Afghan security forces averaged one insider attack every 4 days in the closing months of 2019, new data shows

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Soldiers with 2nd Kandak, 2nd Brigade, Afghan National Army (ANA) 215th Corps wait for the order to move during a military operations on urban terrain (MOUT) exercise at Camp Shorabak(U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Luke Hoogendam)

Members of Afghanistan's security forces turned their weapons on each other every four days on average during the closing months of 2019, according to a new report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.


Afghan National Defense and Security Forces personnel carried out 33 insider attacks during the fourth quarter of 2019, resulting in 90 casualties, according to SIGAR's latest report to Congress on the status of reconstruction and security efforts in Afghanistan.

ADNSF personnel carried out a total of 82 insider attacks total in 2019, resulting in 172 deaths and 85 injuries, according to the report.

In one major incident, a Taliban infiltrator killed 23 Afghan National Army soldiers in their sleep at a military base in Afghanistan's Ghazni Province in December 2019, the New York Times reported.

While the SIGAR report does not include data on ANDSF casualties, the uptick in insider attacks coincides with a record increase in Taliban attacks on Afghan civilians and government security forces.

Both Taliban-led and insider attacks spiked following the breakdown of peace talks with the United States in September and the Afghan presidential election later that month.

This sustained violence and rising casualties among the ranks of Afghan forces "contributed to ANDSF attrition outpacing recruitment and retention," according to a December 2019 report to Congress on security and stability in Afghanistan released this past January.

"The primary driver of attrition is the large number of soldiers who drop from rolls for being absent without leave (AWOL) for more than thirty consecutive days," according to the report.

There are currently around 14,000 U.S. service members deployed to Afghanistan.

Army recruiters hold a swearing-in ceremony for over 40 of Arkansas' Future Soldiers at the Arkansas State Capital Building. (U.S. Army/Amber Osei)

Though the Army has yet to actually set an official recruiting goal for this year, leaders are confident they're going to bring in more soldiers than last year.

Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, head of Army Recruiting Command, told reporters on Wednesday that the Army was currently 2,226 contracts ahead of where it was in 2019.

"I will just tell you that this time last year we were in the red, and now we're in the green which is — the momentum's there and we see it continuing throughout the end of the year," Muth said, adding that the service hit recruiting numbers in February that haven't been hit during that month since 2014.

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Active-duty service members, Reservists and National Guard members often serve side-by-side performing highly skilled and dangerous jobs, such as parachuting, explosives demolition and flight deck operations.

Reservists and Guard members are required to undergo the same training as specialized active-duty troops, and they face the same risks. Yet the extra incentive pay they receive for their work — called hazardous duty incentive pay — is merely a fraction of what their active-duty counterparts receive for performing the same job.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, D-3 of Moorestown, are partnering on legislation to correct the inequity. Known as the Guard and Reserve Hazard Duty Pay Equity Act, the bill seeks to standardize payment of hazardous duty incentive pay for all members of the armed services, including Reserve and National Guard components.

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A screen grab from a YouTube video shows Marines being arrested during formation at Camp Pendleton in July, 2019. (Screen capture)

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

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A soldier reunites with his daughter at Fort Bragg, N.C. after returning from the Middle East. The 82nd Airborne Division's Immediate Response Force had been deployed since New Years Eve. Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. (U.S. Army via Associated Press)

Some Fort Bragg paratroopers who left for the Middle East on a no-notice deployment last month came home Thursday.

About 3,500 soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team were sent to Kuwait beginning Jan. 1 as tensions were rising in the region. The first soldiers were in the air within 18 hours of being told to go.

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