Coffee House

Green on blue is a problem for both green and blue

16 September 2012

The enormous naval deployment in the Persian Gulf, coupled with the deluge of leaks and rumours about a pre-emptive strike by Israeli forces on Iran, has perhaps diverted attention from the war in Afghanistan until the events of this weekend. The attack on Camp Bastion by 15 Taliban fighters masquerading as US troops, which killed 2 American marines and destroyed or damaged considerable materiel and installations, has captured headlines over the weekend, not least because the Taliban claimed that their primary target was Prince Harry.

One possible response to the Taliban’s propaganda gambit is to point out that they failed in their alleged objective. Spokesmen for the British Army, which built Bastion, reject that assassinating the prince was the Taliban’s true aim of this carefully planned and well laid attack. But ISAF has forced to conduct a full security review into how such a raid could have taken place: Bastion is often referred to as ‘impregnable’.


There has been tragedy away from Bastion, too. A spate of ‘green-on-blue’ attacks has followed as men in the uniform of the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police have turned their weapons on ISAF personnel. Eight coalition soldiers have been killed in three separate incidents over the last few days, two of them British. And a further British soldier was killed in IED explosion on Friday. It has been a black few days.

The number of these attacks has increased over the last two years; 51 servicemen have been killed in this manner so far this year. As the former defence secretary Liam Fox told Sky News today, ‘green-on-blue’ incidents are an unfortunate fact of life during a counter-insurgency. But the Americans judge the situation to be sufficiently serious to justify opening a full inquiry into the issue.

The Americans have been careful not to embarrass their Afghan colleagues, doing all it can to limit tensions between ISAF and Kabul. General John Allen released a written statement at the end of last week:

‘This is not simply a Green on Blue problem; it is a threat to both Green and Blue that requires a Green and Blue solution.’

That statement would suggest that while ISAF has to work closely with the Afghans, the Afghans must take on more responsibility for their own.

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  • Justathought

    “Green on blue”…other people might say that these attacks are Islam on Christian. We are training and arming these people for what?

    We have always said we would not give into terrorism and intimidation yet now Islamic fundamentalists cause our media to fall silent with self-censorship.

    Israel seems to be the only country that recognises the tyranny at the door and is prepared to defend its own existence. I see no evidence that Iran has changed anything other than buy more time to progress its nuclear ambition.

    • michael

      “We have always said we would not give into terrorism and intimidation yet now Islamic fundamentalists cause our media to fall silent with self-censorship.”

      Political correctness?… Nah …self preservation, the media know the score.

  • Curnonsky

    That statement would suggest that while ISAF has to work closely with the Afghans, the Afghans must take on more responsibility for their own.”

    The sort of anodyne conclusion that is worthy of the Korski Prize for skirting the real issue.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    Every politician who is not actively calling for the recall of our troops now – not in 2 years time – is complicit in a truly disgusting and criminal waste of our troops.
    Our presence serves no purpose and, as someone else has written, the day after we have left it will be as if we’d never been there. Good young lives are being sacrificed for absolutely nothing.

  • Madame Merle

    To Judy,
    Perhaps the cost should be deducted from their pocket money.

  • Madame Merle

    I very much doubt that Prince Harry was, in truth, targeted. The purpose of this claim is more likely a feeble attempt to “insult the infidel”.

    If they are waiting for us to dance about in the street, screaming and flag-burning, they can all go to hell.

  • Judy

    What’s amazing is that this attack was apparently able to destroy 6 US fighter jets. Doesn’t each one cost at least £25 million? How on earth could the security have made it possible for such a hit to be taken? Seems to me that both the US and the UK wildly underestimate the potential reach of their armed Islamist enemies both in terms of the sophistication of some of their portable weapons and their capacity to infiltrate and betray US and UK forces.

    • Malfleur

      Yes, Front Page reports the cost of the Harrier Jets as US$180 million and a disaster for Obama’s policy in Afghanistan.

      The attack and the absence of any articles in the Coffee House, until this one by David Blackburn, on events in the Middle East on and after 11th September suggests that an unbelievable doziness has settled over certain parts of the military and the media.

      Sleepwalk over a cliff, anyone?

      • Publius

        “unbelievable doziness”

        I have started to think the silence is deliberate. I think “not helpful” is the term that’s usually spun out when our debased politicians want to keep things quiet.

        • Coffeehousewall

          Of course the silence is deliberate. There are editorial meetings, probably every day, when the subjects to be published are discussed. The Spectator is choosing not to address these issues. But we already know that there are many very serious issues that they choose to ignore.

          I note today that a majority of those polled now want substantial reductions to both immigration and benefits. Will this be covered in detail?

      • daniel Maris

        I’ve already pointed out the amazing dearth of comment from Spectator writers. Perhaps they don’t know what to write.

  • Austin Barry

    Curiously, our military leaders seem to have discounted the possibility of a green on royal blue incident.

  • Austin Barry

    Our military leaders don’t seem to have considered the possibility of a green on royal blue incident.

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