Entries in Afghan Army (10)


Afghan Attacks on NATO Troops Tied to Stress, Fatigue

ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Deadly attacks on coalition soldiers by their supposed Afghan allies seem to be on the rise in 2012, with seven American troops killed last week alone.

While these so-called "green on blue" assaults -- referring to the color of the soldiers' uniforms -- are detrimental to the NATO mission of transferring full security responsibilities to Afghan security forces by 2014, the coalition doesn't believe they'll spread to the point of being crippling.

NATO spokesman Brigadier General Gunter Katz says the likely reason they're happening is not because of overall dissatisfaction with the coalition effort but more likely due to "personal grievances, by stress situation, or by battle fatigue."

Katz acknowledged that the 27 attacks this year that have led to 34 fatalities -- the majority of them American -- are tragic, but he said taken in the context of 500,000 Afghan soldiers and police, "green on blue" incidents are still very rare.

He also dismissed a Taliban claim that it's the group's infiltrators who are mainly responsible for the assaults, saying only a few of the incidents can be directly tied to Taliban members who've disguised themselves as government soldiers.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Taliban Welcomes Rogue Afghan Who Shot US Soldiers as Hero

ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- A new online video shows a rogue Afghan soldier receiving a hero's welcome from Taliban commanders, after returning from a mission where he killed an American soldier in cold blood.

The video, released by the Taliban's media propaganda wing, shows the soldier returning to a Taliban village in Ghaziabad in Kunar province, with dozens of Taliban men lined up to greet him.  The soldier, wearing an Afghan Army uniform, identifies himself as Ghazi Mahmood, or "Warrior Mahmood."

Men with white Taliban flags, some with their faces covered, others carrying rocket propelled grenade launchers, throng around him, parading him through the village as insurgents shower him with flower garlands and chant "Long Live Mahmood."

"I opened fire on three Americans who were sitting together," the man explains calmly in the video.  "The reason I killed them is because they have occupied our country.  They are enemies of our religion and they kill our innocent people."

In another scene, the rogue soldier is seated outside a wooden structure, surrounded by armed insurgents, some of whose faces are blurred.  Standing in a row in front are dozens of young madrassa students, who pump their fists into the air cheering "Jihad, Jihad" and "Long live the warrior."

The video offers rare glimpse into the world of Afghan Taliban-style chivalry, where those who kill Americans often receive fame, family honor, and in some cases, money from insurgent commanders to support their families.

In a statement to ABC News, a spokesperson with the International Security and Assistance Force, or ISAF, suggested the video only serves to get more young Afghans to die for a "fruitless cause."

"The insurgents are well versed at taking a snapshot in time and then alleging that it reflects a broader movement," said James Graybeal.  "We know better… Today, the vast majority of the 350,000 members of the Afghan National Security Forces are serving honorably and defending their country against those with no positive vision for the future."

Although the video cannot be independently verified, its authenticity is supported by several corroborating facts on the ground.

On May 11, a shooting took place in a camp run by the Afghan National Army, where American troops had gone to train Afghan soldiers.  A rogue guard at the camp opened fire, killing at least one American and injuring two others before escaping.  The Taliban immediately claimed responsibility, saying that a gunman named "Mahmood" was responsible and that he had returned to a Taliban camp in the remote region.  The gunman's name was later confirmed by Afghan officials.

The attack happened at the beginning of the Taliban's annual summer offensive, amid heightening concern over an escalation in so-called green-on-blue attacks, where Afghan soldiers turn their weapons against their American partners.  There have been at least 20 such attacks this year, a frequency much higher than in years past, complicating NATO's efforts to train Afghan soldiers ahead of the U.S. troop withdrawal in 2014.

In the past, NATO and Afghan officials have said most of the attacks are motivated not by support for the Taliban, but for "private reasons" including grievances against local Afghan commanders, ethnic feuds and depression.  Senior U.S. officials have insisted the attacks don't indicate a high level of Taliban infiltration into the army.

Tuesday's video shows otherwise, suggesting that rogue Afghan soldiers who kill their American counterparts will find strong support among insurgents.  The presence of so many young children in the video also suggests a new generation of green-on-blue attackers could be waiting in the wings.

