OCT 1, 2012, VOL. 18, NO. 03 • BY MAX BOOT
Things are getting ugly in Afghanistan. Taliban insurgents somehow managed to penetrate the coalition’s main base in Helmand Province, Camp Bastion, and blow up six Marine Corps Harrier jump jets and damage two others, making this the greatest single-day loss of American warplanes since the Vietnam war. (The Harrier squadron commander, Lt. Col. Christopher Raible, was killed in the attack.) Another Taliban suicide bomber struck in Kabul, killing a dozen people, including contract workers for the U.S. embassy. Oh, and there have been more “green on blue” killings, bringing to 51 (and counting) the number of coalition troops killed this year by Afghan security personnel.
These attacks have led the U.S. Special Forces to suspend training of new recruits for the Afghan Local Police, a critical force designed to supplement the regular police and army, and more recently the NATO command to suspend at least temporarily joint operations with the Afghans below the battalion level. The most common and important security operations are carried out in small units—squads, platoons, and companies, not battalions or brigades. If the ban persists, it will cripple the effort of U.S. forces to improve the combat performance of their Afghan counterparts.