Six Coalition Troops Dead In Another Round Of “Green On Blue” Attacks

Another round of attacks by Afghans has lead to six dead NATO troops in Afghanistan:

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan security forces killed six service members from the American-led military coalition in a pair of attacks in southern Afghanistan this weekend, pushing the number of international troops killed by Afghan forces in a single year past 50 for the first time.

This year’s toll from what are known as insider or green-on-blue attacks — green being American military parlance for indigenous forces, blue for its own — has become one of the most visible signs of the challenges faced by the NATO-led coalition as it nears the end of its role in Afghanistan’s war.

The coalition’s ambition to leave behind a stable Afghanistan that can fend off the Taliban hinges on readying the country’s army and police for the task. Yet the spread of insider attacks has left coalition forces increasingly mistrustful of the Afghan forces they are training and fighting alongside. It also offered a window tothe increasing resentment that many Afghans feel toward the massive foreign military presence here.

The second attack of the weekend, which was Sunday in Zabul Province, was the deadlier of the two latest incidents, with four coalition service members killed. The coalition said in a terse statement that the attack was “suspected to involve members of the Afghan police” and was under investigation.

Michael Cole, a coalition spokesman, said officials suspected Afghan police in the attack because a police officer was killed in the firefight that ensued. But Mr. Cole said investigators were not yet certain whether the dead officer was one of the attackers or was caught in the crossfire between coalition forces and the assailants.

Afghan officials said they, too, were trying to determine what precisely happened.

Neither coalition nor Afghan officials offered the nationality of the troops killed, though most of the international forces in Zabul are American.

A day earlier, two British soldiers were killed in Helmand Province. The coalition said the attacker was a member of the Afghan Local Police, a village militia force that was created and is largely being trained by allied Special Forces to augment the Afghan army and police.

International troops at the scene quickly opened fire on the attacker, killing him, the coalition said.

Britain’s Defense Ministry later said both of the dead soldiers were British, and that they were killed at a local police checkpoint in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand.

The six deaths brought to 51 the number of coalition service members killed this year in insider attacks. The toll has already well exceeded last year’s total of 35 killed in such violence.

It also represents a marked increase from just a few years ago, when such attacks were often described by the coalition as one-offs and not part of a larger pattern or problem. In 2007 and 2008, for instance, a total of four coalition service members were killed by Afghan forces.

Someone who understands Afghanistan far better than I (question: does anyone really understand Afghanistan?) may disagree, but it appears to me is that what we’re witnessing here the evidence that the hope that turning over the defense of the nation to Afghan forces will work out in the end is mostly a lie. It may take five or ten years, probably less than that, but once we’re out of there, the Afghans are going to start fighting among themselves, just as they’ve been doing for at least the past three decades or longer. We were deceiving ourselves went we started to believe, during the Bush Administration, that we could build anything resembling a stable society there. It’s time to give that illusion up and get out of there before more of our men die for a hopeless cause.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. It would make a great Sunday morning TV question for both candidates, wouldn’t it?

    I think Obama currently has a more definite “get out” position, even if it is further in the future than many of us would like. Romney, per his page, is leaving open a long term military presence:

    Gov. Romney indicated in an interview with ABC on July 29, 2012, that while he is supportive of President Barack Obama’s Sept 2014 troops withdrawal deadline, he disagrees with the plan to order 23,000 troops out of Afghanistan by Sept. 30. However, he admits that his position could change depending on the counsel of military commanders, while leaving open the possibility of keeping combat troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014 should conditions change.

  2. Delmar says:

    What are we doing over there? I know that democracy and stability are goals, but what I see is a lack of personal freedom and there are many things that our soldiers are having to put up with that are wrong. One question: is there freedom of expression and religion in this country for all people? If not, we need to get out. I understand (I might be wrong) that our soldiers are not allowed to have a Bible or wear any religious symbols (tattoos, jewelry, patches). If we are trying to help these people, they need to make some concessions and commit to basic freedoms. If not, why are we there?

  3. @Delmar:

    We are there because the invasion and nation-building had some kind of momentum. Few people believe in nation building now, and momentum is about gone.

  4. Mikey says:

    It may take five or ten years, probably less than that, but once we’re out of there, the Afghans are going to start fighting among themselves, just as they’ve been doing for at least the past three decades millenia or longer.

    Fixed that for you, Doug.

  5. This does not mark success or victory for President Barack Obama.