Afghanistan: Killing For The Cameras

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September 18, 2012: NATO is seeking a solution to the growing number of attacks on NATO troops by Afghan security personnel. There have always been such attacks but they have gone from 6-7 percent of NATO deaths in the last few years to over 15 percent this year. A major reason for this jump in attacks is the growing number of joint NATO-Afghan military operations. At this point, most (about 80 percent) of these operations are run by Afghans, with NATO troops in support roles. But these offensive operations are not the problem, as they usually involve Afghan commandos and other special operations troops. Most of the attacks on NATO troops are by police and local self-defense militias. Compared to the army, the police have much less training, and less effective recruit screening. The police leadership is not as good as the army's and there is a lot more corruption in the police. Throughout the Afghan security forces the quality of leadership and professionalism is much lower than in the NATO forces. This is largely a cultural thing, as the Afghans are more inclined to be more casual and sloppy (by Western standards) when it comes to warfare and security. This is why the Taliban avoids fighting the foreign troops, as the Taliban invariably lose. But with so many (over 300,000 police and soldiers) Afghan security personnel in action now, there are many more opportunities to exploit sloppiness and buy or coerce (usually by threatening family) inside cooperation.

The Afghan police are more susceptible to being turned because they are local, and in the south that means the cops are Pushtuns who might even have kin who are in the Taliban. The army is a different matter, being largely non Pushtun (especially units operating in the Pushtun south). The non-Pushtuns dislike and distrust the Pushtuns and are rarely involved in security force attacks on NATO troops.

At Kabul airport a female suicide bomber drove a car loaded with explosives into a minibus carrying foreign airport workers, leaving a dozen people dead.

September 17, 2012: The U.S. ordered a halt to joint operations between American and Afghan troops. This is in response to the growing number (36 so far this year) of attacks by Afghan soldiers or police (or Taliban disguised as such) on NATO troops. This comes at a time when the Taliban are continuing to lose battles with NATO and Afghan troops. The Taliban use of roadside bombs also continues to decline in effectiveness. Overall, NATO casualties are also declining. But the use of attacks on NATO troops by friendly forces (often via recruitment, coercion, or bribes), while not causing a large number of casualties, does gain a lot of media attention and that is considered a useful victory because it encourages Western nations to pull their troops out of Afghanistan.

September 16, 2012: Four American troops were killed by someone in an Afghan police uniform.   The circumstances of this incident are unclear as the U.S. troops were coming to the aid of policemen at a checkpoint who asked for help because they were under attack.

September 15, 2012: In Helmand province two British soldiers were killed by someone in the uniform of a pro-government local security militia.

September 14, 2012: At Camp Bastion in Helmand province fifteen Taliban, wearing American uniforms, got into the airbase area and destroyed eight American AV-8 aircraft. The base is shared by British and U.S. Marine Corps forces. All fifteen attackers were killed, as well as two marines. Some of the attackers wore suicide bomb vests and none apparently expected to survive the operation. This was the most successful Taliban attack ever on a NATO base and defensive measures are being reviewed to find and fix what went wrong. NATO bases are protected by multiple layers of defenses.

September 12, 2012: In the northeast (Badakhshan province) in a joint NATO, Russian, and Afghan an operation destroyed six heroin processing labs and seized six tons of drugs (180 kg of heroin, 1.5 tons of morphine, 1.2 tons of opium, two tons of opium poppy seeds, and 700 kg of drug-making precursor chemicals). Russia has long cooperated with NATO in going after Afghan based drug operations that are sending heroin and other highly addictive drugs across the northern border. Those drugs are smuggled through Central Asia and end up in Russia and the rest of Europe. Russia has over two million heroin addicts and 20 percent of Afghan drug production is believed to end up in Russia. So Russia shares intelligence on the Afghan drug gangs (especially their smuggling operations like the ones in Badakhshan province) so that effective attacks can be made.

September 11, 2012:  In the west (Herat province) a suicide bomber killed a police commander and four other Afghans.

September 10, 2012: One of the regular rocket attacks on Bagram air base (north of Kabul) hit a helicopter and killed three Afghan maintenance personnel.

In the northern city of Kunduz a suicide bomber killed 21 people attending a demonstration for a local warlord accused of killing civilians.

The U.S. turned over Bagram Prison outside Kabul to Afghan control. The Afghans are now responsible for 3,000 prisoners there. The Americans retained custody of several hundred "high value" Taliban (and other terrorist group) prisoners because of fear that Afghan control of these men would lead to bribes or coercion being used to obtain freedom for these terrorists.

September 9, 2012: In Kabul a traffic accident led to a gun battle between Tajiks and Hazaras. Tribal and ethnic differences still count for a lot in Afghanistan.

September 8, 2012: In Logar province (south of Kabul) several Chinese mining specialists left for China because of threats and security concerns. Some Chinese workers remained at a large Chinese run copper mine project. The security problems are the, largely expected, result of local tribal leaders, politicians, and warlords disagreeing on who should get what amount of money from the project. Such disagreements have long stalled and often cancelled economic development projects in Afghanistan.

In Kabul a 14 year old suicide bomber tried to get into a NATO base, failed and detonated his bomb outside, killing six Afghans (most of them other kids his age).

 

 

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