An Anatomy of Green on Blue

Green-on-Blue at­tacks rise, fur­ther jeop­ar­diz­ing a 2014 with­drawal

Southasia - - Contents - By Syed Moaz­zam Hashmi

The law en­force­ment ap­pa­ra­tus in Afghanistan, built to em­brace the se­cu­rity tran­si­tion, seems to be heat­ing up with the ex­pand­ing Green on Blue sce­nario. In­sur­gent at­tacks on multi­na­tional troops have sig­nif­i­cantly in­creased from less than one per­cent in 2008 to the cur­rent 15 per­cent, across eigh­teen af­fected prov­inces in Afghanistan.

The eu­phemisti­cally called ‘Green on Blue’ at­tacks have not only jeop­ar­dized the hopes of a sta­ble and re- spon­si­ble tran­si­tion from ISAF to the de­vel­op­ing Afghan se­cu­rity in­fra­struc­ture, which re­mains in its in­fancy, but have also raised sev­eral ques­tions. For in­stance, would the 350,000 Afghan troops be able to fill the vac­uum of re­spon­si­bil­ity, rang­ing from pro­tect­ing the bor­ders to main­tain­ing law and or­der in the land­locked war-torn coun­try, left be­hind by the multi­na­tional troops? Afghans al­ready feel that ISAF has over­stayed its wel­come and dis­con­tent and an­i­mos­ity is fast grow­ing.

Se­condly, would the Green on Blue in­ci­dents lead to a choice be­tween the green or blue? That es­sen­tially means that once ISAF troops with­draw from Afghanistan in 2014, a choice be­tween the lo­cal green berets and the blue-hel­met United Nations peace­keep­ers could be a likely phe­nom­e­non.

The Long War Jour­nal re­veals that the ra­tio of Green on Blue at­tacks had dou­bled to 33 at­tacks by Septem­ber 29, 2012 as op­posed to 15 in 2011. The to­tal coali­tion troops killed dur­ing Jan­uary 1, 2008 to Septem­ber 29, 2012 are 116 from 60 at­tacks. A to­tal of 94 troops have been wounded in these at­tacks, with 52 wounded this year com­pared to 27 hurt last year.

Hel­mand, where the ma­jor­ity of the US Marines and spe­cial op­er­a­tions troops are con­cen­trated, tops the list with 30 ca­su­al­ties, fol­lowed by Kan­da­har (13), Kabul (11), and Nan­garhar (8), while the rest of the 18 af­fected prov­inces re­ported one death each in Green on Blue at­tacks. Con­se­quently, Kan­da­har recorded the high­est num­ber of wounded sol­diers (26) in such at­tacks, fol­lowed by Hel­mand (15) and Kapisa (15).

Re­port­edly, 31 at­tack­ers of the 59 at­tacks were killed, 18 cap­tured and four wounded while 23 man­aged to flee the scene, ac­cord­ing to The Long War Jour­nal.

The Afghan gov­ern­ment’s re­sponse to the au­da­cious at­tacks gen­er­ates the con­fi­dence of Gen­eral Martin Dempsey, Chair­man Joint Chiefs of Staff. The gov­ern­ment’s re­sponse in­cludes, ex­pelling hun­dreds of sus­pi­cious Afghan sol­diers from the cadre, in­ject­ing 300 in­tel­li­gence spe­cial­ists to weed out Tal­iban in­fil­tra­tors, and en­rolling the Afghan troops into a bio­met­rics data­base. De­spite such ex­ten- sive ef­forts, it still might not be pos­si­ble to sig­nif­i­cantly screen thou­sands of re­cruits.

Coali­tion forces, on the other hand, re­sponded by twist­ing Pak­istan’s arm fur­ther in declar­ing the Haqqani net­work a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion, once used as the ve­hi­cle for rap­proche­ment with the Tal­iban. As a part of psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare, the Tal­iban strat­egy is more crafty in suc­cess­fully cap­i­tal­iz­ing on all Green on Blue at­tacks, by claim­ing the re­spon­si­bil­ity for it, whether they were in­volved or not. Killing Amer­i­cans in ven­detta has a strong im­pact on di­min­ish­ing frat­er­niza­tion and ca­ma­raderie be­tween

the US and Afghan sol­diers.

Among the list of mo­tives be­hind the vis­ceral ha­tred, re­venge is the prime fac­tor for Tal­iban or the com­mon Afghans to in­fil­trate the Afghan se­cu­rity ap­pa­ra­tus that in­cludes, the Afghan Na­tional Army, Afghan Air Force, Afghan Lo­cal Po­lice, Afghan Bor­der Po­lice, Afghan Uni­formed Po­lice and oth­ers.

A sud­den up­surge in Green on Blue at­tacks, over the past cou­ple of years can be ac­corded to the in­creased fre­quency of coali­tion troops work­ing with their lo­cal coun­ter­parts. While this would oth­er­wise have been wel­comed, the for­eign­ers’ ar­ro­gance and racist ten­den­cies have not only brought in­sult to the dis­grun­tled lo­cal sol­diers but also re­sulted in the pro- duc­tion of the “In­stant Tal­iban.” This new breed of Tal­iban is of­ten a con­ser­va­tive Pash­tun, over sen­si­tive about his re­li­gion and at times, har­bor­ing per­sonal an­i­mos­ity thus fur­ther fuelling such at­tacks.

All these fac­tors com­bine to cre­ate ut­ter dis­con­tent and dis­ap­proval for for­eign boots on ground. This sen­ti­ment is cou­pled with over­whelm­ingly bit­ter mem­o­ries of a ruth­less colo­nial past that forces many to still per­ceive im­pe­ri­al­ist farangi as try­ing to take over their ter­ri­tory. This in­her­ited per­cep­tion com­bined with eth­nic pride, heav­ily con­trib­utes to­wards zero-tol­er­ance for for­eign troops.

The loom­ing chal­lenge is not only to ef­fec­tively train the 350,000 pro­jected lo­cal troops that will take charge by 2013, but to in­tro­duce Afghan cul­tural tutorials for the multi­na­tional troops who will continue work­ing in the coun­try -- a nearly im­pos­si­ble task at the mo­ment. If the mo­tive of the Tal­iban is to nar­row the sil­ver lin­ing in the coali­tion-Afghan gov­ern­ment/army re­la­tion­ship in or­der to con­sol­i­date their own strength, then it has al­ready jeop­ar­dized the with­drawal of coali­tion troops as sched­uled in 2014. It seems then that more fire­works are yet to come in the de­vel­op­ing sce­nario.

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