Latest “Isolated Incident” Raises Death Toll to 15 NATO Troops Killed by Afghan Troops This Year

Reacting to the killing of two senior NATO officers inside the previously secure Interior Ministry building in Kabul, Presidential Press Secretary Jay Carney on February 27 continued to insist that the ongoing killing of NATO troops by Afghan troops is just a series of “isolated incidents”. This stance is necessary in order for Obama administration and Pentagon officials to continue their attempts to hide the retroactively classified report “A Crisis of Trust and Cultural Incompatibility” (pdf) which clearly describes the cultural barriers which contribute to the disturbing trend of green on blue killings. Sadly, today marks another “isolated incident”, with the killing of two more NATO soldiers by a man “in an Afghan army uniform”:

A man wearing an Afghan army uniform killed two NATO troops in southern Afghanistan on Monday, military officials said, the latest in a string of shootings that have undermined trust between allies.

The gunman was killed by NATO troops shortly after he opened fire on a group of foreign troops, the military said in a statement. A military spokesman said officials were investigating whether the man was an Afghan soldier or an infiltrator wearing the uniform. No other details were released.

So-called “green on blue” shootings have become a rising threat this year, following a series of incidents that have created distrust between Afghan forces and their international coalition partners. The most significant was last month’s burning of Korans by U.S. troops. The episode sparked violent riots and prompted the Taliban to call on Afghan security forces to open fire on foreign troops.

From Reuters, we get an update on the fratricide statistics, along with an observation on the importance of this trend:

Before Monday’s attack, 13 members of the NATO-led force had been killed this year in what appeared to be attacks by members of Afghan forces, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces, General John Allen, told a U.S. senate committee last week.

About 70 members of the NATO force have been killed in 42 insider attacks from May 2007 to January this year.

The shootings raise new concern about the reliability of Afghan forces and their ability to take over security responsibilities by the end of 2014, when most Western combat forces leave.

So far, there has been no indication from the Obama administration that the clearly increasing trend of fratricide or other catastrophic events like the Panjwai Massacre will prompt a review of strategy in Afghanistan until after the November election. However, there is a hint that the Pentagon realizes they now stand on the precipice, as the blood money paid to the survivors in Panjwai is significantly higher than what was paid in previous incidents in Iraq and Afghanistan:

U.S. military officials paid relatives $50,000 for each of the villagers allegedly killed by a rogue U.S. soldier this month in Kandahar province, Afghan officials said Sunday.

Payment of “blood money” is a common way to settle disputes stemming from violent deaths in Afghanistan, but the amounts seemed unusually high compared with past U.S. military practice. The money could defuse the intense anger the March 11 massacre has generated in the southern province.

U.S. military officials handed the money to the villagers Saturday during a meeting at the office of Kandahar Gov. Tooryalai Wesa, according to Fazal Mohammed Esaqzai, the deputy chairman of the Panjwai district council, who was present.


Esaqzai said U.S. Special Forces commanders gave villagers $50,000 for each of the 17 people shot to death and $11,000 for each of the six people wounded in the shootings.

Previously, the AP informs us, payments were much lower:

However, civilian death compensations are occasionally made public. In 2010, U.S. troops in Helmand province said they paid $1,500 to $2,000 if a civilian was killed in a military operation and $600 to $1,500 for a serious injury. The Panjwai shootings are different because they were not part of a sanctioned operation, but it is a distinction lost on many Afghans who see any civilian deaths as criminal.

Of course, the official story on Panjwai remains that Bales acted alone. Will the compensation go up even further if evidence is released showing that at least one of Bales’ reported two excursions from the outpost on that fateful night was with accomplices?

In the end, however, the US will find that merely increasing the payouts when civilians are killed is a meaningless step in trying to close the cultural void between US troops and the Afghans. As long as cultural divisions continue to be ignored, the situation in Afghanistan will continue to deteriorate rapidly.

Postscript: During the time that this post was in preparation, the Reuters article was updated. The 4:41 am version opened “A gunman wearing an Afghan army uniform killed two NATO troops in southern Afghanistan on Monday, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force said, in what appeared to be the latest attack by rogue Afghan security forces on Western troops.”  It appears that NATO is now convinced the killer was indeed an Afghan soldier, as the 8:29 am version opens: “An Afghan army soldier killed two NATO troops in southern Afghanistan on Monday, NATO forces and a provincial official said, in the latest attack by rogue Afghan security personnel on Western troops.”

