Saturday, January 21, 2012

Defense Officials Offer Condolences for French Casualties

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON  – U.S. defense officials expressed condolences to the families of four French soldiers -- members of the International Security Assistance Force -- killed today in eastern Afghanistan’s Kapisa province.

An ISAF report said the service members were killed by an Afghan soldier and that the suspected shooter was apprehended. Several French soldiers were wounded in the attack.

"I would like to express my deepest sympathies to the families of the four brave, French soldiers killed in today's attack in Kapisa province,” Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen said in a statement from Kabul. “Today we mourn with France.”

The wounded soldiers and their families “are in my most fervent prayers for healing and recovery,” the ISAF commander said.

ISAF is committed to continuing to work with the government of Afghanistan “to resolve this very serious issue of individuals targeting our forces,” Allen said. “We will pursue a full and complete investigation and will work closely with France on the outcome.”

Navy Capt. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters this morning that such incidents coming from Afghanistan forces are called “green on blue” incidents.

“We believe that [such incidents] do appear to be increasing in frequency in recent months. What we can’t discern is a cause for that right now,” Kirby said.

“We’re certainly concerned about these incidents and ISAF officials are taking a look at it, but we also don’t believe that this is an endemic or systemic problem,” he added.

The great majority of partnered operations, and frankly most of our operations, are partnered now,” Kirby said. They “are done successfully, smoothly, efficiently and with good success.”

Kirby offered the Defense Department’s “thoughts and prayers” to the families of the French soldiers who were killed.

“France is a great ally, great friend, and we mourn as they do for their lost soldiers,” Kirby said.

He added, “Our thought and prayers also go out to the families of all those who are killed and wounded, but in particular today for those in the French military.”

In his statement from Kabul, Allen joined Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai in acknowledging France’s assistance to the Afghan people over the years.

“I am forever grateful to these soldiers of France for their exceptional courage, dedication to duty, character and service to their homeland,” Allen added. “They will always be remembered."

From Mons, Belgium, U.S. Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis, supreme allied commander Europe, also offered condolences to the French families, as well as to the American families of six U.S. service members who died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistanyesterday.

The cause of the crash in Helmand province is under investigation, according to an ISAF release, but initial reporting indicates there was no enemy activity in the area at the time of the crash.

Stavridis said, “Our thoughts and prayers, likewise, go out to their families.”

No comments: