Afghan security forces, our supposed allies, are slaughtering American troops. Thirty-three soldiers have been killed by “green on blue” attacks this year alone. The situation is so bad that the training of Afghan forces has been temporarily suspended.
How has the Pentagon responded?
By blaming our troops.
Top officials believe culturally offensive behavior is the motivation behind the killings, so it’s stepped up Islamic sensitivity training for our troops.
If you don’t want to be shot in the back by your Afghan training partners, the Pentagon advises, don’t offend their religious sensibilities. Don’t kick your feet up on a table, for instance, and never ask to see a picture of their wives and kids. “There’s a percentage [of attacks] which are cultural affronts,” Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said in a recent interview.
Dempsey echoes the concerns of Gen. Sher Mohammad Karimi, the Afghan National Army’s chief of staff, who earlier this month argued both sides need to do more to “teach” foreign troops Islamic traditions and values to reduce the chance of violent reactions to cultural slights.
“It is our duty to teach this to them. Our indifference about these issues causes the incident,” he said.
In the past three years, uniformed Afghans have murdered at least 97 US and NATO troops.
The Taliban has taken credit for many of the attacks, but the Pentagon has been reluctant to admit widespread infiltration of the Afghan security forces it’s training.
Standing up a national army and police force that can protect the US-sponsored government in Kabul is the linchpin of President Obama’s announced 2014 withdrawal strategy.
Some 120,000 American and other foreign troops mix closely with 350,000 Afghan security forces. Afghan trainees and guards are co-located on US bases, where they share bathrooms, gyms and mess halls.
To avoid offending them, US commanders are putting troops through intense Muslim sensitivity training. Among other things, they’ve been ordered to:
* Wear surgical gloves whenever handling a copy of the Koran.
* Never walk in front of a praying Muslim.
* Never show the bottom of boots while sitting or lying across from a Muslim, which in Islam is considered an insult.
* Never share photos of wives or daughters.
* Never smoke or eat in front of Muslims during the monthlong Ramadan fasting.
* Avoid winking, cursing or nose-blowing in the presence of Muslims — all viewed as insults in Islam.
* Avoid exiting the shower without a towel.
* Avoid offering and accepting things with the left hand, which in Islam is reserved for bodily hygiene and considered unclean.
Troops who violate the sensitivity rules face severe punishment.
Military officials who have done tours in Afghanistan are outraged that brass would even suggest US troops are partly to blame for their own murders.
“I would like to see a public affairs officer explain to the press where showing the bottom of your shoe to a Muslim or shaking with your left hand was legitimate grounds for murder,” growled one US Army official.
They say their Muslim partners would still resent them even if they followed their Islamic protocols to the letter.
“The cultural affronts excuse is a bunch of garbage,” a senior US Army intelligence official told me. “The Afghans that know we’re doing all this PC cultural sensitivity crap are laughing their asses off at our stupidity.”
Explained the intelligence official: “They’re killing us because we’re ‘infidels’ occupying Islamic lands. It’s what the Koran and every imam over there is telling them, and no amount of cultural sensitivity is going to stop that or change the fact that we’re ‘infidels.’ ”
Indeed, a Taliban video released last month revealed uniformed Afghans are itching for a chance to “kill infidels.”
“I opened fire on three Americans who were sitting together,” a rogue Afghan soldier, identified as Ghazi Mahmood, says while smiling for the camera. “The reason I killed them is because they have occupied our country. They are enemies of our religion.”
Internally, the military has acknowledged the larger religious problem. A May 2011 study commissioned by the US Army says “fratricidal” assaults by uniformed Afghans stem in part from Afghan religious attitudes that their American counterparts are “infidel bullies.” (The same report says US troops regarded their Afghan training partners as “treacherous and murderous radicals” secretly colluding with the Taliban.)
Further pointing up the absurdity of putting troops through Islamic finishing school: The intelligence official notes that if there are any truly obnoxious cultural offenses, they are committed by Afghan trainees quartered inside our bases.
“They like to stand on our toilets and poop all over them,” he said.
Why? They refuse to touch the toilet seats used by the “dirty infidels” they’re training and living with.