KABUL, Afghanistan — With the tempo of “insider” shootings accelerating, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff arrived in Afghanistan for talks on the phenomenon of Western troops dying at the hands of Afghan allies, U.S. and Afghan officials said Monday.
Army Gen. Martin Dempsey flew into the sprawling Bagram air base north of Kabul and was holding consultations with senior U.S. and Afghan commanders and government officials. Hours before his arrival, another American service member was killed in an “insider” shooting, the 10th such U.S. death this month.
In Washington, President Barack Obama told reporters that he had spoken with Dempsey and would be “reaching out to (Afghan) President (Hamid) Karzai as well because we’ve got to make sure that we’re on top of this.”
Obama said that steps are being taken to ensure that the “vetting process for Afghan troops is stronger” and to keep American troops out of “isolated situations that might make them more vulnerable.”
At the same time, he said, “obviously we’re going to have to do more” because of the increase in such killings.
Forty NATO service members have died this year in attacks by Afghan police, soldiers or base workers, according to the Western military count. The NATO force’s figures do not reflect the full scope of the problem, because Western officials do not routinely disclose attacks that do not involve Western fatalities, and because tallies earlier this year did not include attacks carried out by Afghans who were part of the security apparatus but were not members of the uniformed Afghan police and army.
Authorities in Kandahar province said the latest American death occurred Sunday when two Afghan policemen opened fire on a group of coalition and Afghan troops.
The gunfire also killed a police sergeant and wounded an Afghan interpreter. One of the shooters was killed in return fire and the other escaped, said Mohammad Khan, the Spin Buldak district police chief.