Related to my recent post on how the Taliban operates a shadow government in Ghazni, here is another update from the New York Times reporter currently embedded with the American troops in Ghazni province which reveals the extent to which the Taliban have infiltrated the region. These pictures highlight how weapons that the American DoD purchases for the Afghan security forces, can end up in the wrong hands, with the result that America is funding both sides of the war.
In Ghazni Province, Stacks of Taliban Records and Photographs
BY C. J. CHIVERS
Captured photographs, made by Taliban fighters and those who live with them, offer views of the fighters and how they see themselves.
Two fighters with rifles originally issued to the Afghan security forces. These rifles, purchased by the Pentagon, were a common sight in the trove of Ghazni Taliban photographs.
Full slideshow at the New York Times, here.
The Andar district in Ghazni province is just to the Southeast of Ghazni city, and as I posted yesterday, the American battalion which arrived in the fall has been operating here. However, it appears the Poles are working either in conjunction or at least simultaneously in the region, as they just captured a Taliban leader here:
Polish soldiers have detained one of the most important Taliban leaders during a night raid in a remote village in the Andar district.
Sana Mohammad, who was arrested in the Afghan province of Ghazni, was on NATO’s list of most-wanted terrorists. News of the action was released by Poland’s HQ in Afghanistan.
The arrest occurred four days ago in one of the villages in the Andar district. In the middle of the night, Polish and Afghan commandos surrounded the house where the Taliban leader was hiding.
Besides arresting Sana Mohammad, the detachment also managed to detain a local leader of the Taliban. The action was reportedly completed during very difficult conditions, in the midst of a snowstorm.
Full report from thenews.pl here.
Recently on the official Ghazni PRT blog, there was an interesting story about a little-known aspect of what the Polish contingent in Afghanistan is doing to try to help the Afghan people:
“GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – More than 150 contractors participated in a contracting conference held by the Ghazni Provincial Reconstruction Team in Ghazni City Feb. 8. The conference was organized to familiarize contractors from Ghazni Province with the requirements for submitting bids on projects organized by the PRT. The orientation was critical due to the large number of bids rejected as a result of errors, according to the PRT. “This figure reaches up to 70 percent,” said Polish Army Lt. Col. Cezary Kiszkowiak, Ghazni PRT deputy commander.
Organizers were positively surprised by the large number of participants, said Dominika Springer, PRT specialist for NGOs and small businesses. She said in January, they made initial contact with the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “By collaborating with this institution we were able to reach a very large number of contractors with information and invitations about the conference,” said Springer. “Interestingly, information about the training also reached beyond the borders of the province as we also met people from Kabul at the conference.”
The training for contractors was the first of its kind in Ghazni Province.
Angela Szyszlo (right), a Ghazni Provincial Reconstruction Team education specialist, talks to Afghan contractors Feb. 8 during a break at a conference in Ghazni City. The conference goal was to enhance cooperation between the PRT and local industry and clarify bidding procedures and legal requirements for PRT contracts. (Photo by Artur Weber, Task Force White Eagle Public Affairs)
Read the rest here.
General Petraues gave an in-depth interview last week which augured heavy fighting in Afghanistan in the months to come:
“’The biggest difference from say last year is that there are many, many more troops, 110,000 more to be exact. And they are now in places that last year were very important safe havens and strong holds for the Taliban,’ he said.
A mild winter has meant that fighting has let up relatively little between the Taliban and ISAF, he said, but he added that the springtime still promises intensified battles and a decisive moment in a war that has dragged on for 10 years.
‘We know the Taliban is intent on trying to take back some of these areas that have meant so much to them and we have to be, and will be, prepared for that,’ he added.
Read the rest from GlobalPost and watch the video here.
There were more attacks in Ghazni than there were in Kandahar and Helmand in the fourth quarter of 2010, according to a recently released report by the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office (ANSO), a non-profit which advises humanitarian organizations on the security situation in Afghanistan. This makes Ghazni province, where most Polish troops are stationed, the most violenct province in Afghanistan. The surge is certainly to blame at least in-part, as operations pushed the Taliban out of their traditional strongholds in Helmand and Kandahar (historically the most dangerous areas in Afghanistan).
AOG stands for Armed Opposition Groups, including the Taliban, Haqqani Network, and Hezb-i-Islami.
As Bill Roggio points out at The Long War Journal:
“The Andar district in Ghazni is a known Taliban and al Qaeda hub in the southeast. Since October 2008, the US military has conducted seven raids against al Qaeda cells in Andar, according to press reports compiled by The Long War Journal. Senior Taliban and al Qaeda foreign fighter facilitators are known to operate in the district.
Al Qaeda and allied terror groups maintain a strong presence in Ghazni province. The presence of al Qaeda cells has been detected in the districts of Andar, Gelan, Ghazni, Shah Joy, and Waghaz, or four of the province’s 16 districts, according to an investigation by The Long War Journal.”
The ANSO report also includes the following warning to NGOs:
“Although provincial level data (p.12) shows that each province performed differently, taking the national data as a whole we consider this indisputable evidence that conditions are deteriorating…More so than in previous years, information of this nature is sharply divergent from IMF ‘s [International Military Forces ] strategic communication’ messages suggesting improvements. We encourage NGO’s to recognize that, no matter how authoritative the source of any such claim, messages of this nature are solely intended to influence American and European public opinion, ahead of the withdrawal, and are not intended to offer an accurate portrayal of the situation for those who live and work here.”
Read the full ANSO report here.
I recently came across some videos of Polish troops in Afghanistan, and what struck me is that if you didn’t know any better – you might think these are American troops. Their uniforms, gear, equipment and guns all look to be at the same exacting standard as the Americans’ — not to mention the fact that they are actually fighting and firing their weapons. This video is very well put together:
Congratulations to Zolnierz007 for a compelling series of videos about the Polish troops in Afghanistan.
This is a great picture of American and Polish EOD units (explosive ordinance disposal – they remove roadside bombs, clearly) working side by side:
I especially like that this picture captures the flags of the two nations, and the Polish flag has what looks like a Ranger tab underneath it. Courtesy of the Polish Contingent in Afghanistan’s (PKW) website.