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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Green on Blue: causes and responses (merged thread)

    I've looked through the threads here and cannot readily identify a suitable thread on this difficult issue. IIRC the issue of Iraqis attacking Allied forces did crop up elsewhere, although more about betrayals enabling ambushes, not Iraqis killing partners.

    There have numerous deaths due to some ANSF killing their allies and partners. It certainly has happened in Helmand of late, IIRC involving teams embedded with the ANSF and recently an Afghan air force pilot killed American trainers.

    hat tip to the Lowry Institute's mailing. I was not aware that the Australians have suffered:
    There's been another incident overnight in Afghanistan involving Australian soldiers being attacked by an Afghan National Army colleague. This is the third time this year that Australian soldiers have been attacked in this manner, and comes only a week after seven soldiers were seriously wounded and three killed by a 'rogue' Afghan soldier.
    There are three possible explanations for these attacks, but it is certainly too early to conclude what has motivated them. The first explanation is that all three are unrelated, coincidental acts of violence by mentally disturbed Afghan soldiers. This explanation is the hardest to accept — it's bewildering for the public and media that a string of deaths could be, essentially, random.

    The second explanation is that this is a Taliban campaign to erode the will of Australian soldiers and the public back home, and force an early exit of Australian forces from Uruzgan. This possibility cannot be ruled out. The Taliban's propaganda machine somewhat amateurishly claimed a hand in motivating Shafiea Ullah, yet has claimed neither of the two recent attacks.

    The third possibility is that there is something in the particular relationship between Australian mentors and Afghan trainees which is heightening tensions and leading to violent disagreements. Certainly the relationship in certain bases is tense — last week Afghan soldiers in the 6th Kandak were temporarily disarmed — but again there is no proof that the relationship between Afghan and Australian mentors is fundamentally worse than that with other ISAF mentoring teams.
    Link:http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/...lanations.aspx

    That post led to a riposte and I have slightly edited the passages:
    Secondly, it is too simplistic to say that (a) it can't be random or that (b) the Taliban are masterminding this. Morale in the ANA is low. Morale in the Taliban is low. Morale in the ANP is low. No one feels safe, no one feels assured in Afghanistan....Working with the coalition provides some level of comfort and support, but it also presents genuine safety risks.

    I believe the most likely cause of this is related to the inherent nature of Afghan society. For Afghans, when they face stresses and problems of life, drugs and lethal violence are two very popular choices to remedy the situation. ....As an example, when I was in Afghanistan, the local police chief expressed his concerns about the growing use of RPGs during wedding celebrations. This is a society very different to ours...

    ...based on my experience, there is every chance this just depressed Afghans dealing with a problem the only way they know how. Their life is short, they play hard.
    Link:http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/...ghanistan.aspx
    davidbfpo

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    See also the 12 May 2011 paper, A Crisis of Trust and Cultural Incompatibility: A Red Team Study of Mutual Perceptions of ANSF Personnel and U.S. Soldiers in Understanding and Mitigating the Phenomena of ANSF-Committed Fratricide-Murders
    This N2KL Red Team study has four primary purposes:

    1. Inform key decision-makers that the murders of ISAF members committed by ANSF personnel do not represent “rare and isolated events” as currently being proclaimed.

    2. Explore why this tragic phenomenon is occurring by extensively canvassing ANSF members on their perceptions of U.S. Soldiers and identifying what behaviors, characteristics and/or situations provoke them towards anger and possible violence.

