82nd Airborne in Ghazni, Afghanistan
(Petty Officer First Class David M. Votroubek/
U.S. Navy Photo)
More evidence of how much progress has been made in Afghanistan after a decade of U.S. fighting there surfaced Wednesday:
U.S. and NATO soldiers have been ordered to take extraordinary precautions against being shot by Afghan troops, including designating “guardian angels” to keep watch at joint bases around the clock, according to a senior military official.
Any time a group of Western soldiers is gathered on a joint base to exercise, train or even sleep, one member of the unit is required to be armed and on alert for possible fratricide attacks, the official said, describing the new requirement.
In addition, soldiers working in headquarters buildings or as advisors in Afghan ministries have been told to move their desks so that their backs are no longer facing the door, said the official, who spoke anonymously because he was discussing sensitive security measures. [...]
[Gen. John Allen, the top commander in Afghanistan] said the U.S. believes that the majority of the attacks are committed by Afghan troops who are “gradually self-radicalized,” not by Taliban infiltrators.
Osama is dead. Al Qaeda is a shell in that part of the world, with most of its top leadership wiped out. One third of the 46 American troops killed in Afghanistan this year so far—16 of 46—have been so-called "green on blue" attacks, with Afghan security forces turning their weapons against those who they are supposed to be allied with.
Trainers no longer have to wonder if the guy they are teaching how to shoot better and otherwise be a more capable soldier or policeman will maybe someday in the distant future switch sides. They have to wonder if the very bullets they're handing out on the target range in the morning will be fired against them in the afternoon.
The fifth iteration of U.S. strategy has failed. The right blames this on the Obama administration's unwillingness to provide enough troops, even though the president tripled the number who were deployed when he came into office. It's the same old, same old story: More money and more troops and longer stays will get the job done—trust us. The military guys who were supposed to understand Afghanistan so well—men like Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Gen. David Petraeus (now at the increasingly militarized CIA)—seem not to understand it at all.
When will this finally be recognized for one of those dumb wars that the president has famously said he is against? How much longer will it be before the troops are brought home from their impossible mission? When half U.S. fatalities come from attacks by the forces that Washington plans to make responsible for Afghanistan's security by the end of 2014? Three-fourths?
U.S. and NATO forces ought to be packing up their gear right now and preparing for as quick an exit as is logistically sound. Will there be repercussions? Of course. But those were always going to happen. And they would happen if all the troops were out by this Christmas or Christmas of 2014. Delaying the inevitable achieves what exactly? It doesn't save face or lives, Americans' or Afghans'. It doesn't increase U.S. security.
Out. Now.