Green-on-Blue Violence Rising in Afghanistan

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NATO forces targets of green-on-blue violence
Credit: CSmonitor.com

Afghanistan is becoming an increasingly dangerous place for US and NATO forces due to green-on-blue violence. Green-on-blue violence includes attacks against coalition forces by Afghanistan police, the same police that coalition members are training.

These green-on-blue attacks have become more prevalent within the past two years, accounting for 16% of coalition casualties this year alone.

The centerpiece of coalition strategy today is training police forces to secure Afghanistan, as coalition forces withdraw from the region. Since President Obama announced his plan to withdraw surge forces, the frequency of these attacks has increased.

Naturally, a discussion centered on the motivations of green forces in these attacks has begun. The senior commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen (USMC), has pointed to infiltration of Afghan security forces by Taliban operatives. He estimated that approximately 10 percent of green-on-blue attacks are made by Taliban members posing as Afghan security personnel.

The Long War Journal has compiled data on the location and frequency of green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan. In 2012, 40 attacks have been carried out, up from 15 in all of 2011.

The most recent green-on-blue attacks occurred on Tuesday, when two members of NATO forces were killed by a man wearing an Afghan police uniform. The killer escaped and is presumed to be a Taliban member.

These attacks are contributing stress to already strained relationships between Kabul and western countries that have grown weary of the conflict in Afghanistan. For observers, a clear question arises surrounding the ability of Afghan forces to take over the security role that international troops have played for the past several years.

A complete transition will occur soon, with American troops likely to leave the area, and an Afghan election set for 2014. Members of the academic nation-building community point to the importance of consecutive, successful elections on the road to long-term stability.

What is equally important is a secure country where people are able to work without the fear of violence. For Afghanistan to be rebuilt well, Afghan police forces will need to be adequately trained and sufficiently competent to decrease green-on-blue violence and provide for the safety of the Afghan people.

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3 comments
Michael Higham
Michael Higham

It seems as if members of terrorist networks use violence from within Afghan police forces. Terrorists become members of the police force to get closer to targets. A US Army solider guest lectured at UCSD's national defense class and talked about his experience with counter-insurgency operations and building a self-sustaining police force in Afghanistan. He said there was a lot of mutual respect despite language barriers so I'm surprised to the amount of green-on-blue attacks.

Alex Gauthier
Alex Gauthier

the whole green-on-blue phenomena seems unique to afghanistan. I wonder if other countries with coalition forces have encountered the same problem

Cassidy Noblejas Bartolomei
Cassidy Noblejas Bartolomei

You raise the question whether Afghan forces will be able to take over the security role that international troops have played for the past several years, and I believe the answer is no, but this is in part, because international troops have done a terrible job providing security to these places and have implement unsustainable methods of intervention in war torn countries.

I would expect our tactics to change after many of the entities we arm end up using the very weapons we supply them with against us, and after the people we train end up using those skills we teach them to kill us.