Posts

Multiple Attacks in Kandahar Area Include at Least Two by Attackers in Afghan Police Uniforms

The last 24 hours or so have seen multiple attacks carried out in the Kandahar area. It appears that at least two of them were carried out by men wearing Afghan police uniforms. Only one of these two attacks is now being described as a “green on blue” attack, while the other is described as being carried out by insurgents wearing Afghan police uniforms.

ISAF has released this terse statement about the confirmed green on blue attack that occurred yesterday:

KABUL, Afghanistan (June 19, 2012) — The International Security Assistance Force confirms that three individuals in Afghan Police uniforms turned their weapons against coalition service members in southern Afghanistan yesterday, killing one ISAF service member.

The three individuals immediately fled the area and are currently being sought.

The incident is under investigation.

That statement, however, is indicated to be an “update” to an earlier statement which reads:

An International Security Assistance Force service member died of wounds following an insurgent attack in southern Afghanistan today.

Note that the initial report merely cites “an insurgent attack” while the follow-up says the attack was by “three individuals in Afghan police uniforms”.  That sequence of events is important for considering the current reports on the additional attacks around Kandahar.

Here is the New York Times description of the attack today which is described as involving Afghan police uniforms:

Taliban insurgents wearing police uniforms attacked a checkpoint in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing three police officers, local officials said.

NATO confirmed the attack and said fighting was continuing.

The militants’ attack on a police checkpoint in the southwestern of Kandahar city near a major prison left another seven officers wounded, according to the Kandahar governor’s office. Javed Faisal, a spokesman for the governor of Kandahar, said four of the insurgents were killed in the fighting.

A police officer who said he witnessed the fighting said Taliban insurgents first attacked the Afghan police checkpoint and then attacked nearby NATO troops, who returned fire. The police officer did not want to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

How do “Taliban insurgents” come to be in possession of Afghan police uniforms? Are these personnel who trained as police and then went over to the Taliban, taking their uniforms with them? Have the Taliban somehow found a supply of Afghan police uniforms other than from those who leave the police force?

At any rate, given how yesterday’s attack went from being merely an insurgent attack to an attack by individuals in Afghan police uniforms, it will be very interesting to see what additional information comes from the investigation into those involved in today’s attack.

But today’s attack that involved Afghan police uniforms appears to be just one of at least three attacks in the Kandahar area. From the Washington Post: Read more

A Tale of Two Senators: Feinstein Calls for Apology to Pakistan, Paul Attempts to Defund

You know that things are truly screwed up regarding US policy on Pakistan when the “best of Senators” is Dianne Feinstein, but it’s hardly surprising that Rand Paul would step up in the Senate to carry Dana Rohrabacher’s sentiments forward and attempt to cut all funding from Pakistan until Dr. Shakeel Afridi is released.

First, the good news from Feinstein. While many in Washington were getting overheated in response to a cost estimate finally being attached to the closure of NATO supply routes through Pakistan ($100 million a month), Dianne Feinstein made the courageous observation that the US could likely move ahead through the current diplomatic standoff with Pakistan by issuing a simple apology over the Salala raid:

A senior US lawmaker said on Wednesday that apologising to Pakistan over the Salala incident would improve Washington’s relations with a key ally.

“National security of the US will be better served with a positive relationship with Pakistan,” Senator Dianne Feinstein told a Senate hearing on budget priorities for 2013.

The Senator, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, observed that both sides made mistakes in handling the Nov 26 incident, which caused the death of 24 Pakistani soldiers in a US air raid.

/snip/

Senator Feinstein noted that the dispute over the supply lines could be solved “with some civilian acceptance of the mistakes” the US had made.

Such an acceptance could also lead to the reopening of Nato supply lines, she said, adding that “it would do well to apologise” for the mistakes made.

Pakistan’s ambassador to the US was very quick to respond to this overture:

“We appreciate Senator Feinstein for showing the way forward in normalising ties in a relationship that is important to both sides and critical for stabilising the region,” said Pakistan’s Ambassador Sherry Rehman while welcoming the gesture.

Rehman’s time in Washington this week has been difficult, as seen by Rand Paul’s attempt at “diplomacy”:

US Senator Paul Rand was blocked from attaching an amendment to the farm bill that would withhold US aid to Pakistan.

