The killing of six U.S. service members by Afghan security forces over the past week highlights a tragic reality: The forces Americans are training to secure Afghanistan when NATO withdraws are becoming their most feared enemies.
The direct targeting and killing of U.S. troops last week by supposedly friendly Afghan forces grew out of violent protests over the burnings of Qurans.
But the destruction of the Qurans only aggravated a problem that has been simmering for years.
Since 2007, roughly 70 American troops have been killed by Afghan Security Forces in what is described by the U.S. military as ‘Green on Blue attacks.’
“These attacks are by the very forces our military is trying to train to take control of their own country,” Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) told TheWashington Examiner.
Wolf said he is concerned with the growing danger faced by U.S. troops as the drawdown is underway, and called for a Congressional study of the problem. “We owe the men and women who are serving, to those who have given their lives. We need a fresh set of eyes on the
situation,” he said.
Several U.S. soldiers serving in Afghanistan told the Examiner that the true number of attacks on Americans by their presumed Afghan allies was drastically underreported. Numerous incidents of Afghan forces firing on NATO troops have just been ignored, “particularly if no one was injured,” said one U.S. Army official serving in eastern Afghanistan.
“We just never know if there’s a Taliban sympathizer among the Afghan Army troops or within the security forces,” the Army official added. “We remain very aware that at any time we may have an enemy among us with direct access to our troops inside the wire.”
Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force, said the number of incidents in which Afghan security forces have killed U.S. forces is classified. However, he said the number quoted by Wolf ’s office is “high.”
Cummings said security procedures have been revised for U.S. troops stationed throughout the region but declined to describe those changes.
The killings over the Quran burnings began on Feb. 23, when a protester killed two U.S. soldiers outside Bagram Airfield. On Feb. 25, two senior American military advisers were killed by an Afghan policy officer at an office in the Afghan Interior Ministry in Kabul.
On Thursday, an Afghan soldier and an Afghan civilian teacher working on the base killed two U.S. soldiers stationed in southern Afghanistan’s Zhari district. Another Afghan soldier is being held for questioning regarding the incident.
An American soldier serving in Southern Afghanistan said security is a major concern at all the bases in the region.
“We have a lot of Afghan workers and security personnel on the base,” the soldier, stationed at Kandahar Airfield, said. “We know that some of these folks get paid by the Taliban for information and others are sympathizers. As we draw down, sure, we’re worried.”
Sara A. Carter is TheWashington Examiner’s national security correspondent. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.