    3. Examine U.S. Soldiers experiences with ANSF personnel and what perceptions they have.

    4. Based on both ANSF members’ and U.S. Soldiers’ perceptions develop recommendations to counter the growing fratricide-murder threat ANSF personnel pose to ISAF soldiers.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Afghan police kill two UK servicemen in Helmand province

    That was the BBC News headline and:
    The men, who were serving as part of an advisory team, were killed on Saturday as they provided security for a meeting with local officials near Patrol Base Attal....near a base in the Lashkar Gah district of Helmand province....
    The London-based Defence Correspondent adds:
    The rise in "green-on-blue" killings, now averaging one a week this year, is having an impact on trust in a relationship which is key for Nato's exit strategy. Nato says the attack on Saturday is the 16th incident this year in which Afghan soldiers or police - or insurgents wearing military uniforms - have turned their weapons on foreign troops, bringing the death toll from such attacks to 22 so far this year. That toll is higher than at the same time last year...
    Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18047242

    Personally I think the impact is growing at home as it challenges the official narrative of a handover to Afghans akin to "people who kill us and you want us to stay longer?"
    davidbfpo

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    The paper Jed cited is excellent. This problem is not going away and as David suggested it may the thing that drives us from Afghanistan sooner rather than later. The paper states that these killings occur mostly because the Afghans murderers are simply angry with the behavior of the ISAF. These are not Taliban agents doing the killing.

    Another thing I read is the figures released by the ISAF severely understate the problem because they only report the deaths (I forget about wounded). They don't report the unsuccessful attempts where the would be killers miss or are killed before they can do the deed.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Default A symptom?

    This quote comes to mind:

    "We don't have twelve years experience in Vietnam. We have one year's experience twelve times over." - John Paul Vann

    'Cultural incompatibility'?

    No I don't believe so... more like the ISAF forces are not committed to the theatre long enough to understand the cultural dynamics of the area.

    Because they are there for a short tour there is no incentive for ISAF troops down to troopie level to make the effort to learn and understand the people and their languages.

    This short termism as displayed by cultural arrogance is welcomed by the Taliban, sullenly tolerated by the locals... and understandably met with seething anger by Afghans - police and army - who find themselves on the same side as the ISAF forces who treat them with disrespect and disdain.

    I mentioned it before somewhere that the mentoring is in the wrong direction. On arrival in theatre fresh units should (in the obvious absence of own forces with the prerequisite experience) receive Afghan mentors to not only guide them culturally but to teach them how the Taliban thinks and acts so that the Taliban can effectively be found, fixed and then killed.

    Without the cultural understanding - which includes knowing the enemy - ISAF forces are literally operating in a bubble. Not a smart approach by guys who believe they are smart.

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    I mentioned it before somewhere that the mentoring is in the wrong direction. On arrival in theatre fresh units should (in the obvious absence of own forces with the prerequisite experience) receive Afghan mentors to not only guide them culturally but to teach them how the Taliban thinks and acts so that the Taliban can effectively be found, fixed and then killed.
    That is a very good idea. Select individuals could sort of embed into a unit and stay with them throughout their deployment. When I was in Africa our drivers fulfilled the same kind of role. You listened to the drivers if you knew what was good for you and we would have been completely lost without them.

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Without the cultural understanding - which includes knowing the enemy - ISAF forces are literally operating in a bubble. Not a smart approach by guys who believe they are smart.
    Guys who believe they are smart and don't often doubt that, aren't. Our powers that be never doubt that they are smart.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Default Green-on Blue - Is our cultural ignorance killing us ... literally

    Don't know if this has been covered before, but on a long plane ride back from Europe I was thinking about green-on-blue attacks and how many of these attacks appear to be personal retribution. A recent quote from a Marine (those guys are pretty clever) says it best.

    Terry Walker, a former Marine trainer in Helmand Province, told Fox News that most of these incidents are due to personal and cultural conflicts. He said Afghans simply have a different way of dealing with their problems.

    "You have a strong influence that's tribal," Walker said. "Afghans can't be insulted and they have no conflict resolution capability. The smallest thing can set them off."
    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012...#ixzz23uK9VjYd

    This reminded me of the problems we had in Iraq understanding why their supply systems did not work the way we expected them to. It was because their tribal culture, built on respect for those above them, did not allow underlings to make decisions on their own and that everything had to be cleared.

