AFGHAN HATRED vs. AMERICAN DISGUST:
THE PARTNERSHIP TO DIE FOR
This sequel examines the ‘initial intent’ of the pungent Red Team Study, introduced in the previous posts: mutual perceptions of Afghan & American soldiers and observations & recommendations to mitigate green-on-blue incidents.
Familiarity breeds contempt
Before the reading, the title of the study, “A crisis of trust and cultural incompatibility” might look like unsubstantiated claim; upon thorough review, it seems just a meek understatement, where ‘incompatibility’ is a euphemism for combustibility.
If Red Team Study follow-up ever comes, it would be more appropriate to call it “Afghan hatred vs. American disgust: the partnership to die for.”
Fake friend or frank foe
As Jeffrey Bordin notes, this pent-up hatred of ANSF breaks away into astounding 30-40% of all small arms caused KIA annual rate for ISAF/US forces if IED-related attacks are discounted.
As of this summer, for the first time since American liberation of Afghanistan, US blue ‘guest fighters’ have an equal or higher opportunity to be shot by green ‘friends’ (ANSF) than by red foes (mujahedin): from 30% of all US field grade officer hostile death to over 50% of all USAF officers’ body count!
Feedback from ANSF on US brothers-in-arms
The study registered at least 40 types of grievances vented by indigenous force on its US counterpart.
This number itself, as aggregated metrics, is indicative of accumulated goodwill after a decade of American/Afghan shot-gun marriage with 2 years left before the alleged divorce.
Not all of those grievances contribute to the murderous motive behind the unfriendly fire: many are irrelevant, erroneous or erratic and should have been weeded out during the preliminary assessment of the study.
But Afghan grudges that do bear close scrutiny, offer iron-clad evidence that green-on-blue attacks are predictably provoked by the American side.
Here are the top two suicidal patterns of US modus operandi in Afghanistan, culled in accordance with their mortal impact, when blue engages green in ‘partnership’:
Rules of engagement
The notorious collateral damage: as the ‘inevitable’ price for close fire support, this ubiquitous ‘accidental guerilla’ recruiting device has been firmly ingrained in the DNA of Pentagon organizational culture.
“After the US Forces accidentally killed 3 civilians, they brought the survivors humanitarian aid. The family set fire to it. There was no investigation of the incident; there’s no accountability. The entire village is now anti-government.”
General McChrystal, when he was US Commander in Afghanistan, tried to tame that knee-jerk addiction to air & artillery strikes – before he was Rolling Stoned by the White House Politburo. Since his precipitous departure, it’s business as usual.
Religious and cultural ignorance, extreme arrogance, foul language, indecent exposure, obscene & abusive behavior of American ‘partners’ is the steady feed of Afghan smoldering outrage at American bros:
- They ‘Enter Mosques, desecrate Koran’
- “We don’t trust them. Their arrogance sickens us.”
- “Always shout and yell ‘MF!’ They are crazy.”
- “A US soldier threw his hand grenade [without pulling the pin] with the candy he was throwing at the children.”
- “Civilians don’t respect US soldiers for letting themselves be so easily lied and misled. As a result, they kill innocent people and drive villagers to the insurgents.”
The study has also picked up social atmospherics in ANSF milieu which indicate that US credibility gap is not limited to green-on-blue murderous animosity.
‘ANSF members loathed US foreign policy that provides significant support to Pakistan that is obviously a terrorist state actively engaged in assisting in the killing of both Afghans and Americans . They thought that the US was duplicitous with such a despicable policy.’
‘Over promise, under deliver’:
- “US often allow development projects to be looted and shortchanged by contractors – we don’t respect this.”
- “US soldiers will come …and make all sorts of promises about development. But then they never follow through. This causes the villagers to become very sad and angry.”
Weapon of choice
‘The author of the report noted that, incredibly, ‘M-16 was deemed as completely unreliable, viewed as a junk rifle extremely prone to jamming. Many also thought it was of World War II vintage. ANA members invariably wanted their cherished and robust AK-47s returned.’
US close-up of Afghan human terrain, armed and otherwise
Emotionally, the overall impression Afghan civilians evoke among American boots on the ground, is thinly veiled disgust, fueled by ‘virtual slavery of woman and child abuse in Afghan society’.
Consequently, ANSF members provoke similar repugnance among US personnel for their abhorrent extracurricular activities: ‘the cultural practice of bacha bazi, as well as the raping and sodomizing of little boys and…the rampant torture of dogs & puppies.’ (P.44-45)
The survey warns, that ‘US soldiers witnessing such barbaric acts may likely lead to violent confrontations with the perpetrators.’
