N.C. veterans react to recent Afghan insider attacks
The Daily News, Jacksonville, N.C.
JACKSONVILLE, N.C. — The organization that brings together combat wounded veterans and their families is voicing concerns about the recent Afghan insider attacks that have killed at least 51 troops, most of them American, since the start of the year.
"It doesn't take much of a rocket scientist to see that this cannot continue to go on," Senior Vice Commander Grant Beck of the local chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart told The Daily News Monday. "I think it's important that we continue to train the Afghans to eventually take over their own security and help themselves, but I also think we can't continue to allow this type of stuff to happen."
The current goal for the future of Afghanistan is to turn over all security responsibility to the Afghan people by 2014. With only two more years left, the recent attacks are a "very serious threat to the campaign," Army Gen. Martin Dempsey told the Pentagon's news service, the American Forces Press Service.
As the deadline looms, U.S. and foreign troops have begun training more Afghan police and soldiers to eventually take over security of the country, but the efforts have been derailed by a significant number of attacks on the NATO training forces.
On Sunday, four American troops were killed in southern Afghanistan after an Afghan police officer fired his gun at NATO troops at a remote checkpoint. Later that day, an Afghan soldier fired on a truck he believed to be transporting NATO forces and wounded a foreign civilian worker in a failed attempt to attack the international allies, marking the fourth attack by Afghan forces or insurgents against international forces in the past few days, according to reports by The Associated Press.
Those attacks followed a shooting Saturday in which an Afghan soldier killed two British soldiers in Helmand province.
"We need to do something about it," MOPH Adjutant John Cooney said. "They apparently don't appreciate us being there and just to have our troops over there to be killed at their whim whenever they want — I don't agree with it all. If they're going to persist we just need to pull out."
While there is no talk of pulling out of Afghanistan because of the recent attacks, Dempsey essentially agreed with Cooney, saying that "we can't convince ourselves that we just have to work harder to get through it. Something has to change"
A spokesman for the international military alliance told reporters Monday that commanders will be making changes to their protocols for protecting their own war fighters and mission operations given the spike in insider attacks.
"The operational commanders have been asked to review their force protection and tactical activities in the light of the current circumstances and make adjustments as required during this period of heightened tension," spokesman Jamie Grabeal said.
While no local II Marine Expeditionary Force Marines have fallen victim to the attacks, the Marine Corps will be sending II MEF Marines to the unstable area early next year. Those Marines are currently undergoing pre-deployment training, and while officials could not confirm the Marines would be seeing any special training related to the attacks, they said their training changes along with the war they're fighting.
"Pre-deployment training is continuously modified to account for changes in the operational environment," said Lt. Col. Cliff Gilmore, director of the II MEF Forward Public Communication Team.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.