Recently I was asked to provide feedback and opinions on “Green on Blue” incidents. For those of you who do not know what that means, it is when American or other “friendly forces” are attacked by their host or other supporting organizations. While it is has always been a concern, it has happened more often than anyone may want.
Nation building is a complex and time consuming task, much of what we do once the real fighting stops is to assist the local and host nation by rebuilding their infrastructure. I don’t disagree with this process, what I disagree with it is the blindness with which we can at times go about our business. Leaders need to remember that the troops are still in harms way, in non-permissive environments and act accordingly.
Trust, but verify
When I was asked my opinion I stated it quite matter of factly, “there is a difference between work and trust.” We are there to work, not trust. That takes much longer to build and the big elephant in the room is we shouldn’t trust so easily. Trust like anything needs to be built, built through action, not intention. Built over time, not given as a means to appease.
Be armed…all the time
So, how does one go about ensuring the safety of troops down range. In my opinion, it is quite simple. Be armed all the time! As a member of the greatest fighting force to grace our planet I am boggled by “clearing barrels” and “weapon free zones”. Why on Earth would I want to be in a non-permissive environment unarmed? I can choose to go unarmed, but I should never be forced to go unarmed and yes, I have slept with my rifle.
Don’t apologize for being an American nor for being armed. I believe there is a blurred line between diplomat and warrior. I can certainly act diplomatically, but that is not my job. My job is to bring a quick resolution with force when diplomacy fails. Folks you interact with need to know the safety and security of American forces is the top priority. It should go without saying, but don’t make that assumption.
Halt; who goes there
Security is a mindset, you cannot afford to get let your guard down. It is one thing to be friendly, but have a plan to kill everyone in sight when things go sideways. Take time to establish reaction forces that are not involved with the direct interaction of host personnel. They loiter in the background, keeping a close eye on everything. They maintain a sensible distance and are constantly on the look out for abnormal behavior.
All bags are subject to search and seizure
Profile those you work with for things out of the norm. It doesn’t mean they are guilty, but there are indicators such as nervousness, fidgetiness and otherwise odd behavior that should garnish greater scrutiny. Profiling works, you don’t have to like it, but arguing with the results is a waste of time.
Make your intentions known. It should be crystal clear, there should be no doubt that if you attempt to harm American personal your actions will will be dealt with swiftly and violently and of course unapologetically.