Thursday, August 12, 2010

More Afghan Civilians Killed by NATO

Once again, there is anger in Afghanistan over apparently needless killing of Afghan civilians by NATO forces during a raid on a family home. Clayton Swisher reports for Al Jazeera.

What I found particularly disturbing was the manner in which one of those killed was reported to have answered the door for the NATO troops, spoken to them in English, and then suddenly been shot to death. NATO acknowledges the raid took place, but refuses any further comment.

This incident, which is sadly representative of dozens more, is all the more controversial coming on the heels of a UN report stating that civilian deaths in Afghanistan are up 31% so far this year.

So, hearts and minds, eh?


  1. The UN report stated that 12% of all Afghan civilian casualties are caused by pro GIRoA forces [ANA + ANP + ISAF.]

    If you actually cared about Afghans you would support them and their beloved ANA against the enemies of Afghanistan.

  2. Thank you, sir, for that detailed explanation of your views. It is always interesting to hear exactly why people feel the way they do.

  3. It is very disappointing that the United States tries to minimize the PR damage caused by the collateral damage. Note that the US doesn't work as hard to minimize the actual collateral damage... but the PR damage that results from people actually finding out about the fact that American soldiers are killing Afghan civilians just like American soldiers used to kill Vietnamese civilians. The US military says things like, "Oh, that number's an exaggeration. We didn't kill that many people." These people have no morals and no ethics.

  4. One point to keep in mind is that ISAF almost never conducts a raid that isn't jointly conducted with the ANA or ANP.

    If the ANA or ANP conducted the after action report, that would be all the data ISAF has of the raid. ISAF would be reluctant to openly criticize an ANA or ANP report without a full joint ISAF/ANSF investigation that would likely take some time.

    Saad, you cannot expect ISAF to publish a report without investigating it. ISAF has rules of conduct. In addition remember that ISAF is in Afghanistan at the sufferance and pleasure of the Afghan government. This causes reluctance on the part of ISAF to say anything negative about the ANSF.

    Most of the ANSF [ANA + ANP] training and advising was conducted by countries other than the US until November, 2009. A majority of the ISAF forces were not American until 2009. ISAF is a joint command with about 50 troop contributing countries. This [and the fact that many countries need to agree to anything] slows the speed with which ISAF can respond to reports like this.

    Saad, are you aware of any other international UN sanctioned mission since the formation of the UN that conducted itself more quickly, professionally and transparently than ISAF? Every UN operation ever launched has been pretty messed up. For that matter, every multilateral coalition operation in history has always been a mixed affair at best.

    ISAF has major challenges of course. As you know, there haven't been any civilian casualties caused by ISAF or AAF [Afghan Air Force] air strikes in the 14 eastern Afghan provinces over the last 6 months.

    One way this has been achieved is by refusing air support when ANA, ANP or ISAF are being attacked by the Taliban. This has caused a lot of resentment against ISAF within the ANA and ANP rank and file. Many ANA and ANP might say some permutation of if you are not with us in our war against the Taliban then you are worthless. Maybe you should leave Afghanistan.

    It is widely believed among ANSF that ISAF and the UN secretly back the Taliban against the ANSF, GIRoA and Afghan people, and that this is behind the surge in ANSF killed by the Taliban. This doesn't do wonders for ISAF, UNAMA and international popularity among Afghans as you might imagine.

  5. Another point that I think Saad would agree with. The reason more than 85% of Afghans in every public opinion poll ever taken oppose the Taliban is because they see the Taliban as Pakistani proxies. [The perception isn't completely accurate, but that is another matter.]

    This is also one reason there is a waiting list of Afghans to join the ANA to fight the Taliban.

  6. Saad and Redpossum, do you think an ANSF service-person in inadvertently killed these civilians? If so, that would explain why ISAF doesn't want to discuss the incident.

    Several ANSF commanding generals accompanied by ISAF generals should visit this family ASAP and express their condolences. And promise a full investigation. I wonder why they haven't visited already. [Or maybe they have?] What is the governor of Wardak doing? What was his involvement in the raid? For example, did he order it?

  7. Much of Wardak has little to no ISAF other than a few special forces. Wardak also has far too few ANA and ANP, who manage what security there is in the province. Given that it was Wardak, I am guessing it was ISAF special forces. Probably American special forces, although this isn't certain.

    1-201 ANA brigade is responsible for Wardak province. It is French and Portuguese mentored. Wardak's Provincial Reconstruction Team is run by Turkey. However the Turkish troops tend to hang out only in pockets of the province. The Turks run reconstruction within Wardak and run academies that train the ANP inside Wardak. They also run academies that teach Afghan civilians job skills. However, Wardak is a large place, so the Turks have almost no impact in parts of Wardak. I believe Turkey might embed inside some of the ANP in the province, although RC-East has refused to confirm this.

  8. Wardak has historically had almost no ISAF, few ANA, and few ANP. As a result the Taliban came in with their money and took over most of the province, killing many ANP in the process. The ANP were not backed up by ANA/ISAF. [Perhaps other ISAF countries were not interested in getting involved since it was a "Turkish" province from their perspective.] The ANA only sent one battalion to Wardak, and probably for many years even that battalion wasn't always deployed in Wardak.

    As a result the GIRoA, UNAMA and US special forces developed the "Afghan Public Protection Force." Untrained poorly equipped local irregulars who are formally managed by the Afghan government with UNAMA's help. US special forces manage them on the ground. This enabled a small number of ISAF special forces to provide security over a broad area. [To my knowledge APPF is mostly a US special forces affair, with other ISAF special forces managing other tasks.] However APPF have problems. They are untrained, not well vetted, can be rough with locals, unprofessional and corrupt.

    Not sure if APPF were involved in this case [with special forces sent to make sure they conducted themselves professionally.]

    The APPF is also unusual in direct UNAMA involvement.

    The UN in 2001 created two institutions:
    1) UNAMA [UN Assistance Mission Afghanistan] that focused on coordinating all international assistance to GIRoA civilian capacity, Afghan elections and to some degree MoI.
    2) ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] that was suppose to focus on security issues and building MoD [Ministry of Defense]

    MoI/ANP is complicated, since both ISAF and UNAMA help with it. Over time, ISAF has increasingly played a larger role in MoI. APPF was suppose to be at least partly managed by UNAMA. UNAMA uses APPF to manage security for their own activities around Afghanistan, as well as security for international aid efforts they coordinate.

    What ANSF were involved in this incident? Were the ISAF special forces, ANSF advisors, or something else? Is there a way to find out?