Afghanistan-NATO: The withdrawal of Western forces from Afghanistan could come sooner than expected, according to NATO Secretary General Rasmussen. He conceded that the recent Taliban strategy of ‘green on blue’ killings had been successful in sapping NATO morale.
In an interview with The Guardian Rasmussen acknowledged he felt pressure for a faster withdrawal from Afghanistan and said all options were being studied and should be clear within three months.
Rasmussen also said NATO’s forces in Afghanistan have recommenced joint operations with Afghan forces. He said, “Almost all partnered activities have now been resumed and that reflects an assessment made by our commanders as regards the overall security situation.”
Special Comment: Two developments indicate the Coalition command does not know how to deal with the surge in green-on-blue murders. The first is the Afghan government’s issuance of a cultural guide to Afghan forces advising them to not over-react to the cultural insensitivity of the Western soldiers.
The Afghan government has issued a new pamphlet, written by Afghan and American officers, that says Afghans should not take offense at cultural insults by Westerners because there are the result of ignorance… after more than a decade of interaction and cultural sensitivity training. Hmmmm.
This pamphlet implies that the spate of murders is the result of trivial cultural miscues. Even the Afghan general involved in the effort thinks it is feckless, too little too late. The implication is that the US and NATO command believe American and NATO soldiers are to blame for their own murders because they were insensitive to Afghan behavioral norms.
This thesis insults the Americans, NATO soldiers and the Afghans after a decade of interaction. It is preposterous and trivializing to ascribe murder to minor cultural gaffes. The Afghans are more sophisticated and moral than that. The killings are a manifestation of a long term Taliban strategy, not a reaction to cultural misunderstandings.
The failure of the Coalition Command to recognize these killings as a tactic of warfare represents a significant intelligence, cultural and command failure. It means that better behavior by Western soldiers will not stop the murders.
In 2001, Mullah Omar said his followers would execute such tactics, when the time came. The murders of American and NATO soldiers are not manifestations of a lack of trust. The Taliban consider American and NATO soldiers as the enemy. Trust is irrelevant.
The second development is the resumption of joint patrols, as a gesture of cross-cultural trust. This order is the ultimate proof that the NATO military leaders misunderstand the gravity and the nature of the threat to its soldiers.
Early withdrawal is at least an achievable objective, compared to eleventh hour misguided programs to try to gain the trust of Afghans, after a decade of Western occupation.
Phi Beta Iota: The Coalition Command understands these killings for what they are — every general and colonel there just wants to punch their ticket and get through their tour. The fact is that even the best tactics and the best troops cannot overcome a non-strategy. It is at the strategic level that the USA has demonstrated significant intelligence, cultural and command failure. Having said that, it is also important to understand that losing wars is how banks and corporations force the recapitalization of military weapons and mobility systems. Iraq and Afghanistan have not been failures for the military-industrial complex and its financial backers, only for the blood, treasure, and spirit of the US public and the troops that die because their leaders lack the integrity to say no to ideological idiocy and financial greed.