US military suspends combat patrols with Afghan forces

The US military today suspended most of its combat patrols with Afghan forces as the green-on-blue, or insider attacks by Afghan security personnel on Coalition troops, continue to spike. The training of Afghan forces and their partnering with US troops has been the cornerstone of the Obama administration’s strategy to hand over security to the Afghans as the US completes its withdrawal by 2014.

“The order effectively suspends ‘until further notice’ most of the operations which US and Afghan troops conduct side by side,” CBS News reported today. “At higher headquarters, Afghans and Americans will still work together, but in the field small unit operations putting Afghan soldiers alongside Americans … will be suspended unless an exception is granted by a commanding general.”

Operations by units below the battalion level have been suspended, according to The New York Times. However most of the engagements against the Taliban and allied groups in Afghanistan occur at the small-unit level — the squad, platoon, and company.

It is unclear if the order applies to other militaries in the International Security Assistance Force, NATO’s command in Afghanistan.

The suspension of combined US and Afghan combat operations takes place just over two weeks after the US Special Operations Command shut down the training of more than 1,000 new Afghan Local Police recruits due to the increase in murders of their personnel by their Afghan partners. The Afghan Local Police force is an initiative that provides support to Afghans so they can furnish security for their own villages. The ALP have been described as vital to ISAF’s strategy. The ALP are to provide security in key districts as foreign troops continue withdrawing from Afghanistan.

Today’s order to suspend cooperation between US and Afghan forces in the field was issued after three green-on-blue attacks over the past three days resulted in the deaths of four US soldiers and two British troops.

The latest insider attack took place on the evening of Sept. 16. An Afghan soldier opened fire on a vehicle being driven inside Camp Garmser, a shared base in Helmand province; a foreign civilian worker was wounded in the attack. The attacker thought the vehicle contained NATO troops. According to the Associated Press, another Afghan soldier took the attacker into custody after disarming him.

Another attack on Sept. 16, in Zabul province, resulted in the deaths of four USAF troops and the wounding of several more. The attacker, an Afghan policeman, was killed in return fire from another soldier; several other Afghan policemen were wounded.

And an attack on Sept. 15 in Helmand province resulted in the deaths of two British soldiers and the wounding of four more. The attacker was killed by return fire.

According to The Long War Journal’s Special Report, Green-on-Blue attacks in Afghanistan: the data, insider attacks account for 15% of Coalition casualties so far this year. There have been a total of 59 such attacks on Coalition forces since 2008, and they have occurred in 18 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, with the vast majority of the attacks taking place in Helmand province (16 attacks) followed by Kandahar province (9 attacks). Since 2008, insider attacks have killed 114 Coalition troops and affiliates and have wounded 92. The number of attacks has spiked since 2008, starting with 2 attacks reported in 2008; to 5 in 2009; another 5 in 2010; to 15 in 2011; to 32 in 2012. The steep rise in attacks parallels the increased pairing of Coalition troops with Afghan forces in training and mentoring situations, and occurs as the overall number of Coalition troops is sharply declining due to the planned transfer of Afghan security to Afghan forces by 2014.

The suspension of combined US and Afghan combat operations took place just one day after General Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, issued an unusually candid statement warning of the gravity of the green-on-blue attacks.

“You can’t whitewash it. We can’t convince ourselves that we just have to work harder to get through it. Something has to change,” Dempsey told the Armed Forces Press Service.

But US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta dismissed the green-on-blue attacks as the “last gasp” of the Taliban.

The Obama administration has claimed numerous times in the past that the Taliban’s “momentum” has been “broken.” However, an analysis of the data by The Long War Journal shows that the opposite is true.



  • JRP says:

    This was from the bottom up; and good going for our guys!!! When the regulars in an all volunteer force start giving their commanders push-back on ridiculous, ill-conceived albeit legal orders, the commanders know they are in trouble. The career commanders never would have had the courage to say I’m not sending my guys out with this scum. But the grunts said, you know what . . . I’m not going on patrol with this scum; I’d rather patrol the general population yard at Leavenworth than go out on patrol with this scum. Oh BTW, I guess no one is pushing the Ramadan theory anymore.

  • Tony Buzan says:

    I’m trying to connect the dots here and extrapolate rationally.
    Three years ago these recruits were the backbone of our strategy, our future partners in our handoff to the transition to a brighter Afghan future.
    Now we are barely on speaking terms.
    Three years from now, we start conducting raids on “rogue” unites of the Afghan Army?
    Is that where this is all heading?
    Would that be a big waste of money or what?
    Training our enemies.

  • Jay says:

    This is what I like about LWJ. You take all the data and form an opionon rather than form an opinion and lay out favorable data. Why can’t the U.S. gov. Just face the truth. Until then we will not have any chance of turning around Afghanistan.

