As you sow …
The Coalition troops in Afghanistan find themselves in a peculiar situation – the very Afghan soldiers they have trained are turning their guns on them. There have been several incidents over the past weeks and months when coalition soldiers have been killed by Afghan security forces. According to reports, the so-called green-on-blue attacks (a reference to the color of uniforms of Afghan and NATO forces), in which Afghan soldiers are reported to have turned their weapons against their foreign allies, have led to the killing of a substantial number of international soldiers. Though NATO and the US authorities tend to camouflage such attacks in the guise of personal grievances, there is certainly more than meets the eye. According to top officials, the “blue-ongreen” incidents are, in fact, seriously threatening the progress the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has made in Afghanistan over recent years.
There is a possibility that these incidents are a result of the dismissal of the Afghan ministers of defense and interior which may have created a loss of momentum gained since the summer of 2011. According to a senior US general, this could also be the result of increased disillusionment of the local people with the war and Karzai’s government, which in turn could have boosted local support for the Taliban. However, coalition officials say they are working with their Afghan partners to try to mitigate the “green on blue” attacks. NATO has some 130,000 soldiers on ground in Afghanistan, purportedly helping the Afghan government fight insurgent Taliban Islamists and training the Afghans to take over. According to author and analyst Ahmed Rashid, as far as the future partnering and training and mentoring of Afghan forces by NATO and the US is concerned, this is going to have a very negative effect and the lack of trust between the two sides is expected to grow.
While the US and coalition forces have not been very sure about how many troops to leave behind once the major troops withdrawal takes place in 2014, considering the new wave of mistrust between the foreign troops and local forces, they now need to further reevaluate the numbers. It is also important to ensure that the coalition’s plans to transfer security responsibilities to local forces by the end of 2014 are not derailed as a consequence of these developments.
The US and coalition commanders as well as their national leaderships need to sit down and do some soul-searching of their own to assess the very reasons for the presence of the huge military force in the region and the green on blue phenomenon. It is clear that the US has gained a strong foothold in Afghanistan and, as a result, now possesses a stronger capability of keeping a closer eye on Iran, Pakistan, China, Russia and the CIS. But in fulfilling its long-sought goals, it has also made sure that Afghanistan and its people do not emerge from their sorry plight and remain consigned to the backwaters of history. No wonder then that it is a case of reaping as you sow.