"Are there others who will carry out attacks similar to what you have?" the rogue soldier is asked during the video.

"Yes" he replies.  "There are some people who are looking for the opportunity to kill infidels.  They will carry out their jihad and join us."

Likely, to a hero's welcome.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Top Coalition General Touts Progress of Afghan Security Forces

Department of Defense/Pfc. Jorge A. Ortiz, U.S. Marine Corps(WASHINGTON) -- A top military commander in Afghanistan says he and others are seeing positive results from the International Security Assistance Force's growing partnership with the Afghan army and police.

Speaking via video link to Pentagon reporters on Wednesday, British Lt. Gen. Adrian J. Bradshaw boasted of "Afghan national security forces increasing in strength, capability and confidence" due to the joint operation with ISAF troops.

Bradshaw claimed that Afghan army and police are now more equipped to lead and carry out sophisticated, brigade-level missions against the Taliban and Haqqani network, an important function as the U.S. and NATO take more of a backseat in day-to-day military duties.

The general said of the national forces, "They have surprised us, and I think they've surprised themselves, with how well they've performed in a whole range of different sorts of operations across the theater."

On the other hand, Bradshaw says that the Taliban is operating with less equipment, weapons and money, which has reversed the momentum they'd enjoyed until last year.

Nevertheless, Bradshaw warned that achieving a total military victory is probably not pragmatic because of how the Taliban and its allies can take sanctuary in Pakistan.

Therefore, Bradshaw said the answer is "a combination of military, economic, political and other measures anyway to effect a total elimination of this problem."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Two NATO Troops Shot and Killed by Man in Afghan Army Uniform

ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Two NATO service members were fatally gunned down in southern Afghanistan Monday by a man wearing an Afghan army uniform, according to local officials.

The attack took place at a base in Lashkar Gah in Helmand Province, a spokesman for the provincial governor said.  The gunman, who opened fire at the entrance of the base, was also killed.

The identities of the two fallen soldiers have not been confirmed, but initial reports say they were British.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Two US Troops Killed by Man Wearing Afghan Army Uniform

ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- A man wearing an Afghan army uniform shot and killed two members of NATO's International Security Assistance Force -- said to be Americans -- in eastern Afghanistan Thursday, the military coalition said.

The presumed Afghan soldier opened fire on his foreign mentors, who have not yet been identified, on a base near the border with Pakistan.

It's not clear whether the gunman shot the two service members in retaliation to the inadvertent burning of Korans and other religious materials earlier this week by coalition forces in Afghanistan.  The ISAF is investigating the matter.

Meanwhile, demonstrations over the accidental destruction of the religious texts continued for a third straight day on Thursday.  Afghan police fired into the air and used water cannons against more than 2,000 protesters outside another base.

The protests show no signs of slowing down and have already claimed at least 10 lives.

On another note, it was reported later Thursday that President Obama sent a letter that day to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, apologizing for the burning of Korans.

National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said, "Following up on their February 20 phone call, the President sent a letter to President Karzai to continue their discussion on a range of issues related to our long-term partnership.  In the letter, delivered by Ambassador [Ryan] Crocker this afternoon in Kabul, the President also expressed our regret and apologies over the incident in which religious materials were unintentionally mishandled at Bagram Airbase."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Training Afghans to Take the Lead in Fight Against Taliban

Department of Defense/Pfc. Jorge A. Ortiz, U.S. Marine Corps(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- The U.S. chief of day-to-day military operations in Afghanistan announced a Pentagon strategy Wednesday that will enable Afghan forces to lead the fight against their enemies.

Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti said the plan, which would begin taking effect this year, would allow U.S. and NATO forces to take a less active role in the 10-year-long war.

Scaparrotti, the second highest-ranking American officer in Afghanistan, told reporters, "I’m pressing commanders to put them into the lead as soon as they can.  The earlier we get them into the lead, the better we have a metric of just how well they’re doing and we also know better how to improve them."

The goal is to put virtually all Afghan forces in lead combat roles at some point next year, but Scaparrotti acknowledged that the pace of the strategy will depend on conditions on the ground.

