Friend or Foe?

September 6, 2011 by Adam Day

On Sept. 1,  in the first ever CDNMILBLOG (Canadian Military Blog) posting, I fear I might have written something misleading.

I said the combat mission in Afghanistan is over, but that’s not really exactly true.

Combat is still possible, and there are a great many Canadians still in harm’s way. The nature of the enemy is all that’s changed.

In addition to the approximately 1,400 Canadians still in Kandahar who face regular rocket attacks — and even endure occasional forays outside the wire to deliver divested Canadian equipment to Afghan allies — the soldiers who make up the new training mission based in Kabul face an even more insidious enemy — their own allies.

In the past couple of years, dozens of NATO soldiers have been gunned down by supposed Afghan allies. In this past year, it’s become something of a new trend, with attacks against Americans and British soldiers occurring regularly.

Some of these Afghans are Taliban infiltrators, but not all of them. In Anna Badkhen’s story A One Man Insurgency she lays out some of the (thin) motivations and (strange) rationales that prompt one policeman, a previously loyal Afghan ally named Samaruddin, to all of a sudden start shooting.

No one seems to know Samaruddin’s motives for killing Americans. “We can’t ask him,” grumbled his commander, Col. Najmuddin Sardori, who investigated his attack on the foreign soldiers. “He’s dead.”

But Maimana elders and police officials insist that Samaruddin emptied the clip of his government-issue, Hungarian-made Kalashnikov at the U.S. soldiers of his own volition — enraged by the burning of the Quran by religious fundamentalists in Gainesville, Florida, perhaps, or maybe upset by hearsay that American troops had violated rural Afghanistan’s strict gender divide by entering a girls’ school or peering immodestly into someone’s house.

In any case, for anyone interested in learning more about one of the primary threats facing Canadian trainers in this new mission, the article is certainly worth reading in its entirety.

As for defensive measures Canadian soldiers can take, well, there’s really only one, and it was best explained by Marine General James Mattis during the Iraq war, when he told troops under his command “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet.”

In this case, even your allies.


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