Finally catching up with the story that has been the talk of the town around here for 24 hours, the BBC reports that "forty-one US-trained Afghan guards" have been arrested after a shootout with Afghan National Police in Kandahar.
Apparently, these guys went to the district police headquarters to demand the release of a comrade (some reports say a relative) who had been detained for driving an unregistered vehicle. The police, who have claimed that the man was counterfeiter and a smuggler, were naturally reluctant to surrender their suspect. Angry words were exchanged and, in traditional Afghan fashion, the dispute was appealed to the highest available authority, namely automatic weapons. At least eight police dead, including the ANP's provincial commander and the local head of CID.
All of this would be bad enough, except that the reporting on this incident has been sporadic in the Western media and, to put it charitably, passionately eclectic in Afghanistan. Early reports said the gunmen were US Special Forces, which operate their own little snatch-and-grab squads in Kandahar. When that turned out to be untrue, it was reported that the gunmen were "US-trained private security guards."
That may or may not be true, but it was enough to get Hamid Karzai to go on Afghan TV and condemn all "private security companies" operating in the country. He didn't bother to mention that the facts were still to be determined, nor did he point out that the individuals in question were not from any of the 39 companies licensed to operate in Afghanistan. Instead, playing to ignorance and petty rivalries of the electorate during this campaign season, he dumbed it down to PSCs in general.
Thanks for that, you weasel-faced scumbag. Twenty thousand people, the vast majority of the Afghans, are employed by properly licensed and heavily monitored companies trying to do the gritty but necessary work of guarding the people putting this place back together. Because your government forces us to wear uniforms and therefore allows the public to equate us the the ANA and ANP, we're already targets for the bad guys. Now you've gone and got the regular locals pissed at us too, by erroneously identifying all of us with some trigger-happy cowboys who can't keep it in their pants.
Mark my words, people will get killed over this. Somebody, somewhere in Afghanistan, is now going to be angry enough and ill-informed enought to take a shot at some hapless private security guard who will probably never see it coming. Thanks for that. Prick.
Incidentally, why is it necessary to point out that any military or paramilitary force here is "US trained?" I mean, with the exception of the Taliban, they're pretty much all US trained, including the police and the army. Using the fact of US training as a perjorative attribute is probably not wise when your own army and police fall into that category as well.