|An Afghan villager unlocks the door of a suspected homemade explosives factory for U.S. Army Spc. Timothy Rodgers in Afghanistan's Ghazni province, May 4, 2012. Rodgers is assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team.|
Afghan friendlies attacking coalition solders is becoming more common on bases in Afghanistan. These attacks of known as “green on blue attacks”. Most of these attacks result in the death of the Afghan as well as the coalition solder.The Defense Department believes recent incidents in which members of the Afghan National Security Forces have attacked their coalition trainers are individual acts of grievance, a senior DOD spokesman has said.
“It’s often difficult to determine the exact motivation behind an attacker’s crime because they are, very often, killed in the act,”
Navy Capt. John Kirby, deputy assistant secretary of defense for media operations, told reporters at the Pentagon.Kirby said these types of attacks have only been tracked since 2007. Fifty-seven such attacks, he added, have occurred during this time.
“Based on the limited evidence that we have been able to collect, we believe that less than half, somewhere in the neighborhood of three to four out of every 10 [attacks] is inspired, or resourced, or planned or executed by the Taliban or Taliban sympathizers, In other words, that it’s related to an infiltration attempt.”
Kirby said it may not even be a deliberate infiltration, but a “legitimate soldier or police officer [who] turned Taliban.”Yet, the majority of attacks, he said, are acts of individual grievance.
“You know how seriously affairs of honor are to the Afghan people,” Kirby said. “We believe, again, that most of these [attacks] are acted out as an act of honor for most of them representing a grievance of some sort.”
The spokesman said Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, commander of International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan, believes the recent video of U.S. Marines urinating on the bodies of Taliban inspired at least one attack.Regardless of the motivations, Kirby emphasized the attacks leave lasting impressions on the families of the service members who’ve been killed.
“We believe the majority of all of them are individual acts of grievance, but look, that doesn’t lessen the pain for family members who suffer from this. It doesn’t lessen the importance of it whether it’s an act of infiltration or not. It’s an issue that we’re taking very, very seriously, But we don’t believe the majority of them are Taliban inspired, resource planned [or] executed.”
British Army Lt. Gen. Adrian Bradshaw, ISAF’s deputy commander, told Pentagon reporters during a May 9 video teleconference from Kabul that Afghanistan’s National Army and police force are working to “root out this problem with great determination.” The general went on to to say that“We've had several hundred National Directorate of Security counterintelligence operatives now join the Afghan National Army on attachment,” Bradshaw told reporters. “They are embedded down to battalion level, and they are carrying out rigorous counterintelligence operations. The commanders are taking great note of where their people go on leave [and] whether their families have come under pressure.”
The British general said the vetting process for Afghan army and police recruits has been refined and there’s also “retrospective vetting of people in the force” with a “ruthless” approach to those members displaying signs of enemy complicity. “So a number of effective measures have been taken, and we continue to bear down on this problem very seriously indeed.”
On May 1, 2012 Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told reporters that Three Afghan men killed two U.S. troops in southern Afghanistan. “We believe there were three attackers, [and] two of the attackers were subsequently killed” by coalition forces. Our hearts go out to the families and the loved ones of the two U.S. service members who were killed.”
While precise details are unclear, Little said, reports indicate the two attackers who were killed were Afghan security force members, and the third was an Afghan civilian. He acknowledged a rise in so-called “green-on-blue” incidents involving Afghan army and police members killing NATO International Security Assistance Force troops. “These are troubling incidents when they occur, and we fully recognize that we’ve seen several of these incidents in recent weeks.”
U.S. military leaders are working to strengthen security measures at partnered facilities and to step up their scrutiny during vetting processes for Afghan army and police recruits, Little said.
“This has been something that has been on the radar screen … for some time,” he said. “This is a war zone. There’s no such thing as zero risk. But our strategy of working closely with [Afghan forces] is not changing.”
Little said U.S. forces will “stay the course” in Afghanistan. The overall trend in relations between the two sets of troops is positive. He noted some ISAF advisors have returned to work in select Afghan ministry buildings in the Afghan capital of Kabul. Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, ordered all ISAF members to withdraw from such work locations after two U.S. officers were killed while working at the interior ministry Feb. 25.
Those killings and a reported 20 Afghan deaths occurred as violent protests swept Afghanistan after ISAF troops inadvertently burned religions materials, including Qurans, at a detention facility in Bagram, Feb. 21.
Allen’s order that some ministry advisors resume their duties in Afghan government buildings reflects the need for ISAF forces to maintain close coordination with their Afghan counterparts, Little noted.
“It’s important to get back to work.”
Little said the transition of security lead to Afghan forces continues throughout the country, and completing that transition is ISAF’s goal. “Our commanders in the field … are staying focused on the mission [and] understand the stakes involved.”
There is a “strong sense” among ISAF leaders in Afghanistan that “we must do everything we can to carry out the strategy, [which] we believe has been working some time.”
Green-on-blue incidents are particularly troubling, he acknowledged, but should not obscure the larger picture of overall progress in Afghanistan. The insurgency is “on its heels,” he added.
Afghan forces have suffered losses alongside their ISAF partners, including over the past days while “trying to tamp down the protests in Afghanistan, and to quell the violence,” Little said.
The strategy, approach and mission in Afghanistan are not changing, the press secretary emphasized. “Our mission is one of transition, and it’s working,” Little said. “We have over 300,000 [Afghan security forces] right now who are working alongside ISAF personnel to help secure their own country. And that’s the end state we are looking for here.”
War in Afghanistan has never been conventional, and it’s not contained within neat battle lines, he said. “But we’re working through it, and the Afghans are working in good faith with us to execute the strategy,” he added.