Afghan soldier kills 2 ISAF troops in east

An Afghan soldier opened fire on Coalition soldiers in eastern Afghanistan, killing two of them before being killed himself in return fire. The attack is the latest in a string of so-called green-on-blue incidents, or insider attacks, in which Afghan security personnel kill members of the International Security Assistance Force.

ISAF said that two troops were killed after “a member of the Afghan National Army turned his weapon against ISAF service members in eastern Afghanistan today.”

“ISAF troops returned fire, killing the ANA soldier who committed the attack,” according to a press release. “Afghan and ISAF officials are investigating the incident.”

The attack took place in the eastern province of Laghman, according to AFP.

Attacks by Afghan forces on Coalition forces have skyrocketed this year. In the first eight months of this year, the number of green-on-blue attacks (28) has doubled last year’s total of 14.

Attacks that resulted in deaths of ISAF troops have also surged; they account for 13% of Coalition casualties so far this year. In 2011, green-on-blue attacks accounted for 6%; in 2010, 3%; in 2009, 2%; and in 2008, less than 1%. [For more details and statistics on the green-on-blue attacks, see LWJ Special Report, Green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan: the data.]

ISAF commanders have insisted that most of the attacks are due to cultural differences between Afghan and Western troops. General John Allen, the commander of ISAF, even blamed the spike on Afghans being hungry and irritable due to fasting during Ramadan.

In seeking to account for the rise in insider attacks, ISAF commanders have downplayed the role of Taliban infiltration. Commanders have issued conflicting estimates of the percentage of attacks caused by Taliban infiltration and coercion, ranging from 10% to 25% in recent weeks, to 50% earlier this year.

The Taliban have seized on the green-on-blue attacks in their propaganda, and routinely claim each attack to be a result of infiltration. In early August, the Taliban released a video of two Afghan soldiers who attacked ISAF soldiers in Kunar and Uruzgan [see Threat Matrix report, Observations on Taliban video ‘welcoming’ rogue ANA soldiers].

Mullah Omar, the leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, or the Taliban, addressed the issue of green-on-blue attacks in a statement released on Aug. 16. Omar claimed that the Taliban “cleverly infiltrated in the ranks of the enemy according to the plan given to them last year,” and urged government officials and security personnel to defect and join the Taliban as a matter of religious duty. He also noted that the Taliban have 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.]

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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  • rainbow says:

    Hmmn I read the AP account and they have it different.
    A part of the article says :
    “The incident unfolded when a group of U.S. and Afghan soldiers came under attack, said Noman Hatefi, a spokesman for the Afghan army corps in eastern Afghanistan. When the troops returned fire and ran to take up fighting positions, an Afghan soldier fell and accidentally discharged his weapon, killing two American soldiers with the stray bullets, he said.
    “He didn’t do this intentionally. But then the commander of the (Afghan) unit started shouting at him, ‘What did you do? You killed two NATO soldiers!’ And so he threw down his weapon and started to run,” Hatefi added. The U.S. troops had already called in air support to help with the insurgent attack and the aircraft fired on the escaping soldier from above, killing him, Hatefi said.”
    Is this the same incident ?

  • Sometimes these shameless soldiers killed(!) those, who came there to help, protect them. Why these guys doing it? Isn’t they happy on ISAF? The ISAF should more careful I think.
    Another Day in Paradise

  • kevin welch says:

    Attributing these attacks to being hungry is both a cop out and cowardly.They are religiously motivated.

  • JRP says:

    Closer to the beginning of our involvement in Afghanistan the military really began to take the IED problem seriously only after groups of individual American soldiers began refusing orders to ride in open unprotected vehicles. The excuses being provided for these insider attacks are making me nauseous. Again, groups of individual soldiers exercising their Constitutional right to think for themselves, a very American trait, should stand up to their commanders and refuse to become sacrificial lambs for the political appeasement of Afghan sensibilities. American military men and women have demonstrated time and again their willingness to sacrifice life & limb in the interests of U.S. National Security. But this business of playing nice-nice with the Afghans is not in the interest of U.S. National Security. It is appeasement to the corrupt rotten-to-the-core Afghan political/military establishment. I’d rather go to Leavenworth than make a sacrificial fool of myself.

  • adam says:

    @rainbow: That doesn’t really seem legit. The afghan fell and accidentally fired his weapon, which just happened to kill 2 NATO troops? Seems a little off to me. Now, I have never seen combat, nor will I claim to, therefore I do not fully understand combat and some of the things that can happen in it, such as weapon discharges, so I will not completely rule that scenario out. However, I will hold my skepticism.

  • anan says:

    Adam, many ANSF are killed every year by ISAF in friendly fire. Many ISAF are killed by ISAF in friendly fire.
    No doubt many green on blue KIAs are from friendly fire.

  • Rosario says:

    The Romans had a solution for cowardice in battle, 10% of the offending unit would be summarily executed. I have a feeling if implemented here all these “green on blue” incidents would rapidly disappear.

  • villiger says:

    Rosario, you cannot be serious…

  • gb says:

    A former colleague of mine was a conscript in the Russian infantry in Astan. He said it was common for Russians to shoot their Afgan counterparts during heavy contact to prevent them from turning their guns on them and switching sides in order to survive. Seperate the forces and put the Afganies up front.

