War is a complex, living, breathing, and evolving thing. In a war without borders or lines, allies and enemies can often blur. This can lead to confusion amongst service members and their leaders as well as outdated rules and regulations which do not adequately address the changing issues.
In 2007 we helped to stand up a local militia in Iraq to help fight the Taliban. Over 200 people came to support the local sheik in the area. Trailing many of these fighters was a history of fighting the US. In some cases, the fighters were the very people we had been attacked by in the months prior. Today though, they were our allies – for a price.
We had to look the other way at their previous indiscretions and focus instead on their use as assets to fight a war against a common enemy. The enemy of my enemy is my friend they say, but they also forget that one must scrutinize that friend because they are only temporarily in the role until something else comes along to change their opinion.
In Afghanistan, when an ally turned on their coalition partners it became known as green on blue. These incidents started being tracked in 2008 and have continued to this day. Their breakdown is as follows:
The most high profile incident occurred in 2014 when a green on blue attack killed Major General Harold Greene and wounded 14 others, the most senior ranking death in the entire war. These actions result in distrust between the militaries and service members. To reduce the number of incidents, US units organized security details to watch over the very troops that they are fighting alongside. These Guardian Angels, as they are referred to, stay in full body armor during standard meetings even on base, and are prepared to engage threats in seemingly safe environments.
More than 48 of the attackers were killed during their green on blue incidents, with 26 captured. While some of those killed were likely due to suicide attacks, the results of diligent service members to protect each other cannot be understated. While at war, we credit the conduct of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines as focused on supporting the man or woman to the left or right of them. In practicality, we are not defending the constitution or protecting our country from attack, we are in fact keeping each other safe so we can come back home to live happy and full lives.
As long as partnership remains a product of these conflicts, the threat of green on blue incidents will continue to instill doubt amongst allies. While there are many ways to mitigate these actions from occurring, there is no single solution that will prevent them entirely. Much can be said about how understanding the culture within a country can positively influence these events to occur less, but the reality is that any country which feels itself invaded will produce people that want to fight what they feel are their oppressors.
As a country, we need to look at our purpose and justification for war. We need to understand that what makes sense to our politicians and senior leaders, may be contrary to the understandings of the people in the country we occupy or invade. Until those understandings are aligned, this will be a problem that we face into the future.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.