  • m3fd2002 says:

    Again, Wow. The good news just keeps on coming in. I’d would like to hear from any military/intelligence personnel who have served in Afghanistan as to their opinions on the strategies, and how they have evolved over the past decade. Thanks in advance.

  • Nic says:

    “You can’t whitewash it. We can’t convince ourselves that we just have to work harder to get through it. Something has to change.” Try this, start the final withdrawal now in a way that says “we are done here”. Plan on a fighting withdrawal, Vietnam style. The justification is simple, our ally is a psychopath and a “fence sitter.” Anything can cause an Afghan to “explode.” The wrong gesture, the preference to be in Heaven rather than be in Afghanistan, a cartoon in a Western newspaper, an undistributed movie that is so bad that Ed Wood would look like a cinematic genius compared to the movie’s producer, anything that is unpredictable could turn these crazies to fratricide. The very best reason can be found at the United States Nation Debt Clock: . The current debt is a crushing sixteen trillion and thirty-seven billion dollars. Al Qaeda and the Taliban do not have to defeat us militarily, they just have to wait until we “implode” as a result of the crushing national debt. So, for reasons of national stability, it is time to leave Afghanistan. We have done what we came to do: kill bin Laden. Now lets leave before the cost of helping these ingrates kills us.

  • gb says:

    I previously posted this comment on a LWJ discussion. A former colleague of mine was in the Russian infantry during the Afghan war, and when things turned bad during fighting, the Russians would shoot their Afghan allies first to prevent them from turning on them.

  • Scott says:

    I would like to see the end of “shared bases” too. Let the Afghans have theirs, and we’ll have ours. If the Afghans come to our bases, let them check their weapons at the gate.
    Our bases can be used to train Afghan leaders and trainers in a safe environment. Plus, for the time being, we can carry out our military operations from our bases.
    But the commingling of forces in the field must end. The cost in casualties is too high.

  • James says:

    To JRP:
    “Oh BTW, I guess no one is pushing the Ramadan theory anymore.”
    Read more:
    JRP, absolutely correct on that one! I agree with you 100%. If anything, Ramadan needs to be looked at as Al Qaeda’s favored time period to attack.

  • James says:

    ” . . . the Russians would shoot their Afghan allies first to prevent them from turning on them”
    Read more:
    GB, and what did that tactic accomplish for the Russians?

  • mike says:

    eliminate the political entity – afganistan –
    remove the central government – and allow it to be
    a “territory – or “afgan territories” and allow it to be run AT the tribal level – a union of states – it
    wants to be broken up into different cultural enclaves – this is “divide and conquer – power is
    thus diminished and decentralised – allowing the warlords to govern their tribal area – its natural for
    afganistan – then allow evacuees to migrate to other countries for humanitarian reasons – in a certain time -frame before the hand over….

  • Kent Gatewood says:

    Is it safe to assume that joint commando/special forces operations will continue?

  • m3fd2002 says:

    You have some valid points. A workable solution, not that the west would ever do it, is to breakup Afghanistan into several ethic distinct regions. Northern Alliance gets northern Afghanistan with Kabul. Pashtun’s get the south, and a few Turkeman, Uzbeks will have to choose if they want to be annexed by neighboring countries. The hazeras will have to tuff it out. This will stick it to the Pakistanis, where they will have a full fledged Pashtun (Taliban) insurrection. They deserve it. If the U.S. had the will, we could light the entire Islamic World into inferno of civil unrest, without declaring anything. Just deny everything. Just like the two-faced muslims do. An eye for and eye.

  • blert says:

    Is there ANYONE who is not aware that while on jihad muslim warriors are obviated ALL islamic norms?
    NOTHING restrictive to war within the Koran applies: not Ramadan, not booze, not mixing with the targets… NOTHING.

  • Port Blair says:

    @ m3fd2002 your thoughts are in alignment with my own. I think the idea to converge into is to cause
    massive internal mayhem in Pakistan thereby dismembering the society completely. This will first
    involve embedding the seeds of a massive social upheaval in Baluchistan. The second thing is to use drone strikes to obliterate their power system- China will not help them.
    The third phase is to embed a concurrent rebellion in
    KP- Khyber Pakhtuwada. In 1971 Pakistan was split
    in half due to the horrible suppression they imposed
    on the Bengali population in East Pakistan. Once “the land of the pure” broken up and subjected to mayhem the Sindhis will fight the Punjabis and
    we will get what we all want. Not sure there are any intelligence agencies who can do this long 30 year plan to dismember Pakistan.

  • gb says:

    It kept them alive for another day, obviously it didn’t do the Russians any good strategically.

  • L. McKay says:

    The US Government must say to Pakistan and Afghanistan that if Afghanistan ever becomes an Al Qaeda base again then the provinces in the South and East Afghanistan and the border provinces of Pakistan will be hit with Nukes. End of Story, because they have had their chance!


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