Transcript for Pentagon: 2-Star General Killed, 15 Coalition Troops Injured in Afghanistan
An American two star general killed in Afghanistan in an insider attack today. The highest ranking American officer killed during this nearly thirteen year conflict I'm Michelle Franzen in New York yet another green on blue attack. And insurgent fighter an an Afghan military uniform. Opened fire at a military school another fifteen coalition troops were injured in the attack. Many of them. Americans. For more on this attack I want to bring an ABC news chief White House correspondent John Carl. And ABC news senior national correspondent Jim outlook from our bureau in Washington. Give us an idea John what are American officials saying about the -- Well -- as you can imagine a great concern here is that. This was training academy really the premier training academy. In Afghanistan where US a service members are training the Afghan troops that is the core of the US mission Afghanistan. Does that happen it's live like this. Where a two star general as you mentioned the highest ranking US service member to be killed in Afghanistan. Killed by what I am told is a member of the Afghan security forces not an imposter but an actual uniformed member of the Afghan. Services is a real high concern here as you mentioned fifteen. Service members also wounded in that -- I am told that eight of those eight of those are Americans wounded. Eight serious violation here -- also -- investigation. Is -- is whether or not that two star general was targeted for assassination. I am told that the early indications are. That he was not this was more of a random event a shooter -- one shooter firing into a large group of people but of course that is still under investigation. And John are we learning anything more about that insurgent fighter and how long he has been there are what are the details on that we now. All the key point is not an impostor this was. One of the actual members of the Afghan security forces. I'm told we don't know yet if he was -- Afghan National Police officer or an Afghan. Army member of what he was one of those trained by the United States and on that academy. And I'm told he he he basically flipped they don't know his motivation now. One very senior US official told me it looks a lot like -- workplace. Shooting a workplace violence incident where. The heat he simply -- -- for just started firing in a random fashion. And unfortunately. You know caught fifteen service members wounded them told some of those -- would quite seriously. And of course the the one US official killed a two star general and I want to bring in Jim Avalon now can you give us an idea of the fact that a two star general was killed how rare. Evidence of it is that. While we understand that this will be the highest military officer to be killed in Afghanistan and the highest. Military officer to be killed since the Vietnam War so this is certainly rare obviously. -- in the military to star generals are not on the front lines. They're usually in rather safe places coordinating things and in this case this was an instance where -- there was not a Frontline but of course in Afghanistan in the kind of wars. That are fought these days the front lines are really an aberration there are no front lines. And this was an attack -- as John says that appears to have been almost the workplace environment type of attack. Where the general would have been going about his normal business in an area that may have been. Some kind of ceremony or some kind of event like that so it is quite rare and it does. It does call into question some of the security that's going on and in Afghanistan there and I'm sure they'll be lots of questions about that. And we might get some of those questions answered we want to go to the Pentagon now where we will our number here and it -- -- -- perhaps up to fifteen. To include some Americans. Many were seriously -- two others received only minor injuries. The assailant was killed. I can also confirm -- among the casualties was an American general officer who was killed. Given that the family notification process is not yet complete I cannot and will not release any additional information about the general. I'm sure you can understand that we want to respect the notification process. And the -- privacy at this time. Secretary -- -- extends on behalf of the men and women of this department. His heart -- condolences to Stotts in his prayers to all those affected by this tragedy most especially the family of our fallen soldier. Secretary spoke this morning -- general done for who updated him about the incident. And he placed general done for whatever support he in this department. Could provide -- respect to the investigation. The incident will be jointly investigated by Afghan and I -- authorities. That investigation is just now getting under way. We need to let it proceed to -- speculating about any specific circumstances. That I'll take your questions. -- The assailant was believed to be soldiers now. Could you elaborate at all -- Known member of the army but was he was in uniform and was. Using -- -- who -- Well. They said that right now under investigation just not getting started we believe that the assailant was an Afghan soldier putting. And the ways -- caveat it. By saying we believe because again this investigation just get started the incident just occurred. But I see no indications we have no indications that he wasn't anything other. A member of the Afghan national security forces. Was -- some sort of a large gathering was. Instructional -- Situation it was. We -- as I understand it was it was a routine. Visit to that to the national defense says it to universities. Which is akin to their sort of officers' academy. But I would point -- I -- for the exact details I don't know it was it was a routine. Site visit is how I understand it. But again the circumstances surrounding how it. By -- by by Dayton. By a the general another coalition staff members. -- as I said at the outset let me get in make this -- -- -- -- mean not all of the casualties. Are Americans so that there were there were other coalition members. That. That fell victim to the shooting so as I understand it it was a coalition. And I -- site visit. To the university I really don't have any more details -- -- about. How long we've been -- what -- they look at shall. -- Thank yet -- -- told that this was a vetted. Soldier who'd gone through what is a very serious vetting process for African trip to do -- like this. Does this interview identify weaknesses in the vetting process and I also wonders bigger picture there were months away from Afghan. -- in the US handing over security responsibility for Afghanistan. Two Afghan -- courses like these does -- undermines your confidence. And their ability to take over that role. Great question Jim first too soon to tell on on