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After NATO withdrawal Afghanistan could slide into a regional proxy conflict

April 18, 2014 by · Comment
Filed under: afghanistan, China, India, Pakistan, Syndicated Industry News 

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Royal Air Force’s II(AC) Squadron foils insurgent bombers in Afghanistan

April 10, 2014 by · Comment
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Australia Continues Heron I Mission in Afghanistan

March 6, 2014 by · Comment
Filed under: afghanistan, Australia, IAI, MDA, Syndicated Industry News 

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Marine Corps to Support Afghan Electronic Attack Missions from Qatar

February 24, 2014 by · Comment
Filed under: afghanistan, Qatar, Syndicated Industry News 

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Forces from the UK, Denmark and Estonia Form Safe Corridor for US Forces in Helmand

January 31, 2014 by · Comment
Filed under: afghanistan, Force Protection, Syndicated Industry News 

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German Herons log 15,000 Combat-Operation Hours in Afghanistan

July 22, 2013 by · Comment
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Israeli Weapon Systems on the Flying Gunship?

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K-MAX Crashes on a Mission in Afghanistan

Landing support team Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 5 rush toward a hovering Kaman K1200, "K-MAX," unmanned helicopter in Helmand province, Afghanistan, May 22. Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 2 made history with the CLB-5 Marines by performing the first ever unmanned, mid-flight cargo hookups, also known as "hot hookups." Photo: USMC Cpl. Lisa TourtelotOne of two K-MAX unmanned helicopters supplying the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan has crashed June 5th at Camp Leatherneck near Kandahar. The helicopter crashed at a landing zone when it was operating an autonomous resupply mission, as it was...

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K-MAX Crashes on a Mission in Afghanistan

Landing support team Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 5 rush toward a hovering Kaman K1200, "K-MAX," unmanned helicopter in Helmand province, Afghanistan, May 22. Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 2 made history with the CLB-5 Marines by performing the first ever unmanned, mid-flight cargo hookups, also known as "hot hookups." Photo: USMC Cpl. Lisa TourtelotOne of two K-MAX unmanned helicopters supplying the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan has crashed June 5th at Camp Leatherneck near Kandahar. The helicopter crashed at a landing zone when it was operating an autonomous resupply mission, as it was...

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K-MAX to Stay in Afghanistan Until the 2014 Withdrawal

March 18, 2013 by · Comment
Filed under: afghanistan, Syndicated Industry News 
kmax_support_2012650The U.S. Marine Corps will keep the two K-MAX unmanned helicopters in Afghanistan 'indefinitely', at least, until the withdrawal or US troops from the country next year.

Remotely Controlled Flail Assists Counter-IED, Demining Missions

January 1, 2013 by · Comment
Filed under: afghanistan, Syndicated Industry News 
The US Army has been using the M160 remotely controlled flail robot built by the Croatian company DOK-ING in Afghanistan for route clearance missions.

Is There a Market in Afghanistan and Iraq for U.S. Defense Contractors?

Now that the U.S. is beginning to seriously drawdown troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and scale back their missions the focus will move to building up those countries internal security and armed forces. Much of their training and equipment so far has been provided through the U.S. either by direct transfer, sales or funding. The removal of U.S. forces will accelerate these kinds of deals. Iraq, unlike Afghanistan, has its own funding available through its oil production which gives it a little more leeway in deciding what to buy.

The U.S. is committed right now to withdraw the last of its 47,000 troops from Iraq in this year. The two governments are in discussion of whether to extend the presence but no decision has been made yet. The British have already removed all of their forces. The end of that mission would mean security of the entire country of Iraq would belong to its Army and Ministry of Interior forces.

The U.S. has provided large amounts of equipment and training to Iraq. Much of this has been of Russian design although produced all over the world. Alliant Techsystems (ATK) for instance has been given contracts to provide “non-standard” ammunition. The company is the largest producer of ammunition in the U.S. and makes different types of bullets and shells for the U.S. military. “Non-standard” in this case means in the former Soviet Union sizes for use by Iraq and Afghan forces that tend to be equipped with AK-47 and Russian support weapons. ATK will use sources in Eastern Europe to provide them.

