BOSTON (CBS) – A two-star general killed in Afghanistan has ties to Massachusetts. U.S. officials say Major General Harold Greene was killed in an apparent insider attack by a member of the Afghan security forces. According to a U.S. Army website, Greene once served at Natick Labs.
Major General Greene is the highest ranking U.S. casualty since the war in Afghanistan began. A man dressed in an Afghan army uniform opened fire Tuesday on soldiers at a training camp near Kabul, killing an Major General Greene. The gunman also wounded at least 15 other coalition troops, about half of them Americans. The attack comes as the U.S. mission in Afghanistan is winding down. One local military expert who has served in Afghanistan says today’s attack could mean a faster withdrawal.
The two-star U.S. General was with NATO troops at the base when the gunman in an Afghan army uniformed fired on them. Camp Qargha is west of the Afghan capital and is home to an officer school and training program. The gunman was shot and killed. “An incident like this where we tragically lose a general officer sends a very strong message back to this country that no one is safe,” says Retired Brig. General Jack Hammond who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
He now heads the Home Base Program in Boston, providing care for veterans and their families traumatized by war and wounds. He says this latest incident could affect public opinion. “There can be a whiplash call to action to get us out of there even faster than possibly the commander on the ground thinks we need to come back,” he says.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke to the U.S. Commander in Afghanistan after the attack and pledged the Pentagon’s support and resources for a full investigation. “Secretary Hagel extends on behalf of the men and women of this department, his heartfelt condolences, his thoughts and his prayers, to all those affected by this tragedy, most especially the family of our fallen soldier,” says Pentagon spokesman Admiral John Kirby.
Afghan soldier and police attacks on coalition troops, known as insider or green on blue attacks, dropped dramatically last year after 38 separate incidents in 2012 that killed 53 coalition troops. We don’t know whether the gunman was, in fact, an Afghan soldier or just wearing an army uniform.
The last officer of this rank killed while on duty was Lt. General Timothy Maude. He was killed on September 11 at the Pentagon.
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