The Best Defense

Green-on-blue incidents are what happens when the conventional Army tries to operate unconventionally in Afghanistan

By "An SF Vet"

Best Defense guest contributor

When SF moved there they fell in on a ton of unvetted ALP that the regular Army had "trained." Why was the regular Army standing up ALP, when they have no real understanding about how to properly vet and conduct unconventional warfare? Great question. Probably because a sorry officer made the poor decision to allow this to happen. 

So the ODA fell in on hundreds of these poorly-trained, unvetted Afghans. So, they did what they were told, set up a base out there, and began vetting these guys with the last month they had in country. Fast forward to another sorry officer that told the team to "Hurry up and vet these guys" so he could tell higher how great of a job they were doing. When they said they had only vetted, like, 40 percent, they were told that wasn't good enough, and the officer then padded the stats because in his exact words, "I can't tell a general we only vetted 40 percent."

I can't speak to everything that happened this past year, but this is the sort of thing that causes green on blue. The conventional Army has no business setting up ALP, but since that is the hot ticket these days, people only want to mass-produce them. The current team on the ground has done a lot of good things there, but it is hard (and dangerous) when you have leaders that allow this to happen.

Morals of the story:

1) Start giving higher the real story (I am talking to you, shitty, self-serving, careerist field grades).

2) The war isn't over yet for the guys on the ground, so support them and give them what they require to be successful.

3) Stop allowing conventional Army to do unconventional tasks.

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The Best Defense

You want a 10th anniversary post for the invasion of Iraq? OK, here are the 10 biggest mistakes we committed in Iraq

By Col. Ted Spain, U.S. Army (Ret.)

Best Defense guest columnist

1. Secretary Rumsfeld's deployment plans did not include an adequate number of military police to control the routes during the ground war, nor sufficient military police to help control the streets after the ground war. This contributed to the Jessica Lynch fiasco and the chaos on the streets of Baghdad.

2. Law and order was not given sufficient attention in the pre-war planning. This failed to provide a police system to provide security to the Iraqi citizenry and to instill a sense of trust in the U.S. Army.

3. The categories of the thousands of detainees were never clear, causing confusion as to the proper legal treatment. Were they enemy, terrorist, or criminal? What's the difference?

4. The process of collecting intelligence from detainees was flawed from the pre-war planning sessions, during the ground war, and during the subsequent occupation. This set the stage for abuse, including the Abu Ghraib Prison scandal.

5. Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, the warden of Abu Ghraib Prison, was the wrong leader at the wrong place at the wrong time. Her appointment resulted in scandal and loss of trust in American forces by Iraqi citizenry.

6. Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, commander of all military forces in Iraq during the occupation, was in over his head and continued fighting the ground war long after it was over.

7. The Coalition Provisional Authority, under the leadership of L. Paul Bremer, dismantled the Iraqi Army and the highest level of the Ba'ath Party. We lost some of the most experienced personnel that were so vital in putting Iraq back together again.

8. Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik was more focused on padding his résumé and getting camera time than helping stand up a viable Iraqi Police Services.

9. Because standing up an Iraqi Police Service was focused on quantity, not quality, we never completely knew who we could trust.

10. President Bush's coalition of the willing was only a coalition in name. Even those that were willing were not able. Only a couple of countries contributed to gaining stability in Iraq.

Colonel Ted Spain commanded the U.S. Army's 18th Military Police Brigade during the ground war and first year of the occupation of Iraq. He was responsible for thousands of military police and Iraqi Police across Baghdad and Southern Iraq. He is the co-author, along with Terry Turchie, a former Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI, of Breaking Iraq: The Ten Mistakes That Broke Iraq, which is being published this week.