Afghanistan has also recently signed contracts with two U.S. companies for training helicopters and aircraft. MD Helicopters received a $186 million contract to build six light helicopters to train new Afghan rotary wing pilots. Initially six aircraft will be purchased but up to fifty-four could be. Cessna Aircraft, part of Textron (TXT), just won a fixed wing training contract worth about $88 million. This will be for six Cessna 182T and 26 208B aircraft for basic training.

One of the largest current contracts is through the U.S. State Department with DynCorp, privately held by Cerberus Capital. This is for training support to the Afghan military and police. The contract was controversial in that it was protested by then Blackwater who felt the billion dollar deal should have been awarded to them. This provides an example of the amount of money that is out there for these kinds of contracts.

The next step will be to determine what future opportunities are there. The Iraqi military will be buying much more heavy equipment then a nation like Afghanistan. It already has purchased tanks, armored vehicles, aircraft and helicopters. Many of these while not American made are bought through the U.S. military or with financial aid. Further contracts like this may be expected. For example last week the U.S. Army negotiated a contract with Russian company, Mil, to provide 21 Mi-17 helicopters to Afghanistan at a cost of up to $300 million. U.S. companies while they won’t be supplying hardware will be able to provide training, maintenance and program support to both the U.S. and the Iraq and Afghan users of these kinds of items.

One issue that hangs over all of this is the need for U.S. contractors to gain more overseas businesses. The U.S. defense budget will decline in the near future. In order to maintain the current level of sales and earnings more business will be needed from foreign sources. The Iraq and Afghanistan markets should favor the U.S. but due to the needs of those countries, their familiarity with Russian types of weapons, and the low level of technology they are buying it might be difficult. Certainly in a few years Iraq might be looking at American fighters such as the F-16 or F/A-18 but not in the immediate future. Technology transfer rules also affect the ability of these types of sales.

U.S. contractors have already made a great deal of money supporting the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Much of this has been through logistics and training support rather then providing hardware directly to these two new governments. There may be opportunities in the future for larger, more complex contracts but it may take several years as the two militaries are built up. In the short term though it will be contracts for supply, maintenance and training where the market will be. Much of the money for those efforts will still be provided by the U.S. taxpayer either directly or through foreign aid. The time when Afghanistan and Iraq place large orders with their own tax money is still a ways off.

Photo from Photo from Christian Brigg’s Flickr photostream.

Article first published as Is There a Future Market in Afghanistan and Iraq for U.S. Defense Contractors? on Technorati.

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AAR to Provide More Airlift for U.S. in Afghanistan

The United States’ Transportation Command (TRANSCOMM) awarded AAR (AIR) a contract to provide airlift for U.S. troops and services in Afghanistan. The contract if all options are awarded is worth about $120 million. It consists of one year plus four option years.

Due to the terrain and threat in Afghanistan the U.S., its Allies and the Afghan forces are heavily dependent on airlift to move men, equipment and supplies. The U.S. uses a mix of its own Army, Marine and Air Force assets as well as contractors to do this. AAR will provide their services on this contract with DeHavilland Canada Dash 8 aircraft and rotary wing assets.

There is heavy use of Russian helicopters such as the Mi-8 and 17 to provide cheap, effective transport. The U.S. military also uses their UH-60 Black Hawks, CH-53 and CH-47 heavy lift helicopters and the V-22 Osprey. The demands of the fighting require more lift then the U.S. military can provide so the heavy use of contractors like AAR.

Photo from Deaster1983′s flickr photostream.

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£189m for new equipment in Afghanistan announced

July 7, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: afghanistan, Syndicated Industry News 
£189m for new equipment in Afghanistan announced
July 7, 2010

The Government is providing £189m from the Treasury Reserve for new equipment for UK troops in support of operations in Afghanistan, Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox has announced today.

This additional funding will be used to buy a range of base protection equipment, including surveillance equipment, communications equipment and logistics equipment.

It will enable UK forces to continue to increase the number of bases in theatre as the force thickens in central Helmand, and to partner the Afghan security forces more effectively.

Together with the £67m for the counter-improvised explosive device (C-IED) campaign announced by the Prime Minister on 10 June 2010, this totals £256m (£189m and £67m) of Reserve funding allocated to equipment since the beginning of June 2010.

This extra funding will allow the Ministry of Defence to equip an increase in the number of specialist C-IED teams and reflects the continuing move towards partnering the Afghan National Army and Police and the thickening of our force across the area of operations.