However, the general maintains that this plan still takes a backseat to the number one priority at the moment, which is to "maintain the momentum" in the ongoing battle against the Taliban, particularly in southern Afghanistan, which remains the enemy's base of power.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Are Afghan Forces Increasingly Killing Their US Trainers?

ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- It has been one of the greatest U.S. fears in Afghanistan: that despite billions of U.S. dollars and years of training, Afghan forces will be infiltrated by the Taliban.

On Wednesday morning, U.S. officials gave their first detailed report on whether they believe Afghan troops are increasingly turning their guns on their American mentors.

In testimony to the House Armed Services Committee, Pentagon and State officials said Afghan security forces have attacked U.S. troops as many as 45 times since May 2007, "acting intentionally yet independently."

The U.S. officials, however, noted that these acts are not part of a trend, saying each incident was isolated and not part of a broader campaign by the Taliban to infiltrate the Afghan army.

David Sedney, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia, said, "personal issues, combat stress and other factors some of which we don't fully understand" are often the reasons behind these attacks.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


NATO Begins Security Transfer in Afghanistan

Department of Defense/Pfc. Jorge A. Ortiz, U.S. Marine Corps(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- The much-discussed, long-awaited start of the handover of security control in Afghanistan from NATO troops to Afghan forces officially began Sunday when the largely peaceful province of Bamiyan in the country’s mountainous central region became Kabul’s responsibility.

The region is one of the safest places in the country, but Afghan officials still weren’t taking any chances.  The government didn’t announce the transition ahead of time, and the handover ceremony was held at a police station amid tight security to prevent an insurgent attack.

Afghan police and security forces in the province will gradually take over from NATO-led soldiers from New Zealand.  The New Zealand soldiers are expected to remain in the area for one year.

The NATO coalition has promised Afghanistan it will turn over all security responsibility to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.

President Obama has already announced that some 33,000 U.S. troops out of the 100,000 in Afghanistan will leave by the end of 2012.  The reports one quarter of France's 4,000 troops and nearly 1,000 British soldiers will also leave at the same time.

International military forces will turn over control of security to Afghan forces in six other areas of the country this week.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Afghan Army Says It's Ready to Step In Where US Troops Leave

U.S. Department of Defense(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- As President Obama readies to make his announcement Wednesday night on the pace and scope of the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, there are many questions being asked in Afghanistan.

To name a few: Will it work?  Are the Afghans ready?  Can the gains in Helmand and Kandahar be sustained?  What will fix the violence in the rest of the country, where there are few U.S. troops?

The Afghan Army tried to answer the first two questions Wednesday, congratulating the U.S. soldiers who “get to go home to their families” and insisting it was ready to take over where U.S. soldiers leave.

“We respect the decision of the president of America, the people of America, and we support their decision,” said Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, the Ministry of Defense spokesman.  “The Afghan National Army has the capability in quantity to fill the gap of those places that the foreign forces withdrawal.  We are ready to fill these gaps.”

Next month, Afghanistan will formally begin transitioning parts of the country to Afghan control.  Azimi said the army was reaching its goal of 176,000 troops earlier than expected, but was still trying to improve the quality of those troops.

“The Afghan Army is not ready to completely handle all of Afghanistan’s security, but we are ready to start the transition process,” he said.

Azimi might sound confident, but most analysts believe the Afghan army is nowhere near ready.  There’s only one district in Afghanistan that the Afghan Army patrols completely on their own, and there’s little proof the army is ready to do that in the vast majority of places.  There are also worries about Taliban infiltration and sectarian pressures.

The places that will transition -- and presumably where troops will be withdrawn -- are the most peaceful parts of Afghanistan.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


NATO Soldier Killed, Another Wounded by Member of Afghan Army

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(BADGHIS, Afghnistan) -- NATO has confirmed that a member of the Afghan army shot and killed a NATO soldier this week in the Bdghis province of Afghanistan, according to BBC News.

NATO said that the Afghan soldier escaped after he opened fire on two International Security Assistance service members when asked to unload his weapon for cleaning.

This is the latest of several attacks by defecting Afghan soldiers. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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