- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Someone passed to me an e-mail in which a senior Army military intelligence officer declined a request to brief another unit on the "green on blue" threat presented by Afghan soldiers and police.
"I respectfully decline the offer for Dr. Bordin to conduct an OPD," Col. Sharon Hamilton wrote last May to Lt. Col. Frank Tank. (I know, that name may sound odd, but it is real — Tank is a Knowlton Award-winning officer who has written for the Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin.) Col. Hamilton explained that Bordin "must remain focused on Brigade mission requirements."
She wasn’t being completely candid. But Hamilton’s real problem with Bordin giving a briefing was that the Army at that time was unhappy with a controversial report Bordin had just produced on "green-on-blue" killings of American soldiers by Afghan army and police personnel. That report, "A Crisis of Trust and Cultural Incompatibility," subsequently became very well known.
But when Bordin first distributed his findings, he got in hot water. A coalition spokesman, Lt. Cdr. Collette Murphy, told the Wall Street Journal that, "The findings are not consistent with our assessment." Murphy charged that the study was "systematically flawed, and suffered from generalizations, narrow sample sets, unprofessional rhetoric, and sensationalism." As a Stars & Stripes article put it, "His prescient analysis was quickly and publicly ridiculed by military officials, and Bordin was removed from his post as a research team leader."
But a year later, after a sharp escalation in green-on-blue killings, the Army embraced his findings.
I tried to e-mail Col. Hamilton, her old boss, as well as Dr. Bordin and Lt. Col. Tank, in order to request comment and get additional information, but was unable to reach any of them, or at least hear back from them.
Don’t you just love military bureaucracy?