With the recent rise in insider attacks afflicting Afghanistan, one Afghan National Army commander believes there is a simple solution to prevent future incidents. At a company operational planning session with his mentors, 1st Lt. Abdul Rahman, spoke on his convictions regarding insider attacks.
An insider attack is a situation where an Afghan National Security Force member unexpectedly turns on a coalition forces member or coalition counterpart.
“This is al-Qaeda and the Taliban’s new tactic,” said Rahman, who is the 1st Toley commander, 3rd Kandak, 4th Brigade ANA, “to have people join the ANA for this specific reason in order to make the ANA look bad. They want to deteriorate the relationship between the nations here under NATO and the ANA. With this tactic, they make the ANA look untrustworthy, making it very difficult for us.”
“Not all of the ANA are like that,” Rahman said, “when we get a soldier that comes in he is already a soldier with a weapon, so we treat him as a soldier. We do our own questioning by asking him where he is from, why he joined the ANA, etcetera... We really don’t know what is inside his heart; so once again, we don’t have a fail proof system to find out what their true intentions are. Even when these attacks happen, it is only one out of 10,000 that acts in this way. The problem is, when just one person does this, the whole brigade gets a bad reputation for the actions of one.”
Rahman doubts the attackers do it for monetary gain. Instead, they do it to support a cause.
“Take a suicide bomber,” Rahman said. “No matter how much money you give him or how much money you promise him, it doesn’t even matter. If you promise me the whole world but I myself won’t exist then what am I going to do with the world? I am an Afghan and even if my father was indebted hundreds of thousands of dollars and someone told me to become a suicide bomber for his debt, I wouldn’t do it. They are not doing it for the money, they are not doing it for their family, they do it specifically to infiltrate and take action.”
Every Afghan leader needs to be proactive in the cause to fight these infiltrators.
“We all need to try. I myself just received new soldiers, I don’t send them on patrols or operations,” Rahman said. “There are currently three of them and they are always around me. I also have five others watching them. Until we are satisfied of what their true intentions are, we won’t send them out on any jobs or operations because if an incident does occur, I am going to be the first one held responsible.”
As a company commander, Rahman pleads for the public not to judge so quickly. He feels there are certain individuals who are directly part of al-Qaeda but reminds people not to hold all commanders accountable for the acts of a few. While a commander should be responsible enough to look after his soldiers, he can’t always know what is truly in their hearts.
Rahman proposed a filtering system for new Afghan Security Force applicants and recruits.
“In the future, this shouldn’t happen,” Rahman said. “We need to be able to stop it. When a person wants to join the ANA there should be an insurance policy where a village elder or somebody trustworthy vouches for the individual. Then we need to follow up and check the reference of the soldier. Whether it is a Qari or a village elder, we need to call them and ask specifically about the person. Or, we need to call the district and get information about the individual.”
“These attacks won’t happen in the future if we have three people who have vouched for every new soldier,” Rahman said. “If he does commit this type of act, we will hold the three people who vouched for him responsible.”
This is just one Afghan’s opinion and solution to one issue. Rahman believes that if Afghan leaders continue to think like he does, in a solution-oriented way, and with a strong sense of accountability and responsibility, there is no doubt that Afghanistan and its government can succeed.
Article by 1st Lt. Cari Butler, 117th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment