General: Quarter of Afghan insider attacks by Taliban
August 23rd, 2012
05:32 PM ET

General: Quarter of Afghan insider attacks by Taliban

By Mike Mount

About 25% of attacks by Afghan security forces against U.S. and other allied troops in Afghanistan come from Taliban infiltrators, a much higher number than the 10% the Pentagon had estimated, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan said Thursday.

U.S. Gen, John Allen, the chief commander of the International Security and Assistance Force, spoke to reporters Thursday at the Pentagon by video teleconference. He said that by his estimation, a quarter of the "green-on-blue," or "insider" attacks were insurgency-based. But he could not dismiss a Pentagon review that had said only about 10% were by Taliban forces that had sneaked into Afghan military and police ranks.

"This still requires a lot of analysis," he said. "So if it's just pure Taliban infiltration, that is one number. If you add to that impersonation the potential that someone is pulling the trigger because the Taliban have coerced the family members, that's a different number," he said.

"It's less about the precision of 25 versus 10 than it is acknowledging that the Taliban are seeking ultimately to have some impact in the formation," Allen said.

On Wednesday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai met with his national security team to discuss a spate of attacks on NATO troops by uniformed Afghan forces. He said the attacks were efforts by foreign spy agencies to undermine Afghan security institutions, but he did not specifically identify any countries.

During Thursday's news conference, Allen was asked about Karzai's claim.

"The reasons for these attacks are very complex, and we're going to look at all of the reasons," Allen told reporters. "I'll tell you that I'm looking forward to Afghanistan providing us with the intelligence that permits them to come to that conclusion, so that we can understand how they've drawn that conclusion and we could add that into our analysis."

The recent rise in the attacks could also be partly blamed on stresses related to the Ramadan holy month, in which Muslims, including Afghan security forces, fast during the day.

"The daily pressures that are on some of these troops - compounded by the sacrifice associated with fasting, the nature of our operational tempo, remembering that Afghan troops have gone to the field and they have stayed in the field, and they've been in combat now for years - we believe that the combination of many of these particular factors may have come together during the last several weeks to generate the larger numbers," he said.

According to Pentagon statistics, in 2012, there have been 32 attacks resulting in 40 coalition deaths from insider attacks, and 25 of those deaths were U.S. troops. In 2011, there were only 20 attacks resulting in 35 International Security and Assistance Force troop deaths.

Concerned about the uptick in the attacks, Allen earlier this month ordered all allied forces at NATO headquarters in Kabul and all bases across Afghanistan to carry loaded weapons around the clock.

In Afghan combat situations, all troops are armed. But at other locations, only base security forces had been regularly armed. Those troops have been called into action when insurgents have launched attacks on the base.

Additionally, U.S. troops in Afghanistan are given pamphlets that advise troops under attack to "resolve the situation with forces at hand" and not wait for backup. Unarmed troops at meetings or dining halls have been vulnerable in the past, but now, all are carrying their weapons loaded with a magazine of ammunition. Weapons must be within arm's reach at all times, according to U.S. military sources.

The pamphlet offers broad indicators of behaviors by Afghans that could indicate they are a threat, a Defense Department official said.

U.S. troops are also getting additional training in the U.S. before deployment on how to respond to these attacks.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Green on Blue Attacks • Taliban
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    October 10, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Reply
    • Ruco

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      November 13, 2012 at 12:02 am | Reply
    • Jo

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  32. Matt

    I wrote lies for the government for years, so don't take anything I say as the truth.

    August 30, 2012 at 10:08 am | Reply
    • Matt

      What I will say as I have said before here, in Iraq we took the oxygen from the insurgency and then transitioned. In Afghanistan it is a transition mid insurgency, that leads to more attacks, uncertainty of the end game. The key difference is the Iraq would change uniforms into civilian clothes, then attack, part of that is geography and demographics, it is a rural based insurgency. The Afghans are more one off attacks, at least in relation to this attacks.

      You have to look at from the Afghan point of view NATO 10 years failed to defeat the Talib, then the ANSF a 1970's equipped military is expected to defeat the Talib, once NATO decamp. Not going to happen and they know it. At what point do you turn not to get the wrath of the Talib. Leave it too late and it is your head.

      Back in 09, we all thought after Iraq, this is an easy, the quote from a Marine McChrystal set this one up for victory, anyone could run this war. Now it is a loss, what happened, who takes the blame. The suits take the blame and the uniformed muppets that follow them for self-interest.

      The reason we win, is we cannot accept defeat, it is worse than death, death is final, defeat is everyday, sunrise, sun up for the rest of your life. It is just unacceptable soldier.

      August 30, 2012 at 10:26 am | Reply
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        But that relates to honor, self-respect, pride. Politicians have little of those qualities so defeat is acceptable as long as it does not effect their self-interests. See not all politicians that was one thing of Bush and Cheney they would not accept defeat, which shows some responsibility and self-pride, honor. When you hang out in command you see people are just numbers, always have been in war, in the hands of politicians with little of those qualities, it does not matter the result or the cost. In which it can be a free for all, what is the difference.

        August 30, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  33. Bangash

    In beginning of occupation, probably in 2002, an Afghan teenager hurled a hand grenade at the vehicle of ISAF parked on roadside at Kabul and killed probably American soldiers, The guy was arrested and later during interrogation revealed that he do not know Alqaida or Taliban but he did not like to see foreign troops with guns in hands on our soil. In following comments George Patton has already clarified that in every occupied country such incidents can happen. So it is now fot right-wing thugs to understan and save Americans from further humiliations on Afghan soil.

    August 26, 2012 at 2:40 am | Reply
  34. dh47

    I believe out VP said the Taliban were "NOT" our enemy. Maybe he should re-think that comment. But then again, he thinks his boss is doing a good job. Amazing!!!!!

    August 25, 2012 at 9:50 am | Reply
  35. Jo

    As a Special Forces Operator we carry loaded weapons at all times. That should have been the rule from the start. We have always had a night watch awake while training these people. That should have been implemented from the start also. Regrettably this has not been the case and people have paid with their lives.

    August 25, 2012 at 9:18 am | Reply
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    August 25, 2012 at 8:30 am | Reply
  37. Jon

    I don't know which one I would prefer... Saying that most of the attacks are from Taliban infiltrators into the police force, showing our screening and security is at risk or having the attacks come from civilians trained to be part of the security force turned killer, showing just how much the population has turned against the U.S.

    Disheartening stuff...

    August 24, 2012 at 9:23 am | Reply
  38. Afghan Intelligence

    Allen told reporters. "I'll tell you that I'm looking forward to Afghanistan providing us with the intelligence that permits them to come to that conclusion, so that we can understand how they've drawn that conclusion and we could add that into our analysis."

    So in other words, Karzai's comment about foriegn spy agencies is a load of bs.

    August 24, 2012 at 9:00 am | Reply
  39. StanCalif

    The main "problem" in Afghanistan is Karzai! His top priority is to keep his relatives' heroin business very profitable using his own police to transport heroin out of the country! This "war" gives him cover and lots of US aid dollars! Hey, he is living the "good life", why worry about who is killing who?

    August 24, 2012 at 6:53 am | Reply
  40. George Patton

    How do they know it's the Taliban for sure? Like I already said, the same thing took place in almost every occupied country in both Europe and Asia during WW2. When will the right-wing thugs in Washington realize that the Afghans do not want foreign rule? Are they truly that dimwitted in Washington? Apparently, yes!

    August 23, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Reply
  41. Jim

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    August 23, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Reply

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