  • rainbow says:

    Adam…It seems possible to me and I have plenty of infantry experience. Accidental discharges happen. It is a fact of life. With the afghans wild argumentative style and gestures I could definitely see a situation like this playing out. Was hoping bll would be able to confirm or expound on this incident.
    We should have put all our eggs in afghanistan in the first place. Iraq was a worthless diversion by the former administration. We did all we did in Iraq and lost all those lives and limbs for naught.
    Where is the outrage of all the Muslims around the world for the beheading of the 17 people ? They are only outraged when a kafir is involved I guess.

  • villiger says:

    Rainbow, so going by the above account you relayed, the Afghan soldier was killed unarmed! Shouldn’t they have caught up with him instead? We might’ve known the truth by now.
    Yes, hopefully Bill will sift through this and give us more.
    I agree totally with your remark re Iraq. The Iraqis could’ve sorted themselves out with the winds of the Arab Spring as they like to call it.

  • anan says:

    rainbow, Afghans are frightened by these sorts of Taliban killing. Unfortunately most non Afghans are not. The Taliban and their AQ linked network allies killing a couple hundred thousand Afghans doesn’t matter that much to non Afghans.

  • rainbow says:

    He was running away unarmed but it was during a firefight and the choppers got him . That was the way I understood the article.
    I guess what I read out of it makes sense to me. They were apparently advancing on the enemy and maybe this man was moving and didnt have alot of proper weapons training. Weapon goes off unexpectantly…his lt goes afghan on him …he’s scared anyway so he takes off running…another lost soul. Accidents happen. They are not all Talibs.

  • Mr T says:

    Don’t forget that part of the Taliban strategy is threatening relatives of the soldiers. If they do not defect, the relatives may be harmed. Intimidation and cowardly violence is a big part of the Taliban strategy.
    How do they escape the threats when they know we will be leaving them soon and they are not ready to defend themselves?
    Sooner or later, the world must hold people who are offical members of the Taliban, Al Qaeda, or any number of armed militant groups responsible for their crimes. Even if you didn’t do the crime, if you are part of that group, you are responsible for their actions.
    Attacking innocent civilians, killing, torture, violence against non combatants. The world has “agreed’ to rules of war. Those who do not follow those rules need to be held accountable. That includes non state actors such as Islamic militants. You join the group or are found to be a part of the group and you pay a price. Right now they are having fun shooting everybody up and talking about their brave exploits against unarmed old men, women and children. While Pakistan, the nation state protects them. Pathetic.

  • irebukeu says:

    Well, here we go again. Yet another green on blue. I just read a study commissioned by the army to study these green on blue attacks put out in May of 2011, called “A crisis of trust and cultural incompatibility” The name itself seems to suggest the solution, in that the cultures are “incompatible”. I would like to share the very first line from page 4, all of which can be answered in my opinion by the words “cultural incompatibility”.—- ‘This N2KL Red Team study has four primary purposes: 1. Inform key decision-makers that the murders of ISAF members committed by Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) personnel do not represent “rare and isolated events” as currently being proclaimed. 2. Explore why this tragic phenomenon is occurring.
    3. Examine U.S. Soldiers experiences with ANSF personnel and what perceptions they have. 4. Based on both ANSF members’ and U.S. Soldiers’ perceptions develop recommendations to counter the growing fratricide-murder threat ANSF personnel pose to ISAF soldiers.
    Here are some of the proposed solutions in their order as posted 1. Avoid night searches when possible. 2. Consider vetting and training select ANSFs to conduct home and personal searches. 3. Include ANSF females for searches, especially during night operations. 4. Encourage ANSF officials to implement an expanded ANSF female recruitment program. 5. Relying on airpower over manpower may not provide the COIN metrics sought, at least as far as the study’s ANSF participants were concerned given the greater risks for civilian casualty incidents. Future CONOPs should consider this factor. Also, a review and revision of aerial ROEs to reduce CIVCAS incidents is a prudent measure to consider. 6. Review U.S. and other ISAF responses to ambushes and TICs in general, ensuring return fire is measured and accurate (ANSF members were united that it is not). 7. When planning and conducting operations emphasize and reemphasize the crucial importance in avoiding civilian casualties. 8. Establish a standing ISAF/ANSF QRF who are professionally qualified (i.e., are trained and experienced criminal justice professionals) to timely investigate all CIVCAS allegations; facilitate media coverage. 9. ANSF perceptions (often accurate) of the general lack of meaningful accountability for ISAF personnel/leadership who negligently cause civilian casualties should be addressed.
    Well now, option one removes the greatest tool we have – the cover of and the ability to operate at night. Goodbye night vision. Number 6 just makes me shake my head. The last point I posted, 9, says we need to put more American and allied forces in prison to help reduce the number of afghans trying to kill us among our own OOB. One has to wonder if calling for the removal of American forces was NOT an option they could consider as a solution. The study is 70 pages and I would urge everyone to Google the title. The information is sound. and very prescient. Its time to bring our forces home. TIME NOW!!!

  • James says:

    What we forget once again is TWO MORE AMERICANS died at the hands of the AFGHANS! This isn’t once or twice this is 28 for the year. Being a Soldier myself and facing my forth deployment first in Afghanistan it sickens me to think this one is not for all the right reasons. At least with Iraq we had a purpose in partnering as we dismantled their government and had an obligation to reestablish it. In Afghanistan their is no formal government. Just corruption.


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