KABUL, Afghanistan — More than 50,000 U.S. troops still deployed in Afghanistan will face a dangerous new challenge after officials in Washington caved on a provision in the new U.S.-Afghan security pact that allows Afghan civilians to search U.S. military bases.
The provision is a compromise in the long-delayed Bilateral Security Agreement that sets the terms for how U.S. forces will operate after the drawdown of troops in 2014.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai had rejected previous iterations of the BSA over the enter-and-search policy that permits foreign troops to enter the homes of Afghan civilians. Karzai was insistent that it is only fair if enter-and-search work both ways.
“We are only asking for transparency from both sides,” stated Karzai. “Innocent Afghan people have been forced to open their homes to U.S. troops, and they should have a right to inspect U.S. military bases so that their families can also feel safe.”
Afghans have grown to fear and distrust foreign troops after a spate of violent incidents, including the February 2012 accidental burning of hundreds of copies of the Quran and a March 2012 mass shooting by a U.S. soldier in southern Afghanistan that killed 16 people.
“The Afghan people have finally realized that this is their country. It doesn’t belong to America or Russia or NATO,” declared one senior Afghan official. “If outside forces want to claim they are here to help, then they shouldn’t have a problem with peaceful Afghans poking around.”
Only specially trained Afghan civilians will be allowed to enter U.S. compounds, and never without fair warning. Still, military commanders say the new provision is bad for morale, not to mention extremely dangerous.
Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. said the compromise “practically asks suicide bombers to wipe their feet at the front door.”
“Not only will it make our servicemen and women feel like uninvited guests, but it will also place them at an extremely elevated risk of attack.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the security compromise is a result of “mistakes” by American forces and urged U.S. commanders “to make the most of this unfortunate detail.”
“Remember, they still need us more than we need them. As long as our boys aren’t doing anything they aren’t supposed to, these inspections should be fine,” Sec. Kerry declared.
“That being said, they might want to consider leaving their body armor on at night.”