Another rogue Afghan not proof of ‘sleeper’ insurgency
The latest shooting of three Australian and two Afghan soldiers by a disgruntled Afghan comrade will intensify calls for our 1550 troops to be withdrawn immediately.
Details of the incident are sketchy, but given that the shooter escaped in a vehicle it is safe to assume that he was not a jihadist fanatic on a one-way suicide mission.
That was certainly not the case 10 days ago when an Afghan called Darwish opened fire at close range at Forward Operating Base Pacemaker in northern Kandahar Province killing Captain Bryce Duffy, 26, Corporal Ashley Birt, 22, and Lance Corporal Luke Gavin, 27.
Darwish had shaved and cleansed his body and dressed in white clothing to prepare for his journey into the next life following his murderous mission.
This latest attack is reminiscent of the first shooting of an Australian, Lance Corporal Andrew Jones, 25, at Patrol Base Mashal in the Chora Valley in late May this year. That also involved a rogue Afghan National Army soldier who fled and who was eventually hunted down and killed. Like yesterday’s shooting that killer also opened fire from a guard tower.
Given the firepower available to ANA troops, especially those on guard duty in a watch tower, it is remarkable that yesterday’s five casualties did not sustain life threatening wounds. They were transferred quickly from the Charmestan area east of the main base back to the role-two field hospital at Tarin Kowt for emergency treatment.
The big problem now for Defence is devising a strategy that will appease those calling for an immediate withdrawal while maintaining a meaningful training mission in Oruzgan Province.
Disarming the Afghans is out of the question.
Guns are a part of the cultural landscape in the war ravaged country and an Afghan soldier without a gun would not even be a man. He would be at the mercy of insurgents and he would be open to ridicule.
Having seen undisciplined Afghan soldiers waving weapons around like toys it is amazing that more soldiers have not been shot accidentally.
If any evidence emerges that insurgent “sleepers’’ are being used for the attacks then the military will have a major problem.
There is no such evidence and it will fall to the well trained and diplomatic diggers on the ground at each of the dozen or more shared bases across the province to come up with strategies to protect themselves from “friendly fire’’ incidents.
The bottom line is that when a man who is part of the team decides for whatever reason that he is going to turn on his comrades, there is little anyone can do.
Self protection measures will be boosted and troops will probably find themselves wearing helmets and body armour 24/7 even when they are inside ``safe’’ locations.
Apart from that all they can do is maintain a vigilant eye on those we are there to help remembering that the vast majority are on our side.
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