2 US soldiers killed by Afghan policeman in attack at Special Forces base

An Afghan policeman killed two US soldiers in an attack at a US Special Forces base in Wardak province today. The attack is the second green-on-blue, or insider attack, that has been reported in the past four days.

The International Security Assistance Force confirmed that two US soldiers from the US Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A), the command under which many US special operations forces operate, were killed by Afghan personnel.

“Two US Forces-Afghanistan service members died in eastern Afghanistan today when an individual wearing an Afghan National Security Forces uniform turned a weapon on U.S. and Afghan forces,” the ISAF statement said.

ISAF told The Long War Journal that the attack took place in the Jalrayz district in Wardak, and that two US soldiers were killed and several more were wounded.

The policeman opened fire on US soldiers with a machinegun that was mounted to the back of a pickup, killing two US soldiers and wounding eight more, according to Pajhwok Afghan News. US soldiers returned fire, killing three Afghan Local Policemen, including the policeman who initiated the attack.

Today’s attack on US Special Forces troops took place one day after President Karzai ordered US Special Forces to leave Wardak province after publicly accusing them of murdering Afghan civilians (a charge the US military says is without basis). Special Forces train the Afghan Local Police, the locally raised police force that is often accused of numerous crimes against civilians.

Today’s attack is the second green-on-blue, or insider attack in which Afghan forces turn their guns on ISAF personnel, in four days. On March 8, three Afghan soldiers assaulted a US base in Kapisa province, and killed an ISAF civilian adviser and wounded three US soldiers.

So far this year, there have been three green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan. Three ISAF soldiers and one civilian adviser have been killed in the three attacks since Jan. 1. The first attack took place on Jan. 6 in Helmand province.

Last year, green-on-blue attacks accounted for 15% of Coalition deaths. The attacks have tapered off in recent months as partnering of Afghan and Coalition troops has been reduced. [See LWJ special report, Green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan: the data.]

Insider attacks a key part of Taliban strategy

The Taliban have claimed to have stepped up their efforts to infiltrate Afghan security forces as well as “lure” and encourage Afghan security personnel to attack ISAF troops and advisers.

In October 2012, Taliban emir Mullah Omar released an Eid al-Adha message that urged followers to “[i]increase Increase your efforts to expand the area of infiltration in the ranks of the enemy and to bring about better order and array in the work.” The statement continued: “We call on the Afghans who still stand with the stooge regime to turn to full-fledged cooperation with their Mujahid people like courageous persons in order to protect national interests and to complete independence of the country. Jihadic activities inside the circle of the State militias are the most effective stratagem. Its dimension will see further expansion, organization and efficiency if God willing.”

Omar had previously addressed the issue of green-on-blue attacks at length in a statement released on Aug. 16, 2012. 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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  • And yet…
    “Most of the insider attacks are believed to be the result of Afghan soldiers suffering from combat or emotional stress, a Defense Department official told CNN in September after an especially deadly weekend for coalition troops.
    “Only about 15% of the “green-on-blue” attacks are believed to be the result of insurgent links, and about 10% come from infiltrators not affiliated with the military, the Defense Department official said.”
    Anyone buying that?

  • mike merlo says:

    if International Security Assistance Force/US Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) would have acquiesced to Karazi’s request when earlier forwarded this incident would have been avoided & Wardak would now be in the process of being ‘handled’ the Afghan Way

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Jim, we here at LWJ never bought any of that nonsense from the get-go. It has been clear to us that many of these attacks are the result of Taliban influence.

  • JRP says:

    This “insider attack” strategy is more than clever; it is brilliant. It shows what I’ve said numerous times in past comments; namely, that Taliban/AQ’s low-tech warfare is every bit as effective as is our high-tech warfare. Moreover, every time Taliban/AQ pulls off a successful insider attack they can legitimately claim that they’ve taken down one of our HVTs.
    This is a mistake we keep making time and time again. We were attacked (a low-tech attack at that) on 9/11/2001. We should have resolved to go into Afghanistan and Pakistan if necessary and destroy our enemy. Never mind this nation-building nonsense or indulging in the fantasy that some foreign armed force is going to look out for our interests.
    The Pentagon Brass and their civilian overseers are delusional, if they think that the relationship between our Special Forces trainers and their ungrateful students is anything, but corrosive. I truly pity our poor men and women who have to interface with these people over there. It was the same way during the Vietnam conflict. By day you thought some local was your friend and by night he’d slit your throat.

  • Mr T says:

    Taliban influence including Taliban threats of violence.

  • M.H says:

    Jim, the attacks are not the result of Afghan soldiers suffering from combat or emotional stress. Look into the rising number of green-on-blue attacks during the last 5 years:2008=2, 2009=12, 2010=16, 2011=35, 2012=61. This rise is definitely the result of Taliban influence on the security forces and when I say Taliban I include the Pakistani influence on Taliban too.

