Posted in Permanent Fail, War On Terror at 1:12 pm by George Smith

From the wire:

The U.S. military trainers handed the new recruit, Mohammad Ismail, his AK-47 to defend his remote Afghan village. He turned around and immediately used it, spraying the Americans with bullets and killing two — the latest of nine U.S. service personnel gunned down in two weeks by their supposed Afghan allies.

The shooting in western Farah province was not the only such attack Friday. Hours later a few provinces away in Kandahar, an Afghan soldier wounded two more coalition troopers.

One turncoat attack per month raised eyebrows last year. One per week caused concern earlier this year. But when Afghan forces turn their guns on international trainers twice in a day — as they now have two weeks in a row — it’s hard to argue there’s not something going on …

“There’s no positive spin on this,” said Andrew Exum, an analyst with the Washington-based Center for a New American Security who has advised the top U.S. generals in Kabul.

And he used to be a military blogger.

“I have never heard of anything in Vietnam comparable to what we have recently experienced in Afghanistan,” said James McAllister, a political science professor at Williams College in Massachusetts who has written extensively about the Vietnam War.

Neil Sheehan. David Halberstam. Bernard Fall … James McAllister. Doesn’t ring a bell.

“We took some fire — fire from South Vietnamese soldiers who probably felt the Americans had betrayed them,” writes Philip Caputo, at the end of “A Rumor of War.”

Exhibition of short term memory problems, too:

Officials say an American soldier has died after an attack on U.S. troops in northern Iraq.

They say two policemen opened fire on U.S. soldiers visiting an Iraqi police station. An Iraqi interpreter was also killed. Three Americans were wounded.

It was the fourth such shooting in the Mosul area in just over a year purportedly involving Iraqi security forces …

BAGHDAD – Two U.S. troops were killed Saturday by an Iraqi soldier who apparently smuggled real bullets into a training exercise and opened fire, raising fresh concerns about the nation’s security forces as the Americans prepare to leave by the end of this year …

Afghanistanization — from the archives.


  1. Chuck said,

    August 19, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Isn’t it wonderful that none of our leaders are history buffs?

    I believe that Alexander the Great’s chronicler wrote that Alex got bogged down in Bactria something awful. From WikiP:

    “Alexander conquered Sogdiana and Iran. However, in the south, beyond the Oxus, he met strong resistance. After two years of war and a strong insurgency campaign, Alexander managed to establish little control over Bactria. ”

    And so it goes–the British, Soviets and now, the US.

    ” When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
    And the women come out to cut up what remains,
    Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
    An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.” (Kipling)

    It’s too bad that the US doesn’t teach history.

  2. George Smith said,

    August 19, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    They think technology or the thing called “exceptionalism” will do it. And so they have always been because their system allows for nothing else. We will win because we have better robots, or the human terrain system, or something else. I have something earmarked from a Bernard Fall book — he was a respected Vietnam correspondent who died there when accompanying a US patrol — that really fits 2012 but just haven’t gotten around to it.

    I bet if you let people know you read that stuff in the US military, and weren’t taking the wrong message from it, you’d be labeled a defeatist and that would be it for your career as an officer. Which is the same way it was in Vietnam.

    The reason it’s uncorrectable now is because the general public isn’t at risk to have its sons and daughters go there.

  3. Michael McCall said,

    August 20, 2012 at 9:50 am

    “It’s too bad that the US doesn’t teach history.”

    It doesn’t help that these stories are never put into a larger narrative. Every attack story is treated as a sudden unexpected problem rather than a part of a rising tide of anger and violence. One that smart (or just competent) people have seen coming for a while.

    You wan’t proof of how short the collective memory is in our national media, when’s the last time you’ve heard the davis report brought up?
    Here it is in case anyone’s interested.


    It made a big splash when it came out and then was promptly forgotten. Just another incovenient story that banished right down the memory hole.

  4. George Smith said,

    August 20, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Yeah, that’s it in a nutshell. There’s no reporting on it that lasts, nothing to keep nagging at leaders and the general populace. During Vietnam we had a press. And there were the share of pundits for the war but the entire press corps didn’t lie down. What you get out of the narratives is the refusal of the military and civilian leadership to grasp the bad but accurate assessments people were giving them, to reward only those who catered to their beliefs. Finally, some people started to have breakdowns. McNamara under Johnson administration being one example.

    I recall posting something here about a year, a pdf that the Secrecy blog had obtained on ieds in Afghanistan and where the most dangerous areas were. And it was quite striking. And the relative hazard was based on whether or not the locals were likely to report them when they saw them or people emplacing them and as soon as you got away from the US forces the populace was not likely to do so. It didn’t get reported anywhere.