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The Afghan government may turn into an even bigger sh*tshow right in the middle of peace talks
Sure, the Afghan government has major issues of corruption, double-dealing, and people accused of war crimes in high-level positions, but it may turn into an even bigger shit show that could "trigger state collapse" in the next couple of months, according to the Institute for the Study of War.
The reason: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's term of office expires on May 22, elections have been delayed until September 28, and well, there are a whole lot of "strong men" in Afghanistan who are interested in obtaining power, or at a minimum, getting rid of Ghani.
As Scott DesMarais writes at ISW:
The looming governance gap has attracted attention from opposition powerbrokers. Former Afghan National Security Advisor Hanif Atmar is calling for an interim government to take power as of May 22. Any term extension that favors Ghani will likely be untenable absent a wider settlement between him and his opponents. Political competition could quickly disintegrate into violent conflict as powerbrokers compete for power and legitimacy. However, Ghani's opponents are historic rivals united only in opposition to his administration. They remain unlikely to agree on a new Government of Afghanistan.
That's not the only problem.
Ghani also just approved a new security plan that is being framed as "offensive" in nature, yet it seems to focus on the "security situation of cities and highways" — pretty much ceding the countryside to the Taliban, which has stepped up its attacks there. Then there are the ongoing peace talks between the Taliban and the U.S., which notably has so far kept the Afghan government out — reinforcing the idea it's nothing more than the "puppet regime" the Taliban often says it is.
Meanwhile, the current Afghan national security advisor, Hamdullah Mohib, thinks the Afghan-born U.S. diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad, who is leading the peace talks, wants to seize the presidency for himself.
So things are going just swell.
Khalilzad, for his part, said he has made "real strides" in the talks with the Taliban. But since just about every American military commander in Afghanistan has reported making "progress" during the now 17-year-old conflict, I think I'll remain in the deeply skeptical camp.
"Ghani has repeatedly attempted to marginalize his political rivals and briefly used force in an attempt to undermine opposition powerbroker Atta Mohammad Noor - one of the main supporters of Atmar - on March 14," DesMarais wrote, adding that Ghani could do so again, potentially sparking conflict within the ranks of the security forces.
"A contested transfer of power will also create uncertainty regarding official control over the state and military. These contests for control would highly increase the risk of a wider state collapse that reignites an ethnically-charged civil war between powerbrokers, their private militias, and the remnants of a failing state. They will also undermine the effect that the U.S. seeks to achieve by negotiating with the Taliban - namely, political accommodations that end the War in Afghanistan."
Read the full ISW report here.
WATCH: Operation Enduring Freedom turns 17
The Navy is investigating reports that a female Marine discovered a hidden camera in one of the women's restrooms aboard the USS Arlington, an amphibious transport dock that's currently on at port in Greece, NBC News originally reported.
Today, an American service member died in a "non-combat incident" in Ninawa Province, Iraq according to a statement by Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State.
"I held one [sailor] in my hands as he passed. He died in my arms."
It's been 30 years since an explosion inside the number two gun turret on the USS Iowa killed 47 American sailors, but for Mike Carr, it still feels like yesterday.
"I knew all 47 guys inside that turret because as part of the ship's policy we had rotated between all three turrets," Carr, who served as a gunner's mate in the Iowa's aft 16-inch turret, told Task & Purpose. "We all knew each other rather intimately."
On April 19, 1989, the day of the blast, the ship was preparing for live-fire training at Vieques, Puerto Rico Naval Training Range.
Carr was wearing headphones that allowed him to hear what the crews in the other turrets were saying.
"At 10 minutes to 10 a.m., somebody came over the phones and said, 'We're having a problem, Turret 2, center gun,'" Carr recalled. "Then approximately two minutes later, I recognized Senior Chief [Reginald] Ziegler, who was the chief in charge of Turret 2, yell into the phones: 'Fire, fire, fire! Fire in center gun, turret 2. Trying to contain it.'"
Then came the blast, which was so strong that it ripped the headphones right off Carr's head.
Organizations offer training, certifications, networking to connect veterans, businesses
As a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a newly minted second lieutenant, I felt well-prepared to tackle the challenges facing a junior field artillery officer in the U.S. Army. When the time came to leave the Army, however, I was much less prepared to make the transition into the yet-unknown civilian sector.
One of the primary issues facing veterans after we transition is that we lack the same sense of purpose and mission that we had with our military careers. Today, more than ever, our service members volunteer to put themselves in harm's way. They are defending our freedom across the globe and should be recognized as our country's true heroes. It's critical that employers educate veterans and provide viable options so we can make informed decisions about the rest of our lives.
The two-star general in charge of the roughly 15,000-strong 2nd Marine Division has turned micromanagement into an art form with a new policy letter ordering his Marines and sailors to cut their hair, shave their faces, and adhere to a daily schedule that he has prescribed.
In his "Policy Letter 5-19," Maj. Gen. David Furness lamented that he has noticed "a significant decline in the basic discipline" of troops he's come in contact with in the division area, which has led him to "FIX IT immediately," instead of relying on the thousands of commissioned and non-commissioned officers below him to carry out his orders.