Afghan policeman wounds Romanian soldier in latest insider attack

An Afghan policeman opened fire on Romanian soldiers and wounded one before being killed in return fire. The insider, or “green-on-blue,” attack took place near Kandahar Air Field, and is the fourth of its kind recorded so far this year.

Resolute Support, NATO’s mission in Afghanistan, confirmed that a member of the Afghan National Civil Order Police opened fire on coalition advisors and their security detail after they “had completed scheduled law enforcement training and were preparing to return to base.”

“Romanian soldiers, who were providing security, along with Train, Advise and Assist Command South advisors returned fire and killed the gunman,” Resolute Support noted in its press release. Another Afghan policeman was “wounded in the crossfire.”

Number of insider attacks remain classified

Today’s insider attack is the fourth recorded by FDD’s Long War Journal so far this year. The last attack, on June 17, resulted in the wounding of seven US soldiers.

However, the true number of insider attacks may be larger as Resolute Support does not always release information on incidents in which its soldiers were wounded by Afghan security personnel, or incidents where there were no casualties.

In 2012, the International Security Assistance Force (the predecessor to Resolute Support) told FDD’s Long War Journal that the overall statistics on insider attacks are classified, but that command was seeking to declassify the information.

“[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, then ISAF’s Press Desk Chief, told FDD’s Long War Journal. Cummings said that ISAF is “looking to declassify this number.”

Inquiries as to why the statistics are classified went unanswered. Five years year later, the data remains classified.

These incidents have decreased from 44 recorded in 2012 to just two in 2016 and four more so far this year. This is partially due to a dramatic decrease in coalition forces after the end of the surge in 2012 as well as improved security measures. [For in-depth information, see Green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan: the data.]

Insider attacks have ramped up as the Trump administration considers sending an additional 4,000 soldiers to Afghanistan in an effort to halt the Taliban’s gains over the past several years. The bulk of these forces are expected to partner with Afghan soldiers in the field in an attempt to improve their combat effectiveness.

Taliban views insider attacks as a key tactic to defeat US

So far, no group has claimed credit for today’s incident in Kandahar that left one Romanian solider wounded. In the past, the Taliban has infiltrated Afghan security forces to carry out such strikes or convinced soldiers or policemen to turn their weapons on coalition personnel. In 2012, Mullah Omar, the founder and first emir of the Taliban, announced that he created the “Call and Guidance, Luring and Integration” department “with branches … now operational all over the country,” to encourage defections and strikes on coalition forces.

Since Omar’s announcement, the Taliban has said that insider operations are a key part of its military strategy when announcing the commencement of its annual spring offensive.

“These operations will involve conventional attacks, guerrilla warfare, complex martyrdom attacks, insider attacks, and use of IEDs to achieve their objectives,” the Taliban said in its statement on Operation Mansouri, the 2017 offensive.

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

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