Green On Blue Bloodbath In Afghanistan

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 11 months ago

Lt. Col. Michael Styskal, who commands Marines in southern Afghanistan has recently said “the threat within right now is worrying me. And the Marines, they know what the threat is, not so much on the outside — there could be a threat on the inside.”  It’s a well-placed worry.  Sgt. J.P. Huling, a Marine from Ohio, was killed earlier in May in Afghanistan in another incident of so-called green on blue violence.

From a report on August 10, 2012, an Afghan police officer shot and killed three U.S. Marines after sharing a meal with them before dawn Friday and then fled into the desolate darkness of southern Afghanistan, the third attack on coalition forces by their Afghan counterparts in a week.  The Afghan police commander opened fire on the three Americans after inviting them to dinner at his outpost under the pretext of having a meeting to discuss security.

This attack was followed up in the Helmand Province with another one in which six U.S. service members were killed, and yet again where an Afghan police officer killed at least 10 of his fellow officers on Saturday.

Chief spokesman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, Brig-Gen Gunter Katz, told AFP “Those isolated incidents don’t reflect the overall security situation in Afghanistan.”  But these attacks clearly do reflect on the overall security situation, and in fact, they are a function of it.  The situation itself is a function first of jettisoning the strategy of killing the enemy in favor of population-centric counterinsurgency and state-building, and second of announcing a drawdown date and pretending that the enemy will build a nation favorable to the United States.

Regarding the degrading security situation in Afghanistan, in a suicide bomb attack this month, Command Sergeant Major Kevin J. Griffin, 45, was one of two soldiers who died of wounds in Sarkowi, Kunar Province. The other soldier was Major Thomas E. Kennedy, 35, of West Point, N.Y.  Air Force Major Walter D. Gray, 38, of Conyers, Ga., also died in the attack and Army Colonel James J. Mingus was badly wounded

That’s two Majors and one Command Sergeant Major killed, with one Colonel wounded in a single attack.  This attack was another suicide attack, and friend Dirty Mick writes with his take on the incident.

I knew exactly where this was because it is Governor Wahidi’s compound in the provincial capital of Kunar (Asadabad). We would go there a couple times a week because the PRT Commander would have his meetings with the governor, we would provide security, and push patrols with Civil Affairs and DOS to go check on the medical center, court house etc. Now, what’s interesting is we had no problems there (not even mortars) when I was there from Dec. 09 to Sept 10 and the same from goes with the previous PRT. The only incident I can remember specifically was a half assed grenade attack (It’s mentioned in Bing West’s book The Wrong War.). Now I can’t cite specifically how the various PRTs have operated since I left but when I was there I can tell you for sure an aggressive posture was frowned upon. My Navy commander chewed my Army’s chain of commands ass my first week in theater for pointing my M4 (I was a gunner at the time and couldn’t get the m2 on him) at a local and yelling at the guy who got too close to my vehicle at a traffic circle. Then another incident on a dismount patrol where the Navy got upset because I stopped a vehicle at an intersection by raising my weapon and walking torwards the vehicle (he wasn’t paying attention to my hand signals and the vehicle was going at a high rate of speed). I was specifically called out during a mission brief by my Navy Commander saying this wasn’t Iraq and we’re here to practice COIN. Also Navy SOP was to have the crew serves on the MRAPs on Amber Status (I think the Corps calls it condition 3) when we were in downtown Asadabad (we never followed that guidance). Now do I think this is reason why guys got killed? I honestly can’t say, I wasn’t there and I don’t know the current SecFor elements SOPs or how they work with the Navy. But I thought I would pass on to you how general patrols worked when I was there.

I have a buddy I served with in Kunar and is right now in Khandahar and this is what he told me: It was the PRT that got hit. What happened was two suicide bombers blew themselves up at the bottom of those extremely steep steps by the hydroelectric powerplant, on the way to FOB Fiaz. 3 KIA US Army, 1 US civilian state department KIA, 9 US Army WIA, 1 State department WIA, 1 ANA and 1 TERP WIA. Herschel I don’t know if these are the exact details but he was very specific. So pretty much a whole squad got wiped out. I would ask that if you decide to publish this to wait until more details arrive (Editorial comment: We waited until MSM reports flowed in concerning the incident). I don’t how accurate the info (for all we know it was a different unit) is but from what my friend told me it seems about right. Also the KIAs and WIAs is very specific so I would wait because I think it’s an OPSEC issue (Editorial comment: We did wait).

Anyway I thought I would pass the word because I was shocked when I read this article this morning and also how close they got to the Governor’s compound.

Another reader (and veteran of RC East) Jean writes in with this: “The initial report had it happening at the provisional capital, but I think it occurred across the river in Sarkonoi, not far from Joyce. If it was the Command team, they slipped by the PSD, that rarely happens.”  Remember Dirty Mick’s comments and file it away for future reference.  An aggressive posture was frowned upon.  And I do also know that Dirty Mick was involved in other combat operations in various parts of Kunar.  So the enemy was certainly aggressive.



  • Jean

    There are conflicting reports as to where this happened, my first thought was area between the Governor Compound and the PCC, but another report said it happened in Sarcoma. Suicide bomber s are not common in Kunar,not saying it doesn’t happened, it did, with tragic consequences., probably the result of an OPSEC failure and relaxed tactical posture.
    Bottom line, Kunar is a very kinetic place, each area has its own set of bad actors. There has always been an uptick during the month of August and during Ramadan. The terrain does not favor a withdrawal. Watch Kunar over the next year as they collapse the bases and withdraw forces , there will be significant tactical and logistical challenges. The AQ/Taliban and other groups have been active in cross border operations in Nuristan and eastern side of the Kunar river COP vic Prtyle/King. It appears that we have bottle cap battle plan, contain the enemy using FOB/COPs in certain locations. What happens when we pull the caps? The withdrawal has the potential of being the Kunar version of the Mogadishu mile. Our failure to conduct a surge in N2K may come back to haunt us.

  • http://www.captainsjournal.com/ Herschel Smith

    Jean said “There are conflicting reports as to where this happened …”

    I know. I thought I would lay it out and let the readers know. My readers know I don’t know everything, I admit it, and I think they like it that way.

  • Jean

    This is an exert from an article in the Army Times. Those meeting are a security nightmare:

    Judging by the makeup of the group, Schloesser speculated that the meeting was with a high-level provincial government official or a group of Afghan elders. In such a group, the command team’s personal security detail was not likely to have been extensive.

    As with the 2009 suicide attack at FOB Chapman that killed seven CIA agents, there may be a calculated decision to forgo pat-downs and physical security checks to demonstrate trust, he said.

  • Tintin

    COL Mingus was not wounded. Another senior leader was, but his name has not been released.

  • anan

    Smith, the incident in Kunar remains opaque. Have you gotten any additional info on it?

    Kunar has seen high kinetic tempo. It probably has a record number of AQ linked alphabet soup groups and foreign fighters there. The ANA in Kunar is fighting pretty hard. Unfortunately there aren’t nearly enough of them.

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You are currently reading "Green On Blue Bloodbath In Afghanistan", entry #8915 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Afghan National Police,Afghanistan and was published August 12th, 2012 by Herschel Smith.

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