BAGRAM AIR FORCE BASE — Suicide prevention has become a major Pentagon initiative as the U.S. military has struggled with the issue in recent years, and now officials say they will be including Afghan forces also fighting the epidemic.
“The recent rash of attacks on Western troops by members of the Afghan forces, known as 'Green-on-Blue' attacks, are a cry for help,” said Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. So far this year, at least 30 Afghan soldiers and police officers have committed suicide by attacking U.S. and NATO troops.
In a press conference at the Pentagon, Dempsey told reporters that most of the alleged attacks were Afghans committing "suicide-by-soldier."
“These poor souls are crying for help. Maybe their goat died during an S&M party, or their girlfriend took off her burka and was really a younger man," said spokesman Maj. Sam Ewell. "Who knows? But that isn't the issue. These guys are too afraid to suck on a barrel and take one in the head, so they opt for 'suicide by belt.' I blame this on all those Dirty Harry movies on the internet."
With the new shift from The Pentagon, U.S. troops overseas have been instructed to shoot for the lower legs as a suicide prevention measure, before calling for a tribal leader to intervene and complain for six hours over tea.
"We ought to go back to those tribal elders and say you endorsed this young man," said Dempsey. "If you knew he was suicidal, you should have told us so we could get them proper medical and psychological help.”
Much like their American counterparts, Afghan forces will be required to attend a mandatory 6000-slide PowerPoint presentation on suicide prevention. Once complete, attendance rosters need to be submitted to ISAF.
At least one Afghan policeman was critical of the new program.
"This is bullshit, pure and simple," said Col. Hajji Muhammed Usef, a full-time Afghan policeman and part-time Taliban commander. "We already have to attend classes on spelling, how to shower, police investigation, proper bomb emplacement, and sighting of rockets. There's only so many PowerPoints a man can take."
At press time, an Afghan Army soldier teaching an anti-suicide training class in Kabul had committed suicide-by-explosive vest during hour three of his presentation.