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Thread: Green on Blue: causes and responses (merged thread)

  1. #181
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    I have to agree with JMA on the logic thing. The way we think does not matter.

    But I also doubt that the announced withdrawal was an important factor. The increase in forces and in mission is probably the largest single factor. If it was, then nothing really changed. The increase is simply mathematical. Increase the number of trainers and Afghans being trained and you increase the number killed.
    I wonder how many officers and NCOs studied this prior to deploying to Afghanistan?:

    Passing It On: Fighting the Pushtun on Afghanistan’s Frontier By General Sir Andrew Skeen (1932)

    And that brings me to the tribesman’s patience. These folks have nothing to do but to watch for an opportunity. If it doesn’t come one day, it is bound to come the next or the next, or, at any rate often enough to make it worth their while to watch for it. And if, when it comes, it looks like being too costly, they are perfectly ready to put it off till a better chance comes. Remember, they have had no work to do, no camp to get to, they have range upon range of hill to screen them for as long as they choose, and night has no terrors for them. They will return to the job day after day without anyone having an inkling of their presence, and then when the real chance comes they seize it like lightning. – page 12
    I have watched YouTube videos of some training. I note that ISAF personnel are being used to train and mentor Afghans who are of an age and rank who probably would not be allowed to train own forces at that level. I would suggest that the tension would begin to build up right there. The Golden Rule for training troops outside your language/cultural/ethnic/racial milieu should be on the basis of Train-the-Trainer. We just don't seem to learn.

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  2. #182
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    I have watched YouTube videos of some training. I note that ISAF personnel are being used to train and mentor Afghans who are of an age and rank who probably would not be allowed to train own forces at that level. I would suggest that the tension would begin to build up right there.
    That is a very good observation, one of those human factors things that are so important and so often overlooked. I never thought of it of course.
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  3. #183
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Does 'European' logic matter?
    I intentionally gave you guys the line about logic as a trigger, waiting for the inevitable Pavlov' reaction to follow.
    You are utterly predictable.

    It's still in fashion to talk up cultural differences, and the pattern of reasoning at SWC is under extreme influence of this fashion.


    In short: Yes, European logic does matter, for it's still logic.
    I can think of at least two ways how it's logical even for a European to increase attacks and risks when victory is already accepted as a soon-to-come certainty. Didn't want to play devil's advocate to myself, and I guess you guys won't come up with such an explanation.

    There's actually something to be learnt from it, that is, if the information is correct and the seemingly paradox logic does apply.

    Feel free to explain mysteries with the universal explanation of "culture" and you won't ever reach that insight.



    Think for yourself:
    How can it be rational to increase attacks after victory is believed to be certain?

    (Assuming for a moment that the public withdrawal intentions did prompt the increased attack activity, which I still consider very unlikely.)

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Maybe it's not a purely cultural clash at all:

    Afgan security forces worry about fratricidal brothers-in-arms

    While NATO soldiers worry whether an Afghan partner might turn from an ally to a lethal foe, Afghan soldier Sayed Rahim says he's afraid his own comrades at a small outpost in eastern Paktika province will kill him.

    "There are some soldiers who have Taliban war songs on their cellphones," Rahim said. "Do we do our duty, or should we watch out for these guys who will kill us one day?"

    While successive attacks by rogue Afghan security forces against NATO allies worry Western commanders, less-known incidents of Afghan-on-Afghan violence within the security forces point to Taliban infiltration nearer to home.

    ...

    Personal grievances, battle stress, and domestic problems are behind more attacks than Taliban sympathies, according to NATO forces, who put the number of incidents by Islamic militant infiltrators this year in single digits.
    The NATO coalition says a similar number of Afghan troops and police have died at the hands of their own compatriots.

    "I can't really sleep. Soldiers don't trust one another very much. When I go to sleep I fear someone will shoot me dead," said Rahmatullah, a comrade of Rahim's near the Pakistan border, through which insurgents cross with reinforcements and material.

    "We are also very fearful of food and night guards but what can we do? We are soldiers and have to do the job," the 24-year-old said in a province where an Afghan policeman this month drugged nine colleagues and shot them dead as they slept ...

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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    That is a very good observation, one of those human factors things that are so important and so often overlooked. I never thought of it of course.
    The sheer volume of training they are attempting probably means that anything vaguely approaching decent training is quite impossible when it appears some of the participating ISAF countries have training problems of their own.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    Maybe it's not a purely cultural clash at all:

    Afgan security forces worry about fratricidal brothers-in-arms
    What's up with the Afghan counter-intelligence?

