Although the war in Afghanistan is no longer in the news every week, that doesn’t mean that American forces operating in the region are not putting their lives on the line every day, hoping to improve the nation until its military and police can stand on their own. As long as the United States Military is working in the nation, the danger of injury or death is very real.
On Monday, a service member was killed in Afghanistan, the victim of another “green-on-blue” attack in the nation. This means that on Labor Day, while most Americans were enjoying a day off, a member of the Afghan military or police killed an American warfighter during an ‘insider attack.’
The deceased service member, whose name is being withheld by the Pentagon until his next of kin can be notified of his death, is the sixth American soldier to be killed in the country this year.
However, more disturbingly, he was the second soldier to be killed by allegedly ‘friendly’ Afghan forces in the last two months.
Resolute Support consists of over 16,000 NATO troops, of which more than half (8,475) are American personnel, tasked with providing training and assistance to Afghani forces currently fighting extremists such as the resurgent Taliban, the Haqqani network, and ISIS-K.
Among those units is the 1st Security Forces Assistance Brigade, who are acting as advisors to Afghan forces.
General Miller said in a statement that the sacrifice of the volunteer service member was a “tragic loss for all who knew him and all who will now never know him.”
Another service member, also unidentified at this time, was wounded in the attack, and is currently in stable condition.
This is the second time in the last two months that such an attack has occurred in Afghanistan.
The attack also wounded two other military personnel.
In recent years, the number of these green-on-blue attacks has dropped, possibly because there are now fewer members of the United States Military in the region.
However, military officials told Congress in 2017 that attacks on coalition forces by ‘trusted’ nationals could increase due to what they termed the “explosive growth in personnel” of the Afghan military.
That suggests that as the nation’s fighting force expands, their ability (or inclination) to perform proper background research on soldiers is lessening.
Instead, the American military has been training the Afghan police, military, and even air force to operate, hoping that eventually, these forces will be able to take charge of the well-being of their nation without needing assistance from NATO forces.
Pentagon and Department of Defense reports suggested that the objective will be accomplished by 2019, and have claimed that the major issue the Afghan forces have had with carrying out operations on their own comes from issues with Afghan Armed Forces support not being able to carry out ‘aerial fires’ missions.
However, that report, ‘Enhancing Security and Stability In Afghanistan,’ came out in June 2016.
The AAF and the Afghan National Police have improved by leaps and bounds since the war in Afghanistan, and the Global War on Terror, first started, but there is still more to do.
Sadly, the need for additional training combined with the inability of the Afghan government to properly vet everyone who joins those groups, puts American personnel at risk.
The Department of Defense is now headed by the much-beloved James Mattis, who seems well-equipped to accomplish military objectives in a nation he once fought in.
Furthermore, General Austin Miller is no stranger to difficult situations and leadership in foreign nations where the line between friend and foe can be difficult to discern. He served as the ground force commander during the Battle of Mogadishu, a fight memorialized in the book and film Black Hawk Down, and was an officer in the United States Army‘s elite ‘Delta Force.’
It is entirely possible that before the end of the Donald Trump presidency, the War in Afghanistan may come to an end, leaving only a minimal force in the region (if any).
Until that day, however, the conflict in Afghanistan, which has stretched on for more than a decade and a half, will continue, and American forces will bear the brunt of such attacks.