Last Updated:November 27 @ 10:50 am

North: Bitter Harvest

By Oliver North

In December 2009, our commander in chief went to West Point and proclaimed that he would withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by 2014. Since then, he has proudly emphasized that "We are on a course to end this war responsibly." Now U.S. and NATO troops and loyal Afghan soldiers and police officers are reaping the bitter harvest of the seeds that Barack Obama planted with those words.

Over the last 10 days, in five separate incidents, seven American military personnel were killed in what used to be called "green on blue attacks" -- where Afghan soldiers or police have assaulted their U.S. and NATO counterparts. Thus far this year, 37 coalition troops and civilians have been killed in 29 incidents of what the Pentagon now calls "insider attacks." According to figures released by the NATO command in Kabul, there were 11 such events in all last year, resulting in 20 deaths.

Until now, the Pentagon and NATO command in Kabul have maintained that these "sporadic incidents" were usually the consequence of "personal grievances" and "related to people getting into arguments." In March, after an insider attack that killed two British commandos, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the assaults by individuals wearing Afghan police or military uniforms weren't part of "any kind of broad pattern of activity." That perception has been altered by events on the ground in Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, following two attacks perpetrated by Afghan nationals that resulted in six Marines killed and two wounded, U.S. Gen. James Amos, Marine Corps commandant, took the unusual step of issuing guidance to all U.S. Marine leaders. Amos, it should be recalled by my media colleagues, co-authored the "Counterinsurgency Manual" with Gen. David Petraeus; it was used as the guidebook for the fight in Afghanistan. In his letter dated Aug. 14, 2012, Amos notes that the recent assaults "were carefully crafted to drive a wedge between us and our Afghan partners." Importantly, he also warned his Marines: "More of these types of spectacular attacks can be expected..."

A day after the Amos message went out, Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged at least partial reality in a Pentagon press conference. They now say the Taliban is "resorting to these kinds of attacks to create havoc." But in that same press conference, Panetta, perhaps forgetting this is not a conventional war, claimed that "the Taliban has not been able to regain any territory lost..."

During the Q and A with reporters, Dempsey announced new measures to ameliorate the threat: the formation of a Joint Casualty Assessment Team -- JCAT -- to evaluate every aspect of each attack, increased counterintelligence "expertise" and a "conference" of "one-stars and above" to develop "thoughts about what more we might do."

Unfortunately, the Pentagon's fixes won't fix the problem of increasing insider attacks. We currently have 84,000 U.S. troops on the ground in Afghanistan. The Obama administration insists on dropping that number to 68,000 before the presidential election in November -- while simultaneously growing Afghan National Security Forces from 332,000 to more than 350,000. That's mission impossible.

The JCAT idea might have been a good one back in 2007, when NATO first began to tally insider attacks. Any study the JCAT produces now will be good for the history books but unlikely to stop the carnage over the next 12 months.

Improved intelligence on those entering, and counterintelligence about those already in the Afghan police and military services, would be a great idea. But institutional arrogance in U.S. intelligence agencies mandates a reliance on signals intelligence, SIGINT, not human intelligence, HUMINT, that would actually be effective in screening out and detecting Taliban infiltrators.

And if the Pentagon brass wants to know what needs to be done to mitigate the risk of these attacks, they ought to forget about a conference of generals and solicit ideas from the lieutenants and captains in the field who are living, fighting and dying beside loyal Afghan counterparts.

Finally, in what can only be a total lack of situational awareness, there is Panetta's assessment that insider attacks are designed to "create havoc" and his comment that success is measured by keeping the Taliban from regaining "any territory lost."

The radical Islamists in Afghan police and military garb who kill Americans don't care about territory. And havoc is simply a subsidiary effect -- collateral damage -- of an insider attack. The perpetrators of these assaults on American and NATO personnel have but one goal: killing an infidel.

Obama planted the seeds for all this when he publicly announced a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops. His deadline is fertile ground for jihadis who know that their "window of opportunity" for murder is closing. We should expect the bitter harvest of "green on blue attacks" to produce a bumper crop of American casualties -- unless we hire a new commander in chief who knows how to fight a war and win.


Oliver North is the host of "War Stories" on Fox News Channel, the founder and honorary chairman of Freedom Alliance, and the author of "American Heroes in Special Operations."


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  1. yougottabekiddingmeComment by yougottabekiddingme
    August 18, 2012 @ 9:26 am

    There has been an almost 400% (397% as of today) increase in U.S. fatalities in Afghanistan since President Obama took office. And the sharp jump started 6 months into his administration (no blaming Pres Bush on this). Where is the MSM on this? Where is FOX News on this? Where is Cindy Sheehan? Where are the incessant stories with mock gravestones and flags for each of the fallen. See for details. Why isn’t Col North concentrating on that simple fact alone? Wake Up America and realize what this president is shoveling.

