By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON – The Defense Department believes recent incidents in which members of the Afghan National Security Forces have attacked their coalition trainers are individual acts of grievance, a senior DOD spokesman said today.
“It’s often difficult to determine the exact motivation behind an attacker’s crime because they are, very often, killed in the act,” Navy Capt. John Kirby, deputy assistant secretary of defense for media operations, told reporters at the Pentagon.
Kirby said these types of attacks have only been tracked since 2007. Fifty-seven such attacks, he added, have occurred during this time.
“Based on the limited evidence that we have been able to collect, we believe that less than half, somewhere in the neighborhood of three to four out of every 10 [attacks] is inspired, or resourced, or planned or executed by the Taliban or Taliban sympathizers,” he said. “In other words, that it’s related to an infiltration attempt.”
Kirby said it may not even be a deliberate infiltration, but a “legitimate soldier or police officer [who] turned Taliban.”
Yet, the majority of attacks, he said, are acts of individual grievance.
“You know how seriously affairs of honor are to the Afghan people,” Kirby said. “We believe, again, that most of these [attacks] are acted out as an act of honor for most of them representing a grievance of some sort.”
The spokesman said Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, commander of International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan, believes the recent video of U.S. Marines urinating on the bodies of Taliban inspired at least one attack.
Regardless of the motivations, Kirby emphasized the attacks leave lasting impressions on the families of the service members who’ve been killed.
“We believe the majority of all of them are individual acts of grievance, but look, that doesn’t lessen the pain for family members who suffer from this,” he said. “It doesn’t lessen the importance of it whether it’s an act of infiltration or not.
“It’s an issue that we’re taking very, very seriously,” Kirby added. “But we don’t believe the majority of them are Taliban inspired, resource planned [or] executed.”
British Army Lt. Gen. Adrian Bradshaw, ISAF’s deputy commander, told Pentagon reporters during a May 9 video teleconference from Kabul that Afghanistan’s National Army and police force are working to “root out this problem with great determination.”
“We've had several hundred National Directorate of Security counterintelligence operatives now join the Afghan National Army on attachment,” Bradshaw told reporters. “They are embedded down to battalion level, and they are carrying out rigorous counterintelligence operations. The commanders are taking great note of where their people go on leave [and] whether their families have come under pressure.”
The British general said the vetting process for Afghan army and police recruits has been refined and there’s also “retrospective vetting of people in the force” with a “ruthless” approach to those members displaying signs of enemy complicity. “So a number of effective measures have been taken, and we continue to bear down on this problem very seriously indeed,” Bradshaw said.