Pakistan: Pakistani media reported that the retirement announcement by Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani was a surprise. Kayani said, "My tenure ends on 29th November 2013. On that day I will retire." He made the public statement to quell speculation that he might seek extension.
The post of the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) also is vacant. The outgoing CJCSC General Khalid Shameem Wynne retired on 7 October, after 42 years of service.
In the statement today, Prime Minister Sharif said that while expectations regarding the announcement of the successor to the outgoing CJCSC before 8 October were reasonable, the issue needed comprehensive consideration due to the fact that the office of the COAS also was becoming vacant on 29 November.
Comment: Prime Minister Sharif is likely to follow seniority in promoting a new Chief of Army Staff. The last time he was prime minister, he promoted a less senior general to the position of army chief. That general was Pervez Musharraf who staged the coup that overthrew Sharif in October 1999. In light of that experience, most Pakistani commentators expect Sharif to promote the most senior of the three-star generals, Lieutenant General Haroon Aslam, the current Chief of Logistics.
As for Kayani, most observers judge that Sharif wants to retain Kayani in a senior position because of his connections to the US, his prestige in the Pakistan Army and abroad and because he has been supportive and loyal to the Constitution and elected, civilian government.
One rumor is that Sharif might reorganize and upgrade the CJCSC. It is far less powerful than the Chief of Army Staff, who has authority over combat forces nearly comparable to that a military commander-in-chief, rather than a chief of staff.
In a new set up, Sharif might try to strengthen the authority of the CJCSC. In order to succeed, a restructuring would require a general of unparalleled stature to lead it, such as Kayani. In the process Sharif would attempt to reduce the army's inclination to meddle overtly in internal politics, including any temptation to overthrow the government.
Afghanistan: Germany "handed Afghanistan's security forces control Sunday of a key military base" in Konduz Province in northern Afghanistan. The Germans have led the northern regional command for ten years and have about 4,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, including the 900 that will depart the Konduz base this month.
Comment: Ten years ago the German politicial leadership agreed to lead the northern regional command because it expected limited combat action, low costs and little risk of casualties. In fact, Konduz proved to be the hub of Taliban expansion in the north, operating mainly from Pashtun enclaves in the districts of Konduz Province and in Konduz City.
Some 20,000 German troops were deployed in Konduz during the 10-year operation. At the peak of their deployment, more than 5,300 German troops were stationed in Afghanistan, most in the north. Twenty of Germany's 35 combat deaths in Afghanistan occurred in the province. Another 17 died of noncombat injuries, including seven who were killed in a 2002 helicopter crash in Kabul. German authorities said 245 soldiers and 4 policemen were injured by hostile fire.
Konduz was the location where the Bundeswehr saw its first combat action. The German forces tried hard on multiple occasions, but never succeeded in stopping the Taliban expansion. Germany devoted much energy and treasure to nation building projects in the north. Now those will be left to the Afghans, along with security. German officials today promised to continue providing non-lethal support. German forces will scale back to 800 soldiers who will support Allied operations after 2014.