Small Wars Journal

Afghanistan: Green on Blue Attacks Are Only a Small Part of the Problem

Afghanistan: Green on Blue Attacks Are Only a Small Part of the Problem by Anthony Cordesman, Center for Strategic and International Studies.

During the last few weeks, coverage of the Afghan War has focused on ‘green on blue attacks’ - the killings of U.S. and other International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) soldiers by members of the Afghan security services. This is part of a natural tendency to ride the headlines, but the coverage has often been misleading, and it reflects a persistent failure to address the far broader range of problems emerging in the war and the needs for major changes in virtually every aspect of the way it is fought...


Hubba Bubba

Wed, 09/05/2012 - 5:53am

This is what happens when a western technologically centric military attempts to conduct "security force assistance." We do assist- but we do so in the only way we can...we teach a non-western force to try to be like us. We disregard their values; we ignore their own knowledge, and we position things like 'literacy', 'democracy', 'anti-corruption', 'technology' and other things that we use to define ourselves, and we often falsely project them upon the host nation force.

Consider the Berlin Airlift; we did that without computers or serious modern technology...but the USAF supplied a modern city for months entirely by air; to this day an amazing logistical achievement. I wager that the modern USAF could not do this, if they were only given the WWII era systems, planes, and technology today. Imagine if we took away all modern systems, and told the USAF to do the same mission, but using the people (hence the modern computer-saturated mindset) to apply military decision making with analog systems. That may sound ridiculous- but that is essentially what we are asking our current military to do with the modern SFA/FID missions in Afghanistan. We are trying to use our modern tech-savvy military to teach Afghans how to be proxy (thus tech-savvy in a sad, half-hearted Afghan way) security force. ISAF is doing this in their logistics, with their conventional Kandaks, supply system, personnel system, finance systems, promotion systems, contract oversight; even their pitiful and questionably useful air force.

Instead, if I could wave a wand and offer another scenario; imagine if we took all of the Berlin Air Lift generation of retired military personnel currently enjoying their golden years- and we could insert them (hypothetically of course) into FID/SFA advisor roles. Perhaps we throw them all in that pool from the movie Cocoon first; and they were instructed to use the OLD WAY (analog; paper; wax paper; etc) of doing military logistics and operations- and they tought the Afghans the analog way to wage security operations. I argue that the ANSF would be better- they would work "Afghan right" because we would at least be catering to a few of the priority aspects of how Afghans differ from westerners. Our modern military (with the exception of tactical SOF, generally) are UNABLE to do this because we ONLY KNOW the technologically advanced way to do things. I don't mean we can only use GPS and cannot land-nav with a compass; I mean all of our food, water, fuel, and systems are run with high-tech automation...we are wrapped in technology so much that it is essentially invisible! We do not know how to do SFA/FID in a way where we are not projecting ourselves onto a non-western non-technological force...and we cannot even realise other ways because we only know one way. Our priorities (driven by politics) are just part of the problem; we are our own worst enemy...and our greatest asset.

Hubba Bubba