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Comments on #Afghanistan by @PentagonPresSec in today's #DOD presser in this THREAD. 1/n

defense.gov/Newsroom/Trans…
@PentagonPresSec Q: On the SIVs, the flights. do you have any updates? They were supposed to come in on the 29th. Have they landed? Processing at Fort Lee? Anything? 2/n
@PentagonPresSec MR. KIRBY: I’m going to have to refer you to the State Dept for that. I don’t have any updates for you. As you know, when this first group of special immigrants do get to the US, they will be temporarily housed at Fort Lee. 3/n
Read 7 tweets
There’s been a lot of discussion lately about the level of #Taliban control in #Afghanistan, so this is a brief THREAD on that topic. 1/n
The debates about district control go back a long time. I was first involved in these during my time @CENTCOM circa 2009. At that time, ISAF was producing district control maps, as was CENTCOM & @DefenseIntel (among others). None of them agreed on methods or results. 2/n
@CENTCOM @DefenseIntel Later, while with ISAF & at the command’s request, I wrote an internal memo laying out the challenges with the various methodologies involved with assessing "control" at the district level in #Afghanistan. 3/n
Read 14 tweets
Comments on #Afghanistan from yesterday's #DOD presser w/@PentagonPresSec in this THREAD. 1/n

defense.gov/Newsroom/Trans…
@PentagonPresSec MR. KIRBY: Earlier today, you know there was a transition of authority ceremony held at Resolute Support HQ in Kabul, #Afghanistan, marking the transition of command authorities from GEN Scott Miller to the commander of @CENTCOM, Gen Frank McKenzie... 2/n
@PentagonPresSec @CENTCOM ...As the secretary approved earlier this month, and as we outlined to you on July 2nd, Gen McKenzie will now lead the US mission in #Afghanistan, and that's focused on 4 things: 1) protecting our diplomatic presence in country; 2) enabling the safe operation of... 3/n
Read 95 tweets
A number of people have been asking my thoughts on recent developments in #Afghanistan. Now that I’m back from a week of sandcastle building, a THREAD to that effect. 1/n
1st, a few thoughts on recent #Taliban gains. That the TB are suddenly gaining ground in rural areas shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone. eg, I predicted the group would have a slight military adv post-US withdrawal in a @CTCWP paper back in JAN: ctc.usma.edu/afghanistans-s… 2/n
@CTCWP The #Taliban have—for years—been employing a strategy of capturing rural areas IOT generate position & resources to threaten more populated areas, as we @CNA_org described in our independent threat assessment for Congress back in 2013 (cna.org/cna_files/pdf/…). 3/n
Read 25 tweets
Comments on #Afghanistan from @PentagonPresSec's #DOD press conference late last week in this THREAD. 1/n
defense.gov/Newsroom/Trans…
Q: A couple things on the president speech on #Afghanistan. Can you say what, if any, progress DOD is making on the over-the-horizon negotiations? & can you talk a little bit about the #Taliban and what progress they've made on district takeovers? 2/n
How far do you think they've gotten? I've heard over a hundred. At this point can you talk a little bit about what the situation is on the ground with the #Taliban?

MR. KIRBY: So, on over-the-horizon capabilities, we continue to explore additional OTH capabilities... 3/n
Read 97 tweets
Comments on #Afghanistan from today’s #DOD presser with ⁦@PentagonPresSec⁩ today in this THREAD. 1/n defense.gov/Newsroom/Trans…
Q: A question about #Afghanistan and trying to understand the sequence of events as the US military winds up its activities. When Gen Miller leaves, will that mark the end of Resolute Support mission or will there be some sort of interim period between the next several days… 2/n
…or weeks and September, when there will be some other commander or some other mission follow on?

MR. KIRBY: I don't want to get too far ahead of process here. Resolute Support is a NATO operation, so it's really more appropriate for NATO to speak to the future of it… 3/n
Read 43 tweets
Comments on #Afghanistan from ⁦@PentagonPresSec⁩’s #DOD presser today in this THREAD. 1/n defense.gov/Newsroom/Trans…
Q: The #Taliban have made some significant gains in recent weeks & even as recently as past weekend…especially in the North. Is @SecDef considering recommending a slowdown in the withdrawal or other changes to minimize a chance of an early collapse of the Afghan forces? 2/n
MR. KIRBY: I would say w/o speaking specifically to the #Taliban advances you spoke to, as @SecDef has said, the withdrawal is on pace. It is a dynamic situation & we've said that from the very beginning, which means that he, the chairman, & Gen McKenzie, are constantly… 3/n
Read 47 tweets
Comments on #Afghanistan from yesterday's #DOD presser w/@PentagonPresSec in this THREAD. 1/n

defense.gov/Newsroom/Trans…
Q: @usairforce Acting Sec, John Roth, yesterday told Congress that for now the over-the-horizon capability to support #Afghanistan will be from the existing footprint that the USAF has in the region & I'm wondering if that means there haven't been any inroads made... 2/n
...w/potentially new locations to move US forces to provide that over-the-horizon capability?

