Green-on-blue attacks end joint field ops with Afghan troops
One of the great under-reported stories of the Obama era is the rising tide of violence in Afghanistan. 70 percent of casualties in Afghanistan have occurred on Obama’s watch, according to CNS News, and the five deadliest months of the war fell during 2010 and 2011. If Obama were a Republican taking over a war from a Democrat administration, you can bet your bottom dollar you’d be hearing a great deal more about this.
Particularly troubling is the high incidence of “green-on-blue attacks,” in which Afghan troops turn their weapons on the U.S. and NATO soldiers who trained them. Two more such attacks claimed four American and two British lives over the weekend, bringing the total number of treacherous green-on-blue murders for the year up to 51, versus 35 casualties last year.
Naturally, the latest attacks have also been linked to the general fog of “Islamic rage” surrounding the “Innocence of Muslims” film, which is politically useful for the Taliban, because it puts the West on the defensive, and adds more pressure to establish the supremacy of Islamic law over a core Western value, namely freedom of speech. Once you accept the premise that all Middle Eastern violence is the result of spontaneous outrage over a lousy YouTube video, you have established a paradigm in which each new atrocity makes the defense of the video seem more foolish and obstinate.
The last round of green-on-blue attacks seems to have been the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, because as Fox News reports, “The U.S. military has suspended the bulk of joint field operations with Afghan troops amid a wave of so-called insider attacks and concern about protests over an anti-Islam film.” U.S. and Afghan forces are still running patrols, but they will no longer mix personnel without special approval.
NATO has also announced, “In some local instances, operational tempo has been reduced, or force protection has been increased. These actions balance the tension of the recent video with force protection, while maintaining the momentum of the campaign.”
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta dismissed these infiltrator attacks as last-ditch efforts by a desperate Taliban, noting that green-on-blue murders “create chaos, but do not in any way result in their regaining territory that has been lost.”
That’s not the point of these attacks. The Taliban is not currently engaged in a province-by-province conventional war to retake lost territory. Their objective is to let all Afghans know they’re still in charge, able to murder those mighty Western soldiers with infiltrators, and blow up busloads of civilian workers with suicide bombs, as they did on Tuesday morning in Kabul. The rift these attacks are creating between the U.S., NATO, and the Afghan government is painful. It makes the Afghan government look weak… and they’ll be the Taliban’s only remaining enemy, once the American withdrawal is completed.
Infiltration attacks are a logical consequence of leaving an enemy undefeated, in a culture that is, to put things delicately, noted for sudden and rapid changes of allegiance. Soon Western forces will be gone from Afghanistan. The Taliban has made it horribly clear that they will remain. A good-sized chunk of the Afghan population doesn’t need to know anything else.
When President Obama officially announced the beginning of Afghanistan withdrawal in June 2011, he said “we are starting this drawdown from a position of strength” because we had fulfilled our commitment to “refocus on al-Qaeda, reverse the Taliban’s momentum, and train Afghan security forces to defend their own country.” Does any of that sound even vaguely accurate in light of the past week’s events? The al-Qaeda flag flew over U.S. embassies across the Middle East, they murdered our ambassador to Libya, America looks as weak and confused as it did under Jimmy Carter, and the Taliban is planting so many murderous infiltrators in the Afghan security forces that we can’t even trust them to go on patrol alongside our troops any more. The green-on-blue attacks will be followed by a spasm of green-on-green once we’re gone, and then Afghanistan will once again be much as Osama bin Laden found it.