Such deaths are the result of what is described as “green on blue” or “insider” attacks. The “green” represents the color of the Afghan uniforms and the “blue” refers to the color of NATO uniforms.
At least 11 of the 57 “insider” deaths involving U.S. forces have occurred in 2012.
On March 22, U.S. Gen. John Allen, the top commander in Afghanistan, told lawmakers that since 2007 when the Pentagon began keeping track, 52 U.S. soldiers -- including six this year alone as of the time he testified -- had been killed as a result of “green on blue” attacks.
Beyond the 2012 figure Gen.Allen provided, the general did not break down the number of U.S. soldiers who have been killed as a result of “insider” attacks by year.
While testifying, Gen. Allen added that 68 U.S. soldiers had been wounded as a result of such attacks. The Pentagon has said that data on American soldiers who are wounded as a result of “insider” attacks are classified.
CNSNews.com began tabulating U.S. “insider” fatal attacks after Gen. Allen testified in March. Since then, at least five U.S. soldiers have been killed by their Afghan counterparts or someone pretending to be one of them, including one death in June.
Four days after he testified about “green on blue” attacks before lawmakers, on Mar. 26, Gen. Allen spoke with reporters at the Pentagon and said such attacks are to be expected because they are a characteristic of the kind of war being fought in Afghanistan.
“We should expect that this will occur in counter-insurgency operations, and as we saw it in Iraq and as we've seen it historically in counter-insurgencies, but also in Vietnam,” he said. “It is a characteristic of this kind of warfare.”
That same day when speaking at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., Gen. Allen admitted that “there is an erosion of trust that has emerged from” the attacks on U.S. forces.
When interviewed by Jake Tapper on ABC’s This Week on May 27, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that although “insider” attacks remain a concern, the U.S.-led coalition is “making progress” on weeding out the bad actors from the Afghan forces.
“Our forces are going to be very vigilant as well in terms of how they operate to make sure that they watch their backs as we go through this process,” said the general.
The U.S. is expected to hand over the security-lead to Afghan forces by the end of 2014. Beyond that point, a residual American force is expected to stay in the country providing support in training and counterterrorism operations.
“Green on blue” attacks could prove to be a hurdle to the Obama administration’s Afghanistan exit strategy of training the country’s forces and handing over the lead to them.