As the Secretary of State for Defence has made clear, countering the IED threat faced by our forces in Afghanistan is a top priority for the new Government. He said:

"There are real challenges; the threat does not stand still and nor does our response.

"I will make sure that everything possible is done to ensure that our forces have what they need to deal with this indiscriminate threat.

"They deserve nothing less. As I have seen during my visits they are doing fantastic work in Afghanistan in support of the UK's national security."

The Secretary of State has also made it clear when looking to the future that when the Afghan security forces have been sufficiently trained to take control, our troops can withdraw:

"...our forces are making progress. In Helmand, the heartland of the insurgency, six districts were under government control in 2008 - now 11 out of 14 are.

"We are also ahead of target in training the Afghan National Security Forces. As soon as they are able to keep their country secure our forces can come home."


The Ridgback armoured personnel carrier
[Picture: Corporal Ian Forsyth RLC, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

The equipment package for operations and pre-deployment training includes the following:

• Base equipment (£158m) including:

- secure communications systems;
- ground-based ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) systems to protect bases.

• Dismounted Close Combat equipment (£19m) including:

- Osprey body armour and helmets;
- weapons systems including light and heavy machine guns and combat shotguns;
- weapon sights and night vision equipment.

• Other (£12m) including:

- additional MAN logistics support vehicles modified for use in Afghanistan (equipping existing vehicles to Theatre Entry Standard to allow them to deploy).

The C-IED equipment package announced by the Prime Minister on 10 June 2010 (£67m) includes:

Mastiff protected mobility vehicles;
remote-controlled vehicles;
specialist IED disruptive and exploitation equipment;
highly trained military working dogs.
These additional resources are aimed at dealing both with the IED threat of today whilst looking to the future by partnering with the Afghans, to whom responsibility for security will be transferred.

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House Armed Services Committee: Skelton on SIGAR Report Identifying Flaws in Assessing Capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces

June 29, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: afghanistan, Syndicated Industry News 

House Armed Services Committee: Skelton on SIGAR Report Identifying Flaws in Assessing Capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces
Ike Skelton, Chairman
June 29, 2010

Skelton on SIGAR Report Identifying Flaws in Assessing Capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces

Washington, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) released the statement below on the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction’s (SIGAR) report on serious flaws in the system used to assess the capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF):

“Developing Afghan National Security Forces capable of providing security for the people of Afghanistan is critical to our success, so it does not do any good to rely on a flawed system that cannot actually show us if these forces are ‘good enough’. While it is always troubling to receive an auditor’s report of our failings in Afghanistan, I insisted on the creation of Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction to help us find and correct exactly these sorts of problems.

“I am pleased that the command in Afghanistan agrees that the ratings system is flawed and is changing the system based on the Special Inspector General’s recommendation. Hopefully the new system will give us an accurate sense of the state and capability of the ANSF so we can focus our efforts and develop effective security forces in Afghanistan. As we continue to aggressively step up the fight against terrorists and win the war in Afghanistan, it is important to make sure that the ANSF are fully capable of standing on their own.”

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General Officer Announcement

June 25, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: afghanistan, Syndicated Industry News 
General Officer Announcement
June 25, 2010

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced today that the President has nominated Army Gen. David H. Petraeus for appointment to the rank of general and assignment as commander, International Security Assistance Force/commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan. Petraeus is currently serving as commander, U.S. Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.

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House Armed Services Committee: Skelton Statement on President’s Decision to Change Commanders in Afghanistan

June 23, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: afghanistan, Syndicated Industry News 
House Armed Services Committee: Skelton Statement on President’s Decision to Change Commanders in Afghanistan
Ike Skelton, Chairman
June 23, 2010

Skelton Statement on President’s Decision to Change Commanders in Afghanistan

Washington, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) released the following statement on the President’s decision to accept General Stanley McChrystal’s resignation and appoint General David Petraeus as commander in Afghanistan:

“General Petraeus is the best that we have. I have great confidence in his ability to bring about a successful outcome in Afghanistan. The Commander-in-Chief must have confidence in his commanders in the field. It is time to move on and return our focus to waging the war in Afghanistan.”