The amendment would have defunded US aid to Pakistan until the country frees an imprisoned doctor, who worked for CIA in hunt for al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

Rehman was happy for the move to block Paul’s action, but it appears that her task is doomed: Read more

Karzai Objects to Sham Agreement on Air Strike “Restrictions”

Hamid Karzai lashed out yesterday against the continued use of NATO air strikes in civilian areas. He angrily referred to police actions in the US and France, noting that even when the most dangerous suspects are being sought, houses where they are holed up are never bombed. Remarkably, the New York Times provided background that helps to understand Karzai’s rage, explaining that the sham agreements on night raids and prison management recently enacted only “nominally” put Afghanistan in charge.

Here’s a basic description of the new “restrictions” on air strikes as it appears in the Washington Post:

Allen issued new orders this week restricting the use of airstrikes on civilian dwellings in response to the Logar deaths and continued criticism by Karzai. U.S. military officials said commanders will be instructed to use other means to get Taliban fighters out of homes and buildings rather than calling in airstrikes. Civilian homes have been damaged by airstrikes 32 times so far this year, according to U.S. military statistics.

Ah, but as in all the NATO agreements driven by the Obama administration, the devil is in the details. As the New York Times reported on the US response to Karzai’s outburst:

Hours later, the allied commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John R. Allen, reiterated significant changes to rules concerning the use of airstrikes announced earlier this week, issuing a statement in which he said he had given the order that “no aerial munitions be delivered against civilian dwellings.” But he added the caveat that the strikes would be permitted as an absolute last resort in self-defense “if no other options are available.”

As in all other agreements from Obama and NATO, the caveat allows a full work-around of the main point of the agreement. Here is how the article describes the night raid and prison management agreements in the context of the air raid “restrictions”:

But authority over both night raids and detention is nominally in the hands of Afghans now, since memorandums of understanding were signed this spring. And, while Americans still call many of the shots on both, the clock is running on how long that will go on: the NATO combat mission in Afghanistan is set to end in 2014, and by the end of this year, there will be 23,000 fewer American troops here.

So Afghanistan is in charge of night raids. But not really. And Afghanistan is in charge of prisons. But not really. And NATO will not bomb civilian areas. But not really. Is it any wonder that Karzai is ranting? Returning to the Washington Post article:

Karzai said he had an argument with Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, over the weekend about the issue, following a deadly airstrike that killed civilians in Logar province. “I said, ‘Do you do this in the United States?’ There is police action every day in the United States in various localities. They don’t call an airplane to bomb the place.”

The Times carries more of this outburst, where Karzai expanded it to include more of NATO:

“There was a police action in France, in Toulouse, when they were going to neutralize the terrorist,” Mr. Karzai said, referring to a French siege in March at an apartment where a man had holed up after killing seven people. “They were engaged in a fight with the person who was in a house, for about 36 hours or so, but they didn’t call the French Air Force to bomb the house.”

Mr. Karzai added: “Airstrikes are not used in civilian areas. If they don’t want to do it in their own country, why do they do it in Afghanistan?”

Don’t worry, Hamid, NATO and the US have promised they will only bomb civilians as a “last resort”. Don’t you trust them?

First Quarter Violence Down in Afghanistan: Progress or Harsh Winter?

ANSO's data on Armed Opposition Group violence through the first quarter of 2012. (click on image for a larger view)

During his unannounced trip to Kabul today, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had the unfortunate timing to arrive on the worst day for civilian casualties this year. The Washington Post, however, gave plenty of room for Panetta to cling to the military’s “we’re winning” mantra despite a security situation so bad that his trip could not be announced in advance:

Panetta came to Afghanistan to confer with military leaders on plans to withdraw troops and deal with rising violence. He noted that despite the increase in bloodshed in recent weeks, overall violence was lower than in previous years.

“We have a tough fight on our hands” Panetta said. He reaffirmed the United State’s long-term commitment to Afghanistan and said he believed that commitment would help stymie the Taliban’s ambition.

Over at the New York Times, the headline proclaims “Panetta Visits Afghanistan Amid Mounting Violence” and the article opens by noting the civilian casualties:

Leon E. Panetta, the United States defense secretary, arrived in Afghanistan on Thursday, after the deadliest day for civilians this year and amid controversy over a NATO airstrike the day before in which Afghan officials say 18 women and children were killed.

