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Afghan Transition Remains On Track, Officials Say

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 19, 2012 – Despite the threat of insider attacks in Afghanistan, coalition forces continue to apply pressure against insurgents in the country, Defense Department spokesmen said today.

During a Pentagon press conference, Navy Capt. John Kirby acknowledged multiple attacks by those in Afghan uniform in Kandahar, which left nearly 10 International Security Assistance Force troops wounded.

“[It was] clearly a tough day in Kandahar, or [the] last couple of days. There's no question about that,” Kirby said. “We still believe, and it still appears to be, what we consider a green-on-blue, an insider threat attack … three attackers that were dressed in Afghan national security force uniforms.”

Kirby said it was unclear if the attackers wore Afghan police or army uniforms, but all three are still at large. Two other attacks were also reported in the area.

“In one of them, we do believe that it was at least facilitated -- potentially facilitated by an individual dressed in an Afghan National Police uniform,” the Navy captain said. “But again, details are very sketchy right now. ISAF is certainly looking into this.”

Kirby also provided details about a recent attack on Forward Operating Base Frontenac, in Kandahar’s Arghandab Valley.

"It does appear that some insurgents dressed in [Afghan security force] uniforms were able to breach the perimeter of the operating base and were engaged very quickly by friendly forces inside,” he said.

“There was a quick response force from a nearby combat outpost that responded almost immediately, and of course, all the casualties were evacuated to Kandahar Airfield,” Kirby said.

Although there were no U.S. forces reported killed, Kirby said several were wounded in the course of killing at least seven insurgents.

Kirby noted it’s too early to say with certainty whether these attacks are connected beyond the fact that all occurred in or around Kandahar.

“It's not uncommon that in the warm months of the year, violence will increase,” he said. “Part of that is because of the weather. Part of it is because ISAF and coalition forces are being more aggressive.”

“They're out and about much more, particularly in the south,” Kirby said. “So they have occasion to be in more contact with or more of a problem for the enemy, and therefore, eliciting some of these attacks.”

Even so, the withdrawal of 23,000 surge forces remains on track and will be complete by the end of September, Kirby said.

Pentagon Press Secretary George Little stated ISAF will continue to overcome threats from al-Qaida terrorists in Afghanistan, even during the transition phase from ISAF to Afghan security forces.

“As we transition to a new phase in our relationship with Afghanistan, we believe that the Afghans themselves, working with ISAF countries that could maintain a presence beyond 2014, are going to be able to effectively suppress this threat,” Little said.

“Al-Qaida should take no comfort in 2014 as an end date for the Lisbon transition,” he said. “[This] will be a continuing priority and focus of the United States and our allies, to include Afghanistan. They will continue to see pressure brought to bear against them … pressure [that] is happening now, and it will continue in the future.”

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