Kabul Suicide Attack Kills Foreign Guards in Buffer Between Afghans and Americans

On the surface, today’s suicide attack in Kabul looks like many others, but some details disclosed in the New York Times story on the attack illustrate the lengths to which the US has been forced to go to protect against green on blue attacks in which Afghans kill Americans. The attack took place at Camp Gibson. Those killed were described by the Times as guarding buildings occupied by trainers from Dyncorp at a facility dedicated to counternarcotics operations. Three guards who were killed were from Nepal and one was from Peru, according to the Times.  The Washington Post says two were Nepalese, one was Filipino and one was of unknown nationality. The Times explains why there are both Afghan and foreign guards:

Security guards from countries like Nepal and Peru are common at foreign military and diplomatic compounds in Afghanistan. The guards, many of whom are Nepalese veterans of the British Army’s Gurkha regiments, usually provide a layer of security behind the Afghan police and security guards, who man the first line of checkpoints.

The setup is used because of deep concerns about the efficacy and loyalty of the police, a force that is riddled with corruption and drug use. It also provides a final layer of defense should Afghan guards turn on the foreigners they are guarding.

So the outside layer of security consists of Afghan personnel, but the US must use a ring of foreign security personnel to protect against the Afghans turning their weapons on the US personnel they are “guarding”. And it appears that the Afghan who carried out this attack had some help among his fellows in that outside ring of security. The attacker was Afghan, but the uniform he wore matched those of the foreign guards rather than Afghans:

An official from the NATO-led military coalition said there were suspicions that the attacker had inside help. An Afghan in a uniform worn by foreign guards would “strike me as more suspicious, not less, right?” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid antagonizing his Afghan counterparts.

The Times article points out that previous attacks aimed at US personnel have killed only foreign guards, so this layered security situation likely has been described before, but I didn’t have a full appreciation of how and why it is set up in this way until today.

An interesting detail offered by ToloNews is that the attacker was not new to the facility:

On condition of anonymity a security official said that the suicide bomber was an Afghan security guard working alongside foreign contractors.

“The suicide bomber was an Afghan security guard working alongside foreigners at the anti-narcotics office for many years,” said the security official.

It would be interesting to know whether the attacker had planned all along to carry out such an attack or if he only recently decided to switch sides.

Meanwhile, the “auditing” of ballots from the runoff is proceeding much more slowly than the target rate, so look for more delays before a “final” vote count is released.

Many years ago, Jim got a BA in Radiation Biophysics from the University of Kansas. He then got a PhD in Molecular Biology from UCLA and did postdoctoral research in yeast genetics at UC Berkeley and mouse retroviruses at Stanford. He joined biosys in Palo Alto, producing insect parasitic nematodes for pest control. In the early 1990’s, he moved to Gainesville, FL and founded a company that eventually became Entomos. He left the firm as it reorganized into Pasteuria Biosciences and chose not to found a new firm due a clash of values with venture capital investors, who generally lack all values. Upon leaving, he chose to be a stay at home dad, gentleman farmer, cook and horse wrangler. He discovered the online world through commenting at Glenn Greenwald’s blog in the Salon days and was involved in the briefly successful Chris Dodd move to block the bill to renew FISA. He then went on to blog at Firedoglake and served a brief stint as evening editor there. When the Emptywheel blog moved out of Firedoglake back to standalone status, Jim tagged along and blogged on anthrax, viruses, John Galt, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is now a mostly lapsed blogger looking for a work-around to the depressing realization that pointing out the details of government malfeasance and elite immunity has approximately zero effect.
8 replies
  1. Don Bacon says:

    The 9,800 troops which the US plans to station in Afghanistan, to control 30 million people, will be in dire danger, hunkered down behind the wire and unable to do anything except attempt to stay alive. What a plan. But that’s politics.

    • bloopie2 says:

      In any other life pursuit, if you found you had to go that far afield from your original plan just to hold your ground, much less advance toward your goal, you’d realize that the plan was lousy and, likely, ultimately fruitless. Can’t they see that here?

  2. bevin says:

    “… deep concerns about the efficacy and loyalty of the police, a force that is riddled with corruption and drug use…”

    It’s the ones who don’t use drugs and who are not corrupt that they worry about: the druggies and corrupted will be on-side.

    Don Bacon has it right: a Sicilian Vespers is what looms for the PBI left behind.

  3. Don Bacon says:

    The Pentagon is asking for $53 billion for Afghanistan “contingency” (war) funds. Here’s DepSec Work on how some of that $53B will be spent:

    Finally, this OCO request provides continued support and assistance to the ANSF. Over the last year, the Afghan forces have demonstrated tactical superiority over the Taliban, have prevented the Taliban from gaining momentum, and demonstrated their professionalism during national elections. It is critically important that we maintain sufficient financial support and assistance to the ANSF so they can sustain those gains and continue to assume full security responsibility across Afghanistan.

