Wednesday, April 27, 2011 6:54 AM
The caption on this EPA photo is: "Afghan Army soldiers secure the military base after a shooting incident." The killer of nine NATO troops and a contractor was an Afghan Air Corps officer. Is the base secure?
The carnage inside an operations room of the Afghan Air Corps at Kabul airport has yet to be sorted, identified and tallied but this much we know: Another Afghan Muslim "partner" in uniform -- a veteran military pilot according to the AP -- has opened fire on NATO troops in a meeting, killing as many as eight troops and a contractor.
While we await the grim but thoroughly predictable details -- the exemplary lives of the personnel murdered while "partnering" with our Afghan "allies"; the shooter who for reasons "unknown" to ISAF earned his place in Islamic paradise through this "holiest" act of jihad against infidels (ISAF would croak before saying that) -- I want to call attention to a story from the Clarksville, Tenn. Leaf-Chronicle that was featured last week at Army Times and which came to my attention from friends in the military segment of our thoroughly bifurcated society
The article is titled: "NCOs offers stern message for war-bound soldiers." And what is that "stern" message? The article -- written a day after another Hair-Trigger-Moderate in the Afghan Army went off, using grenades to kill five Americans troops -- reports that message as being, "Don't trust anyone but you still have to partner up" -- and in that order.
Stern though the "old Army sergeant" described in the story below undoubtedly is, I hear in his message a plaintive SOS. Help. We want you to live through your thoroughly ill-conceived and even insane nation-building mission, So don't trust any Afghan you are ordered to "partner" or "mentor," train or relax with. Any one of them could kill you and your comrades any time, from teatime to meeting time.
And why is that, old and stern Sergeant? Not even he is about to go there even as he pounds his contradictory, logic-defying, but, we pray, life-saving message into the young soldiers' heads.
If he did, he would say something like: There is indeed a clash of civilizations where the West and Islam meet, and we are putting you, our men and women in uniform, on its front lines, defenseless against its violent manifestations "inside the wire." You are not there to stamp it out, or to protect our country against it, but rather to remain blind to it for the unfounded ideological reasons of our leaders, to appease its demands, to adapt to its laws, and, ultimately, be subsumed by its worldview. Nation-building is good, our leaders tells us. COIN is the way, our leaders tell us. Congress doesn't give a damn about you, your legs or the gaping hole in the US Treasury. So "partner" enough so as not to get thrown in the brig but never let your guard down ever and come home safe.
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — Three aircraft carrying soldiers back home flew into Fort Campbell on Sunday. On Monday morning, shortly after 3 a.m., another aircraft took off carrying people the other way.
Prior to takeoff, an old Army sergeant laid out the reality in plain English for the latter group, a few of whom looked like the reality was just sinking in.
“You’re going to war. That’s hard stuff.” Command Sgt. Maj. Wayne St. Louis surveyed the group in front of him, letting the message sink in for the assembled soldiers of the 4th Brigade Combat Team and the 159th Combat Aviation Brigade.
Many in the group had by now heard of what had happened in Afghanistan the day before. Apparently, a sleeper agent in Afghan National Army uniform walked into a room, tossing grenades before detonating himself, killing five Afghan soldiers and five U.S. soldiers from the 101st Sustainment Brigade in the process.
Prior to St. Louis’ address, Brig. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt told the assembled group about the incident, reminding them that where they are going, the best policy is don’t trust anything until you’re back home in the safety of your own bed.
However, as St. Louis pointed out, part of the mission is to partner with the Afghan forces and to set the example of professionalism for them to follow.
There are bad guys over here in the U.S., too, St. Louis said, as he tried to focus the troops on the idea that the latest incident involved one bad guy, and that the whole country of Afghanistan couldn’t be blamed for one guy’s actions.
Plain and simple, we’re not going to stop partnering with the Afghans because of that one guy.
Of course, one guy is not the problem, Sarge. The body count from multiple and not fully tallied instances of unfriendly-friendly-fire is rising, and we must also begin to factor in all the other unfriendly-friendlies in Afghan uniform who had to have sensed something, known something, and didn't report it, or even assisted the shooters in their attacks.
Back to the moral of the sergeant's story:
Don’t trust anyone, but you still have to partner up.
Those twin messages can seem confusing to a 19-year-old soldier, which is why the senior non-commissioned officers will have to train the junior NCOs to deliver both messages effectively and maintain the balance the mission requires. ...
Eureka: The US military has just made schizophrenia the new normal.
My friend John Bernard has trenchant comments about all of this. A former Marine 1st Sergeant, John is the father of Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua Bernard, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in August 2010. In an email comment on the above story, John makes the point that nowhere else in society does doing your job require this "dual mentality." He writes:
Actually, what the Sergeant Major is doing is reinforcing the orders while explaining to his Soldiers the reality of following the orders. He's playing a dual role, of sorts; issuing and enforcing the order while safeguarding his men with common sense. There is nowhere else in society where doing your job requires this dual mentality. There is nowhere else in society that automatically places your life in jeopardy. Not even Police Officers. They have a reasonable expectation of meeting and greeting people who are similar and of like mind - just a little over the line of legal at times.
Marines and Soldiers don't get to dissect an op order or question the psyche of either their commanding officers or the enemy/ally/...
To the civilian reading this, however, it should be an indication of just how convoluted the orders and the entire mission is.
They [soldiers] should not be dealing with this level uncertainty, at this stage in the operation; period.
If the strategy was correct to begin with, we would be in the consolidation phase and would already have a more accurate and credible understanding of the players because we would have technically, anyway, already defeated the enemy.
The ANA and ANP are from that segment of society that we had already deemed to be the good guys and should have an expectation of peaceful co-existence. We don't.
Their units are no different than ours when it comes to interpersonal relations/scoop/gossip. They know each other and how close each might be to 'the line'. I am far more interested in knowing if anyone is debriefing the rest of the unit to determine why - not if, any other ANA knew what he was
planning, and didn't bring it forward.
But in an environment where the order-writers and politicians are numb to the realities on the ground and where standing up and screaming about it is border-line dereliction of duty or disrespect, there is little to no opportunity to 'awaken' the dull minds of the politicians signing off on this, or the General Grade Officers, writing the orders in the first place.
What more will it take?