New Army Handbook: 'Ignorance' And 'Lack Of Empathy' Cause of U.S. Deaths

A new draft of a 75-page Army handbook for troops heading to Afghanistan says that American cultural insensitivity is to blame for the 63 attacks this year by Afghan soldiers against the U.S.-led coalition forces who are training them.  

According to the Wall Street Journal, who obtained an advance copy of the controversial document, the draft manual states that:

"Many of the confrontations occur because of [coalition] ignorance of, or lack of empathy for, Muslim and/or Afghan cultural norms, resulting in a violent reaction from the [Afghan security force] member," according to the draft handbook prepared by Army researchers.

In 2012, U.S.-led coalition forces suffered 63 so-called “green on blue” attacks, the term used to describe Afghan soldiers attacking the very people training them.  Over three dozen of those attacks were fatal.

“What the Army is saying, in effect, is that if Afghan partners conduct violence against U.S. service personnel, it is the serviceman’s fault,” says retired Adm. James A. Lyons, former commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. “This is mind-boggling.”

The new Army handbook draft also teaches American soldiers the importance of muting their First Amendment rights while serving alongside Afghan forces,  so as not to offend them or spark additional insider attacks. Under the heading “etiquette violations best avoided by [coalition forces],” soldiers are told not to express their views on any of the following topics:

  • Anything related to Islam
  • Mention of any other religion and/or spirituality
  • Debating the war
  • Making derogatory comments about the Taliban
  • Advocating women's rights and equality
  • Directing any criticism towards Afghans
  • Mentioning homosexuality and homosexual conduct

“It is totally against our core principles and everything we stand for as Americans,” says Adm. Lyons.  “It threatens to further diminish our military principles, stature and fighting spirit…If these attacks on America’s exceptionalism and core principles are collectively analyzed, it appears that there is an insidious agenda at work to fundamentally change America. All of these negative factors must be challenged and defeated. As a first step, the Army’s draft handbook should be trashed.”

The rise of “green on blue” attacks has placed U.S. service members in difficult, sometimes life-threatening, situations that require them to respond swiftly to Afghan provocations.  In August, for example, when an Afghan chambered a round in his rifle to threaten the Marine he was sharing a post with, the Marine threw the Afghan off the 11-foot tower they shared before handcuffing him and putting him in a holding unit.  "If some (Afghan soldier) slingshots a round because he doesn't like that you're not giving him a bottle of water, and you let that go, then what happens next?" battalion commander Lt. Col. David Bradney told USA Today. "He walks on post with the round sling-shotted and shoots you in the gut."

But the draft of the new military handbook says “better situational awareness/understanding of Afghan culture will help better prepare [troops] to more effectively partner and to avoid cultural conflict that can lead toward green-on-blue violence.”

The lead military commander in Afghanistan, U.S. Marine Gen. John Allen, is refusing to endorse the manual in its present draft form.  “Gen. Allen did not author, nor does he intend to provide, a foreword,” said spokesman Col. Tom Collins.  “He did not approve of its contents.”

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