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Despite Attack, Defense Officials Maintain Faith in Afghan Forces

FILE - Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby.
FILE - Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby.

Tuesday’s insider attack at an officer training school in Kabul claimed the life of a U.S. major general, the highest-ranking American official to be killed in Afghanistan. U.S. officials are just starting to investigate but say the incident will likely not have any impact on Washington’s plans to withdraw combat troops by the end of the year.
 
The attack by an Afghan soldier came during what U.S. officials describe as a routine site visit to the Afghan officer training school and that with high-ranking officers present, some increased security measures were in place.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest:

“This shooting is of course a painful reminder of the service and sacrifice that our men and women in uniform make every day," said Earnest.

Pentagon officials say it is not yet clear if the incident was an opportunistic attack or one that had been planned.  But it recalls other similar insider threats, or so-called ‘green on blue” - attacks that had plagued U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan.

“It’s impossible to eliminate or completely eliminate that threat, I think particularly in a place like Afghanistan," said Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby.
 
But Rear Admiral Kirby also said the tragedy will not shake the U.S. military’s confidence in the ability of Afghan forces to take the lead when U.S. combat troops pull out at the end of the year.

“This is a security force that we believe grows stronger by the week…They have had a good year, securing not one but two national elections and stopping or minimizing the impact of countless numbers of attacks throughout the county," he said.

In addition to the U.S. general who was killed, 15 other U.S. and coalition troops were injured, some seriously. Officials say the Afghan soldier who pulled the trigger was killed.

 


Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

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