The Afghans say the Americans attacked by mistake. The Americans say the Afghan soldiers attacked them first.
All I can say is: What a clusterfark Afghanistan has become.
Afghan officials said that the clash on Saturday was a misunderstanding and that the Americans apparently attacked an Afghan National Army unit in error. A top coalition officer said the Americans were attacked first in what might possibly have been an insurgent attack. Nonetheless, he expressed regret for what ensued.
An initial statement from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, commonly referred to as ISAF, on Sunday described the episode as “a suspected insider attack,” which killed a foreign soldier and a civilian contractor. If so, that would bring to 53 the number of coalition forces killed in the so-called insider attacks this year.
Whatever happened, the episode clearly was another in a series of setbacks this year, and particularly in the last month, in relations between the American and Afghan militaries. It comes at a delicate moment, when all of the American surge reinforcements have only recently left the country, and NATO has been trying to transfer ever greater responsibility to a growing Afghan military.
The Wardak provincial police chief, Abdul Qayoum Baqizoi, said the fight broke out when an Afghan soldier among seven soldiers at the checkpoint opened fire on the Americans; in the ensuing gun battle, three Afghan soldiers were killed, including the one who fired first. “We still don’t have a clear picture of what happened,” Mr. Baqizoi said. He quoted the lone Afghan soldier who was unhurt as saying, “ ‘I heard some noise and verbal argument and suddenly heard the shooting and then one of the coalition soldiers threw a hand grenade so I fled from the checkpost and hid myself behind our Humvee.’ ”
Significantly, according to Afghan officials, the American unit, which was relatively small in size and manning a temporary checkpoint in the Sayid Abad district, was not partnered with Afghan forces. The unit was conducting a biometric survey, in which details like fingerprints and eye scans are gathered from the local population, often at temporary checkpoints, in an effort to screen for insurgents.
When American soldiers are almost in as much danger from supposed “allies” as they are from the enemy, some kind of basic re-assessment of what we are doing assisting these people must be done. Afghan soldiers have killed more Americans since the beginning of the year than al-Qaeda. Why should we continue this charade?
The war in Afghanistan has slipped so far off the radar that the incompetence with which it is being conducted is lost on the voting public. This letter from a soldier serving in Afghanistan to his father on Michael Yon’s site should be in a Romney campaign commercial:
I am fed up. I cannot believe the lack of attention the recent changes in this war is receiving by the media or the country. I think I saw one thing on CNN about the following subject, but I had to dig extensively to find it. The purpose of this letter is to let you know of the garbage that our soldiers are going through right now. With this knowledge, I hope that you take action by writing your congressmen.
First, because of the recent green on blue incidents or “insider threats” as the new buzz phrase dictates, all coalition forces in Afghanistan have completely stopped partnering with the ANA (Afghan national army), AUP (Afghan uniform police), and ALP (Afghan local police) in order to prevent the death of anymore CF (coalition forces) casualties by ANSF (Afghan national security forces) or Taliban disguised as them. This is also greatly spurred by President Karzi’s indifferent attitude and lack of action to take measures to prevent further insider attacks.
Second, because of this massive change in policy (and complete change in mission) all U.S. forces are forbidden to actively patrol their AO (area of operations) and are to remain on their respective COPs/FOBs (combat outpost/forward operating base). There are only a few exceptions to this rule and they all pertain to “hardening” highway 1 in our AO. We have received orders that clearly state that all CF will no longer be allowed to drop air to ground munitions within the country of Afghanistan. This preempts Karzi’s announcement that will be made shortly that states the above mentioned order, making it a tactical directive that he is ordering.
I don’t think that the American citizens would be happy if they knew that their soldiers were being prohibited from defending themselves in any way because of politically driven orders, but that is precisely what is happening in this war right now even as I write this letter. The soldiers of the U.S. never engage the enemy unless we know that we have will always have the tactical advantage in defending ourselves, that advantage is the use of close air support and air weapons team. To take those weapons away from us is to level the playing field for the enemy and thus exposing our soldiers to more danger. In the school house they teach us that the minimum ratio that we are to engage the enemy with, is a 3:1 ratio. In other words, we have the highest probability of winning because we don’t fight fair. The sound tactical principles behind this teaching have saved lives. The very presence of aircraft over our foot patrols has also saved lives and now our chain of command is being told by our political leadership that this is now not allowed. If we are not partnering with the ANSF and we are not actively patrolling to prevent our enemies from massing their attacks on our COP and we can’t drop a bomb on the enemy that we have positively identified, than what the hell are we doing here?
A good question, brave soldier. A good question.