By Colonel Eugene Khrushchev
“Anomalous surge in assassinations of foreign friends, dressed in American BDU, by hostile hosts, clad in Afghan uniform, has catapulted an obscure milspeak green-on-blue, into the limelight of public attention.”
Unwilling to ‘embrace the suck’ and face the music head-on in Afghanistan, US top brass resorted to obfuscation operation and attempts to rebrand the term, loaded with negative publicity, into politically correct ‘insider attack’.
It’s not the first time the Pentagon spin doctors do this kind of shtick – they put exactly the same lipstick on PSYOPS and re-introduced it as MISO, military information support operations.
While for civilian imbeds and readers ‘insider attack’ looks like fool-proof shorthand for green-on-blue, back translated into military language, it has a totally different meaning: blue-on-blue, the notorious friendly fire.
With red-on-blue designated for enemy fire, the question is how to fire up the color code correctly for the ‘green’ – host nation’s indigenous security forces – when they shoot point blank at their ‘blue’ foreign friends?
Among several options available – host or partner fire, for example – the more appropriate for the media if not for the Pentagon, would be to consider unfriendly or outsider fire as generally accepted accurate shorthand for green-on-blue cases.
Dereliction of Duty: Blame game galore
The Pentagon stance on unfriendly fire has come a tortuous way: from initial dismissal as ‘isolated incidents’ to tacit acknowledgement of the problem, when it quietly commissioned a field study on this phenomenon in Afghanistan and even declassified its findings.
Then, somebody smart in the upper echelons of the Department of Defense accidentally perused green-on-blue report and, aghast at that time-bomb revelations & ramifications, pushed the panic button.
Small wonder, that in a CYA impulse, the top brass re-classified the Afghan field study in a hurry and bought into Taliban propaganda claim that most if not all unfriendly fire attacks were perpetrated by mujahedin infiltrators.
Hence the new party line and the official green-on-blue press releases with the obligatory tag, ‘attackers clad in Afghan army/police uniform killed NATO members’.
When the irrefutable evidence – that the Taliban take in unfriendly fire is only about 10 % of all documented incidents – has finally oozed, the US Command in Afghanistan, in a last ditch attempt to forestall the looming investigation into the root cause of the conspicuously covered up ‘the merest’ 90%, has resorted to diversionary tactics.
When green-on-blue media frenzy had hit the fan in earnest this August, General John Allen, the Commander of US & ISAF forces, sitting pretty in his Kabul office, decided to blow off steam via video news briefing at the Pentagon.
To defuse the potential charge in neglecting the 90% of unfriendly fire assassinations, which by virtue of being not related to Taliban factor, are the exclusive purview of US Command, the general suddenly ‘pleaded guilty’ on another two lesser evils:
- Taliban influence on ANSAF, Afghan National Security Force, has been underestimated and should be upgraded: in addition to 10% of direct infiltration, another 15% of indirect coercion is to be factored in for the proper assessment of green-on-blue violence.
- As for green-on-green attacks, Talibanization of ANSAF is the main reason why Afghan military and law enforcement personnel commit murder of their comrades-in-arms in ever growing numbers. If truth be told, ‘the Afghan casualties are higher than ours in this regard’, opined the Commander.
It was a nice try, on both accounts:
- Spinning Taliban bogey from 10% to 25% has only decreased the US Command stake from 90% to 75% in unfriendly fire body count which is still an overwhelming majority that has yet to be officially admitted, addressed and acted upon.
- Peddling the fact that death toll in green-on-green attacks is higher than in green-on-blue incidents, is a crystal-clear case of grey propaganda: its verisimilitude in absolute numbers – 53indigenous vs 45 alien allied victims – is blown to pieces by relative comparison of ANSF to US/ISAF with 3to 1 ratio of personnel involved.
Pentagon Perfumed Princes, responsible for the training & partnering of the American & Afghan forces, shirked the responsibility to anticipate and preempt ‘green-on-blue’ contagion in Operation Enduring Freedom.
And the ticket punchers have done all humanly possible to classify, obfuscate, sabotage & sugarcoat the first comprehensive unfriendly fire After Action Report.
In milspeak, there’s unambiguous term for this type of action & inaction, it’s called clear and simple, “dereliction of duty”, full stop.