what this means for the vetting process again we believe this individual. Was a member of the Afghan national security forces -- mean that the investigation proceed to figure out exactly who this was before we can. Leap to any conclusions about the vetting process on your second question I would say. And in. -- -- -- -- Mention this and it and that his discussion with the secretary. Today the Afghan national security forces continue to perform. -- a very strong level of competence and confidence and warfare capability. And they they have had a good year. Securing not one but two national elections. And stopping or minimizing impact of countless numbers of attacks throughout the country even in in Kabul. So. This is a security force that we believe grow stronger by the week and they are already in the lead in. Combat missions throughout the country they'll be completely in the -- for military operations by the end here. We see no change in no no no degradation of that. Of that progress. This is not the first time -- green on blue attacks like this one. I just wonder if this undermines -- trust that coalition forces to the US forces have in their Afghan colleagues in the months remaining before they leave the country. I've seen no indication that there's degradation of trust between coalition members on and their Afghan counterparts from. I -- And I would encourage you did you know certainly speak to folks are over there and Afghanistan I'm not I understand I'm I'm here and the Pentagon but. Every indication that I've seen is that but the partnering in the cooperation just -- you know it gets it gets better and better every week and I think. Again that's born in. That's borne out end in the performance that we've seen Afghan national security forces. After a spate of these green -- blue insider attacks several years and that -- -- Afghanistan the US military. Instituted. Several. Security precautions several. Additional security conditions. You know if any of those precautions were in place during this meeting or was considered so safe. That they didn't feel the -- the necessity. To undertake those additional security procedures. -- -- -- -- I -- did institute. Some measures tell mitigate the threat not eliminate would help mitigate it. -- I understand it some of those measures were in effect but. I would pointed to I sat for further details on that again all this is going to be looked at the investigation. Eliminate why can't work and to me that. I think it's I think we've been very honest that that the insider threat is probably went into its. -- It's a pernicious threat and it's difficult. 22. To always ascertain. To. To come to grips with -- scope of it anywhere you are particularly -- place like Afghanistan. So. And Afghanistan is still a war zone. So. It's impossible to eliminate. Completely eliminate that threat I think particularly in a place like Afghanistan but but you can work hard him to mitigate it minimizes and I -- has done that and and I would. As as terrible as it is today it is and it is -- it's a terrible day terrible tragedy. We haven't seen. In the course of last year so that as you described -- a -- both of these insider threat attacks and I think. That's testament to do good work that authorities have done in the -- to try to mitigate threats and can you give us any details about. The incident itself was it indoors where -- meeting where they -- reviewing the troops. Do you have any further details about exactly. How this went down. I wouldn't go any further than what I went to -- to Bob's question as I understand it was a a site visit to two university by all. Coalition members and again I just don't have those I just don't have the details I would want to speculate -- -- -- -- John was a shooter killed by American troops or Afghan troops have any idea. I just know that he was killed in the process of the attack I don't have the details of exactly who did it -- I'd put on the death of the American general officer in context is this highest ranking death of American soldier in Afghanistan to. Beginning at war since a certain period can help us. Contextualize that that way. Moves to. Make it -- historical statement now because I don't have the whole history of all the casualties over the last thirteen years clearly it's. If not -- certainly one of the highest ranking. The deaths in. And in the war since 9/11 as you. Probably know in the attack on the building in. On September 11 2001 a three star army general the -- of their personnel branch was killed in the building. Believe. And we can try to do the research on this but I believe this would be the highest ranking. Deaths since then. About certainly -- of widgets army on this as well mean it's -- -- do weekend to try to help you of that but I just don't have that granular detail right now. -- -- -- does this incident means that this department and Washington generally need to look at the way forward in Afghanistan in terms of the -- down. And change the makeup of the troops that are going to be -- there. For more Force Protection or to continue to do you know guard against these insider attacks. Investigation just now getting under way so. So I'm not speculate about what it -- what may or may not find I don't see any impact to. The current. Plans. Two draw down our forces in Afghanistan and to further support the resolute support mission next year what is contingent. Upon our ability to execute that mission is getting bilateral security agreement signed which restore -- -- -- -- Did you receive extra security -- their movements being restricted because this -- -- -- no idea. Police. Threw -- -- every reason to believe it started. Your question -- it was in a room. I'm not gonna talk about the specifics of of the I do -- -- again. Sorry he is and it's another -- Targeted ground there was -- -- again that gets to the circumstances under investigation I don't have that level of detail I wouldn't speculate at this time. You've been listening to the Pentagon briefing. An update on that shooting in Afghanistan killing a two star general right now I want to bring back ABC news senior national correspondent Jim Abdullah. Jim what stuck out to you from rear admiral -- comments today. Collective still a lot of -- tale that isn't known we don't know what that kind of place this was other than it was that the apparently at the defense schooled -- military school for training four officers in the Afghan army. We don't know -- was inside of -- room yet we don't know if the the general himself was targeted. How we do know that he was not the only one who was wounded it or killed that in fact. Some German soldiers were wounded including -- -- officer in the German military was wounded as well. We don't know if that persons died yet we know that an Afghan was also. An Afghan military. General was also a wounded during this attack. And then there's so