I was saddened to learn of the tragic death of a member of 28 Engineer Regiment who was fatally injured by an Afghan Solider in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province, Afghanistan on 7th January 2013. My heartfelt sympathies go out to the family.
This incident is one of a rising number of so called “green on blue” attacks which have taken place in Afghanistan.
The perpetrators are often called “rogue” but are they really? This is surely a strategic infiltration by the Taliban of Allied Forces?
British soldiers are paired with members of the Afghan National Army as part of the “embedded partnership” strategy, aimed at enabling Afghan soldiers to independently deliver effective and sustainable security to the population of Afghanistan in the future. However, one must question the effectiveness of the strategy given that 24 British troops have been killed in “green on blue” attacks since 2009.
We represented one of the families at the inquest following the tragic deaths of 5 British Soldiers at Checkpoint Blue 25 on 3rd November 2009. The inquest revealed major flaws in the operation of the embedded partnership. Members of the Afghan National Police were taking photos within the British compound which risked leaking the location to those outside and the Coroner heard of incidents involving the Afghan National Police such as refusal to wear the correct uniform and drug-taking. Gulbuddin, the gunman at Checkpoint Blue 25, often failed to wear his uniform and arrived wearing a brown Afghan hat on the day of the incident. He reacted badly to being told to wear his police issue headgear. Shocking lacks of security checks to vet Afghans enlisting in the organisation were also highlighted.
The MOD claims they have implemented better training for deployments, new operating procedures and vetting procedures to mitigate the threat posed by potential “rogue” Afghans.
However it is clear these steps are not working. How many more families have to suffer this tragedy before lessons are learned?