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U.S. efforts in Afghanistan a tactical success, but strategic failure: Milley

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(Last Updated On: October 13, 2021)

US Army General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called U.S. efforts in Afghanistan a “tactical success, but a strategic failure.”

The Afghan government and military fell to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) faster than anyone expected, and that was the failure, he said.

But the noncombatant evacuation operation managed to get more than 124,000 people out of Kabul, as the IEA entered the Afghan capital. The effort involved thousands of service members from around the world, Milley said as cited by the US Department of Defense.

Air Force Major General Corey J. Martin discussed the operation last week with the Defense Writers Group. The keys to the evacuation operation were connectivity and planning, he said.

Planning for the noncombatant evacuation operation began in April, immediately after President Joe Biden said the U.S. effort in Afghanistan would end, the DOD reported. “It started with planning, even though the timing of this event was not known,” Martin said.

Members of U.S. Transportation Command integrated with representatives of the U.S. Central Command and the Joint Staff to plan and execute the retrograde operation of U.S. forces and equipment from Afghanistan, he said.

In August, the IEA offensive against the former Afghan government intensified and provinces were taken. Martin said the speed of the collapse was “a bit of a surprise,” but the Transcom planners were not starting from scratch when the need for evacuation became apparent.

Army Gen. Stephen R. Lyons, the commander of U.S. Transportation Command, had another ace up his sleeve in preparing for the possible operation, Martin said. “General Lyons, as the commander of Transportation Command, has standing authorities that allow for rapid and agile repositioning of mobility forces,” Martin told the reporters.

It allows the command to direct the operational movement of C-17s or KC-135 aircraft quicker, he said.

The speed was needed as the dissolution of the former Afghan forces necessitated the transport of U.S. combat forces to secure the Kabul airport.
The command had to get 6,000 service members and their supplies to the country quickly.

The aircraft and personnel to maintain and fuel them were already in place, and it “allowed the operational movement to be ready to take combat forces, literally almost overnight to Hamid Karzai International (airport) in the face of the advancing Taliban (IEA) to secure that airfield, and allowed for the movement of evacuees out, and then the redeployment of the combat forces,” Martin said.

Connectivity among the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff and the U.S. combatant commands was paramount. Martin said there were constant communications with higher headquarters and with U.S. Central Command, U.S. European Command and U.S. Northern Command.

In addition, there were nationals from many allied and partner countries in Kabul. Martin said at least 30 nations cooperated with the effort, which required constant communications with State Department colleagues, Homeland Security and more.

Martin said the Global Operations Center at Scott Air Force Base, in the U.S. was the “heartbeat” of the command with all elements represented. “At the action officer level, there was integration with Department of State personnel, Customs and Border Patrol, and the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration],” he said.

The overall effort was mammoth and complex, Martin said. It is more than the gray Globemaster C-17s. It was the personnel maintaining the aircraft. It was the refuelers — in the air and on the ground. It was the combat troops on the ground and the airmen who took over the air traffic control in Afghanistan for the operation. It was State Department personnel processing the evacuees.

It was the Air Force and Navy air combat patrols over Kabul, and the service members at intermediate bases in the Middle East and Europe. It was the service members and agency partners in the United States. It was the companies and crews of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet. It was intelligence professionals funneling information to the command.

All these people combined to make the noncombatant evacuation operation from Afghanistan a “tactical success,” Martin said.

Transcom is already looking at the experiences in this effort to see what can be done better, the general said.

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Earthquake victims in Gayan district still in need of food and shelter

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(Last Updated On: June 25, 2022)

Hundreds of survivors of this week’s earthquake, who lost family members and their homes, are still in desperate need of help.

Sayed Bakhta, one of the survivors said that he has lost four family members and two others are hospitalized, adding that survivors are dealing with a lack of food and no shelter.

“We have no shelter here now, we don’t have food, all the victims are sitting outside without having shelter,” he said.

A number of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) officials who have visited Gayan district of Paktika say that almost 90 percent of residential areas have been destroyed.

“Almost 90 percent of residences are destroyed; only a few them are suitable for living, most of them are uninhabitable,” said Qalandar Ebad, acting minister of public health.

In the meantime, rugged roads have hampered relief efforts as Gayan victims grapple with a humanitarian crisis, but military helicopter try to deliver aid to the victims.

“According to the order of the Prime Minister, a meeting was held and according to that meeting, the ministries and donor organizations were instructed to come to the earthquake site as soon as possible and use all their facilities to save the people,” said Sharafuddin Muslim, deputy Minister of State for Disaster Management.

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121 children among those killed in Afghanistan earthquake: UNICEF

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(Last Updated On: June 25, 2022)

The United Nations children’s agency said on Friday 121 of those who were killed in the 6.1-magnitude earthquake in Afghanistan this week were children.

Mohamed Ayoya, UNICEF Representative to Afghanistan, said as of late Thursday night, at least 1,036 people were reported killed and more than 1,643 reported injured.

The toll included 121 deaths and 67 injuries among the children, according to the official.

He said that Bermal district in Paktika province has the highest number of casualties and that several thousand homes were destroyed or damaged.

“Children and adolescents are extremely vulnerable and at high-risk of family separation, emotional and psychological distress, abuse and exploitation, and other forms of violence,” Ayoya said.

“UNICEF, in coordination with UN agencies, partners, and the de facto authorities (led by the Ministry of Defence) is rapidly preparing a multi-sectoral response covering health, WASH, child protection, nutrition, education, social mobilization, and including a cash component,” Ayoya said.
“UNICEF will be conducting a rapid market assessment in the affected areas in the upcoming days. The assessment will inform the feasibility and appropriateness of cash as a response to support early recovery. UNICEF has already trained partners for beneficiary registration on the ground.”

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Pakistan dispatches second consignment of earthquake relief

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(Last Updated On: June 25, 2022)

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday dispatched eight trucks loaded with relief goods for earthquake victims in Afghanistan.

According to a statement issued by the Pakistan government, the consignment, arranged by the National Disaster Management Authority, has been handed over to Afghan authorities.

The consignment consists of family tents, tarpaulins, blankets and emergency medicines.

“Pakistan is committed to continue supply of relief goods to Afghan brethren,” the statement read.

This comes after Pakistan sent in earthquake aid on Wednesday, just hours after the 6.1 magnitude earthquake hit Afghanistan’s eastern provinces, killing over 1,000 people and destroying thousands of houses.

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