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Relyant Gets U.S. Contract to Clean Up Old Battlefields

Afghanistan has been a scene of combat since the Soviet invasion in Christmas, 1980. The Russians left and the government they left behind was overthrown by the Taliban. That group fought different opponents until Winter of 2001 when the U.S. and its Northern Alliance allies through them out. This means that the country is littered with old ordnance, weapons and equipment. Tennessee company Relyant has now been given a contract by the U.S. Army to help clean up these old weapons in Afghanistan.

The contract is worth about $49 million and has one base year and two option years. Relyant already provides support services to the U.S. military in Afghanistan including construction, transportation and security. The company has expanded quite a bit since its formation in 2006 and operates in the U.S. as well as Africa and Asia.

The company will actively demine areas of Afghanistan. They will primarily be looking for old ordnance from the Soviet fighting.

Despite the shift in focus with the Obama Administration and the current Congress from using contractors they will be necessary to provide services to deployed military. The U.S. Armed Forces are not large enough to do everything and contracts like this will still need to be issued. It may be that smaller companies such as Relyant may have an advantage in winning these contract as the larger suppliers such as Halliburton and Dyncorp have been tainted rightly-or-wrongly by past events and contracts.

Photo from The National Guard flickr photostream.

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House Armed Services Committee: Skelton Statement on General McChrystal Profile

June 22, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: afghanistan, Syndicated Industry News 
House Armed Services Committee: Skelton Statement on General McChrystal Profile
Ike Skelton, Chairman
June 22, 2010

Skelton Statement on General McChrystal Profile

Washington, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) released the following statement regarding the recent profile on General Stanley McChrystal:

"I was disappointed by the Rolling Stone profile of General McChrystal, and I hope that we will be able to sort this out soon and move forward so we can get back to winning the war in Afghanistan. Nothing is more important than defeating the terrorists who want to harm us. That should be paramount."

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Defense Secretary Gates Statement on McChrystal Profile

Defense Secretary Gates Statement on McChrystal Profile
June 22, 2010

"I read with concern the profile piece on Gen. Stanley McChrystal in the upcoming edition of 'Rolling Stone' magazine. I believe that Gen. McChrystal made a significant mistake and exercised poor judgment in this case. We are fighting a war against al Qaeda and its extremist allies, who directly threaten the United States, Afghanistan, and our friends and allies around the world. Going forward, we must pursue this mission with a unity of purpose. Our troops and coalition partners are making extraordinary sacrifices on behalf of our security, and our singular focus must be on supporting them and succeeding in Afghanistan without such distractions. Gen. McChrystal has apologized to me and is similarly reaching out to others named in this article to apologize to them as well. I have recalled Gen. McChrystal to Washington to discuss this in person."

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House Armed Services Committee: Opening Statement of Chairman Ike Skelton Hearing on Developments in Afghanistan

June 16, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: afghanistan, Syndicated Industry News 
House Armed Services Committee: Opening Statement of Chairman Ike Skelton Hearing on Developments in Afghanistan
Ike Skelton, Chairman
June 16, 2010

Opening Statement of Chairman Ike Skelton Hearing on Developments in Afghanistan

Washington, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) delivered the following opening statement during today’s hearing on developments in Afghanistan.

“Today, the House Armed Services Committee meets to receive testimony on ‘Developments in Afghanistan.’ Our witnesses today are two old friends: the Honorable Michèle Flournoy, the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; and General David Petraeus, Commander of United States Central Command. Welcome, both of you.

“Before I begin, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the many brave men and women serving under General Petraeus in Afghanistan, Iraq, and throughout Central Command for their service. I know I speak on all the members’ behalf, General, when I ask you to convey our heartfelt thanks to those soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. We are truly blessed to have such heroes working on behalf of our nation.

“In recent weeks, reports from Afghanistan have been largely negative. We hear that operations in Marjah are not going as expected and the Taliban has begun a campaign of murder and intimidation there; the Kandahar operation has been postponed while the Taliban have been assassinating local government officials; U.S. and coalition casualties are increasing; and in some cases the United States has been contracting with the very warlords who intimidate the people of Afghanistan and undermine our efforts there.

