The Longest Period Of No Combat Fatalities Since 9/11 Has Ended With An Insider Attack

news
Petty Officer 1st Class Farrukh Daniel

116 days. The United States military went 116 consecutive days without losing a U.S. service member to enemy action. That ended April 8, 2015, when an Afghan soldier opened fire on coalition forces, killing at least one as of yet unidentified American, according to Dan Lamothe at the Washington Post.


It’s notable that this period of relative peace and stability was upended with an insider attack. U.S. strategy in Afghanistan hinges on its ability to train and equip a viable national security force within the country. That strategy has been plagued by Afghan soldiers or police members who have turned their weapons on their American counterparts, dubbed green-on-blue attacks. These attacks range in their motivations. Sometimes members of the Taliban or their sympathizers infiltrate Afghan security units. Sometimes Taliban fighters simply don military uniforms and impersonate Afghan soldiers. Lastly, some insider attacks have no connection to the Taliban at all, and are mere manifestations of tension or dispute.

Tension between U.S. and Afghan forces peaked in 2012, when 44 attacks claimed the lives of more than 60 coalition soldiers. The attacks also garnered national attention in 2014, when Maj. Gen. Harold Greene, the highest ranking American killed in action since the Vietnam War, died after an Afghan soldier opened fire on coalition leaders.

This loss of life comes just weeks after President Barack Obama halted the drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan at 9,800 through at least the end of this year. In the announcement, Obama cited the need to train and equip an adequate Afghan national security force as a reason for the high American presence.

“We’re doing everything we can to help the Afghan Security Forces succeed, so we don’t have to go back, so we don’t have to respond in an emergency because terrorist activities are being launched out of Afghanistan,” the president said.

This recent violent incident could cast doubt on the stability of the situation in Afghanistan and across the western Asian region.

Three American contractors were killed and one was wounded at the hands of an Afghan soldier in a January attack purportedly orchestrated by the Taliban.

And last month, a Canadian soldier was shot and killed conducting counter-Islamic State operations in northern Iraq. The soldier, Sgt. Andrew J. Doiron, was reportedly killed by Kurdish forces who may have mistaken him for an enemy fighter.

So though the last American KIAs came in December, when Sgt. 1st Class Ramon S. Morris and Spc. Wyatt Martin were killed by an improvised explosive device, these past 116 days have been far from quiet and peaceful.

There’s turmoil in this world — there’s violence and instability — and American service members are in the thick of it.

Pictured left to right: Pedro Pascal ("Catfish"), Garrett Hedlund ("Ben"), Charlie Hunnam ("Ironhead"), and Ben Affleck ("Redfly") Photo Courtesy of Netflix

A new trailer for Netflix's Triple Frontier dropped last week, and it looks like a gritty mash-up of post-9/11 war dramas Zero Dark Thirty and Hurt Locker and crime thrillers Narcos and The Town.

Read More Show Less
Army Sgt. Daniel Cowart gets a hug from then-Dallas Cowboys defensive end Chris Canty. Photo: Department of Defense

The Distinguished Service Cross was made for guys like Sgt. Daniel Cowart, who literally tackled and "engaged...in hand to hand combat" a man wearing a suicide vest while he was on patrol in Iraq.

So it's no wonder he's having his Silver Star upgraded to the second-highest military award.

Read More Show Less
A small unmanned aerial vehicle built by service academy cadets is shown here flying above ground. This type of small UAV was used by cadets and midshipmen from the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy, during a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-sponsored competition at Camp Roberts, California, April 23-25, 2017. During the competition, cadets and midshipmen controlled small UAVs in "swarm" formations to guard territory on the ground at Camp Roberts. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Drones have been used in conflicts across the globe and will play an even more important role in the future of warfare. But, the future of drones in combat will be different than what we have seen before.

The U.S. military can set itself apart from others by embracing autonomous drone warfare through swarming — attacking an enemy from multiple directions through dispersed and pulsing attacks. There is already work being done in this area: The U.S. military tested its own drone swarm in 2017, and the UK announced this week it would fund research into drone swarms that could potentially overwhelm enemy air defenses.

I propose we look to the amoeba, a single-celled organism, as a model for autonomous drones in swarm warfare. If we were to use the amoeba as this model, then we could mimic how the organism propels itself by changing the structure of its body with the purpose of swarming and destroying an enemy.

Read More Show Less
Soldiers from 4th Squadron, 9th U.S. Cavalry Regiment "Dark Horse," 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, are escorted by observer controllers from the U.S. Army Operational Test Command after completing field testing of the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) Sept. 24, 2018. (U.S. Army/Maj. Carson Petry)

The Army has awarded a $575 million contract to BAE Systems for the initial production of its replacement for the M113 armored personnel carriers the service has been rocking downrange since the Vietnam War.

Read More Show Less

President Donald Trump has formally outlined how his administration plans to stand up the Space Force as the sixth U.S. military service – if Congress approves.

On Tuesday, Trump signed a directive that calls for the Defense Department to submit a proposal to Congress that would make Space Force fall under Department of the Air Force, a senior administration official said.

Read More Show Less