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05 August 2014


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Glad to see this post. Was hoping to hear from Col Lang and SST commenters on this incident.

How many 2-star generals are involved in the war in Afghanistan?

Lord Curzon


Now named as Major General Harold Greene. The shooter was reportedly an Afghan officer. RIP.


MG Bruno Hochmuth, the Commanding General of the 3rd MarDiv, was killed in a helo crash in 1967 in Vietnam. While there was speculation that he was downed by enemy fire, the investigation deteremined that a tail rotor gearbox failure caused the crash. He was the first US general officer to die in Vietnam and the only Marine general to die commanding a division. About 4-5 other general officers were killed in Vietnam or in contiguous waters.

In 1968, MG Kieth Ware, USA,commanding the First Infantry Division, was killed in action when his helo was shot down. Gen Ware had been awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in leading his battalion in France during WWII.


With deepest sympathy and condolences to the General's family and to his fellow soldiers injured in this incident.
As for Afghanistan "get out of there as soon possible". We started there with indiscriminate bombing and need to leave that cesspool in the same manner.

The Twisted Genius

MG Greene graduated from RPI and was commissioned as a 2LT in the Engineers in 1980. I didn't see anything on the alumni site or twitter feed about him yet. I'm sure there'll be something in the days ahead. If not, I will be very disappointed in my alma mater.


Watching the news it would seem that it was either a) al-qaida, talib or Afghan 'insurgent/militant/anti-Western, anti secular modernism fanatic or b) some nut with a personal 'beef'.

The thought that an Afghan might simply be sick of his country being occupied by foreign armies is beyond the grasp of our own ideologues, who simply cannot ascribe anything but the basest, craziest motives to actors from another culture. Thus all Palestinians who resist the Zionists are painted with the same brushes as ... insert whomever you wish.

FB Ali

Every time there is such an incident the perpetrator is described as either a Taliban 'infiltrator' or an Afghan soldier who had some grudge or grievance.

It is not realised that large numbers of Afghans (of all ethnicities) just do not like foreigners in their land, especially if they appear to be 'lording' it over other Afghans. This is not likely to change, irrespective of whatever 'friendship' treaties are signed or aid provided by the US (or any other country, for that matter).


FWIK, Kirby's optimism is not misplaced, though it may be a tad parochial. After all, wasn't he involved in our training of the new and cutting edge Afghan navy?

Peter Brownlee

I remember when the Afghan adventure was proposed (and, ye gods, Iraq) asking the we-have-no-other-choicers if they'd read Kipling:

"When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier."

Much more at http://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/kipling/young_british_soldier.html

Or if they had read any of Lady Sale's diary?



Or heard about Dr William Brydon?


(They had not.)



My condolences to General Greene's family.

What message does this send to the rest of the officer corps of the Afghan army? Above and beyond the complete inability for the Afghan government to maintain funding to support such an organization (which has been discussed here before) how many of these units will simply exist on paper as men return home to make a living once we are gone and Obama is out of office? Lastly, has Karzai used the same tactics of ethnic and religious discrimination in creating the officer corps of this force and are they as corrupt as the ones we see in the now disintegrating Iraqi army?



He was hit four times in the back. that would be one burst from an automatic weapon. Evidently Greene was an Acquisition Corps officer before he became a general officer of the line. That is why he had never been deployed before in the last ten years. this guy was a uniformed technologist. To send someone like that out to the field in a place like Afghanistan seems foolish to me. pl



This assassination must be a symptom of a collapsing western styled Afghan Army that is simply beyond the capacity of the Afghan government to manage or support. It is also clear that the US does not have the will to hold the hands of the troops by tens of thousands of self-protecting US troops that is needed to keep the tottering structure intact. From my perspective as a simple citizen, it looks like the whole misadventure is falling apart and that like in Iraq, we are going soon to see the whole thing collapse into a civil war with a totally uncertain and probably negative outcome.

Awhile back there were comments discussing the capture of U.S. weapons by ISIL from the disintegrated Iraqi army and the impossibility of controlling or disabling those items after capture. Since then, it has been clear that the abundant U.S. captured arms and munitions have enabled ISIL to spread and defend its realm. As Afghanistan tumbles into disorder, similar seizures of American hardware and munitions can be expected similarly to be "liberated".

We have poured billions into equipping the Afghan Army. If that Army is disintegrating, it seems it should be progressively disarmed and its hardware, vehicles, and weapons neutralized before the U.S. leaves. Can this be done, or will the Taliban, like ISIL be come to be armed mostly by US?



"If that Army is disintegrating, it seems it should be progressively disarmed and its hardware, vehicles, and weapons neutralized before the U.S. leaves. Can this be done, or will the Taliban, like ISIL be come to be armed mostly by US?" The USG will cling to its desperate hope that they have done better in Afghanistan than they did in Iraq. as for disarming the Afghans, you can forget that. they would fight to keep their equipment. The Taliban are also going to be well armed. pl

Babak Makkinejad

I am willing to assert that none of these perpetrators were Shia Muslims.


And, I presume that shortly there will be some sort of corporate merger or cooperation agreement between IS and the Afghan Taliban?

FB Ali

Fred, Origin,

The problem lies not in any failure in the US efforts to raise and arm a 'modern' Afghan army. It lies in the basic thinking underlying this endeavour.

