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They Will Stand Up – So They Can Shoot Us?
Posted by on April 27th, 2011

From our partners at

By Steve Hynd

Some serious and worrying news. There's been yet another incident of an Afghan in uniform firing at his supposed Western allies, this time killing nine.

The Afghan officer, who was a veteran military pilot, fired on the Americans after an argument, the Afghan Defense Ministry said.

All nine killed were American, according to a senior U.S. defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the information has not yet been made public.

The shooting occurred in an operations room of the Afghan Air Corps at Kabul airport.

"Suddenly, in the middle of the meeting, shooting started," said Afghan Air Corps spokesman Col. Bahader

That's bad enough. Nine lives wiped out by someone they likely thought was a friend and ally. But what's got me really worried is this:

It was the seventh time so far this year that members of the Afghan security forces, or insurgents impersonating them, have killed coalition soldiers or members of the Afghan security forces.

…Before the airport shooting, the coalition had recorded 20 incidents since March 2009 where a member of the Afghan security forces or someone wearing a uniform used by them attacked coalition forces, killing a total of 36. It is not known how many of the 282,000 members of the Afghan security forces have been killed in these type of incidents.

According to information compiled by NATO, half of the 20 incidents involved the impersonation of an Afghan policeman or soldier. The cause of the other 10 incidents were attributed to combat stress or unknown reasons. NATO said that so far, there is no solid evidence — despite Taliban assertions — that any insurgent has joined the Afghan security forces for the sole purpose of conducting attacks on coalition or Afghan forces.

Last June, I asked when do isolated "rogues" become a pattern? I noted that that there had been similiar incidents which caused the deaths of two US soldiers in October 2009, twice in 2008 and another in 2007. There have been at least eight such incidents in Afghanistan in the three years preceeding 2010 and the pace of these killings by "rogues" is obviously accelerating.

By contrast, in the entire history of the occupation of Iraq to date there have been only five reported cases of Iraqi security forces attacking their coalition mentors ever - the most recent in January of this year – and all of those were in Mosul, which is still causing trouble as the last bastion of Al Qaeda and the indigenous Sunni insurgency there. Finnish journalist Jari Lindholm describes Mosul as "a miserable COIN failure no one ever cared to properly analyse." He writes:

The lesson? There are simply too many actors involved in the multilayered conflict in Mosul for classic COIN to work. First of all, the fault lines are not sectarian but ethnic. You can’t protect the population by walling off neighbourhoods, because you wouldn’t know whom to wall in and whom to keep out. Second, you can’t cut off terrorist infiltration because you don’t have enough troops, and a single dirt berm doesn’t do it. Third, you can’t pay off the hardcore militants, because they don’t want your money; and you can’t pay off the gangsters because they don’t need your money. And fourth, you can’t stop the IEDs, because there’s always a jobless IDP willing to dump a pressure plate on a road for ten bucks.

A porous international border, lucrative smuggling routes, a restless refugee population, transnational jihadis mingling with local nationalists, and an explosive ethnic mix — if this rings a bell, it’s because the war in Mosul has more in common with the morass we face in Afghanistan than it has with Baghdad.

Joshua Foust writes that we and our Afghan "allies" have no idea exactly who is in the Afghan security forces because the Ministry of the Interior can't do basic administration – or I suspect refuses to, so that officials can skim money for paying non-existant people. As Derrick Crowe pointed out just yesterday, insurgent attacks are at an all-time high in Afghanistan. March 2011 saw 68 percent more insurgent-initiated attacks than March 2010. And we seem to have a pattern of ill-will to the point of fatal violence even among those Afghans who are meant to be the West's allies and upon whom we are spending literally tens of billions of dollars America can ill afford. Lindholm looks to be correct.

So why are we continuing to double-down on this occupation, when even our erstwhile allies prefer they were allied with China?

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