Biggest moments of 2011 #8 Afghans turn on Aussies
Our biggest wartime horror in a long time. Three diggers and their Afghan interpreter were killed and seven other Aussie troops wounded when an Afghan army ally turned his weapon on them.
This was not the first time that an Afghan colleague attacked Australian soldiers this year and nor was it the last. Lance Corporal Andrew Jones was killed by an Afghan soldier as he came out of his base accommodation in May. And just last month three diggers and two Afghans were wounded when an Afghan soldier opened fire from a guard tower with an automatic weapon and grenade launcher.
What happened next
A serious erosion of trust between Australian troops and their Afghan allies.
The Australian reported just a few weeks ago that ADF personnel sent to Afghanistan are being warned in pre-departure briefings not to trust their Afghan colleagues.
Days after that story appeared, a tense confrontation broke out between diggers and Afghans after Australians returned to base to find Afghans pilfering through their belongings.
Many diggers and civilians alike have wondered this year: how can we send our sons to fight a war to secure Afghanistan, when Afghanistan’s own sons want ours dead?
What we learned
There’s no gentleman’s way of doing war anymore. Think about it. During the World War I, fighting stopped at Christmas along the Western front. Troops sang each Christmas carols to each other. It’s clear that spirit, in a secular sense, is not predominant in the Afghanistan of 2011.
We also realised we aren’t quite sure who or what we have been fighting for in Afghanistan since its liberation.
How The Punch covered it
In June, our political voice of reason Mark Kenny asked the questions that remain on our minds.
Why are we fighting in a war where even the people we are trying to help are sometimes the enemy?
Why are we staying until the mission is completed when the mission is so ill-defined and may in the end have so little impact on the internal security of the country?
The answers are becoming less convincing with each death.
Australian Defence Association chair Jim Molan argued that we must stay the course.
For the Coalition troops to leave in 2014, we need to start to set the Afghans up for success now, not for failure, and that is the plan. This requires not just the handing over of a province and the immediate withdrawal of foreign troops, but a staged handover, the maintenance of mentors within the Afghan army structure for some time and the ability to not just know that the Afghans might be failing, but to do something about it if necessary.
This requires a continuing foreign troop presence.
Comedian and Hungry Beast reporter Dan Ilic provided us with a great insight into Aussie diggers’ way of life on the ground.
About three minutes into my routine, a British voice erupted from the venue’s speakers: “Rocket! Rocket! Rocket!”
My unrehearsed performance was being disrupted by something far more interesting. An IDF assault on Kandahar Air Force base.
Those Taliban sure know how to heckle.
And so do our allies.
Read all about it
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