Video Duration 24 minutes 58 seconds
From: Inside Story

Have Afghan forces been infiltrated?

With Afghan ‘insider’ attacks on NATO soldiers on the rise, we discuss whether the killings are part of a strategy.

Three US marines were shot dead by an Afghan worker at an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) base in Southern Afghanistan. And another three US marines from a Special Forces unit had been killed earlier in the day in the same area by a uniformed Afghan police officer.

“The claim … [that] each of these events is an isolated incident … simply doesn’t fly …. It may be that everyone of those attackers had some personal grievance [but] that doesn’t explain the trends. It doesn’t take into account the fact that beyond the Taliban, there is massive opposition throughout Afghanistan to the presence of foreign forces occupying their country.

– Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and author of Ending the US war in Afghanistan: A primer

NATO refers to these incidents as “green on blue” attacks – indicating they are carried out by Afghan police and soldiers or individuals wearing the uniforms. The same police personnel and soldiers trained by and supposedly working hand in hand with ISAF.

During 2008, such attacks took place only once or so a year but this year, they have been averaging one per week. In just the past week, six NATO military died in three separate attacks.

The death toll so far this year has been at least 34, compared to 35 for all of 2011. 

These attacks have come at a time when the NATO-led forces are preparing to leave and hand over security responsibility to the Afghan army and police, with the withdrawal process due to be completed within the next two years.

NATO troops have been in the country since the US-led invasion in October 2001. By 2003 the US secretary of defence claimed that “major combat” had ended.

But a decade later the number of the NATO-led force had risen to 150,000 with no significant let up in the level of violence.

“The fact is that we are facing an enemy which would not be satisfied unless they defeat us which means that the only … option we have is to defeat them, either by the support of international security forces or only by Afghan police and army.

– Fahim Dashty, an Afghan journalist

NATO’s ISAF command has tried to downplay the attacks, focusing instead on what it calls the Afghans’ steady progress towards taking over the war against the Taliban by the end of 2014.

But both the Taliban and many government commanders say the attacks are carried out by Taliban infiltrators.

So, has the Afghan army and police been infiltrated by forces opposed to international military intervention? Who is behind the attacks? How safe are soldiers working alongside Afghan forces? And what impact do they have on long-term security in Afghanistan?

Inside Story, with presenter Mike Hanna, discusses with guests: Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and author of Ending the US War in Afghanistan: A Primer; Fahim Dashty, an Afghan journalist and a spokesman for the Afghan National Journalists Union; and Brigadier General Gunter Katz of ISAF.

“The main cause for those incidents were personal grievances. Knowing this, we still have confidence in our Afghan partners, the troops out there are still willing to work with them, they have the trust that we all are working together to achieve the same objective.”

Brigadier General Gunter Katz, NATO forces spokesperson



  • Three US were soldiers shot dead by an Afghan worker on a military base
  • The shooting was the third such attack in four days
  • Shooting took place hours after three US marines were shot by Afghan police
  • Such attacks are known as ‘green on blue’ attacks
  • The Taliban are said to be responsible for both attacks
  • Such assaults are on the rise in Afghanistan
  • Assaults heighten the mistrust between NATO and Afghan forces
  • Attacks raise concerns over safety of international trainers in Afghanistan
  • The foreign forces are due to pull out of Afghanistan by 2014
  • There have been 26 such attacks this year resulting in 34 deaths
  • Coalition says attacks do not represent security situation
  • Last year there were 21 attacks in which 35 people were killed
  • NATO directed forces to increase measures against rogue attacks