Many years ago, Jim got a BA in Radiation Biophysics from the University of Kansas. He then got a PhD in Molecular Biology from UCLA and did postdoctoral research in yeast genetics at UC Berkeley and mouse retroviruses at Stanford. He joined biosys in Palo Alto, producing insect parasitic nematodes for pest control. In the early 1990’s, he moved to Gainesville, FL and founded a company that eventually became Entomos. He left the firm as it reorganized into Pasteuria Biosciences and chose not to found a new firm due a clash of values with venture capital investors, who generally lack all values. Upon leaving, he chose to be a stay at home dad, gentleman farmer, cook and horse wrangler. He discovered the online world through commenting at Glenn Greenwald’s blog in the Salon days and was involved in the briefly successful Chris Dodd move to block the bill to renew FISA. He then went on to blog at Firedoglake and served a brief stint as evening editor there. When the Emptywheel blog moved out of Firedoglake back to standalone status, Jim tagged along and blogged on anthrax, viruses, John Galt, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is now a mostly lapsed blogger looking for a work-around to the depressing realization that pointing out the details of government malfeasance and elite immunity has approximately zero effect.
16 replies
  1. PeasantParty says:

    The arogance is astounding.

    Revenge killing should already be well understood by occupiers in Middle Eastern countries. What is it that the US can’t understand?

    Get out, and get out NOW!

  2. emptywheel says:

    Holy shit, the lifers are now in charge of charging decisions in the military.

    The United States military has charged Staff Sgt. Robert Bales with murder for the death of the unborn baby of one of the victims, a senior Afghan police official said on Monday.
    Charging Sergeant Bales with the death of a fetus would explain the discrepancy and under a seldom-used section of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the death of an unborn baby could be considered a murder whether or not the killer was aware that his victim was pregnant and whether or not he had intended to kill the fetus.

    Section 919a of the code, which also mirrors a similar United States federal law, states that, “Any person subject to this chapter who engages in conduct that violates any of the provisions of law listed in subsection (b) and thereby causes the death of, or bodily injury (as defined in section 1365 of title 18) to a child who is in utero at the time the conduct takes place, is guilty of a separate offense under this section.”

  3. MadDog says:

    The AP version from 8:45 EST says this:

    “An Afghan soldier shot and killed two British troops Monday at a NATO coalition base in southern Afghanistan before being gunned down by international forces, officials said…”

    So it seems to confirm it was an Afghan soldier and that he was inside a NATO coalition base. That makes sense because how could someone get inside a NATO coalition base without having the proper identification?

  4. emptywheel says:

    @emptywheel: Alright, this is weird though. HOw would we know it was a male fetus unless we had done an autopsy? I thought no autopsies were done.

  5. MadDog says:

    Further in that AP article they state the Afghan had been a soldier for 4 years in the Afghan National Army, which ought to reinforce a growing question within ISAF as to whether they have any clue about what they are doing in Afghanistan.

  6. MadDog says:

    @Jim White: Could be. One sense I had from reading that NYT article earlier this morning was a sense that all unborn Afghans were considered to be male until proven otherwise by birth.

    Strange I know, but that’s the impression I came away with.

  7. emptywheel says:

    @Jim White: I don’t buy it. They’d be stretched to get folic acid to moms, much less ultrasounds. Particularly in a place like this.

  8. Jim White says:

    AFP is reporting that the NATO victims were British. And it appears that in addition to the Afghan soldier who killed them, one other Afghan soldier was killed:

    Two NATO soldiers killed by a man in Afghan army uniform in southern Afghanistan on Monday were British, an Afghan official and a Western security source said.
    The Western security source, who requested anonymity, told AFP that an Afghan soldier was also shot dead, as well as the killer, in the incident at a provincial reconstruction team base in Lashkar Gah in Helmand province.

    Looks like it is time to start keeping track of blue on green killings as well as green on blue.

  9. Bill Michtom says:

    Wouldn’t the so-called “cultural void” be the distance between having control over your own country–even with a civil war–and having a foreign occupation for ten years?

  10. mzchief says:

    Reacting to the killing of two senior NATO officers inside the previously secure Interior Ministry building in Kabul, Presidential Press Secretary Jay Carney on February 27 continued to insist that the ongoing killing of NATO troops by Afghan troops is just a series of “isolated incidents”.

    There is a UN and NATO member provocation and pattern of involvement in this just like in the human trafficking the involved UN and NATO members would like to also pass off as just a series of “isolated incidents” (the bold in the following is mine):

    The Human Rights Watch Film Festival showcased the New York premiere of The Whistleblower in June. HRW has done extensive work documenting post-war abuse in the Balkans. Their website article “Bosnia and Herzegovina: Traffickers Walk Free” gives an overview of the material covered in the movie. In addition, they issued a report in 2002 that breaks down their findings into twelve comprehensive sections.