“To some, these reports reflect what they have always suspected—that our efforts in Afghanistan are futile. I do not share this view. Last fall, I advocated for a counter-insurgency campaign as the course most likely to prevent al Qa’ida from reestablishing a safe haven in Afghanistan, and I still believe this to be true. While we face many challenges in Afghanistan, the type of challenges we face now were largely expected—as we surged troops, there would be hard fighting and many setbacks. I believe that this is the dark before the dawn.

“Let me be clear—we face serious challenges in Afghanistan. But after many years of neglect in Afghanistan, there are positive signs as well—General McChrystal has reported that security is no longer declining; local populations are increasingly pointing out improvised explosive devices; and while we desperately need more trainers from NATO, the recruiting of new personnel for the Afghan security forces is ahead of schedule.

“Increased cooperation with key nations in the region during the past year has also shown signs of success. Our Pakistani allies have arrested senior members of the Taliban leadership, while the Afghan government and our forces have had great success targeting the local shadow governors. Further, we must remember that not all of our forces are deployed yet, which must happen before we rush to judgment.

“I do not doubt that we can face down the insurgency on the field of battle. While our troops are tired from many deployments, those same combat tours have made them into the best counterinsurgency force in history. What concerns me is the capacity of the Afghan government to sustain the military success provided by U.S. and Afghan troops. Ultimately, it is this ability that will convince the Afghan people to stand against al Qa’ida and the Taliban.

“In recent weeks, we have seen mixed signals about this capacity. President Karzai forced out two of his most competent and highly regarded ministers. Media stories repeatedly bring home examples of corruption undermining our efforts. And yet, at the same time, the Afghan government has forced out and prosecuted a number of government officials for corruption, including the former Border Police Chief for Kandahar.

“Further, data suggest that the Afghan people are showing increased confidence in their local governments and increased confidence that their national government is headed in the right direction. While small and not irreversible, these significant signs give us some hope of progress.

“This December, the President has promised to review the progress of his strategy in Afghanistan. I hope our witnesses can help us understand what this review will entail and set some expectations for it. December is a reasonable time to review progress—all the surge troops will have arrived on the ground and been undertaking operations for several months. But I hope our witnesses can help the members here understand more about what we expect to see before December, particularly in Kandahar, which is so critical in the forthcoming months. What progress do they expect to see among the Afghan security forces and the Afghan government?

“We all know Afghanistan will not become peaceful and successful overnight, but what signs are reasonable to expect and would represent enough progress to suggest we should continue on our present course? I hope our witnesses can help us with these questions.

“Thank you both for appearing here once again. I now turn to my good friend, our ranking member, Buck McKeon, for any comments he might care to make.”

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DOD Announces Units for Upcoming Rotation to Afghanistan

May 27, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: afghanistan, Syndicated Industry News 
DOD Announces Units for Upcoming Rotation to Afghanistan
May 27, 2010

The Department of Defense announced today the alert of replacement forces scheduled to deploy in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The announcement involves two brigades of Army National Guard consisting of approximately 7,000 personnel.

Specific units alerted are:

37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Ohio Army National Guard

45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Okla. Army National Guard

The units will replace redeploying units, with no increase in overall force levels. They are currently scheduled to begin their deployment in the summer of 2011 and are receiving alert orders now in order to provide the maximum time to complete preparations. It also provides a greater measure of predictability for family members and flexibility for employers to plan for military service of their employees.

The 37th and 45th IBCTs will deploy to Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations in partnership with the Afghan National Security Forces.

DoD will continue to announce major unit deployments as they are identified and those units are alerted.

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Air Tractor Illustrates How Hard It Is For Innovative Products To Break Through In Defense

Air Tractor, Inc of Texas is a leading manufacturer of agricultural aircraft. They primarily make crop dusters as well as firefighting aircraft. Their products are small, robust and relatively inexpensive to purchase and operate. The company would like to try and make military aircraft as well targeting an upcoming competition for tactical aircraft to be bought by the Afghan Army Air Corps. The problem they face is the list of requirements being circulated by the U.S. military for this contract include things like ejection seats and retractable landing gear. These are items that are not currently included on their aircraft for obvious reasons.

Air Tractor has provided aircraft to the U.S. State Department for use fighting drug production in South America. They were armored due to the potential threats and have survived small arms fire. This illustrates the survivability of the basic airframe.

