Dec 17, 2012

The Root Cause of Green on Blue Attacks

‘Green on blue attacks' is the name given to a growing series of incidents where seemingly rogue Afghan security forces turn their guns on their NATO counterparts. These insider attacks have led to the deaths of more than 50 NATO troops since the beginning of 2012. Subsequently, NATO responded in September by halting joint operations with Afghan security forces to prevent further attacks, following the deaths of 6 International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops over one weekend.
With the increased frequency of green on blue attacks, the topic has become an important subject for western media. It is usually portrayed as a religious and cultural problem in which Afghan troops react to perceived insults by American troops’ behavior. Others cite Taliban infiltration into Afghan security forces. But after talking to various Afghan journalists and writers who have been covering this issue for the past decade, I realized that the reasons behind these attacks go much deeper than cultural and religious incompatibilities or suspected Taliban infiltration. Rather, the motivation behind the green on blue attacks has developed over the past half decade of NATO operations in Afghanistan.

Towards a basic understanding

The basic cultural characteristics of Afghans are based on a hierarchy of respect and care for family, clan and tribe. Considering this simple fact, it is very easy to understand why Afghan police soldiers would become rogue and turn their guns against NATO troops. Most of those rogue soldiers became lethal enemies after losing a member of their families through NATO airstrikes. If someone is killed as a result of an accidental NATO bombing, it is likely that he or she has family left behind. The family’s pride is wounded and someone in the family must bring the pride back. Continue reading on openDemocracy....


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