France threatens withdrawal after Afghan soldier kills 4 French troops

Less than a day after an Afghan soldier shot and killed four French troops in Kapisa, France has suspended its training mission with Afghan troops and has threatened to end its mission in Afghanistan if the issue is not properly addressed. From AFP:

“The French army is alongside its allies but we cannot accept that a single one of our soldiers be wounded or killed by our allies, it’s unacceptable,” Sarkozy said, dispatching Defence Minister Gerard Longuet to Afghanistan.

Longuet and army chief of staff Admiral Edouard Guillaud will establish the circumstances of Friday’s shooting in which an Afghan soldier shot dead four French troops and wounded 16 before being arrested.

“Between now and then all training, joint combat operations by the French army are suspended,” Sarkozy said.

“If security conditions are not clearly established, then the question of an early return of the French army will be asked.”

“We will have to take a difficult decision in the coming days. But I must assume my responsibilities before the French people and before our soldiers,” Sarkozy said.

Today The New York Times published an excellent article on high incidences of Afghan troops killing their NATO counterparts. It has been clear to me for some time that the number of killings of NATO troops by Afghan personnel has been inordinately high.

But the most troubling fallout has been the mounting number of Westerners killed by their Afghan allies, events that have been routinely dismissed by American and NATO officials as isolated episodes that are the work of disturbed individual soldiers or Taliban infiltrators, and not indicative of a larger pattern. The unusually blunt report, which was prepared for a subordinate American command in eastern Afghanistan, takes a decidedly different view.

“Lethal altercations are clearly not rare or isolated; they reflect a rapidly growing systemic homicide threat (a magnitude of which may be unprecedented between ‘allies’ in modern military history),” it said. Official NATO pronouncements to the contrary “seem disingenuous, if not profoundly intellectually dishonest,” said the report, and it played down the role of Taliban infiltrators in the killings.

The coalition refused to comment on the classified report. But “incidents in the recent past where Afghan soldiers have wounded or killed I.S.A.F. members are isolated cases and are not occurring on a routine basis,” said Lt. Col. Jimmie E. Cummings Jr. of the Army, a spokesman for the American-led International Security Assistance Force. “We train and are partnered with Afghan personnel every day and we are not seeing any issues or concerns with our relationships.”

The numbers appear to tell a different story. Although NATO does not release a complete tally of its forces’ deaths at the hands of Afghan soldiers and the police, the classified report and coalition news releases indicate that Afghan forces have attacked American and allied service members nearly three dozen times since 2007.

Two members of the French Foreign Legion and one American soldier were killed in separate episodes in the past month, according to statements by NATO. The classified report found that between May 2007 and May 2011, when it was completed, at least 58 Western service members were killed in 26 separate attacks by Afghan soldiers and the police nationwide. Most of those attacks have occurred since October 2009. This toll represented 6 percent of all hostile coalition deaths during that period, the report said.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • gitmo-joe says:

    The lesson here is – we must focus on punishment and stop trying to “fix” twisted countries with lunatic cultures.
    They don’t like us. We can’t fix them. This is a reality we must accept. We must not squander our blood and our bravery. If they don’t want our help, fine, see ya later. Strike us again and we will be in & out in 6 months and your country will be nothing but smoking ruins and dead bodies.

  • Steve says:

    Bill I’d be interested in your editorial take on this… As a British soldier in training for my second deployment there (Bill we corresponded a while back over getting the LWJ iconembedded on tabs as a ‘favicon’), part of me still thinks something can be achieved, but a growing part of me agrees with gitmo-joe… Or Ellen Ripley in Aliens: “I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit… It’s the only way to be sure.”

  • Nic says:

    The American Battle Monuments Commission lists the names of 20 military cemeteries in Europe. Eleven American military cemeteries are in France. Thus there are eleven excellent locations in France for the representatives of the governments of France and the United States to hold talks about the French retreat from Afghanistan.

  • Devin Leonard says:

    We need to treat our afghan allies with a healthy dose of distrust. In Iraq we had a saying. “be nice to everyone you meet, and have a plan to kill every one of them”…This should be true of our Afghan allies many of whom either dislike us or could be infiltraitors. We also need better intel on our afghan allies…they need to be watched, closely. If their is any hint of a problem they need to be arrested or dispatched!

  • Brendan says:

    This could be a political move by France. The French reaction to this situation is strikingly similar to Hamid Karzi’s “outcry” when NATO troops kill Afghan civilians/Afghan solders.

  • mike merlo says:

    26 acts of treachery over a 4 year period, 6.5 a year that’s not to bad at all. “1” person killed every 2 months ‘tells’ me we’re getting a lot more cooperation from the Afghans than the ‘media’ is giving them credit for.

  • Poli Sci says:

    The Afghan govt must develop some kind of penalty that extends beyond these traitor’s deaths, maybe bulldozing the suspect’s house or imposing some kind of shame on their family. The 6% figure The New York Times reported on is absolutely unacceptable.

  • HJM says:

    I agree with Gitmo Joe. Better to be feared then loved. We need to get back to the business of killing.


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