MR. KIRBY: We already have an over-the-horizon #counterterrorism capability there & other parts of the world, & we are already using that OTH capability in #Afghanistan. 3/n
Read 18 tweets
Comments on #Afghanistan in today's #DOD presser w/@PentagonPresSec in this THREAD. 1/n

defense.gov/Newsroom/Trans…
Q: Considering that @CENTCOM is saying they're not going to provide % any longer on #Afghanistan troop & equip withdrawal, I was wondering if there's any progress on getting us either DLA or some type of briefing on some of the things that can be discussed about the w/drawal? 2/n
And my second Q is has @SecDef had any discussions with #Turkey about security at the airport in #Afghanistan and do you see negotiations progressing on that issue? 3/n
Read 22 tweets
I’ve gotten a lot of questions recently about how the #ANDSF might fare after the US withdraws from #Afghanistan. I’m going to put some thoughts on that in this THREAD. 1/n
First, a recap, as I’ve written about this before. In JAN, I published this net assessment of the #ANDSF vs the #Taliban, in which I concluded the latter would have a slight military advantage after US advisors left. 2/n ctc.usma.edu/afghanistans-s…
That conclusion was largely due to the #Taliban’s advantages of cohesion & financial self-sustainability, & not being as numerically outnumbered as most people think. But I acknowledged some key #ANDSF advantages, the most notable of which is air power. 3/n
Read 16 tweets
ICYMI, last week I published an article with @Diplomat_APAC titled “Will #Afghanistan Collapse When the US Withdraws?” Since the article is behind a paywall, I’ll summarize some of my main points in this THREAD. 1/n

thediplomat.com/2021/05/will-a…
For the article, I was asked to explore what might happen in #Afghanistan in the year after the US withdraws. To do so, I found it instructive to revisit the years immediately following the Soviet withdrawal & to compare/contrast to the situation today. 2/n
I’ve seen people making superficial comparisons of these two eras to predict impending doom, but a detailed comparison reveals both striking similarities and distinct differences between the two, which should inform our thinking about the future of #Afghanistan. 3/n
Read 31 tweets
Points on #Afghanistan from yesterday's #DOD presser w/@PentagonPresSec in this THREAD. 1/n

defense.gov/Newsroom/Trans…
Q: Gen Milley has recently mentioned that securing Kabul Airport will be essential for keeping embassy presence not just for the US but for other countries after the withdrawal is completed & that there could be an int'l force assembled to do that... 2/n
...I wondered whether @SecDef agrees w/this & whether he's been talking to @NATO partners or others about organizing such a force.

MR. KIRBY: Certainly the secdef recognizes the key hub that is the airport there in Kabul & the impact that will have... 3/n
Read 29 tweets
Interest items on #Afghanistan from yesterday's #DOD presser w/@PentagonPresSec in this THREAD. 1/n

defense.gov/Newsroom/Trans…
.@SecDef spoke w/#Pakistan's COAS, Gen Bajwa, to discuss shared regional interests & objs. During the call, the sec reiterated his appreciation for PAK's spt for the #Afghanistan peace negotiations & expressed his desire to cont to build on the US-PAK bilateral relationship 2/n
Q: Getting back to #Pakistan, its Foreign Ministry put out a statement today ruling out the possibility of any US mil bases for the post-withdrawal from #Afghanistan #counterterrorism effort. Is there anything that the US is looking for right now from PAK... 3/n
Read 20 tweets
What is known so far about #FR4978 emergency landing. 1. It was close to #Lithuania border when someone informed about 'explosive'.
2. #Belarus authorities sent Mig-29 fighter jet to intercept the plane and force landing in #Minsk.
3. Former editor of @nexta_tv was on board
1/
4. Before the flight Raman Pratasevich (ex @nexta_tv ) wrote to his friend someone showed suspicious interest in him at the registration in #Athens airport.
5. A Russian-speaking man presumably attempted making a pic of Pratasevich's passport, then left the queue abruptly. 2/
6. Currently Raman Pratasevich works as an editor-in-chief of Belarus Golovnogo Mozga web resource which is considered 'extermist' by authorities.
7. After document check in #Minsk, he was detained,.
8. #Belarus authorities: Mig-29 will accompany #FR4978 to the border 3/
Read 55 tweets
Comments by @PentagonPresSec on #Afghanistan at yesterday's #DOD presser in this THREAD. 1/n

