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Articles

Pentagon Issues Report on Killing of American General in Afghanistan

The New York Times, DEC. 4, 2014

An investigation by the United States military into the death of the first American general killed in Afghanistan criticized Afghan officials for not cooperating completely with investigators, but praised the rapid response of soldiers around the general for preventing further casualties.

Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene was shot to death in August by an Afghan National Army soldier who was acting alone, according to a report of the investigation, which was released by the Pentagon on Thursday.

The broad findings of the report were not a surprise, and they confirmed that the gunman, a private named Rafiqullah, 22, from Paktia Province in eastern Afghanistan, had not acted on behalf of the Taliban. Private Rafiqullah had been in the Afghan Army since 2012, working in a military police unit mostly on guard duty.

 “It appears the shooting was not premeditated, and the shooter simply took advantage a target of opportunity provided by the close gathering,” the report on the Aug. 5 attack said.

The attacker was less than 16 yards away when he shot from the bathroom window of a military police barracks at a group of mostly senior officers who were attending an impromptu briefing on the grounds of the Afghan military’s National Defense University. The report, released with many names and details redacted, indicated that the casualties from the episode were worse than previously reported: 18 officers or soldiers were wounded. General Greene was the only officer killed; the gunman also died.

The report said that Danish and American soldiers who were providing security for the meeting quickly located the suspect and returned fire, even though some of them were wounded themselves. The report also praised the quick work by military medical personnel, and it recommended the award of nine medals to the soldiers who returned fire or provided first aid.

The report said, “Afghan cooperation has been limited and guarded.” Missing were autopsy and ballistic reports that were not shared with the coalition and investigators were not given independent access to Afghan witnesses.

General Greene was the highest-ranking American officer killed in a foreign military engagement since the Vietnam War, and the highest-ranking coalition officer to die in Afghanistan.