    Curious if our lack of understanding of the intricacies of tribal culture, particularly their need to maintain face in front of the other members of their tribe and their "inferiors" is killing us? If so, what are we doing about it?

    Was looking for others thoughts on the matter. I apologize if the topic has already been covered.
    "I can change almost anything ... but I can't change human nature."

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    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    You might be interested in reading this one.
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Curmudgeon:

    Here is an item and some replies from the blog about this subject.

    http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/nat...fficers-killed

    And here is a link to a study of green on blue murders and why they occur.

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/09/2...-cultural.html

    The conclusion of the paper is that the murders are almost all the result of individuals getting angry and getting some back, as you suggest.

    I think it is too late to do much about this, especially if Taliban & Co. decide to exploit in a big way what is already a worsening pattern of behavior. I seek others opinion on this. Do you think that if Taliban & Co try hard they can exacerbate this so much that we will get chased out of there much more quickly than we have planned? And, since we plan after 2014 to keep a small force in the country to keep doing the night raid stuff, which the Afghans really really hate, will that be possible if green on blue murders continue and/or get worse?
    Last edited by carl; 08-18-2012 at 03:55 PM.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Carl:
    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    ... here is a link to a study of green on blue murders and why they occur.

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/09/2...-cultural.html

    The conclusion of the paper is that the murders are almost all the result of individuals getting angry and getting some back, as you suggest.

    I think it is too late to do much about this ...
    Good report. I thought one was out there but could not find it.

    Was not encouraged by the recommendations. A couple of things stand out, like GPF should not be partnering/training ASFs. Seems like they don't have the training to deal with the vast cultural differences. You are correct that it is probably too late to fix this but it is a bit of a self correcting problem if they are out by 2014.

    The continuing problem will be the people that remain after 2014. If we do not find a way to defuse these problems as they occur they will fester.
    "I can change almost anything ... but I can't change human nature."

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    The whole issue hinges on the culture and mindset!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
    You might be interested in reading this one.
    One 'small thing' that sets them off was our overthrow of one system of govenrance and power to replace it with those who did not have the wherewithal to rise to power on their own.

    Another 'small thing' was our occupation that increased in both size and violence as we increased our efforts from about 2005 forward to attempt to put down the revolution that kicked into high gear once we solidified that power change with the monopoly preserving constitution we helped the Northern Alliance push through. Our efforts against the revolution then sparked the growth of the resistance among the more apolitical elements of Afghan society that simply want to be left alone and for us to go home.

    Certainly there are personal reasons that produce Green on Blue events; but those pale compared to the larger strategic ones.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    One 'small thing' that sets them off was our overthrow of one system of govenrance and power to replace it with those who did not have the wherewithal to rise to power on their own.

    Another 'small thing' was our occupation that increased in both size and violence as we increased our efforts from about 2005 forward to attempt to put down the revolution that kicked into high gear once we solidified that power change with the monopoly preserving constitution we helped the Northern Alliance push through. Our efforts against the revolution then sparked the growth of the resistance among the more apolitical elements of Afghan society that simply want to be left alone and for us to go home.

    Certainly there are personal reasons that produce Green on Blue events; but those pale compared to the larger strategic ones.
    Great speech, but, not true. At least according to the study referenced, and according to common sense.

    The reason you cited is political, Taliban noble resistance and all of that. These are murders. Murders are personal. You were a DA. You know that. People have things that they resent and those build up until they decide they have been dissed enough then they murder. There may be some merging there, resentment at the latest air strike gone awry or last night's raid that killed the wrong people (again) but those are still things that get to the murderer on a personal level. Not many commit a deeply personal act like murder because they don't like the way the constitution is written.

    But all that doesn't really matter too much. The murders are happening. Do you think Taliban & Co can use this pattern or exacerbate it and direct it?
    Last edited by carl; 08-18-2012 at 04:09 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    Great speech, but, not true. At least according to the study referenced, and according to common sense.

