Troops Died Because of US/NATO Negligence
September 12, 2012 • 10:40AM

In May 2011, Dr. Jeffrey Bordin, a behavioral scientist under US Army contract, issued a report warning that so-called green-on-blue or insider attacks were not only a systemic problem, but that the problem would get worse unless the International Security Assistance Force took measures to address the problem. Most of his 58 recommendations dealt with improving the cultural relations between U.S. forces and Afghan National Security Forces, primarily the army. Others addressed the treatment of civilians and the pervasive corruption within the the ANSF and the Afghan government, which also contributed to poisoning the relationship between U.S. and the Afghan troops they were training. Bordin contradicted the official narrative, that these were "isolated" or "extremely rare" events.

"The research completed here shows that there is a great deal of deep seated anger, distrust and cultural incompatibility between US and ANSF personnel that is precluding further development of the ANSF as well as greatly endangering the lives of US and other ISAF soldiers," Bordin wrote in his conclusion.

Instead of seriously considering Bordin's recommendations and making changes that might have saved lives, NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) suppressed his report (it became public in January 2012 and managed to circulate before the Pentagon slapped a classifed label on it) and the Army essentially fired him, forcing him to leave Aghanistan. "I was basically persona non-grata," he told Stars & Stripes.

Only now, after ten ISAF troops, 7 of them American, were killed in a two-week period in August by Afghan troops they were supposed to be allied with, are the U.S. and NATO taking Bordin's work seriously. On Sept. 6, Lt. Gen. Adrian Bradshaw, ISAF's deputy commander, admitted that Bordin's report is now being used to guide response to the green-on-blue threats. Bordin counted 26 incidents between May 2007 and May 2011, in which at least 58 Westerners were killed by their Afghan colleagues, including 7 UN employees in Mazar e Sharif in October 2009. This year, so far, 45 ISAF soldiers have been killed in such attacks, including 4 French soldiers in January and 3 Australians in August, compared to a total of 35 in all of 2011.

The death toll so far this year demonstrates the prescience of Bordin's warning, and should place the onus of responsibility on the U.S./NATO leadership for ignoring him. According to Stars & Stripes, Bordin regards the military's refusal to act on his recommendations as a willful error that has cost lives. When he returned to Afghanistan last May as head of a Human Terrain Team (a sort of cultural intelligence unit), he was forbidden from discussing the results of his study with general officers, and then was demoted and forced to resign.

"That was the height of immoral behavior," he said. "I have knowledge that can help save American lives, and I was ordered not to give that information out to another military entity."