Another Green on Blue Attack.
This weekend, an Afghan Special Forces soldier was shot dead inside Camp Shorab (formerly known as Camp Bastion, a former US and British base now run by the Afghan army) in Helmand Province after carrying out an insider attack on American troops operating there.
Three American soldiers were wounded while supporting NATO-led Resolute Support. A spokesman for the Afghan military in the south said the Special Forces soldier was shot dead after firing at the Americans at Camp Shorab Air Base on Sunday. “The guard lost his life in exchange of fire,” Mohammad Rasoul Zazai told Reuters. The NATO-led training and assistance mission said on Twitter that the wounded American soldiers are receiving medical care.
Who is Responsible?
Without claiming responsibility for the attack, the Taliban said an “Afghan patriot soldier” opened fire on the Americans. The shooting comes less than a week after three other American soldiers were wounded in eastern Nangarhar province when their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device.
‘Green-on-blue’ insider attacks have been at a low since the number of coalition troops in Afghanistan were reduced. Most coalition combat troops withdrew from Afghanistan at the end of 2014, although approximately 13,000 NATO-led soldiers remain to help train and advise Afghan forces fighting a revived Taliban insurgency.
One of the inherent dangers of working in Afghanistan is the constant threat of a traitor in your midst. When I worked in the region between 2011-2014, the incidents of green-on-blue attacks were very high. I know that for me and the other contractors I worked with supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, or whatever name they were calling it at the time, we were always worried about someone attacking us from within. It is much easier to defend against an enemy outside the wire than an enemy who turns out to be the guy next to you and the one responsible for watching your back.
Green-on-blue insider attacks by Afghan soldiers on international service members were a major problem several years ago but occur less frequently after security measures were improved and the number of foreign troops dwindled. Afghanistan is no longer a target rich environment for these type of attacks.
Even though the frequency of attacks are not what they were in the past, green-on-blue attacks still occur. Last May, two Romanian soldiers were killed and a third wounded after two members of a local Afghan police unit they were training shot them.
Helmand, where the most recent event occurred, has been one of the most fiercely contested regions of the country, with nearly 1,000 coalition troops killed since the US-led military intervention in 2001.
Jon Harris is an OpsLens contributor and former Army NCO, civilian law enforcement officer, and defense contractor with over 30 years in the law enforcement community. He holds a B.S. in Government and Politics and an M.S. in Criminal Justice.
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