Afghan soldier kills American in insider attack

An Afghan soldier opened fire on US troops in eastern Afghanistan today, killing one and wounding several more. The insider or green-on-blue attack, where a member of the Afghan security forces kills Coalition personnel, is the second of its kind recorded this year.

Today’s insider attack took place in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, as NATO officials and four governors from eastern Afghanistan met at the government center, ATN News reported. At least one Afghan soldier opened fire on the US soldiers assigned to Operation Resolute Support, the NATO mission in Afghanistan. US troops returned fire, killing the attacker and wounding another Afghan soldier.

NATO confirmed the death of one of its soldiers but did not disclose the soldier’s nationality in a statement obtained by The Long War Journal.

“An incident in Jalalabad today resulted in the death of one Resolute Support service member,” the statement said.

Afghan and US officials confirmed to CBS News that a US soldier was killed in the attack. US soldiers make up the bulk of troops in Operation Resolute Support and are prevalent in eastern Afghanistan.

Today’s clash in Nangarhar is the second insider attack reported this year that resulted in Coalition casualties. On Jan. 30, three US contractors were killed and another was wounded when an Afghan policemen opened fire on the group at Kabul International Airport. The Taliban claimed the attack was the work of one of its “infiltrators.” [See LWJ report, Taliban claim insider attack at Kabul Airport that killed 3 US contractors.]

Additionally, the soldier killed today is the first US serviceman killed in Afghanistan since Dec. 12, 2014, when two American troops died in an IED attack in Parwan.

The Taliban have not claimed credit for today’s insider attack.

The Taliban have devoted significant effort into attempts to kill NATO troops and foreigners by infiltrating the ranks of Afghan security forces. Mullah Omar affirmed this in a statement released on Aug. 16, 2012, when he claimed that the group had “cleverly infiltrated in the ranks of the enemy according to the plan given to them last year [2011],” and he urged government officials and security personnel to defect to the Taliban as a matter of religious duty. Omar also noted that the Taliban had created the “Call and Guidance, Luring and Integration” department, “with branches … now operational all over the country,” to encourage defections. [See Threat Matrix report, Mullah Omar addresses green-on-blue attacks.]

Overall number of insider attacks still unknown

There were four insider attacks recorded in Afghanistan in 2014, according to The Long War Journal’s statistics. The number of reported green-on-blue attacks on Coalition personnel in Afghanistan has dropped steeply since a peak of 44 in 2012. In 2013, there were 13 such attacks. [For in-depth information, see LWJ special report, Green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan: the data.]

The decline in attacks may be due to several factors, including the continuing drawdown of Coalition personnel, reduced partnering with Afghan forces, and the adoption of heightened security measures in interactions between Coalition and Afghan forces.

However, many insider attacks remain unreported. If an attack by Afghan personnel does not result in a death or injury, and it is not reported in the press, the Coalition will not release a statement on the incident.

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which was disbanded at the end of 2014, told The Long War Journal in March 2012 that “these statistics,” the number of attacks that did not result in a casualty, are “classified.”

“[A]ttacks by ANSF on Coalition Forces … either resulting in non-injury, injury or death … these stats as a whole (the total # attacks) are what is classified and not releasable,” Lieutenant Colonel Jimmie Cummings, ISAF’s former Press Desk Chief, told The Long War Journal. Cummings said that ISAF is “looking to declassify this number.”

Three years later, number has not been declassified.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal.

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  • Scott J. says:

    RIP, soldier. What a shame.

    I have often thought that our personnel should meet with Afghan officials in environments where the ANA and ANP are not present. For example, in this case, the meeting place for the duration of the meeting could have been placed off limits to the ANA/ANP, and we could have provided security for the meeting and the building ourselves until it was over. I realize that may seem insulting to the Afghans, but the reality is what it is.

  • Leon says:

    Sorry for these soldiers doing their job far from their country and killed by those who are supposed to train.

    In other respects, I am wandering if currently there is a risk for our soldiers in Irak working/mentoring the Iraqis.

    Someone has an assessment ?

  • orion says:

    Leave their mess to them,nothing good is possible in this deeply divided country.


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