    It appears they need so many recruits they will take anyone with two arms, two legs and two eyes... OK maybe one eye is good enough.

    Look at the Afghan national characteristics. Treachery comes first. I predict whole ANA units will change sides when the crunch comes.

    IMHO it is unacceptable that soldiers should be placed at this risk. There should be consequences for those who failed to see this risk.

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    Last edited by JMA; 09-19-2012 at 09:42 AM.

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Look at the Afghan national characteristics. Treachery comes first. I predict whole ANA units will change sides when the crunch comes.
    I wouldn't be surprised if they did change sides... but is that "treachery", or is it simply us misreading their actual loyalties? After all, what reason do Afghans have to be loyal to us and our interests?

    I'm reminded, somehow, of the wounded outrage that Americans in the Philippines expressed during WW2 when the same Filipino elites that had collaborated with Spanish and American invaders proceeded to collaborate in turn with Japanese invaders.

    Why would we expect Afghans to be loyal to anything but their own perception of their own interests? Of course they'll put on a show of "loyalty" as long as that advances their own perception of their own interests, but as soon as the interests change, so will the loyalty. That's human nature, not an Afghan national characteristic.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    IMHO it is unacceptable that soldiers should be placed at this risk. There should be consequences for those who failed to see this risk.
    You don't have to look for scapegoats. The risks are known, and yes, even junior troops are taught to acertain then. How far they go after being taught is a different matter, but at some point you cannot guard against all possible green-on-blue opportunities ... every moment. Nothing would get done.

    It's totally acceptable that there are occupational hazards.

    There is a mission with inherent risks to it, thus part of the nature of war.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    I wouldn't be surprised if they did change sides... but is that "treachery", or is it simply us misreading their actual loyalties? After all, what reason do Afghans have to be loyal to us and our interests?
    Yes, depends on from which angle you look at it.

    It would be treachery if a battalion of ANA switches sides and shoots/beheads the US mentoring/training team with them.

    If that were to happen on whose doorstep would you lay the blame?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    You don't have to look for scapegoats. The risks are known, and yes, even junior troops are taught to acertain then. How far they go after being taught is a different matter, but at some point you cannot guard against all possible green-on-blue opportunities ... every moment. Nothing would get done.

    It's totally acceptable that there are occupational hazards.

    There is a mission with inherent risks to it, thus part of the nature of war.
    There are acceptable risks, unacceptable risks and pure gambles.

    Looking at the stats for this years and noting that NATO halts routine joint patrols with Afghan forces that more than just me believes it has reached the "unacceptable risk" level.

    It is also as much about the causes than just the actual risk itself.

    You can teach "junior troops" as much as you like but - to be brutally honest - how many of them - as opposed to officers and SNCOs - are capable of diplomacy/courtesy/discretion/and all those good things when interacting with the ANA?

    Is this not where the friction point is?

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    The sheer volume of training they are attempting probably means that anything vaguely approaching decent training is quite impossible when it appears some of the participating ISAF countries have training problems of their own.
    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    You can teach "junior troops" as much as you like but - to be brutally honest - how many of them - as opposed to officers and SNCOs - are capable of diplomacy/courtesy/discretion/and all those good things when interacting with the ANA?

    Is this not where the friction point is?
    So we have people like Stephen Green and members of the "Kill Team" doing training. And who have been doing it for months and months. We have dug a pretty deep hole.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    There are acceptable risks, unacceptable risks and pure gambles.

    Looking at the stats for this years and noting that NATO halts routine joint patrols with Afghan forces that more than just me believes it has reached the "unacceptable risk" level.

    It is also as much about the causes than just the actual risk itself.

    You can teach "junior troops" as much as you like but - to be brutally honest - how many of them - as opposed to officers and SNCOs - are capable of diplomacy/courtesy/discretion/and all those good things when interacting with the ANA?

    Is this not where the friction point is?
    They are all capable, and that is statistical fact. Being a decent, restrained person is not the sole domain of the SNCO or officer.

    Across the hundreds and thousands of patrols conducted, the number of troops killed is significant relative to the beholder. I do not think we have reached any unacceptable level, but it would seem some handlers somewhere believe so, and that is risk-averse IMO.

    Shrinking away from the issue is not the answer, not in 2005 or 2012. It merely seems so due to the decent interval we have chosen to pursue.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    They are all capable, and that is statistical fact. Being a decent, restrained person is not the sole domain of the SNCO or officer.