The article goes on to note, however, that data for the first quarter of this year showed reduced civilian casualties but that reduction may be going away now:

Last week, the head of the United Nations Afghanistan office, Jan Kubis, said that in the first quarter of this year, civilian casualties had dropped for the first time since the United Nations began keeping statistics in 2007. That positive trend has appeared to be eroding in recent days. Another official in the office, James Rodehaver, said, “One thing we can say is that this has been the deadliest day of the year so far for civilians.”

The metric I have followed most closely in monitoring Afghanistan violence has been ANSO’s (Afghanistan NGO Safety Office) reports, and specifically their data on Armed Opposition Group activity. Their latest report (pdf) includes data for the first quarter and a chart summarizing trends in AOG violence over the years in Afghanistan appears above. As seen in the inset, ANSO sees a significant decrease in violence for 2012 over 2011. Their discussion of this decrease is revealing: Read more

Afghanistan Meltdown Continues

As we get closer to the NATO summit next week in Chicago, the meltdown of Afghanistan continues. It is clear that the intent of the Obama administration is to maintain the stance that the surge of US troops into the country over the past two years has stabilized the situation and that developments are on pace for a complete handoff of security to Afghan forces and full NATO withdrawal by the end of 2014. Any deviation from this script could trigger a Congressional review of strategy for Afghanistan just when the campaign season is heating up for the November election. Such a review, the Obama administration fears, would be fodder for accusations that their strategy in Afghanistan has failed.

The news today is not good for maintaining the “success” point of view. Yesterday, yet another member of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council was gunned down in Kabul. This morning, a bomb placed on a bicycle killed nine people in what Reuters described as “the relatively peaceful Faryab province of northern Afghanistan”. A provincial council member was among those killed. Reuters also reminds us this morning that there are over 500,000 refugees displaced within Afghanistan. Furthermore, at the mid-point of the surge, that total increased by 100,000 during the first half of 2011. The situation has not improved, as 400 more people are displaced daily.

“Isolated events” of green on blue killings appear to be picking up in pace. One American was killed on Friday in Kunar province and two British soldiers were killed on Saturday in Helmand province. These attacks bring the total to 16 isolated incidents for the year. The Department of Defense is now moving closer to adapting the language of the clumsily and retroactively classified report “A Crisis of Trust and Cultural Incompatibility” (pdf), now saying ““We believe, again, that most of these [attacks] are acted out as an act of honor for most of them representing a grievance of some sort.” Rather than acknowledging that the grievances arise out of cultural insensitivities displayed by NATO forces, however, DoD is offering the grievance explanation as a way of saying the attacks do not stem from Taliban infiltration (although the release does mention that “less than half” of the attacks have such an influence).

Interestingly, it appears that there is another publication that can shed some light on internal DoD analyses of green on blue attacks. Conservative blogger Bob McCarty is on the trail of a publication titled “Inside the Wire Threats — Afghanistan”. He is about a month into an FOIA fight to get a copy of the publication from the Army.

There are two recent stories on Afghanistan that are not entirely bad news. AP has a story this morning from an interview with Agha Jan Motasim, who sits on the Taliban council. They quote Motasim: “I can tell you, though, that the majority of the Taliban and the Taliban leadership want a broad-based government for all Afghan people and an Islamic system like other Islamic countries.” Motasim tells AP that only a few hard-liners are responsible for the violence carried out by the Taliban. On Friday, the Washington Post informed us that on “more than a dozen” occasions since control of night raids was handed over to Afghanistan, Afghan commanders have refused to act, citing a concern for innocent civilians who would be nearby. It appears that there might actually be a healthy process working in this case:

“In the last two months, 14 to 16 [night] operations have been rejected by the Afghans,” said Gen. Sher Mohammad Karimi, the top Afghan army officer. “The U.S. has said, ‘This operation better be conducted. It’s a high-value target.’ Then my people said, ‘It’s a high-value target. I agree with you. But there are so many civilian children and women [in the area].’ ”

Many of the rejected night operations are later conducted once civilians are no longer in the vicinity of the targets, Karimi said.

What a concept: waiting until no civilians are present to carry out a raid that is likely to be violent. Why couldn’t US forces have come up with that idea on their own?

