WASHINGTON — One American service member was killed and another wounded in eastern Afghanistan on Monday in what officials described as an apparent insider attack.
The attack is the second incident in less than two months in which an American service member was killed by an Afghan security member. The United States military, which disclosed the death in a statement on Monday, did not provide additional details.
“The sacrifice of our service member, who volunteered for a mission to Afghanistan to protect his country, is a tragic loss for all who knew and all who will now never know him,” said Gen. Scott Miller, the head of the American war effort in Afghanistan, in the statement. “Our duty now is to honor him, care for his family and continue our mission.”
The Pentagon, which said that the wounded service member is in stable condition, did not identify either service member, pending family notification.
Afghan officials said the incident happened just after noon at Forward Operating Base Shank, in Logar province southeast of Kabul.
“We had a security meeting and other security officials were visiting also and a visiting policeman opened fire on an American military officer. He was hit from behind,” said Gen. Abdul Raziq, the commander of the Fourth Brigade of the Afghan army’s 203rd Corps, which operates out of the base. “We arrested the police officer, and according to the initial information, he said there was shooting already before he fired and the American was hit.”
Monday’s attack brings the number of American service members killed in Afghanistan this year to six. Just two months ago, another American service member was killed during an attack at a base in Tarinkot, a town in Uruzgan Province, where roughly 150 soldiers who are stationed in Kandahar often rotate through to train Afghan soldiers.
American troops in Afghanistan today are mostly tasked with training and assisting the Afghan National Army, as part of President Trump’s new strategy in Afghanistan.
The war is now largely fought by Afghan security forces backed by American air power. But Monday’s death is another reminder that the Trump administration strategy, which calls for American troops to train, advise and assist their Afghan counterparts, nonetheless can put Americans in harm’s way. Mr. Trump has yet to visit Afghanistan or the American troops there since taking office.
Insider attacks remain a regular feature of the war in Afghanistan. In some cases, investigations have found, the Taliban ordered the attacks, which peaked in 2012 and accounted for 15 percent of the deaths of troops in the American-led coalition in Afghanistan. Coalition forces were targeted in four insider attacks last year, including one that killed three United States soldiers in eastern Afghanistan.
The attacks prompted the creation of the Guardian Angel program, which is designed to try to protect American military advisers working with Afghan troops. Soldiers assigned to Guardian Angel duties receive special training, carry loaded weapons and wear body armor and helmets whenever American advisers are working with Afghans — even when inside secure bases.
Farooq Jan Mangal contributed reporting from Khost, Afghanistan.