Monday, February 27, 2012

Security Situation

A week into the Koran-burning incident, things here are still a little tense.  The number of demonstrations around the country has dropped fairly steadily, and there are fewer people participating in fewer demonstrations.  Karzai has stepped up to encourage people to show restraint, stop the violence, and give the investigation some time to proceed.  The provincial and district governors have echoed this line.  They've also encouraged (maybe the right word is "leaned on") the mullahs to calm people down.  

Fortunately for us down here in the south, there have been almost no violent incidents.  Yeah, we got a rocket attack a few days ago, but that's nothing to get too excited about.  More of an annoyance than anything else.  The bottom line is that things are quieting down, slowly and gradually.

One thing that does have people concerned is the shooting of the two American officers inside the Ministry of the Interior.  This is serious.  The Ministry of the Interior is not at all like our Interior Department - it's really the police forces and other law-enforcement groups.  The Americans were killed in an area that is considered very secure.  People have to have special clearances to be there.  And one of those people shot our officers in cold blood.  And escaped.  The Afghan investigation is ongoing and word is that they're on the trail of the guy.

Meanwhile, we've pulled all our "embeds" out of all the ministries.  These are the people that have been helping the Afghans build their government capabilities to run the country.  Now they're back on ISAF-controlled bases, or at their embassies, until such time as it's determined that the Afghans can provide better protection.  Believe me, the ministries will be feeling this loss before much longer.  

But while this assassin, and a few others around the country in recent months, have received a lot of attention, the performance of the Afghan security forces in general has been pretty impressive.  In literally thousands of demonstrations, it has been the Afghan security forces who have faced them.  They're the ones standing in front of the hordes of angry Muslims and defending the infidel Americans (and British, German, Dutch, Romanian, Albanian, Canadian, Norwegian, French, Slovak, and more) from attack.  And defending the Parliament building, airports, and other public facilities.  It has been a very dangerous task and many of them have been killed.  A year or two ago, this wouldn't have happened.  So my hat is off to the vast majority of Afghan security forces.

That said, there's still the question of trust.  The shooter in the Ministry of Interior is in the news now, but he has not been the only one.  Over the past two years, as the Afghan security forces have been built up, there have been increasing numbers of what we call "green on blue" incidents, in which Afghan security forces fire on ISAF forces.  Those of us out here have been talking about it for quite a while.  The Afghan security forces are, indeed, getting bigger and better, but at the same time, there are more uniformed members willing to pull a gun on one of us.  Not good.  

One final note.  The news sites have reported that Gingrich and Santorum have both denounced Obama's apology to Karzai over the Koran-burning incident.  I have to say that these comments are just more examples of why those two are not qualified for such an important job.  If official representatives of the United States (which includes all soldiers and US government workers over here) do something that profoundly insults the people of the country they're in, we owe them an apology.  Period.  I mean, if you go over to somebody's house and do something stupid that insults them or causes damage, you apologize, right?  You do if you're raised in a civilized society.  An immediate and forceful apology was necessary to even begin to calm the storm that this incident raised.  Obama did it.  George W. Bush did it, too, when a US sniper shot a Koran in Iraq several years ago.  But Gingrich and Santorum are now on record as saying they wouldn't.  Meaning they have no problems with needlessly increasing the danger that the people over here (including me) are facing.  So fuck you very much, Newt and Rick.

While on this topic, I have to say that I actually agree with something Sarah Palin said.  (Never thought I'd say that, but it's true).  She tweeted that Karzai owes us an apology for the shooting of the two officers in the Ministry of Interior.  She's absolutely right.  I'm waiting.


honus said...

Stay safe Skip and keep the stories coming ...

Kanani said...

I Love this post!