Watch your back: Afghan security forces killing NATO troops

There have been an alarming number of attacks by Afghan security forces on American and NATO troops. These attacks are being called green-on-blue attacks. Green is jargon used by the American military for indigenous forces and blue is what is used for American troops. Over 50 NATO troops, many of which are Americans, have been killed by Afghan security forces this year alone. This uptick in violence is particularly worrisome for NATO troops because Afghan security forces are, within the next few years, to take over the military operations within the country. As it stands now, President Obama plans to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan by 2014. This plan is contingent on the fact that there will be a strong Afghan security force that will be able to maintain security within the country and to prevent the resurgence of the Taliban.

These killings have occurred in a variety of circumstances. In an instance in September of this year, a member of the Afghan security force, whose leg was wrapped in bandage and apparently wounded, cried out for help to two British soldiers. When the two soldiers approached to help the wounded Afghan, he pulled out his pistol and shot both of the British soldiers in the chest. After an ensuing firefight, NATO troops found the man’s leg to not be wounded at all. He simply used it as a ploy to lure the British troops to his side. This instance is just one example of the careful planning behind many of these attacks. Other attacks have ranged from Afghan security forces killing NATO and American troops at roadside checkpoints. In one instance, an Afghan soldier invited several of his American counterparts over for dinner to discuss patrolling strategies. Like the first example, the soldier betrayed the American’s trust and killed all three Marines.

There are many hypotheses for why a small group of Afghan security forces are killing American and NATO troops. First, a small percentage, between 10 and 25 percent, of these killings are said to have been carried out by Taliban operatives who have infiltrated the Afghan security force’s ranks. However, the American military is classifying most of these incidents as isolated events. Afghan and American sources have identified eroding relationships between the two forces over the past year as the cause behind many of these attacks. Because Afghan forces are assuming a larger role within the military operations, American and Afghan forces are in closer contact with each other, cooperating in the development and execution of missions. This greater contact has increased occasions of cultural misunderstandings. For example, American military forces use the work f**k as a meaningless expletive. However, Afghan forces assume this word to be meant in the sexual sense. In certain contexts, Afghans believe that Americans are disrespecting their woman and their cultural practices when, in reality, they are using the word without meaning.

An Afghan security force member looks on to an American soldier. What could he be thinking?

Additionally, Afghan forces are now seeing the Americans more as occupiers than liberators. As a result, the Afghans think American and NATO soldiers are arrogant, walking about Afghanistan as if it is their own land. Afghan’s find many American forces to be disrespectful, racist, and entitled. On the other hand, many American soldiers see Afghan security forces as incompetent and inferior.

To combat this growing issue, American and NATO forces are trying to vet the Afghan recruits more in depth. Many times, the ultraconservative Afghans from small villages are deemed a greater potential threat than Taliban infiltrators because they are the ones who have been carrying out the majority of these attacks. The American military and NATO forces have also begun to keep “guardian angles” on duty. These soldiers monitor the Afghan soldiers when they are around the American and NATO forces when the two groups are eating, working out, and even sleeping.

The fact that these green-on-blue attacks are happening more frequently now than ever before is extremely alarming. One would think that the relationship between Afghan security forces and American troops would be very strong after working together for so long. However, these attacks prove that this is simply not the case. American forces have been in Afghanistan too long. They have outstayed their welcome. Afghan security forces view American and NATO troops as occupiers and they want them out. This is a sign that the United States should absolutely maintain their 2014 withdrawal date. It is time for the American and NATO troops to come home.


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