there's a lot of questions still to be answered as to how. This happened it does appear that there. Has Jon Karl's been reporting. That that's this was an actual Afghan soldier not someone who had stolen or an or a uniform or camouflage himself. In some way this was an actual soldier to committed this crime. So there's a lot of of information that's still not there are a lot of investigation to be going on but it has been confirmed that this two star general. Has in fact it could have been killed in Afghanistan by someone who supposedly a friendly. And of course officials saying that the family also still needs to be notified they are not releasing the name the general this time it was described by. Rear admiral Kirby as a site visit to this university in general what sort of security precautions are in place. Oh win. An army general or anyone from one of those units are traveling around. Well as it was alluded to in the in the news conference. Because this is not the first type of attack of an Afghan soldier on American soldiers and effective in some pretty bloody incidents is over there. With the people who have. Who have infiltrated the Afghan military or who have -- -- turncoat. The there are well standards there are new. Supposedly -- precautions being taken. That are quite. I'm quite heavy. Including lots of security and lots of those scanning and and screening going on. And in fact as was alluded to one of the questions there during the press conference that appears as though there was a considerable vetting. That went on. About who could be inside during that period of time during this inspection tour of some kind so something was let down something -- through the cracks. And that will be -- insurer part of the investigation here in -- to keep part of the investigation. And even though they have said that these sort of attacks these green on blue attacks have been diminishing. Over the last few years what sort of extra precautions could they be putting in place -- -- investigation is complete. Well I think when what they do what they're doing now has more to do with the vetting as we said and scanning -- making sure that. Who's supposed to be in there is in there and nobody else. There could be fewer of these type of inspection -- is feared less contact. I suppose but -- right now we just have to wait and see what they come up with. -- Matalin thank you very much we wanna go to the White House now where Josh -- is getting ready to begin his briefing statements just gonna go ahead and get sort of. Thanks Josh. Let's start the attack this morning and Afghanistan is Carl -- the Pentagon -- her way back. Powell was the president's reaction to learning about -- Josh the president was briefed earlier today about shooting -- accident that occurred a shooting incident. That occurred at an Afghan military -- in Kabul city earlier today. More than a dozen coalition service members were killed or were wounded and at least one US service member -- general was killed. The president called -- and heard earlier today to get a briefing on the latest available information. In today in that incident. Well we have made tremendous progress in disrupting dismantling and defeating al-Qaeda. Operations in leadership in Afghanistan. And progress in winding down US involvement in that conflict. This shooting is of course a painful reminder of the service and sacrifice that our men and women in uniform make every day for this country. At a thoughts and prayers are those of us here at the White House or with the family of the general. Are with the soldiers in the Stanley of those who were injured in this attack. Those thoughts and prayers are also with the famous of course. Who have. Seen the loss of loved ones over the course of the United States is twelve years involvement and military operations in Afghanistan. Many of those families are still grieving for the loss of their loved ones. And those of us here at the White House are determined to ensure that their service and their sacrifice for this country. Are not forgotten -- -- the piracy I think eight this isn't here to heat. Hit attack. How concerned is the White House -- This attack undermines -- -- -- step backwards and progress that day the US her partner's knee high in reducing these insider attacks in Afghanistan. Just not in -- position right now to. Give you any information about the motive for circumstances surrounding today's attack. There is as you would expect an ongoing investigation into the circumstances of this incident. And we're gonna wait -- there -- some additional details. About this incident before a commenting further about the possible motive for. Or any information about the perpetrators to us involved in this and. Iraq says did you see this is still -- me. Progress and sending some of these tax by. Afghan troops on coalition forces. There are a number of security cooperation -- security protocols that have been put in place to ensure the safety and security of American servicemen who are serving. Oversees many times alongside. Afghan service personnel. Those security Croat security protocols -- in place because a couple of years ago you were call there was a spate of incidents. In which it was clear that there were American personnel who were. Facing a risk. Based on. On the conditions which they were service. So those security protocols have been put in place and will of course. Review this incident to see if any changes this particles should be made as a result of this but it's far too early for me to say anything about that at this point what we're still learning. Information -- what exactly happened. I do you think it's important to note that. Because our efforts to wind down the war. And because of the changing mission. Of American personnel in Afghanistan. We have seen a decline in the casualty rate of American personnel there. Earlier this year we. We -- entire month without a service personnel. Service member being killed in Afghanistan. But today's tragic incident is a painful reminder. That. Our servicemen and women are still. Serving. -- and sacrificing in Afghanistan and they're facing. Significant risks. To protect our country and to respect protect American citizens all around the globe. You have been listening to white house Press Secretary Josh Earnest at the daily White House briefing average also includes the latest update on -- began a century English. Resulting in the death -- two star general he said the president has been was notified and also was in touch. With his other officials he also says there'll be an investigation a full investigation as well as a review of security protocol -- You can't of course keep up with this story in real time by downloading the ABC news -- And star in this story. For exclusive updates on the go. For now I'm Michelle Franzen -- New York.
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