Son Of “Dumbest Fucking Guy On The Planet” Shills For More War In Afghanistan And Elsewhere

Old craven chickenhawks don’t die, they just breed chickenshit progeny. And so it is with Douglas Feith, famously, and arguably correctly at the time, labeled “the dumbest fucking guy on the planet” by no less than real military man General Tommy Franks. A dilettante son of a “Revisionist Zionist”, Doug Feith went to Harvard and Georgetown Law instead of war when his country actually was at war. Now, granted, I didn’t fight in Vietnam either, thankfully; however, unlike Doug Feith, I did not carve out a career of belligerently advocating for wars of aggression for the sons and daughters of my generation to kill and die in. Feith’s record on hawking the Iraq war, and other neo-con aggressive military action, is legend, and it is exactly what earned him his enduring moniker from Gen. Tommy Franks.

Which brings us to the chickenhawk’s chickenshit progeny. That would be David Feith, the “assistant editorial features editor” at the Wall Street Journal. Feith the younger took today to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to shill for once and future hawkish US warmaking and the proposition that “victory” can be had in Afghanistan if we just keep on killing and dying. David Feith’s vehicle for this attempt is surgemeister Gen. H.R. McMaster:

The political and psychological dimensions of warfare have long fascinated the general, who first became famous in the Army when he led his vastly outnumbered tank regiment to victory at the Battle of 73 Easting in the first Gulf War. Six years later, he published “Dereliction of Duty,” based on his Ph.D. thesis indicting the Vietnam-era military leadership for failing to push back against a commander in chief, Lyndon Johnson, who was more interested in securing his Great Society domestic agenda than in doing what was necessary—militarily and politically—to prevail in Southeast Asia. For 15 years it’s been considered must-reading at the Pentagon.

But Gen. McMaster really earned his renown applying the tenets of counterinsurgency strategy, or COIN, during the war in Iraq. As a colonel in 2005, he took responsibility for a place called Tal Afar. In that city of 200,000 people, the insurgents’ “savagery reached such a level that they stuffed the corpses of children with explosives and tossed them into the streets in order to kill grieving parents attempting to retrieve the bodies of their young,” wrote Tal Afar’s mayor in 2006. “This was the situation of our city until God prepared and delivered unto them the courageous soldiers of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment.”

What is most interesting about David Feith’s interview with the once and future hawk H.R. McMaster is that it seems to be Feith, not McMaster, that longs for the US to keep going for “the win” in Afghanistan and parlay into future war. McMaster talks in terms of the Afghanis curing their corrupt society, and of the US additions to the inherent problems in the Afghan culture:

“We did exacerbate the problem with lack of transparency and accountability built into the large influx of international assistance that came into a government that lacked mature institutions.”

McMaster also talks of the desires and powers growing in the Afghan nation to right their own ship. In fact, if you separate McMaster out from Feith, you actually get some semi-intelligent perspective.

But not from Feith. Oh no. Instead, Feith tries to lead McMaster by the bit right back to more US warmaking:

Near the end of our interview, we turn to the future of American warfare. U.S. troops are scheduled to end combat operations in Afghanistan in 2014, perhaps sooner. Focus is turning from the Middle East to East Asia, and to the air and sea power required in the Pacific.

McMaster refuses to bite on Feith’s apple, in spite of Feith’s determination to hold it out. Neo-con apples fall not far from the tree, and David Feith dropped particularly close to “the dumbest fucking guy on the planet”.

As NATO Summit Approaches, Taliban Strength Accumulates

Violence in Afghanistan continues its steady increase.

NATO found it necessary yesterday to trot out a high-ranking spokesman to try to tamp down the suggestion from Dianne Feinstein and Mike Rogers over the weekend that the Taliban has increased in strength. Unfortunately for NATO, however, there are more reasons to believe that the Taliban is in a strong position than just statements emanating from Washington power players. The Taliban themselves seem also to sense their stronger position, as evidenced by their abandoning the “secret” negotiations that the US had entered into with them over the winter. The caution exhibited by Hamid Karzai as he prepares to accept the handoff of security control for more of Afghanistan also reflects a strengthening of the Taliban’s position.

It seems only fitting that since CNN was where Feinstein and Rogers made their claim that the Taliban is stronger that NATO would choose CNN for their push-back on the idea:

A top coalition official on Wednesday disputed lawmakers’ assertions that the Taliban are increasing their strength in Afghanistan.

“I’m afraid for the Taliban the evidence is rather different,” said British army Lt. Gen. Adrian Bradshaw, deputy commander for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, in a briefing with reporters from Kabul.