  • kit says:

    OK I will state the obvious, Karzai’s comments about SF certainly didn’t help.

  • Jamshid from Kabul says:

    I think most of these insider attacks happened, when President Karzai make irresponsible comments on US troops, just like the recent one, US and Taliban are working together???!, these sort of comments bring emotional stress.

  • Spiker18f says:

    My patrol was involved in a green on blue attack in Zabul, back in 2007. This is nothing new. Most of the ANP check points are compromised due to Taliban threats against the poorly trained and funded ANP and likewise their families. When your not getting paid or equipped properly and the taliban come calling in the night offering better pay and threatening your family at the same time, what is your choice?

  • UNF says:

    “US soldiers *returned* fire, killing three Afghan Local Policemen, including the policeman who initiated the attack.”
    Does this mean that, once the attacker opened up, two other ANP joined in by shooting at USFOR-A … or … that USFOR-A returned fire and also ‘suppressed’ a few non-hostile Afghani in the vicinity?

  • M.H. — 
    Right. The “Defense Department official’s” argument — replete with percentage statistics that make it sound researched (but how are the stats derived?) — doesn’t pass a basic smell test. It’s evident just from a common sense perspective that green-on-blue attacks are part of a strategy.
    Acknowledging significant Taliban influence/infiltration would, however, run counter to the narrative that Afghan security is improving and will be ready to “stand up.”
    We are being fed a “nothing to see here” line of BS.

  • eric says:

    There is nothing new to the insider attack in warfare, but the effective use of them is creating a disconnect between ISAF and ANA and a rift between the ANP and the Border Police, as well as significant problems with the ALP militia programs. The Taliban has always used intimidation by sheer brutality to coerce the local populace into performing whatever acts will benefit the Taliban. As in Vietnam, you cannot be sure who you can trust in Afghanistan, and it is this very comfort with betrayal that plagues the entire region at every level of human endeavor. The establishment of a stone-age caliphate in that part of the world is a real possibility, if such primitive behaviors are accepted without outrage. Pretty much everything going on over there is an affront to western sensibilities, but the west seeks to write an honorable historical narrative on how we fought and how we involved ourselves in the welfare of the Afghan nation and people, so we fight with manners and we offer the benefit of the doubt to every entity in government and business that they will not be completely dishonest in running their affairs. The Taliban fights every weakness they can find. With our desire to be the good guys, they find plenty. Al Qaeda can exist because we are unwilling to be as inhuman as they. There is the underlying issue.
    Obama and Co. are going to declare victory and leave – necessary because the enormous Regular Army footprint is unsustainable, as is most of the Fiefdom-Building under USAID. Karzai is now about as believable as Rehman Malik. He is just a calculating and opportunistic liar, and he serves his own interests, which are going to be overrun by the Taliban soon enough. When the US returns to the fight in Afghanistan in earnest, it will most likely take a special forces approach. The nation-building is just dying on the vine. We need to let it.

  • Inca says:

    Thanks Log War Journal for keeping me informed over the years.
    I think, generally speaking, many of the individuals who choose to strike out are worn out and battle fatigued in relation to our military presence and willing to sacrifice their measly lives to kill in revenge and hatred for whatever reason. Individually, they may not see any hope for success or unity and it doesn’t take much to set them off. Remember revenge killing is part of their culture and this is coming to the surface as they realize we are leaving them just were the Soviets left them in the hands of the Taliban or some other marauding War Lords like Dostum or Hekmatyer. This green on blue will continue to escalate eventually leading to a significant murder of some US Officer or other important Soldier. The locals know it’s only a matter of time until the Taliban size control and the question is whether or not the impending civil war is going to be as brutal as the last one after the Soviets left. I predict that the US Embassy in Kabul will be over run or evacuated by the year 2016 unless the Taliban want to go” new wave, take a chill pill “ and adjust to, and project a more international posture. Chances are they will not. They may be more brutal then they were in the past. They all know it, we don’t want to realize it because we will be leaving some good friends behind both Pashtun and Tajik and all our efforts over the last 10 plus years are meaningless except for the fact that more Americans actually know where Afghanistan is now.

  • mike merlo says:

    thanks for the fantasy forecast

  • Scott says:

    As a soldier stationed in RC-South, I can say that the threat is ever-present. Luckily, we have pretty decent rapport with our AUP and ANA on our COP, but, still it’s always in the back of your mind. I remember during our pre-mob training we were told that most green-on-blues were the result of “bad blood” between individual soldiers and Afghans. Right…just like Agent Orange didn’t cause cancer.

  • J House says:

    Karzai will not hang from a lamp post, I can assure you. He will be one of the first to board his brother’s Gulfstream IV to Dubai. By 2016, Afghanistan will have a Taliban-run government (although there will be much nicer roads this time).
    I knew him when he ran a restaurant in Chicago…snake then, snake now.


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