defense.gov/Newsroom/Trans…
Q: In @US4AfghanPeace's testimony today, he said that the withdrawal is proceeding w/o any sig interference from the #Taliban & that he expects that to cont to be the case. You said you assumed there would be attempts by the TB to interfere. Have you changed your assessment? 2/n
MR. KIRBY: We would agree that thus far, the retrograde continues at pace, the withdrawal continues at pace with nothing more than some minor harassing attacks that have had no impact, so we agree w/that assessment. We certainly hope that that remains the case, going forward. 3/n
Read 16 tweets
I attended #SOFIC today, at which GEN Rich Clarke, the commander of @USSOCOM spoke. My notes from his speech (paraphrases, not quotes unless specified) are in this THREAD. 1/n
- #COVID19 has impacted @USSOCOM's operating culture—caused #SOF to look at where they need to be, how they interact, etc
- The withdrawal from #Afghanistan will bring changes. SOF were first ones in, will be the last ones out. Will spark a new era of opportunity for SOF. 2/n
- #SOF today are almost unrecognizable from SOF that invaded #Afghanistan in 2001. 20 years of the necessity of combat has been the mother of all inventions. SOF have had urgent warfighting needs for 20 years, and will continue to have these going forward. 3/n
Read 26 tweets
Today, the House Armed Services Committee held a full hearing for "An Update on #Afghanistan."

Witnesses were ASD David Helvey (OSD) & BGen Matt Trollinger (Joint Staff). It was a *long* hearing. I'll post a summary in this THREAD. 1/n
(If you'd like to watch the whole thing, here's the link: armedservices.house.gov/2021/5/full-co…. Note that what follows aren't quotes, but my paraphrases of their comments). 2/n
Chairman Smith opening remarks: This hearing will focus on key questions, such as: What is the process for US withdrawal from #Afghanistan & what’s our strategy going forward? Also, what our lessons learned from the past 20 years? 3/n
Read 87 tweets
I’ve been asked a number of times the past couple of days what I think of @joebiden’s announcement to withdraw all US troops from #Afghanistan by September. I haven’t had the time to write a proper op ed, so instead I’ll give you my thoughts in this THREAD. 1/n
My top-line take is this: What choice did @joebiden really have? If you examine his situation through the lenses of #Afghanistan, terrorism risk, credibility, domestic politics, & global US priorities, you’ll see the answer is “he had to do it.” 2/n
Let’s start w/#Afghanistan. Recognize first that the US isn’t in South Asia! We were always visiting, which means at some point, we would leave. Only Q has been when that would happen. That Q was answered in the US-#Taliban Agreement: We would leave by 1 May. 3/n
Read 22 tweets
#US #TriService #MARITIME #STRATEGY!

Focus on #China & #Russia = 2 most significant geopol threats to global peace & prosperity—

Clear stakes:

"China has implemented a strategy & revisionist approach that aims at the heart of the US’ #maritime power."

media.defense.gov/2020/Dec/17/20…
"... our three #Sea Services have watched with alarm the growing #naval #power of the People’s Republic of #China & the increasingly aggressive behavior of the Russian Federation.

Our globally deployed naval forces interact w/ #Chinese & #Russian #warships & #aircraft daily."
"We witness firsthand their increasing sophistication and growing aggressiveness. ... The People’s Republic of #China represents the most pressing, long-term strategic threat."

media.defense.gov/2020/Dec/17/20…
Read 26 tweets
With the FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act having been passed (& now sitting on President Trump's desk for signature or veto), thought I'd put together a THREAD on what it says about #Afghanistan. 1/n
SEC. 1212. EXTENSION OF THE AFGHAN SPECIAL IMMIGRANT VISA PROGRAM.

Extends the program through through 2022 (and appears to expand the number allowed by 120 slots). 2/n
SEC. 1213. EXTENSION & MODIFICATION OF SUPPORT FOR RECONCILIATION ACTIVITIES LED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF AFGHANISTAN.

Extends #DOD ability to provide funding to cover certain costs of participants in peace talks (which includes #Taliban) through 2021 & adds some restrictions. 3/n
Read 14 tweets
I’ve been asked several times over the past couple of days (given the Pentagon shake-ups) whether it would be logistically feasible to get all US troops out of #Afghanistan by Christmas as Trump supposedly wants. So, here goes a THREAD. 1/n
The answer depends on what you consider “withdrawal” of all the troops. Currently, the US has somewhere around 5000 troops in #Afghanistan & @NATO has about as many (& possibly slightly more). They are located on a small number (10 or so?) of bases across the country. 2/n
Those forces are supported by another 10-15k (maybe more?) contractors. If all Trump wanted was to get the uniformed personnel out, it’d likely be possible to do that in 2-3 weeks (a C-17 can carry ~200 people), so 10k troops = 50 C-17 sorties. 3/n
Read 11 tweets
My former boss—Robert S. Taylor, who served as Acting General Counsel at Department of Defense—with a strong warning to federal employees across departments and agencies.

Two federal laws that could punish #ElectionInterference.

#2020Election

<thread>

justsecurity.org/73083/federal-…
2. Two laws — Hatch Act and Antideficiency Act — can impose stiff penalties (including prison time) for federal employees who illegally undermine the election.

The latter could apply to federal actions that use funds that have not been appropriated by Congress for that purpose.
3. "Every federal employee should assume that if he or she carries out an activity intended to impair or impede the election... their conduct will be judged by people deeply upset over the effort to entrench a President viewed as a threat to the very foundations of our democracy"
Read 5 tweets

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