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

  1. #21
    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.
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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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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)

  3. #23
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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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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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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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 davidbfpo View Post
    Perhaps the US public will tolerate "green on blue" after 2014? What opinions do American members hold on that?
    Personally, I don't think it will matter. It probably won't even make the news unless it is a slow news day.

    In the US, the military has almost reached the level of the French Foreign Legion.
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  6. #26
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Curmudgeon:

    Very interesting comment ref the French Foreign Legion. I don't know if I would go that far. I think the American public has always been far more casualty tolerant that the elites are (if things are perceived as intelligently prosecuted) so I would attribute it maybe more to that, but a very interesting comment. I'll have to think on that.

    David:

    The US public will tolerate a lot, far more than the elites will. The question is what the elites will tolerate. In these cases maybe the elites are quite willing to tolerate them because it isn't their children being murdered. The victims are the Imperial Legionaires, like Curmudgeon talked about (I've been thinking fast). Also to expand upon my comment about the American public being casualty tolerant, another thing that may be happening is the public has just given up on anything being done to change things. I believe a lot of people on the Council don't much bother with Afghanistan anymore because nothing changes-ever. It and we just keep proceeding the same way. I think there is a possibility that the American public feels the same, nothing will ever change. Why bother thinking about it?

    I don't know about this so much, the guys who are actually there will know. How will this affect the actions of the guys in the field, not the officially promulgated policies, but what people actually do?
    Last edited by carl; 08-18-2012 at 07:10 PM.
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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    One cannot help but wonder if other national contingents stay in "Fobistan" to reduce casualties from the Taliban and the ANSF.
    I wonder about that too. I wonder if this may be something that will help to bring about a situation whereby after 2014, we are just holed up in fortified camps almost under siege and occasionally making nocturnal sallies via our rotary winged sally ports-sallies that would do nothing but enrage the locals, tighten the siege and enhance the careers of 4 stars and spec ops types.

    That would be something wouldn't it, the ultimate culmination of career-centric coin.
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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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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
    I wonder about that too. I wonder if this may be something that will help to bring about a situation whereby after 2014, we are just holed up in fortified camps almost under siege and occasionally making nocturnal sallies via our rotary winged sally ports-sallies that would do nothing but enrage the locals, tighten the siege and enhance the careers of 4 stars and spec ops types.

    That would be something wouldn't it, the ultimate culmination of career-centric coin.
    That I could see ... although, to be honest, I think that we have been involved in a career-centric fight for some time..
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    That I could see ... although, to be honest, I think that we have been involved in a career-centric fight for some time..
    Absolutely. Sometimes guys low down the pole and out of the loop can successfully confound it. But I think essentially American COIN=career-centric COIN and I increasingly fear that the American way of war will = career-centric way of war.
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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    Absolutely. Sometimes guys low down the pole and out of the loop can successfully confound it. But I think essentially American COIN=career-centric COIN and I increasingly fear that the American way of war will = career-centric way of war.
    I think it has been that way for some time, possibly since the end of WWII and it is not just COIN ... but that is a different thread.
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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 davidbfpo View Post
    Carl,
    One cannot help but wonder if other national contingents stay in "Fobistan" to reduce casualties from the Taliban and the ANSF.
    Most of these incidents occur on the FOBs where the Coalition\ANSF are training together, and the coalition members killed are the ones doing the training.

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    Default Some initial research ...

    The place of honor (at the collective and individual levels) tends to be read- ily identified within cultures in general, Arab culture in particular (Dodd, 1973), and Arab dispute resolution traditions such as Sulha (Kressel, 1992; Gellman and Vuinovich, 2008). The Palestinian Human Rights Monitor (Aug. 2002, p. 2) writes this about the place of honor in Arab society: “The focus on the value of honor has great importance in Arab society.” Barakat (1993) places honor as one of the core values of Arab societies. He writes: “While values of honor, shame, and dignity, are adopted in this Arab vil- lage in Israel, nevertheless they are core values of contemporary social sys- tems in the Arab world, whether in an urban, village or Bedouin community” (p. 44).
    The most vivid (and unfortunate) demonstration of the centrality of honor in Arab culture, indeed, at the core of the Arab family, which is the center of Arab society, can be seen in “honor killing.” These are tragic sit- uations where fathers, brothers, and other agnatic male kin murder their own female flesh and blood (daughter, sister, mother) to restore the honor- able status of the family when they perceive a female relative is violating it. There cannot be a more poignant demonstration of the centrality of honor than perceiving of a person willing—indeed, desiring—to kill his own daughter or mother or sister in order to restore perceived lost honor.
    Pely, D. (2010). Honor: The Sulha's main dispute resolution tool. Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 28(1), 67-81. doi:10.1002/crq.20013