Professionally, GIs opinions, recorded & rated by the Red Team study, are not so much complaints as first-hand observations of ANSF readiness, which thus far have mysteriously eluded attention of Obama’s Afghan Team.
Afghan Army Profiling
US personnel expressed a rare consensus that ‘the Afghan National Army was not a competent fighting force and would quickly collapse without a strong US presence.’
More than 30% of all respondents among American officers, NCOs and privates attributed the ANA the lowest rating – ‘Abysmal’ – for ‘Drug Abuse’, ‘Honesty & Integrity’ and ‘Ability to Sustain’.
According to the report, ‘US soldiers perceived that 50% of ANA were Islamic radicals.’
That said Afghan National Police was considered even worse while Afghan Border Police claimed the dubious title as the worst component of Afghan National Security Force, leading in corruption, extortion, smuggling & drug trafficking.
Here’re direct testimonials of US advisers, mentors and partners on Afghan Army combat readiness:
- “The ANA were always high on hash; they draw down on us almost every night!
- “They are stoned all the time; some even while on patrol with us”
- “Maybe nearly half the ANA were on heroin and we saw 90% use hashish.”
Honesty & Integrity
- “Our biggest issue was they stole everything”
- “If they’d just ask for it, if we can, we’d give it to them. But they’d rather just steal. Then they go into denial, saying, ‘We are Muslims, we don’t steal.’ BS!”
- “They would expend as much ammo as possible and then would trade brass for food, cigarettes and drugs.”
Ability to Sustain:
- “The ANA is a joke. These guys are not soldiers; they’re just a ragtag bunch of pot heads, thugs and civilians dressed in uniforms.”
- “We are interfering with Darwinian Theory! We can’t even get rid of the worst ones; we have no authority to fire or transfer them.”
- “The ANA use culture and religion as a shield to hide their incompetence.”
- “They learned to be helpless and that’s why they’re so fucking bad.”
- “We do everything for them. It’s like a kid you have to spoon feed…but you have to put on an Afghan face.”
Fire control & weapons handling
- “We all had to take cover while they were ‘returning fire’. They would ‘spray & pray’.”
- “One idiot taped his RPG round to the tube and then failed to remove it when he fired it. He blew his hands off and badly wounded several others.”
- “They have no pride in their army. These guys only seem to care about their own tribes or families.”
- “They need an ideological motivation. They need some reason to join other than personal gain.”
- “They don’t care about their country. They steal hashish and food from the locals all the time on joint operations.”
- “If the Taliban began to win the war, they would switch sides and join the Taliban”
Reliability & predictability
- “They seem to act on emotion rather than common sense”
- “I wouldn’t trust the ANA with anything, never mind my life”
- “You never know when one of them is going to turn around and soot us”
- “I was fired on by ANA personnel multiple times during my deployment”
- “We can’t trust them to do house searches. They will say they searched a room when we know that they didn’t.”
- “ANA soldiers going AWOL is the biggest issue.”
- “We are better off without them. This ‘Afghan Face’ strategy doesn’t work.”
- “We are always sensitive to their religious practices, but if there’s a work that needs to be done you can count on it also being their prayer time.”
- “They’re always late. They pay for their ranks. There’s a lot of corruption.”
- “It’s funny how they tend not to get shot at when we are not with them”
- “They are pretty much gutless in combat; we do most of the fighting”
- “If they are afraid, they won’t do anything.”
However, the most remarkable findings of the study, buried in the minutiae of observations, stand out as unsolicited advice, screaming to be heard and acted upon by the US Commander-in-Chief.
US vets collective wisdom from Afghanistan:
- “We need to wean Afghans off the tit. Stop giving them everything.”
- “Disband the Afghan Army and start over again.”
Red Team Study Recommendations: too many, too late
The study offers 58 recommendations to address American potted partnership meltdown in Afghanistan.
All of them make perfect sense, but they are all irrelevant and could be dismissed as tactical adjustments – except just one – the strategic game changer, Recommendation #35:
‘Investigate, fire & prosecute corrupt ANSF and Afghan government officials guilty of narcotics trafficking or stealing international funds. These entities must be reformed to be viable…Pervasive corruption completely undermines the war effort. Unless the US is empowered to execute counter-corruption policy, its mission in Afghanistan is dead in the water.’
If it sounds like a regime change, well, this is it!
The only glitch is, whether the USA could change its’ own 11-years old Afghan opium baby – even if it would.
Welcome to the Anniversary of Operation Liberation & Protection of the World Narco Plantation!