Home inContext U.S. General Killed in Afghan “Insider” Attack

U.S. General Killed in Afghan “Insider” Attack

Yael Rein

On Tuesday, a man dressed in an Afghan Army uniform opened fire on NATO troops at Camp Qargha military base west of Kabul. An American general was killed and 15 other NATO soldiers were wounded.

The shooting occurred in a secure facility where Afghan officers are trained under international observation. Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry said that the attacker appeared to be a member of the Afghan Army and had worked in Camp Qargha for three years. Armed with a light machine gun, the assailant also injured three senior Afghan officers, including the camp’s commander, Gen. Ghulam Sakhi. According to the Pentagon Press Secretary the U.S. general was “one of if not the highest ranking deaths” in the war in Afghanistan.

An Afghan security official stands guard at Camp Qargha in Kabul. (Photo: European Press Agency)

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid praised the assailant for killing the U.S. general as well as a police officer who shot and killed a NATO soldier earlier in the day in the eastern province Paktia.

Tuesday’s shooting in Camp Qargha is commonly referred to as a “green on blue” attack, in which Afghan security personnel turn against their NATO partners. However, such incidents have decreased from their peak a few years ago. In 2012, 53 coalition troops were killed in 38 separate insider strikes, while the number decreased to 16 Westerners killed in 10 attacks in 2013. Coalition authorities assisted in rechecking the backgrounds of over 350,000 Afghan security personnel in 2012, while new recruits went through an enhanced eight-step vetting process. During the review, hundreds of Afghans were discharged from the Army under suspicion of radicalization.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility over the majority of incidents primarily because they want to prove their abilities to infiltrate the army bases. Other assaults have been attributed to cultural misunderstandings and personal arguments. Battle stress, combat fatigue, and extended deployments can also aggravate already tense relationships between local and foreign forces.