This is Part II of a two-part series. Part one can be read at http://www.bouhammer.com/2012/08/green-on-blue-equals-red/
As the Sr. NCO on my team I always told my team to NEVER trust anyone that is not 100% American, even our terps. Even though we trusted them more than anyone else (we had to as our lives counted on them where there were only 2 or 3 Americans typically on mission), there was still a thread of suspicion. The reality is we were in a foreign country and we did not know what everyone’s allegiances were. I would constantly remind them to always have one in the chamber and be ready to drop ANY Afghan that poses an unmistakable threat. Of course that is easier said than done, as each person would have just milliseconds to made a shoot/no-shoot decision on what they see as a threat.
This is also why I always had my weapon in either RED or BLUE status. Just to be clear, I invited the BLUE status name. I would say it looks green (no magazine inserted) but it was really RED (one in the chamber), hence BLUE. I was never going to take for granted that just because I am on a large base or FOB, that every non-American there was not a threat. I understand commanders had to dumb down their protective measures to the “private” level who are pretty much trained to be afraid of their weapon. But I was confident in my weapon and its status at all times.
Another reason to have the weapon always ready is because we knew as embedded mentors with the Afghans there was always a threat. It was an accepted risk that we just dealt with and took as part of the job. Last week there were 3 MARSOC team members who were gunned down after being invited over to share in a Ramadan feast with the Afghan National Police chief they were mentoring. Some of the public have been outraged that our military has put these guys in such a risky position, but I can guarantee you that they were well aware of the risk, and much more aware than any civilian back in the states. What are they going to do, not do their job?
We are not fighting a conventional enemy and our enemy is using whatever tactics they can to inflict harm on us. This is why I referenced this as our “Achilles heel” in Part I of this series of posts. We have to accept that our soldiers will be at risk of doing their job. To mitigate this risk they can take certain counter-measures some of which can be seen and others that can’t. I am not going to discuss those here in an open forum, but I can guarantee you that they are all trained on them. One can only hope they don’t get complacent and continue to apply them.
So yes, losing our soldiers to our Afghan “friends” is terrible but as I mentioned in Part I it has to be expected. Sad but true.
What is truly a shame is when you see reports like this:
Three logisticians were shot to death — and a fourth was wounded — when a gunman opened fire on them as they worked out in the FOB’s gym.
This story can be read at http://militarytimes.com/blogs/battle-rattle/2012/08/18/report-deadly-attack-on-marines-at-fob-delhi-was-carried-out-by-afghan-teen/ and as you can read in the report, this attack was done not by a Afghan Security force member, but by a teenager who was a sexual play toy for the Afghan police chief. Of course that is whole separate issue and one I have talked about on this blog many times.
These guys were not “embedded” per se, but were back on what should have been the relative safety of their FOB working out during some off-time. It sounds like this FOB is just like the ones that I stayed on, with Afghans and Americans living in the same area. Like these guys, I also went to the little gym we had, the showers, latrines, etc. and did not carry any weapon with me. Again, back then the attacks were not as prevalent as they are now so the probability of an internal attack like this happening was lower, but still existed.
In the military the Rules of Engagement (ROE) are always changing, to include sometimes several times a day. In addition to ROE always changing, so does the defense posture of our forces. The defense posture is the level of defensive measures our forces take based on the threat at the time. I really hope their defensive postures are changing and raising in light of these attacks over the last year and especially the last two weeks. Our SecDef talking to Karzai isn’t going to do it (http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/08/18/panetta-prods-afghan-president-on-insider-killings/), our men and women being ready for any threat at any time is the only way they can ensure their own safety.