The First Green on Blue Attack of Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan
Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 7, No. 8, August 2018
Heath B. Hansen
PFC Michael Sall in the only guard tower that existed on FOB Zurmat at the time of the green-on-blue attack. Pictured is an M-240B machine gun. PFC Sall was in the tower on November 9, 2005 during the attack but did not use this weapon, oriented away from the base, to shoot the attacker. He instead made a split second decision to use his smaller M-4 rifle to shoot from the other side of the tower, down and into the base at the ANA soldier. Paktia Province, Afghanistan, 2005. Photographer: Heath Hansen.
We entered the base between the HESCO barriers covered in concertina razor-wire, unprepared for a betrayal from one of our supposed allies. On November 9, 2005, as the convoy snaked its way into the safety of the base walls, I could see Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers watching us from the perimeter. They didn’t wave; they didn’t smile; they just stared. Since the United States invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, there had never been an instance of an Afghan soldier attacking Americans, known as a “green-on-blue attack.” But somehow I instinctively had little trust for them. We parked the Humvees and unloaded our equipment. I took off my helmet and body-armor, and set my weapon beside me.
The mission had been long and I was hungry. Before heading out for the operation, I had secured my favorite meal, and now it was time to relax and enjoy. “Hey, give me your jalapeño cheese. I’ll give you my peanut butter.” I told the guy next to me. “F*** you, I love jalapeño cheese.” My buddy was going to drive a hard bargain before relinquishing his cheese. “Bro, I always put cheese on my chicken-tetrazzini MRE. I’ll give you my M&M’s too.” He looked at my M&M’s and packet of peanut-butter for a moment. “F*** yeah, peanut-butter, M&M’s. Alright, cool. Here.” He threw the packet of cheese over. I was tired, uncomfortable, sore, and thousands of miles from home, but I was content. I got the “MENU 21 – CHICKEN TETRAZZINI” Meal Ready to Eat (MRE) and jalapeño cheese to top it off. It’s the little things in life that make you happy. The day was cold, but sunny, and in that moment, on that forward operating base (FOB) in Zurmat, Afghanistan, I had everything I wanted.