    Across the hundreds and thousands of patrols conducted, the number of troops killed is significant relative to the beholder. I do not think we have reached any unacceptable level, but it would seem some handlers somewhere believe so, and that is risk-averse IMO.

    Shrinking away from the issue is not the answer, not in 2005 or 2012. It merely seems so due to the decent interval we have chosen to pursue.
    I am not trying to be argumentative but your comment prompts two questions.

    Even if statistically the risk of being killed by an ANSF person is low, how much would these killings raise the level of suspicion and would that level of suspicion hinder good training and cooperation? You know guys there. Has this had an effect?

    Also having the right temperment (sic) and character is not solely confined to officers and SNCOs, but are the units doing the training picking and choosing who will do the training depending on who is suited for it? Again you know people who would know.
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    Default Tequila's link is interesting

    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    Maybe it's not a purely cultural clash at all:

    Looking at the numbers, is the rate any different or is the total number of these incidents increased because of more contact between trainer and trainee in a volatile and idiosyncratic environment, depending on the particular situation?

    What I mean to say is that I know the numerator of these incidents. What's the denominator? Anyway, the overall rate being the same may not matter in the war-of-narratives, where everyone is probably correct in one way or another. We have a mix of things going on, I'd bet, but I'd only be betting. I have no idea.

    BTW, how does one grade such an incident? Is the Taliban ringtone incidental, is this purely a personal matter, how does one determine a metric based on the story told in Tequila's linked article?

    This is an interesting link, too (from 2010):

    The Taliban have infiltrated the Afghan army and police, a recently-retired United Nations official has warned.

    Dr Antonio Maria Costa, former head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said Taliban sleeper cells had been set up inside the security forces.

    They had already carried out a number of attacks and were planning further attacks on Nato-led troops, he said.

    A spokesman for the coalition forces said infiltration was a rare problem and most Afghan troops were loyal.

    Dr Costa's comments come as the coalition is preparing to hand over control of the country's security to Afghan forces by 2014, the BBC's Gerry Northam reports.

    Meeting the handover target in four years requires 141,000 new recruits to be found within a year - more than the current size of the Afghan army.

    There are fears that the Taliban are taking the opportunity to enlist insurgents into the ranks.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-11464175

    The standard Western punditry argues a lot about timelines and endates. I see less punditry about others reacting to our signaled plans to build up the Afghan security forces. For every signal we send to stay, we get local and, shall we say, regional, signals to go. I think. Well, I don't know. Thinking aloud here....

    1. Did we go too big, too fast?
    2. Is our signaling to stay, instead of keeping mum on our plans and having some element of surprise and initiative, the real problem,and not our signaling to go?
    3. How do lone wolf incidents play into the Taliban narrative - and how do they relate to what we do? What should be considered a lone wolf incident?
    4. How does one tell a lone wolf incident from a personal and individual "culture" clash between two individuals?
    5. Are we interpreting a certain level of local violence as something new and different and relating to "us", when it's simply the environment and our place in it?
    6. What does "infiltration" mean, and what constitutes infiltration in an environment such as Afghanistan?

    And so on....

    Does JMA have a point? These incidents were bound to happen? Even if we predicted it, could we realistically have done things differently, like slowing recruitment, educating the larger public, better counterintelligence? I don't know. Wonder what you all think.
    Last edited by Madhu; 09-19-2012 at 04:19 PM. Reason: Added more to the comment

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    It would be treachery if a battalion of ANA switches sides and shoots/beheads the US mentoring/training team with them.

    If that were to happen on whose doorstep would you lay the blame?
    If you want to lay blame, you have to lay it on whoever did the killing. Whether that makes it treachery or betrayal is another question altogether.

    Going beyond immediate blame, though, I'd want to look at the assumptions behind so much of what goes on in Afghanistan. We want to conjure up a national government and a national military, structured along western lines, in a place where loyalty is not to nation but to clan or tribe. We assume that once someone joins an army they are then "loyal" to the government and the nominal chain of command, and if they act on any other loyalty we speak of treachery and betrayal.

    Our idea of a national army and a national government stem from our idea of a nation, and I'm not sure that concept has much meaning in Afghanistan. If it doesn't, and if our purposes are incompatible with the perceived interests of large numbers of Afghans, the idea of creating an army (let alone a nation) from scratch - hard enough in the best circumstances - is going to be pretty unrealistic and is likely to involve all kinds of obstacles and hazards.