To aid the company indirectly their local Congressman, Representative Mac Thornberry (R-TX), has sponsored an amendment to the 2011 Defense Authorization Act to require reports from the Air Force on the requirement justification prior to contract release and award.

The issue with too strict requirements has always been an issue with DoD contracts. They can limit competition and stifle innovation at a time when the U.S. needs to be more efficient with their defense dollars. In the past there have been many successful systems that looked unconventional and if Thornberry’s amendment sparks some thinking about this it might aid not only the Afghan military but the U.S.’s as well.

Photo from Johnny Jupiter Photo’s flickr photostream.

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House Armed Services Committee: Opening Statement of Chairman Ike Skelton Hearing on Developments in Security and Stability in Afghanistan

House Armed Services Committee: Opening Statement of Chairman Ike Skelton Hearing on Developments in Security and Stability in Afghanistan
Ike Skelton, Chairman
May 5, 2010

Washington, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) delivered the following opening statement during today’s hearing on developments in security and stability in Afghanistan:

“Today, the committee meets to receive testimony on developments in security and stability in Afghanistan. Our witnesses, both old friends of the committee, are: the Honorable Michèle Flournoy, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and Lieutenant General John Paxton, the Director for Operations on the Joint Staff. Welcome, both of you.

“Six months ago, President Obama announced the results of a comprehensive review of our policy in Afghanistan, which for many years had essentially been non-existent. During this announcement, he endorsed a new counter-insurgency strategy centered on increasing U.S. forces by 30,000 troops, adding U.S. civilian experts, and focusing on protecting the population of Afghanistan from the Taliban and their terrorist allies.

“I endorsed this strategy then, and I do so now. As I have said many times, while this new strategy cannot guarantee success in Afghanistan, it is the most likely to end with an Afghanistan that can prevent the return of the Taliban and their al Qaeda allies.

“Six months into the new policy, it is appropriate for Congress to consider how things are going. About 21,000 of the 30,000 troops have arrived in country, and many have been involved in the recent successful military operation in Marjah. Others will soon begin restoring security in Kandahar, an operation that is likely to be crucial to our overall success in Afghanistan.

“We have seen other clear signs of success in our fight against terrorists. The President’s new strategy helped lead to the capture of the Taliban’s second-in-command, a former Taliban finance minister, and two ‘shadow governors’ of Afghan provinces, the most significant captures of Afghan Taliban leaders since the start of the war in Afghanistan.

“While I am pleased with the recent successes in Afghanistan, and I anticipate others, many concerns remain. Although we successfully cleared Marjah, the Taliban still appears to be able to infiltrate the town and threaten and kill those who cooperate with U.S. and Afghan security forces. This may not be unanticipated. It takes time to build the confidence of a local population. But I worry that some of this may point to the weakness of the local government, which cannot easily deliver the services and governance needed to help convince the residents of Marjah to join the right side.

“While we have increased forces in Afghanistan, our allies have also begun to send additional troops. To date, they have added about 50 percent of the 9000 new troops they pledged after President Obama’s December speech. But serious concerns remain about our ability to train the Afghan security forces who will have to assume the burden of providing security and combating terrorism in Afghanistan without more international trainers. I am pleased that Secretary Gates has decided to send additional U.S. military personnel to fill this gap, but this is a short term solution and not a long-term fix.

“This concern relates to another. In a recent meeting, NATO endorsed a process to transition the lead for security in some districts from U.S. and allied troops to Afghan National Security Forces. I think all of us would like to know more about this process and its implications—what progress do we have to see in a district before it can transition to Afghan lead, and what does this mean for the international troops in that district? Are we talking about progress among the Afghan security forces or must the district also need a competent and honest government?

“Finally, a quick word of congratulations and one of caution. The Department of Defense recently delivered a very good, and for once on-time, ‘Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan.’ Thank you for that. Unfortunately, a similar, somewhat higher level metrics report filed by the National Security Council was very disappointing. It is my hope that future reports will more closely resemble the 1230 report and provide real information. Congress cannot judge progress from glorified press releases.

“Again, thank you for coming before us today. I suspect this will not be the last hearing on Afghanistan this committee holds this year, and I appreciate you working with us to ensure that Congress can conduct its Constitutional and appropriate oversight activities.

“I now turn to my good friend, Buck McKeon, for any comments he might care to make.”

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