An Afghan police commander killed three US soldiers in an attack in the southern province of Helmand today. There have been three green-on-blue attacks reported in the past four days; four US troops and one Afghan soldier have been killed in the attacks.
The police commander, who has been identified as Asadullah, killed the three US soldiers and wounded another in the Sangin district, a former Taliban stronghold in Helmand. The police commander escaped after the shooting; his whereabouts are unknown.
Asadullah lured the US soldiers to a meeting before gunning them down. AFP claimed Asadullah invited them to a meal at a checkpoint in Sangin. Pajhwok Afghan News reported that the police commander “invited” the US troops “to a meeting on the security situation in Sarwan Qala neighborhood.”
US Forces – Afghanistan, a separate US military command outside of the International Security Assistance Force, confirmed that three soldiers were killed “following an attack by an individual wearing an Afghan uniform in southwest Afghanistan today,” but did not provide further details. AFP reported that the soldiers were members of US Special Forces, which does fall under USFOR-A command.
The Taliban claimed credit for today’s attack in a statement on their website, Voice of Jihad. The statement claimed that “Mujahid police officer Asadullah” killed five US soldiers before he “left the area with his weapon and joined up with Mujahideen.” Four days ago, the Taliban released a video that purported to show two Afghan Army officers who had turned their weapons on US troops in Kunar before defecting.
Background on green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan
There have now been three green-on-blue attacks against ISAF troops in the past four days. Two of the attacks killed US soldiers. On Aug. 7, two Afghan soldiers killed a US soldier in the east before defecting to the Taliban. And on Aug. 9, US troops killed an Afghan soldier who was attempting to gun them down at a training center in Laghman province.
There were three green-on-blue attacks reported last month. Although as a matter of policy ISAF does not report on attacks that do not result in deaths, this trend seems to be changing, as two of the three attacks reported last month involved situations in which soldiers were wounded but not killed. On July 1, three British military advisers were killed by an Afghan policeman in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. Four days later, on July 5, five ISAF personnel were wounded in an attack in Wardak province. And on July 23, two more ISAF soldiers were wounded in an attack in Faryab province.
Afghan security personnel are now estimated to have killed 93 ISAF soldiers since May 2007. To date, 31 of the 93 ISAF soldiers, or more than 30 percent, have been killed this year. These attacks have taken place in all areas in Afghanistan, not just in the south and east.
In May of this year, ISAF commander General John Allen said that about half of the green-on-blue attacks have been carried out by Taliban infiltrators. The Taliban routinely take credit for these attacks.
The rise in attacks against ISAF troops by Afghan personnel takes place as ISAF is seeking to accelerate the transition of security responsibility to Afghan forces. The plan calls for an increase in the number of ISAF trainers as well as more partnering of ISAF and Afghan units, and will heighten Coalition troops’ exposure to green-on-blue attacks.
The US military has become so concerned with the green-on-blue attacks that it has ordered units to designate “guardian angels” in each unit whose job is to provide security for troops working with Afghans. But the attacks have not abated.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.