The Washington Post reports that six American soldiers who were part of a NATO force where killed by a traitorous Afghan border police officer during training exercise today. The attack took place in the Nangarhar province, on the Pakistani border. The gunman was reportedly killed. A senior Afghan police official said of the shooter, who has serviced on the force for two years: “I think the Taliban has worked on him.” ABC News cites an email from Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid stating the gunman has belonged to them all along, and joined the border police to “find an opportunity” to kill “invaders.”
This is not the first time the Taliban has worked on someone. Earlier this month, a soldier in the Afghan army was accused of fatally shooting two United States Marines. In July, another Afghan soldier killed three British troops. Last November, renegade Afghan police officers killed five British and two American soldiers in separate attacks.
Writing for the Washington Post, Joshua Partlow and Javed Hamdard explain the situation:
“The [Monday shooting] is the latest in a series of killings of NATO troops by Afghan security forces and demonstrates the risks involved in the intense effort to recruit and field tens of thousands of new Afghan soldiers and police officers. U.S. and Afghan officials have regularly said they do not believe insurgent infiltration is widespread in the Afghan security forces, but these killings have persisted.”
Of course, this is the problem with asymmetrical warfare in an era of high-tech weapons. Infiltration does not have to be widespread to rack up a terrible body count. Afghanistan and Pakistan are among several areas where the government is aligned with the United States, while significant elements of the population are sympathetic to the Taliban or al-Qaeda. Hasty nation-building on such rocky soil is treacherous work. About 25,000 officers have been added to the Afghan police force in the last year, while the army picked up over 40,000 more soldiers. ABC reports that only 11 percent of the enlisted personnel are literate. The job interviews could not have been extensive.
More extensive screening and training would require U.S. and NATO forces to remain in Afghanistan for longer than politically feasible. The curse of Afghanistan is that the West cannot afford the immense, sustained effort to raise them above the condition that incubates Taliban-style fanaticism. The new government in Kabul is the latest to learn the painful lesson of history: democracy is hard. It is the peculiar conceit of Western multiculturalists to regard it as easy, or inevitable. A handful of murderous turncoats, out of 65,000 new recruits to the police and military, can be regarded as an impressive achievement, given the circumstances. Only time will tell if that effort is good enough.
Heartfelt condolences to the families of the American soldiers killed in this latest attack, and endless gratitude for the courage of these troops and their fellows, for bringing the light of civilization into such dark and deadly places.