Army Major General’s murder in Afghanistan raises questions about security and ROE

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Tuesday was a sad day for the U.S. Army as it lost a Major General, Harold J. Greene, gunned down by an Afghan soldier in Kabul Afghanistan at the brand new Afghanistan version of West Point. To MG Greene’s family I offer my sincere condolence. As well, my humble condolences go out to the other victims of the assailant, including a German Brigadier General.

As you all know, I served in Afghanistan as a civilian-military advisor to the Afghan Army and many times had to traverse the Afghan 205th Corps Headquarters, Camp Shir Zai, in Kandahar alone and unarmed.

As reported by U.S. News, Major General Greene and a German Brigadier General were killed Tuesday when an Afghan soldier attacked a meeting of Western soldiers at a military training facility near Kabul, Afghanistan, according to Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby.

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The Pentagon confirmed Tuesday that at least 16 International Security Assistance Force members were fired upon at Marshal Fahim National Defense University, according to ABC and NBC News. Kirby said “There are a number of casualties, perhaps up to 15, to include some Americans. Not all of the casualties are American. There were other coalition members that fell victim to this shooting.”

This shooting is a deadly reminder there is still a battle ongoing in Afghanistan. Even though the United States has declared combat operations will be over, the enemy has a vote — and they have clearly voted no. You can be quite sure Taliban leader Mullah Omar will gleefully tout this heinous attack as further proof of the Taliban’s commitment to kill the “infidel” and invader.

The gunman was reportedly an Afghan soldier who was recruited to the military three years ago, according to the BBC. The BBC reports that the shooting took place after an argument broke out at Camp Qargha. “The soldiers were visiting the military academy to help with the buildup of Afghan security forces,” Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Tuesday, according to ABC News. Karzai blamed “enemies who don’t want to see Afghanistan have strong institutions.”

Afghanistan Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi said Tuesday that the attacker was a “terrorist in army uniform,” according to Fox News. Azimi said the attacker was killed and at least three Afghan soldiers were wounded during the conflict.

In a separate attack in Afghanistan’s Paktia province Tuesday, an Afghan police guard fired at NATO troops, according to Fox News. The gunman was killed when NATO forces returned fire, according to provincial police chief Gen. Zelmia Oryakhail.

“Insider attacks” involving Afghan military members had been less common in 2014 and 2013 than they were during more heated chapters of the Afghanistan War, according to Fox News and USA Today. Two Army soldiers were killed by Afghan gunmen wearing military uniforms in February, according to USA Today. A reported 16 soldiers were killed in 10 individual insider attacks in 2013, according to Fox. In 2012, 53 soldiers were killed in 38 reported attacks.

The Taliban will continue to advocate for these “insider” type attacks to degrade the relationship between coalition forces and the Afghans as the drawdown nears. The purpose is to affect the training of the Afghan forces, and instill a lack of trust between trainer and trainee.

However, there is one question I must ask in the case of the assassination of MG Greene. How could an armed Afghan soldier have gained this close access to senior American and German officers? And what was the weapons status of the general’s security detail? If the security detail wasn’t allowed to have chambered rounds, then no one around should have either. Of course, those are the details which an investigation will have to uncover — I just pray the folks in DC care enough to pay attention to the results of the investigation.

Regardless, it once again calls attention to the rules of engagement.

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