In the first green-on-blue attack since July 9, an individual wearing an Afghan National Security Forces uniform shot and killed three special forces troops from the International Security Assistance Force and wounded another today in Gardez, the capital of Afghanistan’s eastern Paktia province.
The ISAF statement statement announcing the incident did not identify the nationalities of those killed and wounded. Most foreign troops in Paktia, which borders Pakistan and has been a hotbed of insurgent activity, are believed to be Americans.
An Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman confirmed the attack, and said the attacker was killed by Afghan soldiers immediately following the attack, Reuters reported. According to Dawn news, however, the attacker was killed by Americans after the attack.
A security official in Gardez said the attack took place inside an Afghan base in Gardez, the Associated Press reported.
An account in the New York Times cited an unnamed Afghan security official who stated that the attack took place inside Forward Operation Base Lightning near Gardez. The official said that an ANA soldier shot and killed three US special operations troops who had been training Afghan soldiers.
As the Coalition drawdown continues, the US military is relying on special forces to provide mentoring to the Afghan security forces, and these special forces troops are increasingly more exposed to insider attacks.
Today’s attack in Paktia is the third green-on-blue attack in the province since Jan. 1, 2008, when The Long War Journal began tracking the insider attacks [see LWJ special report, Green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan: the data, for more information]. The previous two attacks both involved US casualties, and took place on Aug. 7, 2012 at a military base in the Shwak district; and on Sept. 29, 2008 at a police station.
According to LWJ statistics, today’s green-on-blue attack is the ninth so far this year. Since Jan. 1, 2008, there have been a total of 81 attacks, resulting in the deaths of 137 Coalition personnel and the wounding of 156 more. Casualties from insider attacks so far this year amount to nearly 9% of total Coalition casualties, down from a high of 15% last year.
The downturn is likely due to the introduction of security measures in 2012 such as the use of “guardian angel” soldiers to overwatch US troops, and to reduced partnering between Afghan and Coalition forces as the drawdown continues. From a peak of level of about 101,000 soldiers in 2011, the US troop presence in Afghanistan had been reduced to 63,000 by July, and that number is expected to drop to 34,000 by February 2014. On June 18, overall security responsibility for Afghanistan was officially transferred to Afghan forces.