    The reason you cited is political, Taliban noble resistance and all of that. These are murders. Murders are personal. You were a DA. You know that. People have things that they resent and those build up until they decide they have been dissed enough then they murder. There may be some merging there, resentment at the latest air strike gone awry or last night's raid that killed the wrong people (again) but those are still things that get to the murderer on a personal level. Not many commit a deeply personal act like murder because they don't like the way the constitution is written.

    But all that doesn't really matter too much. The murders are happening. Do you think Taliban & Co can use this pattern or exacerbate it and direct it?
    What is "murder" in an insurgency?

    Is it murder when we shoot a kid off his motorcycle for failing to slow down when we flash a light at him?

    Is it murder when a head of household rushes to see who is invading his home with an old Russian single-shot shotgun in hand, only to be cut in half by the lead man of a team looking for some HVT?

    Is it murder when an IED blows up non-combatants of any ilk?

    Comfortable civilian peacetime constructs of law and justice do not readily apply. To write off even most of these Green on Blue events as murders of individual and personal purpose and intent is, IMO, naive at best, and intentionally disingenuous at worst.

    They should be considered as yet another powerful metric of the inappropriate nature of our actions and the unlikelihood that current approaches and polices can produce the results we hope for.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Default The impact of "Green on Blue" murders

    Carl,

    You asked:
    Do you think that if Taliban & Co try hard they can exacerbate this so much that we will get chased out of there much more quickly than we have planned? And, since we plan after 2014 to keep a small force in the country to keep doing the night raid stuff, which the Afghans really really hate, will that be possible if green on blue murders continue and/or get worse?
    I have long thought these killings real impact is "back home" and not in-country. It is very easy for a newspaper or other outlet to ask "Why are we bothering? Even the ANSF kill us". Note the French decision to end a combat role a year early after an incident. One cannot help but wonder if other national contingents stay in "Fobistan" to reduce casualties from the Taliban and the ANSF.

    Perhaps the US public will tolerate "green on blue" after 2014? What opinions do American members hold on that?
    davidbfpo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    One 'small thing' that sets them off was our overthrow of one system of govenrance and power to replace it with those who did not have the wherewithal to rise to power on their own.

    Another 'small thing' was our occupation that increased in both size and violence as we increased our efforts from about 2005 forward to attempt to put down the revolution that kicked into high gear once we solidified that power change with the monopoly preserving constitution we helped the Northern Alliance push through. Our efforts against the revolution then sparked the growth of the resistance among the more apolitical elements of Afghan society that simply want to be left alone and for us to go home.
    Two points. First (and again), you can't have it both ways: You can't say the population doesn't care and just want to be left alone AND that they are upset with the occupation and therefore are fighting us. If they wanted to fight us they would join the insurgency. I am not a believer in the idea that the Taliban has been working to place moles in the Afghan security forces just to kill one or two people while in fits of rage. You project your beliefs onto another culture in order to satisfy your own narrative.

    Second, it is irrelevant to the question asked as I will explain below.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Certainly there are personal reasons that produce Green on Blue events; but those pale compared to the larger strategic ones.
    Even if ten percent of the murders were caused by our misunderstanding of a cultural difference then they are worth studying for that reason alone. It is also arrogant to believe that this is just an Afghan problem. If, in fact, it is the result of our ignorance to understand a tribal culture then it is likely to be reproduced in any other similar culture under similar circumstances.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    Even if ten percent of the murders were caused by our misunderstanding of a cultural difference then they are worth studying for that reason alone. It is also arrogant to believe that this is just an Afghan problem. If, in fact, it is the result of our ignorance to understand a tribal culture then it is likely to be reproduced in any other similar culture under similar circumstances.
    Last CNA study I read put it at 6%, which is significant. Most of those are made up of advisors who are supposed to be getting more culture and language training than the average deployer. (The CNA report was unclas and is probably out there on their website.)

