Pentagon changing lingo for growing threat in Afghanistan
The transfer case containing the remains of U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Gregory T. Buckley is moved by a U.S. Marine carry team during a dignified transfer at Dover Air Force Base. Buckley was killed by an Afghan policeman on August 10, 2012 in one of a growing number of insider attacks. (Getty Photo)
August 14th, 2012
06:52 PM ET

Pentagon changing lingo for growing threat in Afghanistan

By Larry Shaughnessy

The war in Afghanistan is evolving with a growing number of attacks by Afghan security force personnel on American troops, incidents that have been called "green-on-blue" attacks. It's a term that the Pentagon wants to go away.

So far this year the number of such attacks is nearly double the number for the same period last year. And this year 37 Americans have died, compared with 28 in 2011.

"Make no mistake about it, I've been very concerned about these incidents ... because of the lives lost and because of the potential damage to our partnership efforts," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said at a Pentagon news conference Tuesday.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said the name "green-on-blue" is a misnomer.

"I think you'll hear us start talking about these incidents more as 'insider attack,' rather than green-on-blue, because what that does is it understates the effect that this is having on the ANSF itself," he said, referring to the Afghan National Security Forces. "You know, they're suffering from the same ... trend that we're suffering from."

Panetta said the attacks, whatever they are called, are a sign the Taliban is getting desperate.

"The reality is, the Taliban has not been able to regain any territory lost, and so they're resorting to these kinds of attacks to create havoc," he said.

There are multiple efforts under way to try to prevent insider attacks, he said.

Gen. John Allen, commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force, "is meeting with the security ministers to talk about further steps to take in order to protect against these attacks. And he's also meeting with the village elders. These are the people who usually vouch for individuals," Panetta said.

On a separate issue relating to the Afghan conflict, Panetta is upbeat about improving relations with Pakistan.

He said U.S. officials are "encouraged, frankly, that Pakistan has now taken a more positive, visible step to advance our shared objective of a secure and peaceful Afghanistan. Their decision to open up the NATO supply lines means a great deal to us."

Pakistan had shut down the supply lines after a friendly-fire incident last November in which coalition forces killed 24 Pakistani Army soldiers at a checkpoint.

"Similarly, cross-border cooperation with Pakistan is increasing," Panetta said. "General Allen is meeting on a regular basis with (Pakistan's military chief) Gen. (Ashfaq Pervez) Kiyani and trying to improve that kind of cross-border cooperation. And it's helping us try to confront the challenge of these insurgent sanctuaries, which exist on both sides of the border."

Panetta said whether the news from Afghanistan is good or bad, Americans should remember there's a war going on.

"There are a lot of other things going on in this country (the United States) that can draw our attention, from the Olympics to political campaigns to droughts to some of the tragedies we've seen in communities around the country," Panetta said. "But I thought it was important to remind the American people ... that young men and women are dying in order to try to protect this country."

soundoff (48 Responses)
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  7. Jackie

    obama did not start this war why is he to blame?

    August 15, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Reply
  8. blue

    get rid of that whole country !

    August 15, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Reply
    • ed gein


      August 15, 2012 at 11:04 pm | Reply
  9. les

    This is Obama's war and Obama's mess. Fortunately, the anti-war movement and the media love Obama, so the coverage is minimal and likely to do no harm to Obama. Meanwhjile, US and allied soliders die. Obama does not give a damn.


    August 15, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Reply
    • ed gein

      We've been there for 10 years now. Obama's in his 4th year.

      August 15, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Reply
    • Tyler

      Considering Mr. Bush started this war and yet it's always the current COC's fault. How about you read up on what the president can do and can not do. Just because you are an imbecile who misses the president that ruined this country and that the current president is African American it's his fault. NO president can just stop a war without direct vote from congress yet it's his fault when our congress won't let anything be done simply because the great war machine produces money from all the war material it orders for use. Congress will not bring our loved ones home, they will only vote on their own raises because $175,000 a year for a junior senator is not enough to live on..I'll be glad to school you in what the military is allowed to do, what the COC is allowed to do and also to teach you a thing or two about today's world. Grow up and move on!!!!!!!!

      August 15, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Reply
      • Shawn Irwin

        As far as I am concerned, it is both . . . Bush and Obama . . . . Bush for starting it and Obama for perpetuating it. I did not particularily care for Ronald REagan, but one thing he would do when congress or the senate got in the way, would be take his case to the American people . . . . this Obama has failed to do, he actually approved sending MORE troops into Afghanistan . . . . so I hold them both responsible for this foolishness.

        August 15, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  10. rolo

    stop the war or start the draft. Panetta is an imbecil. What a worthless statement. Just cause he is not missing a loved one. He just happens to be Mr Obamas lackey so his words reflect this.

    August 15, 2012 at 4:18 am | Reply
  11. Phunnie boy

    This is very heartwrentching, it is, it is! We just can't have this, we can't, we can't! How are we going to exploit that country's resources with these guys taking pot shots at our very troops? What do you think we've been fighting in Afghanistan for anyway???

    August 15, 2012 at 12:54 am | Reply
  12. Matt

    The Afghan is always changing sides to those to be perceived as the winner, it is not a Taliban target killing program, that is PR it is just soldiers and police swapping sides. It will get worse late 2013 post 2014, there is already agreements in various sectors between rogue ANSF and the Taliban so the Taliban are basically in control of those areas, because the ANSF will not fight them for control. It was a waste of time.

    August 14, 2012 at 11:32 pm | Reply
    • Matt

      See not important to the Russians, let them fight, at some stage an issue will occur that closes supply of logistics to the ANSF.

      August 14, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Reply
  13. Robert Brand

    Penetta sounds like another moron, Rumsfeld. The Taliban, far from being desperate, are in control and aren't going away.

    August 14, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Reply
  14. Concerned Military Aunt

    It's time to bring our troops home!!! Let the Afghans fend for themselves. We've trained them and now they are turning on our Military. Please bring our troops home!!!

    August 14, 2012 at 11:19 pm | Reply
  15. speaktruth

    Everyone should read this AND watch the video on the middle of the page.

    August 14, 2012 at 10:22 pm | Reply
  16. krm1007 ©™

    we have invested a lot of resources in Pakistan/Afghanistan in just last 10 years in terms of military and non-military aid, what do we get in return? "green-on-blue" attacks. Pakistan and Afghanistan can we trust these two Islamic countries? Its just sickening.

    August 14, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Reply
    • William F. Phuckley

      Some people are just ingrates, huh?

      August 15, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Reply

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