- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.
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?
Kevin Baron is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy, covering defense and military issues in Washington. He is also vice president of the Pentagon Press Association. Baron previously was a national security staff writer for National Journal, covering the "business of war." Prior to that, Baron worked in the resident daily Pentagon press corps as a reporter/photographer for Stars and Stripes. For three years with Stripes, Baron covered the building and traveled overseas extensively with the secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, covering official visits to Afghanistan and Iraq, the Middle East and Europe, China, Japan and South Korea, in more than a dozen countries. From 2004 to 2009, Baron was the Boston Globe Washington bureau's investigative projects reporter, covering defense, international affairs, lobbying and other issues. Before that, he muckraked at the Center for Public Integrity. Baron has reported on assignment from Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and the South Pacific. He was won two Polk Awards, among other honors. He has a B.A. in international studies from the University of Richmond and M.A. in media and public affairs from George Washington University. Originally from Orlando, Fla., Baron has lived in the Washington area since 1998 and currently resides in Northern Virginia with his wife, three sons, and the family dog, The Edge.| The E-Ring |