    Also looking into this from a management point of view. Two studies come to mind. They are business studies designed to examine what management style best motivated employees in different cultures. The first was research done on IBM employees worldwide that was turned into the book Culture's Consequences. The second was the GLOBE study. Not sure how much is applicable.
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    The place of honor (at the collective and individual levels) tends to be read- ily identified within cultures in general, Arab culture in particular (Dodd, 1973), and Arab dispute resolution traditions such as Sulha (Kressel, 1992; Gellman and Vuinovich, 2008). The Palestinian Human Rights Monitor (Aug. 2002, p. 2) writes this about the place of honor in Arab society: “The focus on the value of honor has great importance in Arab society.” Barakat (1993) places honor as one of the core values of Arab societies. He writes: “While values of honor, shame, and dignity, are adopted in this Arab vil- lage in Israel, nevertheless they are core values of contemporary social sys- tems in the Arab world, whether in an urban, village or Bedouin community” (p. 44).

    The most vivid (and unfortunate) demonstration of the centrality of honor in Arab culture, indeed, at the core of the Arab family, which is the center of Arab society, can be seen in “honor killing.” These are tragic sit- uations where fathers, brothers, and other agnatic male kin murder their own female flesh and blood (daughter, sister, mother) to restore the honor- able status of the family when they perceive a female relative is violating it. There cannot be a more poignant demonstration of the centrality of honor than perceiving of a person willing—indeed, desiring—to kill his own daughter or mother or sister in order to restore perceived lost honor.
    To what extent would observations on Arab culture apply in Afghanistan? Afghans aren't Arabs.
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    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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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.
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    Default Honor is not just an Arab issue.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    To what extent would observations on Arab culture apply in Afghanistan? Afghans aren't Arabs.
    U.S. Powerless Against Honor Killings In Afghanistan

    Woman, two children beheaded in Afghanistan 'honor killing

    A recent study confirmed honor and respect as fundamental cultural values among Afghans, yet found subtle differences in interpretation of honor across groups and situations. Also, the conceptions of honor and respect as held among Afghans do not necessarily correspond with neighboring American concepts.
    http://www.globalcognition.org/honor-among-afghans/

    As I said before, to think that this is just an Afghan (or Arab) problem is to be small minded. It is common to any culture than holds honor in higher regard than other values.
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    It's ironical how such concepts of honour are usually being considered by Westerner in a context of violence.

    Their purpose is actually to avoid violence to make living in a society more possible. Such concepts of honour and the likewise disrespected primitive justice systems such as known from Old Testament or Sharia are meant to maintain peace through deterrence. They also encourage the solution of conflicts through peaceful agreements including compensation for offences.

    It's only the cases were the system fails and actually leads to the harsh consequences that create the bad reputation. It's like judging nuclear deterrence by eventual nuclear war. Not entirely unfair, but not exactly satisfactory either.


    The really, really bad problems created by such primitive deterrence systems arise when cultures are being mixed. Cultures represent in large part a system of suppressing violent conflicts. To mix multiple cultures in a random way leads to an inferior suppressive effect and consequently to major problems. We can see the same with non-integrating, non-ethnic_ghetto ('China Town') immigrants from alien cultures in Europe.

    The elaborate Western approach towards suppression of violence can only be imposed with enough resources (tricky in Afghanistan) and enough acceptance (tricky when the competing approach is based on religion or other ideology).

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    Default Keen observation ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    It's ironical how such concepts of honour are usually being considered by Westerner in a context of violence.

    Their purpose is actually to avoid violence to make living in a society more possible. Such concepts of honour and the likewise disrespected primitive justice systems such as known from Old Testament or Sharia are meant to maintain peace through deterrence. They also encourage the solution of conflicts through peaceful agreements including compensation for offences.
    Keen observation. These value systems that each culture have developed are a form of internal conflict resolution system. Like any other mores, norms, folkway, or law, they provide a predictability to day-to-day life and interactions with others. Where two systems are incompatible there will be conflict.

    The trick form our perspective is to find a way to either work within their norms, folkways, and laws (which we have a very hard time doing) or to use them to resolve disputes before they turn deadly.
    Last edited by TheCurmudgeon; 08-19-2012 at 01:11 PM.
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