    Is it rally possible to develop an effective strategy and to implement an effective campaign to achieve that strategy if the policy goal the strategy is meant to advance is fundamentally flawed and unrealistic?

    Saw this elsewhere on the site; pessimistic but I suspect not entirely inaccurate:

    http://nation.time.com/2012/09/19/af...n-do-is-leave/
    Last edited by Dayuhan; 09-20-2012 at 01:49 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    If you want to lay blame, you have to lay it on whoever did the killing.
    Beyond those who do the killing - who should be the target of multiple precision (or as near as damn-it) air strikes - for those who should have foreseen the problem and built in contingencies and/or acted timeously there should be consequences.

    Whether that makes it treachery or betrayal is another question altogether.
    One assumes that the ISAF forces doing the mentoring and the training are acting in good faith on the basis that the trainees are loyal to the Karzai government.

    So if you have a new and interesting definition of "treachery" I'm all ears.

    Now if you want to understand more about the risks and the permutations go read Alistair Horne's book about Algeria 1954-1962:

    A Savage War of Peace

    Go for an el-cheapo 2nd hand copy, you won't regret it. You will get a perspective of what can and probably will happen as melt-down approaches.

    Better still try to find something covering the time of the Soviet withdrawal as that may be more accurate in respect of the Afghan specifics. (Anyone recommend something on this?)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Saw this elsewhere on the site; pessimistic but I suspect not entirely inaccurate:

    http://nation.time.com/2012/09/19/af...n-do-is-leave/
    David posted reference to Ben Anderson's documentary a week ago: here

    Beyond the book there is a YouTube video which captures the interaction clearly.

    Panorama : The Battle for Bomb Alley (Afghanistan War) 1/2 in two parts.

    Little wonder the "local" Afghans find it all somewhat confusing... with some positively freaking out to the point of killing.

    Not sure who thought up the idea about joint patrols in the first place. Its a really dumb idea other than for - low risk of contact - presence patrols as the last thing you want is to get into a contact with the enemy with these ANA clowns - with different training and approach to warfare - as a wild card in your midst.

    Moderator's Note

    Thread created for a Q&A interview with Ben Anderson:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=16590
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 09-20-2012 at 12:19 PM. Reason: Add Mods Note

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default British Army adviser with ANA in Helmand

    The author of this commentary is:
    .. the British Army adviser to Brigadier Shirin Shah, Commander of the Afghan National Army (ANA) in central Helmand...Lt Col Charlie Maconochie is the Commanding Officer of 3/215 Brigade Advisory Group and 3rd Battalion The Rifles..
    Much of the article will be familiar to readers, this paragraph with my emphasis is of note:
    The catalyst for the majority of insider attacks appears to be a mix of personal grievances, cultural disparities and psychological distress. The largely unreported number of attacks by Afghan soldiers on their own forces bears this out. Insurgent involvement in some attacks should be seen as a desperate act by an enemy that is under growing pressure from increasingly confident and capable Afghan security forces. There is simply no evidence of any widespread insurgent infiltration of the Afghan forces.
    He ends with the official mantra:
    Our campaign plan is on track, but we still have much work to do as advisers. At this vital stage, we must not let anything knock us off course.
    Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...ghanistan.html
    davidbfpo

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    The author of this commentary is:

    Much of the article will be familiar to readers, this paragraph with my emphasis is of note:

    He ends with the official mantra:

    Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...ghanistan.html
    I was thinking about this yesterday. We heard abut attacks on ISAF troops because it's of national interest, however we don't hear about green on green. I'd find that far more interesting.

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    The largely unreported number of attacks by Afghan soldiers on their own forces bears this out.
    Not really surprising. We in the West keep thinking these people are "Afghans" in the same way that we consider ourselves to be "Americans" or whatever nationality. We assume their national loyalty is roughly the same as ours. In Afghanistan, national identity is usually a second or third tier concern. To expect them to gel into a cohesive force and put aside their other identities and loyalties in favor of a national identity is foolish whether we are talking about building an army or limiting corruption.

    Look at what's happening to the Syrian military which is fracturing along ethnic and sectarian lines even though it was a cohesive national force for several decades. Yet we expect to actually build a national force from scratch in Afghanistan? It might work long enough for us to exit Afghanistan, if we're lucky.
    Supporting "time-limited, scope limited military actions" for 20 years.

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