Over the last 10 days, in five separate incidents, seven American military personnel were killed in what used to be called "green on blue attacks" -- where Afghan soldiers or police have assaulted their U.S. and NATO counterparts. Thus far this year, 37 coalition troops and civilians have been killed in 29 incidents of what the Pentagon now calls "insider attacks." According to figures released by the NATO command in Kabul, there were 11 such events in all last year, resulting in 20 deaths.
Until now, the Pentagon and NATO command in Kabul have maintained that these "sporadic incidents" were usually the consequence of "personal grievances" and "related to people getting into arguments." In March, after an insider attack that killed two British commandos, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the assaults by individuals wearing Afghan police or military uniforms weren't part of "any kind of broad pattern of activity." That perception has been altered by events on the ground in Afghanistan.
On Tuesday, following two attacks perpetrated by Afghan nationals that resulted in six Marines killed and two wounded, U.S. Gen. James Amos, Marine Corps commandant, took the unusual step of issuing guidance to all U.S. Marine leaders. Amos, it should be recalled by my media colleagues, co-authored the "Counterinsurgency Manual" with Gen. David Petraeus; it was used as the guidebook for the fight in Afghanistan. In his letter dated Aug. 14, 2012, Amos notes that the recent assaults "were carefully crafted to drive a wedge between us and our Afghan partners." Importantly, he also warned his Marines: "More of these types of spectacular attacks can be expected..."
A day after the Amos message went out, Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged at least partial reality in a Pentagon press conference. They now say the Taliban is "resorting to these kinds of attacks to create havoc." But in that same press conference, Panetta, perhaps forgetting this is not a conventional war, claimed that "the Taliban has not been able to regain any territory lost..."
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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