U.S. general killed in Afghanistan

From the October 2014 Trumpet Print Edition

United States Army Maj. Gen. Harold Greene was shot and killed in a “green on blue” insider attack on August 5, when an officer in an Afghan uniform opened fire at a military training facility in Qargha, Afghanistan. The 55-year-old, two-star general died on a deployment to Afghanistan after serving in the U.S. military for over 30 years. He became the highest-ranking U.S. military official to be killed in the line of duty since the Vietnam War.

The Afghan assailant, wielding a nato-supplied machine gun, opened fire at a gathering at Marshal Fahim National Defense University, wounding 15 others, including a German brigadier general. The shooter is suspected of being a “sleeper jihadist” who joined the Afghan Army 2½ years ago and bided his time for such an attack. Vetting such insidious elements is tough in Afghanistan, where an opening for 200 jobs can draw as many as 10,000 applicants. The attacker’s motive and possible ties to the Taliban have not been established.

“The insider threat is a pernicious threat, and it’s difficult to always ascertain, to come to grips with the scope of it anywhere you are, particularly in a place like Afghanistan,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said at a press briefing. This latest attack is the third this year. There were 15 “green on blue” attacks in 2013 and 48 in 2012, according to the Pentagon’s April 2014 “Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan.” All in all, over 140 coalition troops have died as a result of such attacks, and more than 170 have been injured.

This attack comes amid gridlock between Afghanistan’s squabbling presidential candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, who both allege fraud in the June 14 run-off presidential election. It also comes amid concerns over America’s exit strategy from war-torn Afghanistan.

The U.S. plans to end combat missions by December and reduce the current deployment of approximately 30,000 troops to 9,800. At the end of 2015, the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan is expected to be less than 5,000.