(CNSNews.com) - Members of the Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) -- or individuals wearing its uniform -- have killed at least 60 U.S. soldiers since 2007 in what the Pentagon describes as “green-on-blue” or “insider” attacks, the Pentagon told CNSNews.com on Monday.
Of the total 96 coalition deaths from green-on-blue attacks since May 2007 -- when the Defense Department began keeping track – at least 60 (or 62 percent) involved American troops, Commander Bill Speaks, a Pentagon spokesman, told CNSNews.com in an e-mail. The rest involved troops from other countries who are part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
The totals above do not include the soldier killed on Tuesday when two men wearing Afghan National Army uniforms shot him in eastern Afghanistan. The soldier is identified only as an ISAF member, no nationality given.
Including yesterday’s attack, 28 ISAF troops, including at least 13 Americans, have been killed by men in Afghan army uniforms so far this year. Those 28 coalition deaths are on track to exceed the 35 that occurred in all of 2011. And the 28 green-on-blue deaths so far this year mark an almost seven-fold increase from the four such attacks reported in 2007-2008.
Commander Speaks was unable to provide CNSNews.com with a monthly breakdown of the 60 U.S. fatalities stemming from “green on blue attacks,” but he confirmed that there were none in July – until yesterday, that is.
When asked about those who have been wounded in “insider” attacks, the commander told CNSNews.com that “ISAF does not release figures for wounded in action -- for this or any other type of attack.”
Nevertheless, Gen. Allen, commander of ISAF, told lawmakers on March 22 that as of that date, 68 U.S. soldiers had been wounded in “green on blue” attacks since 2007.
Through media accounts, CNSNews.com found that in July alone, at least seven U.S. soldiers were wounded by members of the Afghan National Security Force or individuals wearing its uniform. The Afghan National Security Force includes both the Afghan military and the national police.
On July 6, Pentagon Spokesman Capt. John Kirby told reporters that the U.S. is “deeply concerned about the insider threat,” Fox News reported.
As the U.S.-led coalition prepares to turn over security responsibilities to Afghan forces, the increase in green-on-blue attacks could complicate those efforts. An efficient Afghan security force is considered essential for a successful transition at the end of 2014.
Afghan national security forces turning their guns on their U.S. counterparts who are funding and training them has eroded trust between the two forces.
On February 1, Pentagon officials told lawmakers, “We assess the majority of insider attacks resulted from the personal motivation” of an Afghan security force member.
“The second most prevalent causes of insider attacks were impersonation and infiltration [of the ANSF] with co-option attacks assessed as the least common,” they added. “Some events remain undetermined because they are pending results of an ongoing investigation. The preferred method of insider attack was the use of small arms fire.”
Co-option is “when an existing ANSF [Afghan National Security Force] member is recruited to assist or act on behalf of the insurgency” and circumvents the screening and vetting process, noted the Pentagon.
CNSNews.com began keeping count of U.S. “insider” fatal attacks after Gen. Allen testified about them in March. Since then, CNSNews.com has used Pentagon data augmented by media accounts to issue monthly reports on the number of U.S. soldiers who have been killed by their Afghan counterparts or someone pretending to be one of them.
As of the end of July, there had been 1,954 U.S. military fatalities in Afghanistan since the war started in October 2001. Over 70 percent of them have occurred on President Obama’s watch.