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  2. longscoutComment by longscout
    August 18, 2012 @ 10:00 am

    yougottabekidingme gets this: that the President is shovelling the turf atop our very American graves…and perhaps cracking jokes with Joe Biden as he does so. Despicable.

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  3. bishacudaComment by bishacuda
    August 18, 2012 @ 11:22 am

    Why does President Obama want better intelligence? So he can leak it to the press?

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  4. sparkyvaComment by sparkyva
    August 18, 2012 @ 11:28 am

    The liberal democrats and the fundamentalist Muslims have totally different social agendas on almost all points but one. They both believe in “punishing” those that oppose them. I think that the liberal respect for Islam’s movements are driven by two different philosophies: first their willingness to take strict measures against their opposition, and second by Obama’s bowing respect for the titular head of the Islamic movement, the King of Saudi Arabia (he is the protector of most of the historical sites if Islam). Obama was instilled with this respect in Indonesia.

    These two are often in conflict as there is a power struggle between Iran, supporter of the Taliban, and and their partner in Syria, and other forces in Egypt and Lebanon that have taken support from both Iran and Saudi Arabia, but may end up being a third force. So because Obama, not being sure which side to back, and because Saudi Arabia in it’s weakness is trying to buy friends on any side, we have a mostly confused foreign policy. I say mostly because the only clear part of our foreign policy is an undermining of Israel. It is not completely anti-Israel because Saudi Arabia keeps making use of their contacts with Israel to keep Iran in check.

    May I suggest that all this rhetoric against Israel is a smoke screen and a deception. Israel is not the immediate target of Iran, Saudi Arabia is. Israel can wait, the fall of Saudi Arabia into the sphere of Iran influence would be worth far more to Iran and would clear the path to the hegemony of the Islamic people. Israel can be the boogeyman for years to come. Watch for the thrust to come at Saudi Arabia and get our energy production up for the coming crisis.

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  5. gimmesometruthComment by gimmesometruth
    August 18, 2012 @ 5:57 pm

    I understand that the ratio of coalition forces to Afghan forces going on joint patrol has been dropping precipitously, leaving our troops more exposed to this kind of fragging. Joint force patrols should NEVER fall below 50% and coalition troops should be armed AT ALL TIMES. Our men and women are more important to America than any 13th century flying carpet rider.

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  6. cxComment by genesal
    August 18, 2012 @ 8:42 pm

    As a vet of Viet Nam I know the troops can’t fight under these circumstances much less be effective. Now is the time to strategically nuke their poppy fields right after we leave them on their own. That’s it a tali_bon fire.

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  7. EHeasslerComment by EHeassler
    August 19, 2012 @ 8:30 am

    It helps to remember that Panetta is a die-hard Progressive whose goal is to downsize our armed forces to the point of nonexistence. Sustaining a “few” casualties as part of our capitulation in Afcrapistan is acceptable collateral damage is long as it further weakens our military and our world standing. This administration does not want us to be strong enough to project global strength. The plans to downsize the Navy to 225 ships or less including the elimination of four carrier battle groups is insane for a nation our size. They are inviting our enemies to take advantage of us. I think that the long range plans of Panetta and obama are treasonous and merit obam’s impeachment at least. I think that both should be charged and tried.

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  8. CharieComment by Charie
    August 19, 2012 @ 3:29 pm

    ***…But institutional arrogance in U.S. intelligence agencies mandates a reliance on signals intelligence, SIGINT, not human intelligence, HUMINT…***

    I’m sorry Col. North, but I have to disagree with you on this. The cultural climate being what it is in this country now I don’t trust humans to not fall prey to political-correctness, as witness the Fort Hood Massacre. There was every indication that Nidal Hasan was a terrorist in the making but he was passed on by every superior because not one wanted to deal with the huge problem that he was. I’m afraid the Army has become nothing but a bunch of cowardly @ss-kissers! Even worse, they don’t seem to care that it results in our troops being killed!

    No guns allowed by our military on bases? That’s insane!

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  9. georgeaiComment by georgeai
    August 20, 2012 @ 1:08 pm

    Hey, isn’t this North guy the one that was accused of a crime? Isn’t he the one that said he’d stand on his head if told to do so by his commander in chief?
    I don’t think we can trust him nor does he have any creditability.

    Someone must have told him what to say, and now he’s standing on his head and repeating what he herd.

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  10. georgeaiComment by georgeai
    August 20, 2012 @ 1:09 pm

    Who started these wars? Have we forgotten already?
    My question is WHY?

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