The general, whose name hasn’t been released yet, is the highest-ranking American officer to be killed by hostile action during the war. Given how many ambushes by Taliban infiltrators disguised as Afghan soldiers there have been over the last few years, security his visit must have been tight. (When Leon Panetta visited Afghanistan a few years ago, Afghan and American troops were ordered to disarm for fear of someone seizing a weapon and ambushing him.) Every Afghan there was presumably vetted. Whoever did it, I’ll bet, was lying in wait for a big target for a long, long time.
Gen. Mohammmad Zahir Azimi, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry, tweeted in Dari that the gunman was wearing an Afghan military uniform and was shot dead after opening fire on Afghan and international colleagues.
Germany’s military said in a statement that 15 troops had been wounded in the attack, including a German brigadier general, according to The Associated Press. Those details could not immediately be independently confirmed by NBC News…
An Afghan intelligence source told NBC News that a high-level ISAF delegation was visiting and touring the academy when the shooter opened fire from a window. Two senior Afghan officers also were injured in the attack, the source added, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Four senior officers from three different countries killed or wounded by one subversive. The U.S. general is the only man dead so far, but that should change: Per NBC, the severity of the injuries to some of the wounded means they’re unlikely to survive. More from the NYT:
The shooting Tuesday was the first so-called insider attack in Afghanistan in months. Such attacks, in which Afghan troops open fire on unsuspecting coalition forces, at one point posed a serious challenge to the war effort, sowing distrust and threatening to upend the American-led training mission that is vital to the long-term strategy for keeping the Taliban at bay.
Though the number of attacks has dropped sharply since 2012, when dozens occurred, they remain a persistent threat for coalition troops serving alongside Afghan forces.
Afghan and ISAF officials told the Times they believe the shooter was indeed an Afghan soldier. I wonder what it means, though, that an ambush of this magnitude would happen after such a long lull in major green-on-blue attacks. Was this guy a lone wolf or is the Taliban picking its spots now, preferring to keep people under deep cover for longer periods of time in hopes of killing someone of higher rank? If so, that could be of necessity — it’s simply harder to infiltrate now than it used to be thanks to ISAF countermeasures — or strategic, trying to damage U.S. morale as we get closer to withdrawal. They’re already starting to advance militarily in anticipation of the security vacuum. Maybe this is part of that offensive.
Stand by for updates.
Update: WaPo has the general’s name.
Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, declined to provide the officer’s name Tuesday afternoon, but other officials identified him as Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene, deputy commanding general of Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan in Kabul.
U.S. officials said five of the eight wounded Americans are in serious condition; a number of British soldiers were also wounded.
Greene previously served as the Army’s deputy for acquisition and systems management, a role in which he oversaw acquisition reform initiatives. He was commissioned as an engineer officer in 1980, after graduating from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
The shooter has been enlisted in the Afghan National Army for the past two years.