadian Forces officers still on duty in Afghanistan
Ottawa Citizen
Matthew Fisher
26 Sep 2014

As Canada ramps up its military response to Islamic State, there are still seven Canadian officers serving in Afghanistan 38 months after the Canadian Forces ended its combat mission in Kandahar and five months after its military training mission closed in Kabul.
 
The de facto leader of the small group of Canadians, because of his rank, is Brig.-Gen. Simon Hetherington. He arrived in Afghanistan in July because he is the deputy commander (operations) of the U.S. army's XVIII Airborne Corps, which was sent by the Pentagon to oversee many of the 35,000 NATO troops still in Afghanistan. The alliance is shrinking its footprint to 12,500 by next year, down from 140,000 in 2012.
 
By the time Hetherington leaves Afghanistan in December, he will have spent more time "incountry" than any other senior Canadian officer. The general was deputy commander of Canada's Task Force Kandahar in late 2009 during disgraced Van Doo Brig.-Gen. Daniel Menard's starcrossed tour as the leader of the group. Four years before that he ran Canada's Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kandahar City. "To be completely honest, I didn't know I would be deploying," Hetherington said the other day in an exclusive interview from Kabul, where the XVIII Airborne Corps is spending a year. "It certainly isn't well known. When family and friends hear where I am, they say that they thought we had taken the flag down. There was an application with the government, and they said go."
 
As a matter of government policy, a Canadian exchange officer "serves at the pleasure of the army we serve with, so when (Brig.-Gen. Wayne Eyre) finished his six months here, I started my six months," said Hetherington, who leads NATO's Afghan training mission.
 
Hetherington attended the U.S. army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania and was commander of 2nd Mechanized Brigade at CFB Petawawa between his first two Afghan assignments. He also worked briefly with now-retired Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie's Canadian Forces Transformation Team, which recommended ways to cut military costs.
 
Being back in Afghanistan for a third tour has brought home to the artillery officer how highly regarded the Canadians were by their Afghan counterparts.
 
"We add a Canadian flavour to the organization and the Afghans look at us fondly," he said. In particular, Afghans remember then-Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner as "a larger than life dude," who led the NATO training and advisory mission in Kabul until he returned to Canada in the spring.
 
"Having been here gives you credibility," he said. "I've met a lot of old friends who were with us in places such as Arghandab. The Afghans remember us. I've met some from previous tours."
 
Hetherington was highly regarded by the troops who served with him in Afghanistan and Canada because of his affability and leadership. He now leads the same training mission as Milner and four other Canadian generals before him. It has built the Afghan army into a force of 350,000 soldiers and 309 kandaks (battalions) today, and works as an adviser at an institutional level with the Afghan military leadership. "It is fully manned up. It is a well-equipped mobile strike force," Hetherington said of the Afghan forces. "I would not have believed this in 2010, let alone in 2006."
 
One of the difficulties lately has been the Afghans' inability to choose a new leader to succeed outgoing President Hamid Karzai. That problem may have been resolved last weekend with an agreement between the two leading candidates, but "election uncertainty hurt momentum," he said.
 
With NATO now on "the downward slope" in Afghanistan, "the greatest concern for us as the U.S. withdraws the enablers it provided is how the Afghans will do air medevac, close air support and reconnaissance, because they are not mature capabilities in the ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces). But there are ways to mitigate it. We are providing equipment to address gaps in close air support, mortars. We are working to help its air force with a medevac capability and to provide platforms for air/ground skills, terminal air traffic controllers and air liaison officers." Hetherington spent one month working alongside Maj.-Gen. Harold Greene before the American training adviser was murdered by a suspected Afghan in early August.
 
"It is very sad. He was a true gentleman," Hetherington said. "He looked like an accountant but he was a war winner. He got things done. He had to get capabilities out to the field and knew how to work the system. That is what he was doing, addressing infrastructure, the day he died."
 
Hetherington is out and about himself about four times a week. He has been to the north and east of Afghanistan and is looking forward to his first trip back to Kandahar.
 
"It won't be as robust as ... when we went out mounted in LAVS (light armoured vehicles)," he said. "Mostly I visit big bases, but I will do some advising at KAF (Kandahar Airfield)."
 
Asked for an assessment of the security threat from the Taliban, he said: "The delta (for violence) is down. That is kind of encouraging. That is the message I want to bring to our colleagues who served out here.
 
"Afghans still take casualties, but IEDs (improvised explosive devices) are nowhere near the level when we had to stand and watch those ramp ceremonies in Kandahar."
 
Hetherington returns to his duties with the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, N.C., in mid-December.
 
The other six Canadians were serving in Helmand and Kandahar as well as Kabul. However, "by the end of the year the number of Canadians here will probably be zero," he said, closing the last chapter in a military history that began 13 years ago.

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Re: The Sandbox and Areas Reports Thread September 2014
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2015, 07:15:05 »
Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity ....
Not to mention your ban - buh-bye!

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