In another "green on blue" attack an Afghan National Army soldier shot dead two U.S. troops in Laghman province. U.S. troops returned fire killing the Afghan.
Afghan officials said that the incident was an accident. They claim the soldier had tripped over his weapon which discharged killing the two U.S. soldiers. However, U.S. officials claimed that it was not an accident but the result of a dispute.
This is the 33rd "green on blue" attack in 2012. Altogether 42 NATO troops have been killed in the incidents. The Pentagon is trying to put a new spin on the attacks by rebranding them as "insider attacks" suggesting they might be Taliban infiltrators or Taliban using Afghan uniforms.
While no doubt those sorts of cases do exist in this instance there is no evidence that the Afghan was an infiltrator.The shooting was apparently the result of some dispute the nature of which has yet to be clarified. Insider attacks have nearly doubled in 2012 from 2011. Already this year 37 Americans have been killed compared with 28 during the same period last year. In a news conference Defense Secretary Panetta said:"Make no mistake about it, I've been very concerned about these incidents ... because of the lives lost and because of the potential damage to our partnership efforts,"
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, defended the use of the term "insider attack" calling the "green-on-blue" designation a misnomer. Panetta claimed that the attacks show that the Taliban are becoming desperate. He said:"The reality is, the Taliban has not been able to regain any territory lost, and so they're resorting to these kinds of attacks to create havoc,"
Panetta is obviously putting a quite positive spin on these attacks. This is a common tactic. Whenever there is some dramatic Taliban attack it is often interpreted as a sign of desperation. For the safety of NATO troops Panetta had better hope that the Taliban do not become even more desperate! Panetta also reminded Americans that the U.S. was still at war in Afghanistan:"There are a lot of other things going on in this country (the United States) that can draw our attention, from the Olympics to political campaigns to droughts to some of the tragedies we've seen in communities around the country... But I thought it was important to remind the American people ... that young men and women are dying in order to try to protect this country."
Certainly the Afghan war does not surface as much of an issue in the U.S. election campaign. Panetta does not mention that there is an agreement with Afghanistan that will continue the U.S. presence in Afghanistan from 2014 to 2024 in spite of the turnover of security to the Afghans in 2014.
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