An Anatomy of Green on Blue
Green-on-Blue attacks rise, further jeopardizing a 2014 withdrawal
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.