    We're engaged in a lot of places around the world. I can't think of any where blue-green accounts for 6% of our casualties. I don't think it was even that high in Iraq, but I don't have the figures in front of me.

    Saying the Blue on Green incidents are the result of "cultural misunderstandings" is helpful because in the short term it avoids any questions of the larger strategic and policy issues. But if we are sending people to advise Afghans, Afghans who have no mechanisms for conflict resolution other than going to the gun, then we either need to accept these blue-green incidents as a necessary part of our strategy there or rethink at least that component of the strategy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    Two points. First (and again), you can't have it both ways: You can't say the population doesn't care and just want to be left alone AND that they are upset with the occupation and therefore are fighting us. If they wanted to fight us they would join the insurgency. I am not a believer in the idea that the Taliban has been working to place moles in the Afghan security forces just to kill one or two people while in fits of rage. You project your beliefs onto another culture in order to satisfy your own narrative.

    Second, it is irrelevant to the question asked as I will explain below.



    Even if ten percent of the murders were caused by our misunderstanding of a cultural difference then they are worth studying for that reason alone. It is also arrogant to believe that this is just an Afghan problem. If, in fact, it is the result of our ignorance to understand a tribal culture then it is likely to be reproduced in any other similar culture under similar circumstances.
    And you seem to believe that "the taliban" is some formal organization that one joins...odd. Insurgency is an informal business, and we label people by their actions, but I'd advise against thinking that our labels then convert into some actual formal organization.

    "The Taliban" are in simplest terms those Afghans who resist against our presence or who revolt against the government of Afghanistan. Why would you assume that those Afghans who opt to join the security forces of Afghanistan at one point in their life might not some months later come to realize they made the wrong decision for them and decide to act in a manner that supports the insurgency??

    I do not project Western beliefs or values on anyone, I simply look past what we wish the facts of some situation were to attempt to understand them for what they actually are.

    So many of our programs intended to achieve COIN success produce reasonably positive tactical effects that we can measure, so we assume those programs to be moving us toward our strategic goals. Like adding tactical successes can ultimately get to strategic success. But what we ignore or don't understand is that many of those same actions that produce positive tactical effects also produce negative strategic effects due to how they are implemented. In those cases every action moves us closer to strategic failure at the same time that we delude ourselves that we are closing in on tactical success. Night Raids, Clear-Hold-Build operations, training ANSF, etc all fit in this category much of the time.

    So, a man joins the ANSF in a belief that he is best served by supporting the current government. Then over time some mix of how he is treated by his foreign trainers, the types of operations he goes out on, etc combine to make him realize that in now believes he is better served by supporting change. This does not mean he was a "mole" planted by Taliban leadership, he could be, but he could have just been "radicalized" by his exposure to his trainers or the ANSF experience in general.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Quote Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
    You might be interested in reading this one.
    That was interesting. One of the passages was this "The intercommunal wars that had spiraled out of control since the mujahideen military victory in April 1992 are in fact the virulent manifestations of the century-long policies of internal colonialism carried out by Pashtun-dominated governments, supported in large measure by decades of Cold War politics in the region."


    That seems so obvious when somebody else says it, but was something I never would have thought of.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    That was interesting. One of the passages was this "The intercommunal wars that had spiraled out of control since the mujahideen military victory in April 1992 are in fact the virulent manifestations of the century-long policies of internal colonialism carried out by Pashtun-dominated governments, supported in large measure by decades of Cold War politics in the region."
    Well, Nazif is an Uzbek, so of course he would say that. As a non-expert on such things I labor under the impression that a big part of the appeal of Karzai for the West was the package deal of a Pashtun head of government (to placate Afghanistan’s majority ethnic group) with acceptably moderate (by Western standards) political leanings. A formulation like that doesn’t take into account the fact that there is often factionalism within ethnic groups, as is the case with the Pastun.

    Again, my impression as a non-expert.
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

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