I’ve asked a lot of questions in recent years about the measures being employed to stop so-called “Green-on-Blue” attacks by members of the Afghan National Security Force against the U.S. and coalition personnel. Two years ago today, I concluded that some — if not all — of the answers I had received from official U.S. and coalition spokespersons in Afghanistan were simply not true. Today, Defense Department leaders are keeping the best vetting technology on the market out of the hands of our nation’s warfighters.
Alam Gul, a potential Afghan Local Police (ALP) recruit sat cross-legged on a mat outside the unit’s crumbling, mud-brick headquarters in the village of Tabin, in Kandahar’s restive Arghandab district, alternately looking at his hands and at the sky as he answered a series of questions. Two ALP members sat watching nearby, while others washed motorbikes or lounged in the sun. The U.S. Army specialist and staff sergeant in charge of the interview were getting increasingly frustrated with the young man.
The words in the final sentence of that paragraph revealed what the reporter interpreted was happening before his eyes. At the same time, they ran counter to everything I had been told since April 4, 2012.
After I asked Army Lt. Colonel Jimmie E. Cummings about the process via which ANSF members are being vetted prior to working alongside U.S. and coalition forces, the International Security Assistance Force public affairs officer told me via email that “ISAF or U.S. are not responsible for vetting Afghans for either the Afghan National Army or Police. The Afghans use a 8-step process in vetting their candidates.”
Responding to similar questions July 4, Colonel Cummings reassured me nothing had changed and that Afghans were still in charge:
“We (ISAF) have today, just as we discussed back in April, advise the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in assisting them to develop improvements to the overall vetting and recruitment process for the ANSF. The 8-step vetting process, which we have discussed in the past, is the result of our advising on this issue. Just like everything else that we (ISAF) advise on in Afghanistan, it is an ongoing and continuous process. We continually advise our Afghan partners on ways to improve processes. Again, the Afghans have the lead and are responsible for vetting their recruits into their security forces.”
On Aug. 23, Colonel Cummings’ replacement in Afghanistan, Air Force Maj. Lori Hodge, confirmed again via email that Afghans were in charge of vetting Afghans:
“In response to your question on the vetting procedures adopted by the Afghans, the Afghan National Security Force is working hard to make their vetting processes more robust.”
As examples of the measures being taken, the major listed the following:
• The ANSF introduced re-vetting procedures for Afghan National Army soldiers returning from leave;
• The ANSF outlawed the sale of uniforms; and
• The ANSF established an anonymous reporting system.
Further, the major explained that Afghan President Hamid Karzai had issued a presidential decree which mandates that Afghan National Army recruits be interviewed by a four-person council consisting of officials from the Ministries of Defense and Interior as well as from the Afghan National Directorate of Security and medical department officials.
In closing, Major Hodge reiterated what I had been told by her predecessor and referred me to the Afghan MoD for further information on vetting procedures:
“While we advise our Afghan counterparts, the vetting of recruits and personnel is an Afghan-led and -owned process and they would be the appropriate authorities to discuss it in more detail.”
Maybe Wendle misinterpreted what was taking place before his eyes. But I doubt it.
One thing I’m certain about is that Department of Defense leaders are still doing everything they can to keep the best vetting technology available out of the hands of our warfighters.
Be sure to tune in to Freedom 560 with Ken Clark Thursday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. Central Time. I’ll be talking with host Ken Clark about “Green-on-Blue” attacks, Rules of Engagement and other hot topics — many of which I tackle in my book, The Clapper Memo. More details here.