“Two-thousandth US soldier to die in Afghanistan was slain by Afghan soldier. We knew grim milestone was coming. Didn’t know it would be this grim.” This was a tweet by Associated Press’s Kabul correspondent Heidi Vogt. The same day, General John Allen told CBS: “I am mad as hell about them, to be honest with you. It reverberates everywhere across the United States. You know we are willing to sacrifice a lot for this campaign but we are not willing to be murdered for it.”
Eleven years into the Afghan war, the US and Nato troops are facing the most deadliest of enemies, the enemy within — the insiders. Initially called the Green over Blue, these have now come to be known as insider attacks. What started as isolated incidents, gathered momentum in 2011, when 35 troops were killed by insiders. This year, the death toll has already crossed 50.
Fighting insurgency is the most strenuous demand on any soldier. With no visible enemy and orders not to shoot unless fired upon, every citizen becomes a suspect, yet is innocent till he shows hostility. This is a stress more severe than fighting pitched battles against a known enemy. Add to this, the feeling in the back of a soldier’s mind that the comrade following him may shoot him anytime. Whether in the field, patrolling, carrying out guard duties or sleeping in the lines, this fear will haunt the soldiers.
Apparently, it seems that the frequency of such incidents will increase with the withdrawal schedule nearing. There is no solution in sight on how to stop these incidents. Though this was denied, joint patrolling by Nato forces and the Afghan National Army had to be stopped due to insider attacks. The measures being adopted to introduce strict scrutiny of new recruitments may prove ineffective in view of the fact that existing servicemen cannot be expelled from the army just on the basis of suspicion. Screening the servicemen currently in service is a colossal task and next to impossible. Years of effort that went behind training an army which could take control of Afghanistan seem to be going down the drain. So, a situation is at hand where 140,000 troops cannot be discarded outrightly but cannot be used in joint operations either, and if left independent, may result in two different strategies of fighting the insurgents.
With every passing day, these incidents will increase and may take the shape of a mutiny. The reasons for this mutiny lie in the flaws of the US policy. President Barack Obama dragged feet on providing additional troops to his field commanders and then sent only 30,000 troops. These troops have left Afghanistan without contributing towards any worthwhile victory. Even worse was President Obama announcing the schedule of the troops’ withdrawal years before the actual withdrawal. No one wants to be the last casualty in any war. Troops are now counting days before they will be able to go home.
The initiating of dialogue with the Taliban also affected the Afghan troops. Afghans have seen the Taliban rule and the brutalities and atrocities that came with it. After the talks were announced, Afghans lost interest in fighting the Taliban. They prefer being in the Taliban’s good books by undertaking such insider attack missions.
How this menace will be sorted out is a serious question to which no credible, viable solution has been found yet. These insiders, apart from weakening the Nato troops, are physically shattering their resolve to fight. Ultimately, this may cause delay in the withdrawal of Nato forces from Afghanistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2012.
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Dear CentCom, Your missives are going from bad to worse. Not long ago General Mathis stated that he could not locate the Afghan/Pakistan border, and although the offer was not taken up I offered to lend him my GPS device. In regard to the Afghan General, who cannot control his emotions and bursts into tears I have a box of tissues which I am willing to donate to your noble cause. Incidentally, my offer to be a consultant still stands. You obviously need all the help you can get.
General John Allen is in the wrong profession, Clearly he and his Centcom supporters would be more suited to writing children's fairy tales!
@US Centcom: Dear General John Allen, no need for around the clock effort ! just engage your one functioning brain cell and stop the Killing of the Afghan soldier's Mothers Fathers brothers sisters Aunts and uncles Wives and children! I am sure that will solve the problem for you!
@US Centcom: Doctor Henry Kissinger once remarked that the American military were dumb stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy! Previously we only had Kissinger's word for it, Now however Centcom goes ahead and proves it beyond all reasonable doubt! The cannon fodder usually referred to as the US army and Marines have shown themselves to be incapable of wining a war since the Korean debacle! General Patreaus was supposed to turn the tide after the failures of McChrystal. The butcher of Baghdad failed in spectacular fashion. Just Like the British and Russians before them sooner or later if later the Pentagon/Centcom will have to withdraw the military in ignominious defeat!
@KSU: "A result of caution perhaps"
Dear KSU, I liked the above point. As Sherlock Holmes once said to Dr. Watson, "A distinct touch".
General John Allen clearly communicated the seriousness of the insider threat in his CBS interview Sunday. As he said, he’s angry about the deaths of his soldiers at the hands of their partners. But it’s important to remember that the general has also spoken repeatedly about the steps being taken by both ISAF and the Afghan government to address this threat:
“[The Afghans] have looked very hard at the way they vet their troops as they come into the service, the army and the police. There was an eight-step vetting process, but it was not frankly managed very well. And they have really, as we say in the Naval service, taken a real hard round turn on this. [The Afghans] are in fact working much harder at the vetting, which is a criminal records check, a drug test, two village elders vouching for the character of the individual person. And they now go out and make sure that the village elders really exist and they know this person. Plus there’s biometric enrollment to see if they’ve got a bad record. As well, the Afghans have inserted counterintelligence into the equation. There have been Afghans who have been killed trying to save us from an insider who’s attempting to hurt us, to harm us. And on those tragic occasions where we have escorted the remains of one of our precious troops up on to one of our transports, standing right next to me is an Afghan general, who is crying. He is crying because this happened in his country, this happened in his formation. And he’s so ashamed and so sorrowful for this happening. [Insider attacks] have my full attention. We’re going to work as very -- as hard as we possibly can, around the clock, to understand the problem, and I think we’ve got a good grip on it now, and to work very closely with our Afghan partners to eliminate this threat.”
