I don't. Some are, some are not. Either way I think the frequency of such incidents could be reduced if the steps were taken which I mentioned earlier.
Having said this, I want to apologize for my retort yesterday. My tone was inappropriate.
The quote is that 20% is caused by traitors among the coalition troops. Where do they get that # from? I don't believe the coalition releases data like that, so what is the source of the 20% statistic?
It does seem believable for friendly fire since 20%+ is not uncommon historically. But most friendly fire in most wars is not due to traitors -- it's primarily accidents, incompetence, and just the fog and chaos of war.
It's plausible that the Afghan war has a higher % of traitors than previous wars. But the Afghan troops also have higher rates of accidents and incompetence. The population the troops are drawn from is one of the worst educated on the planet.
Friendly fire is not necessarily the same as deliberate traitorous attacks. And neither are personal disputes that turn deadly. Afghan culture is a Hatfield and McCoy culture where using deadly violence to settle personal disputes has been the norm for centuries.
Incompetence and a violent, tribal culture are huge problems by themselves, but aren't treasonous.
Imagine the difficult of any army if you have to recruit from a mostly illiterate population where it is the norm for personal insults and offenses to honor to be met with sudden, deadly attacks and primary loyalties are to the tribe and clan.
Oh, the irony...
As to cultural sensitivities, when I moved into a supervisory and later management position over there, I forbade any Americans who worked for me from wearing those idiotic tactical patches like "Pork Eating Crusader" or "Infidel". Those guys take their religion way more seriously than most of us in the west. Honestly, if you were training some locals on the rifle range and you had one of those patches on, especially if it was also printed in Arabic, you're asking for trouble. It's hard to think of a comparison in the west, or the U.S. The local Afghani has a far greater bond with Islam than I can think of for any religious group in America. Their bond to Islam also makes them patriotic to their religion, rather than their nation. That said, every local who I ever talked to about religion was totally cool that I'm Episcopalian. "That's cool, you're still a man of the book" was the gist of things. They don't hate Jews either (also people of the book). It's when you publicly insult them (especially when some idiot Christian wears something saying "Infidel" FYI, you aren't) that they get angry.
First of all, who is shrugging shoulders and carrying on? Also, where did the 20% number come from in the first place?The extent of hostile activities against our forces has become inacceptable but they can be decreased. We can't just shrug our shoulders and carry on. Doesn't it ring any bells with you that the Commando Kandaks have not produced any traitors so far, a fact one might track back to their excellent fighting spirit? It only takes two things to improve the situation - Afghan leaders who swear their troops in to the government's cause and set an example likewise, and less easy recruiting.
Vetting does take place, but it's hard in a country like Afghanistan. If you walk into a recruiter's office in the U.S., you have to produce things like a social security card, birth certificate, high school transcript, etc. We have a long standing social infrastructure that's never been burned to ashes. Such a thing has never existed in Afghanistan. There is actually a vetting process, but it's imperfect, and that's the only way it can be in Afghanistan. I'm not going to go into more detail. If we held recruiting to the standards we're more accustomed to in the west, the whole Afghan Army could probably only field a few battalions. If there was a requirement for Afghan recruits to swear loyalty to the government in Kabul, many would say "Pfft" and go home. There's a reason a lot of the paramilitary units that work closely with SOF and other organizations are recruited almost entirely locally - it's because, even if they don't have a great deal of love for Kabul, they hate the Taliban/AQ/crazy team XYZ. Also, once you build a reputation with these tribal guys, they help with the vetting in their own way; you might have a single platoon in which almost everyone is related - brothers, cousins, uncles, in laws, etc. That is the way to vet locals over there. The big hurdle is finding the first core of guys who you can train up, operate with, and come to trust. I recruited and trained maybe three hundred guys to work in security units while I was over there, and my two ground rules for the locals who worked for me were A: He must be 18 and B: Someone already here, with a good rep, needs to vouch for the guy. That was just to get an interview. As I mentioned earlier, this is a deeper vetting process, but 'll leave that out of this post.
