The near-unprecedented assassination of a United States Major General in Afghanistan yesterday has returned media attention to a war President Obama long deemed over. While Democrats greeted the so-called end of the Afghan War as a welcome change, sources within the intelligence community say the withdrawal has collapsed morale in the armed forces.
At a training base near the capital, Kabul, a man in an Afghan military uniform who American sources believe was an Afghan soldier and not a man in disguise opened fire on a group of NATO soldiers. He killed Major General Harold Greene and injured fifteen others, including a German brigadier general. According to Afghan military sources cited by the Associated Press, the soldier used a NATO weapon against the troops, and hid in a bathroom shortly before opening fire.
The lack of reporting from Afghanistan in recent months, especially in contrast to the escalating violence reported from Iraq, has led many to believe the nation has stabilized without the major presence of U.S. troops, and that the incident yesterday was a rogue event. It is, in fact, just the latest in a horrifying trend of what are called “green-on-blue attacks” in which Afghan soldiers attack the coalition forces that are in the nation to train them.
Such attacks did indeed peak in 2012, yet continue to be a menace. Military sources have been warning for years that such attacks– as well as a variety of offenses from the Taliban– would increase with a diminished presence in the nation. In 2012, for example, members of the military community explicitly cited President Obama’s rules of engagement as a danger to soldiers. Even then, troops on the ground protested that rules of engagement meant to “kill them with kindness” left soldiers completely exposed under attack, and created areas where the enemy was “untouchable” and would retreat to if defeated.
Those rules of engagement remain the same, but coalition troops in Afghanistan have dwindled significantly in number. Yet even with reports of troops frustrated by the ground operation under Obama before the withdrawal, Democrats praised it. The withdrawal “unquestionably advances our national security interests in Afghanistan,” claimed Senator Harry Reid. Even moderate Democrats, like Senator Joe Manchin, applauded the withdrawal.
That praise only added to the frustration within the military community, which has only been exacerbated by this latest mass shooting. An unnamed member of the intelligence community told Breitbart News that, in the aftermath of this latest incident, “morale is at its lowest since 2001 amongst the generals because of the political distortion of ground truth.” While few go on the record, there is “general discontent amongst senior officers” with the situation on the ground.
That frustration rises from a number of incidents on the ground that have been obscured in mainstream media to the benefit of narratives that help President Obama. In July, for instance, Breitbart News reported of an extensive Taliban assault on a military base in Kabul– one that made headlines nowhere else. The Associated Press noted that the Taliban was “gaining strength” in vague terms. The New York Times reported on gains the Taliban made outside of Kabul, but noted: “Their advance has gone unreported because most American forces have left the field and officials in Kabul have largely refused to talk about it.”
With a Major General dead and an unknown number of Americans wounded, it is no longer a time for such deterioration of stability in Afghanistan to go unreported. While the response to the attack from the White House has been relatively quiet, this watershed incident may increase rumblings of discontent with the way the Obama administration has handled Afghanistan to higher levels.