Your post best sums up the situation in Afghanistan. The people of Afghanistan don't want to go back to the dark days of the Taliban regime.The narratives of Pakistani spin doctors cannot alter this reality and what they really need to do is understand the narrative in Afghanistan before writing such pieces. It is unfortunate that ET provides former Pakistani military personnel to espouse their narrow views on this forum.
"------- After the talks were announced, Afghans lost interest in fighting the Taliban. They prefer being in the Taliban’s good books by undertaking such insider attack missions.---"
Yes , this reasoning makes a bit of sense out of the green on blue attacks.
The Taliban seem a vicious factor in Afghan politics. Is a compromise the answer ~~~or the weakness ?
@C. Nandkishore: Pakistan required strategic depth in Afghanistan before her nuclearization, now it is a figment of others imagination. Rest assured, USA not Pakistan would require Taliban's support in the future to contain China, the reason they are vying hard to negotiate with the Taliban.
@Sexton Blake: A result of caution perhaps....
Whether US leaves Afghanistan with its tail,between the legs is only one issue. If Pakistan tries to fill the vacuum by backing the same blood thirsty Taliban it may end up paying a price that could cost its unity and integrity. So while the US may have taken horrible decisions Pakistan has shown even lesser wisdom with its antics and recriminations. The result as visible just now - US & Pakistan, lose lose. China, Russia and India sitting quietly and building bridges will come out trumps. India by focusing solely on development and keeping out of active Politics has already won the Hearts and minds of the ordinary Afghan people, success which has eluded all others. The end game will see the desperate players tripping over themselves while the wise ones will stay on the sidelines and watch the fun.
@Cautious: Dear Cautious, Why do you get it wrong so often?
These are not only the US soldiers dying in this war, but also Afghan troops -both Army and Police and probable more than the soldiers of any other country. Extremism emanating from this regions is not only a threat to the cherished US values and a way of life, but it is also a menace which is threatening the Pashtun values of tolerance, pluralism and way of life. So saying that Afghan are not sacrificing in this war or not fighting extremist will be a wrong notion. These are the Afghan security troops which are sacrificing their lives for the sake of their country, culture, history and way of life as well as protecting the entire civilized world from the threat emanating from this region. It is the moral responsibility of the entire world, specially governments of the Muslim countries and Muslim intellectuals to support Afghan in this struggle. Extremism is not compatible with the spirit of Islam which put emphasis on reason, rational etc.
@Tahir Ali Okay. British made the mistake. Russia made the mistake. Now USA has made the mistake. What about Pakistan? Is it not trying to control Afghanistan namely strategic depth? Will it not meet the same result? What makes one think that Pakistan is different? Already every Pakistani is sympathetic to Taliban. Homemade Talibans have grown and flourishing. They have been fighting against Islamabad and Rawalpindi. In my opinion the conquest of Pakistan by Taliban has just been delayed by the USA fighting in Afghanistan. Once they leave the countdown for Pakistan begins.
Rubbish. If your a soldier in NATO/USA your chances of dying by suicide are greater than dying in combat in Afghanistan (friendly fire or otherwise). The resolve to fight is no different today than it was last year or 10 years ago --- the big difference is the reduced interaction between the Afghan troops and NATO troops which impacts Afghans ability to fight but doesn't impact NATO.
I feel sorry for the US men who are dying, but I wonder if General Allen feels sorry for the Afghan/Pakistan men, women and children who are dying routinely as a result of the American invasion of Afghanistan. 2,000 soldiers is not very many compared to Pakistan losses, but it is a pivotal point. It is 2,000 and rising, together with over a million wounded. However, It is fairly obvious that General Allen is angry from a feeling of frustration. He is fighting an asymmetric war, where the enemy use different tactics from that of a conventional army, and knows that he cannot win. However, it should not be taken that the General is feeling sorry for his lost men. His logistic experts had already worked out what his losses would be. He is probably sorry and angry because this data is being reported in mainstream media, and this is undoubtedly making him angry. Mainstream media have been very kind to America and its war ambitions, but the honeymoon cannot last for ever.
Those who refuse to learn from history, pay the price. USA should have known that Afghans may be hired for some time, they cannot be bought. USA's second mistake was to depend on Northern Alliance who have been proxies of Russia-Iran-India Nexus. Their third mistake was that they were depending on India to take over responsibilities in Afghanistan. Indians are no fools. They suck everybody but do what is best for their country. Where the British, USSR and now USA could not hold on, why should the Indians attempt? Even the surge by USA was a mistake committed by Obama under Pentagon's pressure as Taliban do not provide any worthwhile target and have all the time available to them. Consequently, the US troops are withdrawing without any semblance of victory. The only option now USA has is to sit across the table with Pakistan, sort out whatever problems we have and try to seek a solution by providing incentives to the militants against certain guarantees. I have no doubt that ultimately the USA will require Taliban's support to pursue their 'Containment of China' strategy in the region.