How many more brave soldiers will be killed in green-on-blue attacks before lessons are finally learned by the MOD?

In yet another ‘green-on-blue’ attack, Captain Walter Barrie was shot dead at FOB Shawqat on 11th November 2012. The inquest took place yesterday at Oxford Coroners Court before Mr Darren Salter, who ruled the soldier had been unlawfully killed during active service.

The inquest heard how Captain Walter Barrie of The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland, had been playing football with members of the Afghan National Army (ANA), when a rogue Afghan, Mohammad Ashraf, opened fire. Captain Barrie died from gunshot wounds to his chest.

Whilst serving in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, Captain Barrie had been mentoring and advising the ANA on security measures in observance of the embedded partnering directive. The embedded partnership is a strategy introduced by ISAF aimed at enabling British troops to withdraw from Afghanistan. British soldiers work alongside the ANA with a view to security services being transferred solely to them.

However, as earlier green-on-blue attacks have indicated, there are problems with the directive being misinterpreted on the ground. British soldiers are frequently in too close proximity to the ANA and at significant risk of attack. These problems fail to be addressed by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) despite evidence from inquests, Coroner’s Rule 43 Reports and endless calls for service inquiries. Lessons are not being learned given these tragic incidents continue to take place.

Following the deaths of five soldiers at Checkpoint Blue 25 in November 2009, I have continually fought for the MOD to acknowledge the problems with the embedded partnership and take steps to protect our soldiers from attack. The MOD claims it does learn lessons and implements various changes in response to each attack. For example in response to the green-on-blue attack on Captain Barrie, two Guardian Angels and a Guard Commander now patrol FOB Shawqat, rather than one Guardian Angel, and improvements have supposedly been made to communications.

Whilst this is important, green-on-blue attacks upon British soldiers are continuing. Most alarming is the frequency of them, showing the MOD is not doing enough to protect troops from the dangers posed by the embedded partnership. Furthermore, bereaved friends and family have little reassurance that similar fatalities are going to be prevented in the future. Indeed the families involved in Checkpoint Blue 25 are still waiting for the MOD to take appropriate action.

My sincere condolences go out to Captain Barrie’s family and friends and once more I urge the MOD to take action and put a stop to green-on-blue attacks.