    .
    That’s baloney. The situation in Afghanistan is quite different, especially in Helmand Province, the traditional Taliban base and the principal focus of the Obama surge.
    Dec 10, 2012
    Helmand districts still Afghanistan’s most violent: report
    Feb 4, 2013
    Afghanistan was ‘safer’ before UK troops arrived
    Mar 3, 2013
    Helmand’s Remarkable Security Gains Remain Fragile
    Apr 23, 2013
    Despite Gains Against Taliban, Helmand Residents Feel Insecure
    Jan 6, 2014
    Taliban to ‘take control of Helmand’ once UK troops leave
    Apr 11, 2014
    Afghanistan: Little progress, or hope, in Helmand
    Jun 24
    Dozens Killed and Thousands Displaced in Helmand Clash
    Jun 25
    Taliban surges in Sangin as Marines withdraw
    Jun 25
    Afghan forces face Taliban onslaught after US Marines depart
    Jun 27
    Taliban Mount Major Assault in Afghanistan
    Jun 29, 2014
    Taliban hold territory after Afghan offensive
    Jul 5
    The bloody betrayal: Intelligence emails reveal Taliban have taken back Afghan strongholds that 150 of our boys died for (UK)
    Jul 15
    Helmand police chief dismissed due to deadly Taliban attack
    Jul 14, 2014
    Afghanistan and the Growing Risks in Transition
    By Anthony H. Cordesman

    New reporting by UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) provide grim evidence that the “surge” in US forces in Afghanistan never produced any of the short-term benefits of the similar surge in Iraq and that US and ISAF reporting that minimize the Taliban and other insurgent threat and levels of activity is directly contradicted by a sharp increase in civil casualties on a national and regional level. Violence is sharply intensifying and Afghan forces have so far proved unable to cope.

  4. Don Bacon says:

    The new US Commander in Afghanistan, the 16th ISAF commander, will probably be Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. John Campbell. So I know the big question on a lot of minds is — did he, like many others, ever say Afghanistan was at a turning point? Yes he did.
    .
    May 9, 2011: MajGen John Campbell, CG 101st Div: “But I really do think that as people look back, and they’ll say 2010 was the year in Afghanistan. It’s the year that we finally put more resources in here. We had the right leadership, the right strategy. And I think that was a turning point.”
    .
    There were many turning pints before that, for example:
    * September 12, 2006: “The Afghan front is at a critical turning point that imperils many of the hard-fought successes of the early phase of the conflict and the prospects for snaring bin Laden.”
    * September 22, 2005: “Abdullah Abdullah, Afghanistan’s foreign minister, called the recent parliamentary elections ‘a major turning point‘ on his country’s path to democracy.”
    * January 27, 2004: “A statement from U.S. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad called the enactment of the constitution a ‘turning point for the Afghan nation.’”
    .
    And many turning points after that, most recently:
    *Jun 16, 2014: Dunford: The next several weeks will be important.
    *May 2, 2014: Dempsey Calls Election ‘Turning Point’ for Afghan Forces
    *Mar 27, 2014: Obama: 2014, therefore, is a pivotal year
    *Apr 5, 2014: Gateway House: Afghanistan: At a Turning Point
    *Apr 2, 2014: Kerry called the elections “a pivotal moment after more than a decade of sacrifice and struggle.”
    *Nov 15, 2013: Hillary Clinton: ‘Turning point’ for Afghan women
    .
    Bring on more turning points!

    • Michael Murry says:

      Hey, Don. I’ll see your Orwellian “turning point” miltitary jargon-babble and raise you with:

      The Tipping Point Turns the Corner.

      I got so tired of hearing this mindless military mumbo jumbo in Vietnam that, ever since, I’ve made it my business to collect these meaningless noises and put them into declarative sentences to summarize for me what complete and utter bullshit sounds like when uttered by someone wearing a U.S. military uniform. For example:

      “The tipping point will soon turn the corner and begin connecting the dots on the ink-stained, flypaper dominoes in the tunnel at the end of the light.”

      Or:

      “The remarkable gains that we have made over the past ten years remain so fragile that they will most likely collapse ten days after we take our money and leave. Therefore, we have to stay for another decade or two so as to produce more precarious fragility.”

      Or:

      “Our friends won’t respect us and our enemies won’t fear us if we stop acting so stupidly. This presumes that our friends admire our stupidity and our enemies fear it: precisely the opposite of what our friends and enemies actually think.”

      Or, one from miltiary historian and theorist Martin Van Creveld:

      “The only thing the Americans can train the Iraqis to do is how to kill Americans. How stupid can they be?” (Sounds like a perfect description of our “training” programs in Afghanistan)

      And Just think: if we continue pissing all over the Russians perhaps they might refuse to aid us in getting our marooned troops out of Afghanistan, which means the Buy Time Brigade will have to exit through the Khyber Pass, which didn’t turn out so well for the last doomed British garrison who tried to get out that way awhile back.

      Where do we get these people? Certainly not from the deep end of the nation’s intellectual gene pool.

  5. Garrett says:

    The Times account, from the “official from the NATO-led military coalition,” seems the most confused to me. Though I am just doing two-against-one, what WaPo and TOLO say, versus what the Times says.

  6. Don Bacon says:

    …a fortified compound run by the Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan . .which also houses the offices of Afghanistan’s deputy interior minister for counternarcotics.

    That’s a joke.
    image – graph
    Opium poppy cultivation and eradication, 1997-2013
    .
    I’d say that 2002 was a turning point. Thank you, CIA.

Comments are closed.