The Taliban’s ability to deliver attacks in Afghanistan was reduced by almost 10% in 2011, said Bradshaw, adding that the NATO-led force is seeing a similar trend early this year.

“We get reporting, reliable reporting of Taliban commanders, feeling under pressure with lack of weapons and equipment, with lack of finance,” he said.

Bradshaw is of course gaming the figures. The independent group Afghanistan NGO Safety Office, or ANSO, reported that for 2011 (pdf), attacks by Armed Opposition Groups (AOG, described as the Taliban, Haqqani Network and Hezb-i-Hekmatyar) continued its upward trend in 2011, as seen in the figure above, rather than going down as Bradshaw would have us believe.

Reuters reports on the concerns surrounding the next step in handing over security control in Afghanistan:

Afghanistan faces tougher security challenges in the next phase of a transition from foreign to Afghan forces as insurgents step up their attacks, Afghan officials said on Thursday.

President Hamid Karzai is expected to announce on Sunday the transfer of 230 districts and the centers of all provincial capitals to Afghan control in the third phase of a handover before most NATO troops pull out by the end of 2014.

/snip/

There are, however, few signs of improving security in Afghanistan. Read more

After Obama Slips into Afghanistan Under Cover of Darkness, Taliban Attack at Dawn

Obama chats with Ryan Crocker aboard a helicopter en route to Karzai's palace for the midnight signing ceremony. (White House photo)

Despite ongoing claims from the military that “progress” is being made in Afghanistan (but see this post for a direct contradiction to the claim violence fell 9% in 2011), the reality of the fragile security situation in Afghanistan dictated that President Obama’s trip to Afghanistan to sign the Strategic Partnership Agreement (which commits to exactly nothing) had to be unannounced and under cover of darkness. Obama and Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai signed the agreement around midnight in Karzai’s palace and then Obama left after a short visit with US troops at Bagram.

Just hours after Obama left before dawn on Wedesday morning, the Taliban attacked the Green Village around 6 am local time, killing at least seven people. This compound houses many foreign workers. Although the Taliban are claiming the attack was a direct response to Obama’s visit, it also seems likely the attack had been planned before the visit was known since it occurred on the one year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan (which Obama could not visit now, even under cover of darkness, and especially on the anniversary of bin Laden’s death).

The readiness and capabilities of Afghan security forces lie at the center of both the Strategic Partnership Agreement and the Taliban’s attack Wednesday morning. At the same time that Obama and Karzai signed their agreement that rests on Afghanistan taking the lead for security as the US exits, the Taliban attacked one of the primary housing compounds for foreign workers in the nation’s capital, just two weeks after another brazen attack in Kabul. If Afghan security forces are seen as unable to prevent attacks on foreigners in the capital, then there could be serious fallout for groups that would be anticipated to be necessary for the “rebuilding” phase once US troops are gone.

Groups trying to asses just how bad the attack was this morning will find confusing information. This report by AP claims the attackers made it inside the walls of the protected area:

The violence began around 6 a.m. in eastern Kabul with a series of explosions and gunfire ringing out from the privately guarded compound known as Green Village that houses hundreds of international contractors.

Shooting and blasts shook the city for hours as militants who had stormed into the compound held out against security forces, according to an official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information. Read more

AP’s Burns: ISAF Systematically Under-Reporting Green on Blue Attacks

For several months, I’ve been hammering on the Obama administration and the US military for describing green on blue attacks in Afghanistan, where Afghan military or police personnel attack NATO forces, as “isolated incidents“. In choosing the framing of isolated incidents, these officials are ignoring a seminal report issued just under a year ago, “A Crisis of Trust and Cultural Incompatibility” (pdf), which went into great detail in describing the cultural misunderstandings that lead Afghan forces to attack their coalition “partners”. Shortly after the report was released as unclassified, the US seemed to realize how damaging it is to the preferred narrative of isolated incidents explaining the attacks, and so it was decided that the report should be retroactively classified.

Yesterday, the AP’s Robert Burns made a major breakthrough in the story of green on blue attacks. Burns reported that the US military, in the form of ISAF, has maintained a policy of not reporting on soldiers who are wounded in green on blue attacks. As a result of reporting only fatalities, both the number of attacks and the number of coalition troops affected by them have been significantly under-reported:

The military is under-reporting the number of times that Afghan soldiers and police open fire on American and other foreign troops.

