Think about this as you spin up for an upcoming deployment, wrap up guard mount for a day of patrol, or even as you stop at the Shoppette to buy a Monster energy drink to get you through your shift on the flight line. In April of 2011 at Kabul Airport, Afghanistan, the Air Force experienced its greatest loss since the start of the Global War on Terror when an Afghan Colonel, a supposed “ally”, commenced firing; taking the lives of eight American Airmen and one contractor during a surprise “green on blue” attack.
It has allegedly been uncovered that Afghan Colonel Ahmad Gul was paid approximately $250,000 to carry out these attacks. There were signs leading up to the attack, but those red flags were likely ignored due to fear of offending am Afghan Colonel or possibly creating more friction between allied leaders and the US, an already unstable relationship on many levels.
An event like this this can happen on day one or day 180 of your deployment, but no different from the attacks on Bagram on May 19, 2010 or the gunfight that took the life of fellow Defender SSgt T.J. Lobraico on September 5, 2013, you must start every shift, every mission, and respond to every call with a plan to execute every skill you’ve learned and trained for with aggressive and deadly precision, or quite possibly, with maximum restraint. As you begin your final few days of “groundhog day”, manning an ECP in Al Udeid, or on your 50th patrol outside in Kandahar, this is where you need to fight one of the biggest threats to your survival and mission accomplishment for many defenders.
The deadliest phase of any deployment is when complacency sets in. As defenders you must provide courteous and professional interaction to your allies, the local populace, and especially those wearing the American Flag on their sleeve. While carrying out your daily duties, remain ready to execute decisive and aggressive action to terminate a threat from outside the wire or from within. Make peace with the fact that you may have to kill someone in the line of duty and that person may be a known enemy, but could possibly be someone wearing the same uniform as yours. The contract security local national who you’ve befriended; the third country national that cooks your breakfast at the chow hall, or worse, someone in ABUs that reached a point of no return from personal stresses on the home front and compounded by their deployment.
These scenarios are difficult to fathom, but they have ALL happened in recent years and not just once or twice.
You are the Defenders of the Force, and your adversary may not always be outside the wire. Understand this possibility as a reality and you will succeed in accomplishing your unit’s mission and your individual mission to come home safe.
By MSgt Peter K. Bowden
ANG Security Forces
U.S. Air Force Security Forces “Defenders” and the Insider Attack
A joint-coalition convoy departs Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, to dispose of excess military ordnance June 12, 2013. Romanian soldiers provided security for the mission, while U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, Slovakian and Australian explosive ordnance disposal personnel conducted the controlled detonations, which was an example of the working partnerships between the allied countries. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Scott Saldukas)
MSgt Peter K. Bowden – ANG Security Forces