The highest-ranking U.S. military official in 13 years of war was killed by an Afghan soldier. Two-star general, U.S. Major General Harold Greene, died when Rafiqullah opened fire yesterday with a light machine gun at military officials who were inspecting a facility, Colonel Abdul Wahab, chief of staff of Afghan Defense University, said in a phone interview.
Rafiqullah, a 22-year-old who went by one name, was killed by Afghan forces after the attack.
“There is no doubt this could undermine the morale of Afghan soldiers,” said Wahab, who spoke to soldiers who witnessed the attack and said they knew Rafiqullah. “An insider attack is worse than Taliban attacks as our enemies are not really identified and recognizable. This could raise serious concerns within our higher and lower military ranks.”
The killing of General Greene has prompted U.S. President Barack Obama to review security measures while renewing questions about his plans to withdraw almost all U.S. troops by the end of 2016. It also sheds light on the Afghan army’s struggle to stay unified as it takes the lead role in fighting Taliban insurgents who are seeking a return to power once the U.S. leaves.
“This really illustrates that Afghanistan is really not ready for the handover or the transition,” Sajjan Gohel, director of international security for the Asia Pacific Foundation in London and a visiting lecturer at NATO’s key training facility in Germany, said by phone. “You can train Afghan troops as much as you want and as well as you think you can. If they don’t have an idea of national identity or one they can all relate to there will always be problems.”
Rafiqullah, an ethnic Pashtun, joined the Afghan military in 2011 in the eastern province of Paktia and has been stationed in Kabul for the past two years, Wahab said. Rafiqullah’s colleagues told Afghan officials that he was a loner and avoided social gatherings with fellow troops, Wahab said.
As of July 29, 2,338 Americans have died in the war, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. 30,600 U.S.forces reamin in Afghanistan, even as troops are withdrawn.
Highest-Ranking U.S. Military Official in 13 Years of War Killed