Attacks on US/NATO forces in Afghanistan

Insider attacks, apart from weakening Nato troops, are physically shattering their resolve to fight.

Khalid Munir October 01, 2012

“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.


Sexton Blake | 10 years ago | Reply

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.

Caribbean Critic | 10 years ago | Reply

General John Allen is in the wrong profession, Clearly he and his Centcom supporters would be more suited to writing children's fairy tales!

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