The nature and structure of Afghan society, its level of economic development and education etc, do not lend themselves to creating such a force. Apart from a small force for ceremonial purposes, guard duties etc, Afghanistan has never had a 'modern' army.

They make formidable fighters when operating in ways that suit their conditions; they just do not make good 'soldiers'. Trying to make them change is a futile operation.

As is the whole sorry business of creating a 'modern' Afghan state. Of course, it did make a lot of individuals, companies and other sundry enterprises (both American and Afghan) a lot of money, .

In retrospect, the whole thing will be seen as both an enormous boondoggle as well as a remarkable example of blind folly.


I say ditch this whole military training academy outreach as it clearly does not work. The cultural gulf between the Afghans and the West is too vast to overcome to have an effective policy of "Afghanization".
What ISAF needs to do is to take a hands off approach and barricade themselves in their designated super-bases across the country and then only send out rapid reaction armored and close air support forces to support the Afghan military and police forces in the case of Taliban insurgent activities.


This was predictable and predicted at the time.

different clue


If Afghanistan resumes its civil war, I am guessing it would be along the same lines as before. The Pashtun Taliban and Pashtun supporters fighting the Uzbek/Tadjik (and maybe Hazara?) Northern Alliance 2.0. Such a Northern Alliance might call itself something else and try to win over what anti-Taliban Pashtuns as may exist.
If Russia and China supplied and assisted the Northern Alliance 2.0 swiftly and effectively, such a Northern Alliance 2.0 could do better than the Northern Alliance did.
(China would be torn between its alliance with Pakistan and its distaste for a possible new fighting and training center for Uighurs and others who might then re-enter China. So I don't know how totally actively China would help a Northern Alliance 2.0. Maybe China would limit itself to killing anyone or anything which threatened its copper mine investments and other investments it has/ will have in extracting minerals from Afghanistan).



IMO a proxy war will erupt after we are gone. the war will be among China, India, Pakistan and Iran with each backing some groups useful to them. pl

different clue

Colonel Lang,

That would be very bad. I don't suppose there is any chance that those 4 regional powers could find some way to make Afghanistan a totally neutral country where no one power's interests are preferrentially served at the expense of one or more of the other 3 powers? I don't suppose anyone in those governments is even thinking that way?
Would China be the most coldly unemotional of the 4 governments in terms of picking which groups are most useful to them?


After the past series of events,
I think we should all be in awe of how accurately Dr. Michael Scheuer
predicted the future
in his awesomely accurate
"Seven Pillars of Truth about Afghanistan",
the final section of the chapter on Afghanistan
in his 2004 book "Imperial Hubris".
If you do not have ready access to that book,
you can see a copy of that section here:
Apparently many people disagree with Dr. Scheuer over his views on Israel, and other issues,
but I think and hope that all can honor and respect him
for the accuracy of his views
on how the Islamic world would react to
the Zionist, feminist, and American attempts to change it.

Babak Makkinejad

If you were an Iranian leader with whom could you work?

The Pakistani state? A whore for hire

The Chinese? They do not give a damn about Iranian interests.

Russia - those back-stabbing, double-dealing fellows to the North?

I do not think so.

Every man is for himself....

Ishmael Zechariah

Dr. Makkinejad,

The following might be a counterpoint to your classifications:

"We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow."
Henry John Temple Palmerston, Remarks in the House of Commons, March 1, 1848

Ishmael Zechariah

different clue

If this is how it looks to Iran, then Iran is in a lonely place. In this scenario the least distasteful of the three would be China, because if China does not give a damn FOR Iranian interests, at least it does not give a damn aGAINST Iranian interests. China's one interest will be to keep the copper (and other resources?) moving to China. I don't know if that provides any comfort.
As little as I know, and as zero training as I have had in doing analysis, the closest I can come to analysis is "it sorta feels like". So to me it sorta feels like if indeed Afghanistan reverts to civil war, that Russia and China will have the most serious material interests there. Russia has a deep interest in law and order (in Richard Nixon's sense of the term) in countries bordering it or just one border away. Russia would not want to see a long running war in which Islamists from Russia itself or the Central Asian Republics could get yet more practice and training to bring it back to Russia or the Central Asian Republics. If Russia thought sufficient assistance could guarantee swift victory to whichever sides would prevent resumption of jihadi training camps, Russia will give that assistance and the Central Asiastans will help. I would guess they would help the Northern Alliance 2.0. I think China would care about more than just the copperzone. China would also want to suppress any jihadista training activity which could leak back into China. So maybe China, Russia, and the Central Asiastans would work together to back the Northern Alliance if they thought such backing could achieve swift hard victory.
I also think China and Russia would view their own interests in Afghanistan as being seriously material and political. Whereas China/Russia would view India's and Pakistan's "interests" in Afghanistan as being based on mere competitive spite between India and Pakistan. Russia and China would try very hard to prevent India and Pakistan from backing any side which would threaten "law and order" or "getting the copper out".
America's current leadership would be tempted to back whichever side seemed to be against the Russian-backed side, also out of spite and wounded pride. If China felt such support went to a side which was bad for the coppermine bussiness, China would exert whatever pressure it could to dissuade America from lending that support to the "counter-Russia" side.

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