    I interviewed Kondracki by e-mail to get additional insights about her vision and aspirations for the movie. She explained that as a Ukrainian Canadian, the issue of sex trafficking was widely discussed within her community. When she read Bolkovac’s book, The Whistleblower: Sex Trafficking, Military Contractors, and One Woman’s Fight for Justice, she was overwhelmed by the breadth of the crime of trafficking. She was surprised that a film had not already been made.

    – excerpt from “The Whistleblower: Amplifying the Reality of Human Trafficking” (HuffingtonPost.Com, Marcia G. Yerman, co-founder, cultureID, Sept. 8, 2011)

    None of the young women, including Viktorija, was willing to testify against the bar owners for fear of reprisals – and it was difficult to blame them. So that evening, a convoy of four vehicles driven by local police and IPTF officers delivered the women to Sarajevo, where they would be placed in safe houses and repatriated to their home countries. A police officer who worked on the case told me that the owner of the Florida was arrested soon after, not for holding women captive or for human trafficking, but for employing illegal immigrants without proper work permits.

    – excerpt from “The whistleblower” (Bosnian Institute, Author: Kathryn Bolkovac, Uploaded: Tuesday, 25 January, 2011)

  11. MadDog says:

    @Jim White: The latest via AP has a 3rd NATO member killed by an Afghan, an American in a separate incident:

    Afghan security forces kill 3 NATO troops

    “… Another NATO service member was shot and killed at a checkpoint in eastern Afghanistan by a man who was believed to be a member of a village-level fighting force the U.S. is fostering in hopes of countering the Taliban insurgency. The Pentagon confirmed Monday that the dead soldier was American but did not release further details…”

    Is the phrase “village stability operation” due to become another military oxymoron like “military intelligence”?

  12. mzchief says:

    Continued from @mzchief on March 26, 2012 at 4:39 pm:

    Recall “Foreign Exchange Students Walk Out of Exploitative Hershey Chocolate Factory Jobs” (FireDogLake.Com, by David Dayen, Aug. 18, 2011, 12:25 pm) which features video testimony by American Mitch Troutman, a Central PA Resident (begin time point 4:08), re chronic adult unemployment?

    The following leads me to ask, what does the Dept. of State think is the purpose of the J-1 Student Visa program?

    From “J-1 Student Visa Abuse: Foreign Students Forced To Work In Strip Clubs, Eat On Floor” (Morrison World News, Dec. 6, 2010):

    1st Photo Caption embedded in image meta data: “J-1 Student Visa Abuses-Iuliia Bolgaryna right and her roommates Photo AP”

    2nd Photo Caption embedded in image meta data: “J-1 Student Visa Abuses-Iuliia Bolgaryna Photo AP”

    Notice the reprint of this AP article elsewhere does not feature these photos:

    J-1 Student Visa Abuse: Foreign Students Forced To Work In Strip Clubs, Eat On Floor” (AP article reprinted by HuffingtonPost.Com, by Holbrook Mohr, Mitch Weiss and Mike Baker, Dec. 6, 2010)


    Investigation exposes abuse of foreign students on US work visas” (WSWS.Org, by Nikolai Barrickman, Jan. 3, 2011)


    From :

    [Videos] “J-1 visa: Cultural exchange program under scrutiny – Student Experiences” (AP.Org, Updated June 17, 2011)

    Slide 1/4: “… they’re making $1, $1.50 and hour …” “Okaloosa County [FL] Sheriff’s Department Inspector George Collins.”

    Slide 2/4: “… if I’m alone on the street I’m afraid …” “Angelina Duolina, Russian J-1 visa student.”

    Slide 3/4: “… they say, like, we have no work for you …” “Ievgen Kondratenko, Ukrainian J-1 visa student.”

    Slide 4/4: “… I have to pay it off and I have to dance …” ‘”Katya,” a Ukrainian former J-1 student who says she was forced to strip in a Detroit club.’


    From “State Dept: Fifty teens allegedly sexually abused or harassed by host parent last year” (, by Anna Schecter, Rock Center with Brian Williams, Mar. 15, 2012):

    The program dates back to the 1960’s, but the Department said it only started compiling data about allegations of sexual abuse and harassment in 2009 after the Inspector General issued a scathing report on the program.”

    From “Culture Shock: ‘He touched places that he shouldn’t have’” (NBC News, Kate Snow):

    1st Video, “Culture Shock: ‘He touched places that he shouldn’t have’” (NBC News, Kate Snow):

    This is America culture and I should get used to it.

    2nd Video, “Culture Shock: ‘He touched places that he shouldn’t have’” (NBC News, Kate Snow):

    On a trip to Washington, DC with ERDT students and coordinators, things escalated.” […] When Guillome tried to report the incident to a local ERDT coordinator, he says he was shocked to see Doyle sitting in on the meeting.

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