The U.S.-led coalition routinely reports each time an American or other foreign soldier is killed by an Afghan in uniform. But The Associated Press has learned it does not report insider attacks in which the Afghan wounds – or misses – his U.S. or allied target. It also doesn’t report the wounding of troops who were attacked alongside those who were killed.

/snip/

Jamie Graybeal, an ISAF spokesman in Kabul, disclosed Monday in response to repeated AP requests that in addition to 10 fatal insider attacks so far this year, there have been two others that resulted in no deaths or injuries, plus one attack that resulted in wounded, for a total of 13 attacks. The three non-fatal attacks had not previously been reported.

Graybeal also disclosed that in most of the 10 fatal attacks a number of other ISAF troops were wounded. By policy, the fact that the attacks resulted in wounded as well as a fatality is not reported, he said.

If the subject were not so serious, Graybeal’s explanation for why ISAF does not report incidents in which soldiers are wounded would be laughable:

Asked to explain why non-fatal insider attacks are not reported, Graybeal said the coalition does not disclose them because it does not have consent from all coalition governments to do so.

Never mind that since the bulk of forces in Afghanistan are US, most of those wounded would be US soldiers, Graybeal would have us believe that he can’t report on US soldiers being wounded because he doesn’t have express permission to report when soldiers from other coalition countries are wounded in green on blue attacks.

Burns got Graybeal to repeat the “isolated incident” mantra:

Graybeal said each attack in 2012 and 2011 was “an isolated incident and has its own underlying circumstances and motives.”

Burns completes that paragraph with a reference to and a quote from the retroactively classified report, but he merely refers to it as unclassified, passing over the hypocritical actions the military took in trying to classify the report once it began to be noticed.

Congratulations to Robert Burns on his excellent work in forcing ISAF, through Graybeal, to disclose what had previously been hidden intentionally.

 

Afghan Special Forces Soldier Joins Parade of “Isolated Incidents”, Kills US Trainer, Translator

Joint Chiefs Chair General Martin Dempsey visiting the training center for Afghan special forces on Monday of this week. An Afghan special forces member killed his US mentor on Friday. (DoD photo)

As I noted just under two weeks ago, NATO used the occasion of the Taliban attacks across Afghanistan on April 15 to enhance the image of Afghan troops and emphasize the role that they played in ending the attacks. This followed only a week after the US and Afghanistan signed an agreement on night raids, putting Afghan special forces in charge of  night raids, with US forces playing a “support role”.

Although the agreement on night raids was one of the first times Afghan special forces entered the news, it appears that their training began about two years ago. Earlier this week, Joint Chiefs Chair General Martin Dempsey visited the training facility for Afghan special forces and posed for the photo above. He talked glowingly:

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey told American Forces Press Service while en route here for a meeting of NATO defense chiefs that he was especially impressed by yesterday’s visit to NATO Training Mission Afghanistan’s Special Forces Training Center at Camp Morehead in Kabul.

“I spent the better part of the day with the [Afghan] commandos and special forces and my counterpart, General [Sher Mohammad] Karimi, just to get their sense of how they feel about themselves,” the chairman said, noting that he also talked with the U.S. service members who mentor them. “I was encouraged on a couple of fronts.

“Their self-esteem is increasing,” he continued. “They’re very proud. They’ve got not only a good equipping and training model, but they’re building in a sense of purpose and values to the force … That part of the force is part of it that I hadn’t really confronted before, and I found it to be very capable, and, I think, moving apace to become a very important part of their security apparatus.”

The visit by Dempsey and his glowing statement about Afghan special forces now appears to have been very ill-timed:

An elite Afghan soldier shot dead an American mentor and his translator at a U.S. base, Afghan officials said on Friday, in the first rogue shooting blamed on the country’s new and closely vetted special forces.

The soldier opened fire at an American military base on Wednesday in Shah Wali Kot district, in volatile Kandahar province, said General Abdul Hamid, the commander of Afghan army forces in the Taliban’s southern heartland.

“The shooting took place after a verbal conflict where the Afghan special forces soldier opened fire and killed an American special forces member and his translator,” Hamid told Reuters.

In discussing the increasing frequency of these green on blue killings, NATO until now has taken the attitude that they are “isolated incidents” while dong their best to ignore the study (pdf) released last May, and then retroactively classified, which detailed the cultural incompatibilities that lead to the killings. In response to this latest incident of fratricide, however, NATO’s response is changing. Returning to the Reuters article: Read more