Who's in the race for the swiftest withdrawal? The U.S. and out Allies have been in Afghanistan for a decade or more. It's been a struggle for years, and a big part of that is because we (the coalition) aren't actually being totally irresponsible about it. If you consider recruiting a battalion of infantry, the easy part is giving basic training to eight hundred privates. It's easy to give guys PT, take them to the range, get them spun up on various weapon systems. But, you need NCOs and officers to make that battalion a functioning unit. Afghanistan has had barely enough time to build even a battalion of infantry that can work completely on it's own.NATO's politically motivated race for the swiftest withdrawal - and the consequent "the sooner the better"-policy to bolster the rows of the Afghan forces no matter what - have contributed greatly to this unfortunate situation.
Really insightful post, thanks James that actually confirms some understandings I had in the first place on things and expands my knowledge further
Last edited by digrar; 05-07-2012 at 07:06 AM. Reason: just read it once, don't need to read it again. No need to quote.
There way of life is different .. even if our Goverments then spent the time and effort when the Russians left would things be different again who know's , but the footage of the UK with Afghan's Soldiers smoking hash during a FF .... Impressions can be ever lasting that is definetly one of them !!!
But even then after the Russians left did they all sit down and make any such effort to attract foregin aid .. to help with rebuilding etc , Astan's biggest earner is Opium .. like what black gold is to others but what do these regional drug sellers do with all the money is another thing .. most Afghani's are so set in there ways .
Wow, James, I sincerly hope you're going to write and publish a book about your Afghanistan experience and insight.
After the Soviets departed in 1989, many in the west who had provided aid basically said "Cool, we made the Russians bleed. What's next?" One needs to look at the aid provided to the mujaheddin within the framework of the Cold War; we did it not because we cared very much for Afghanistan, we did it because it was a way for us to undermine the USSR. Afghanistan muddled their way along for a few years, but the coalition of tribes and groups that had fought the Soviets (see my mention of coalition in an earlier post) came apart and a civil war started. In the beginning, it was largely about taking possession of Kabul, but it expanded. In 1995 the Taliban coalesced in and around Kandahar, grew powerful, and took over about 90% of the country. It was then that the civil war evolved into what it was just before 9/11 - Taliban/AQ (for the most part) vs. the Northern Alliance.
The drug trade is a tough nut to crack in Afghanistan. A lot of the farmers who actually grow poppy do so simply because they can earn a lot more money than they can by growing grain or other cereals. For them, it's simple economics. The U.S. State Department has made efforts in the past to convince local farmers to grow grains, but it's hard to argue with money. There has also been trouble in the past when these farmers, who peacefully went about their business and never had anything to do with the Taliban, watch helicopters swoop in to disgorge a bunch of American and ANA troops who proceed to burn their crops. Next time the farmer sees coalition forces, he might take a shot at them. That doesn't make him a terrorist, he's just pissed because he never bothered anyone and these foreigners and soldiers directed from Kabul came out of nowhere and ruined him and his family. It's the Afghan way.
In parts of Kunar and Nuristan provinces (Restrepo was filmed in Kunar), there are some tribes that have only had Islam for about a hundred years. When Americans first showed up, the locals frequently referred to them as Russians, because those were the only light skinned Caucasians they knew of. A lot of people all across the country will live their entire life without going more than 10 or 20 kilometers from the village they were born in.
That is an excellent update and summary James. I could add some interesting specifics about what is going on now, and what the plan appears to be… but I don’t think it wise at this point. RE: 20 percent… 1 out of 5 is 20 percent, as is 100 out of 500. The last ratio would be of concern. The first is background. It could be that we will lose a number of men as we adopt an advisory role ... but that is a price for the new plan.
Suffice to say, the raids that you read about that capture Taliban, ISMU, AQ leaders; the stopping of massive explosive shipments coming in fromPakistan etc., are being done largely by certain Afghan units, trained and ledby certain elements. That program is being vastly expanded. Almost 100 percent of the attacks in Afghanistan now originate in Pakistan, as part of a policy of warfare againstthe ISAF planned, supplied, led by the ISI, Pak military. It might soon be necessary to prune the leadership that is conducting that warfare.
If you think green on blue is bad on our side, you ought to scope out the green on green going on in the FATA and in the Taliban ranks. Their coalition is approaching full scale civil war. And when the PakPashtuns realize that they are being used by the “Punjabis” as cannon fodder for ISI schemes, it might turn really ugly for the “Punjabi-lovers.”