- The Washington Times - Monday, March 26, 2012

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan on Monday gave an upbeat assessment of the mission there, even as two British troops and another NATO service member were killed by Afghan security forces.

“I’m not saying things are perfect. Much work remains to be done,” Marine Corps Gen. John Allen told reporters at the Pentagon.

“For every insider threat … I can cite hundreds of other examples where they do perform their duties, where the partnership is strong, the competence of the Afghan forces is building, and where the trust and confidence we have in them, and that they have in themselves, grow steadily,” he said.

Monday’s slaying of two British troops marked the ninth incident this year in which an Afghan soldier has turned his weapon on coalition forces in what are called “green on blue” attacks. According to the Associated Press, the third NATO service member, whose nationality was not disclosed, was shot dead at a checkpoint in eastern Afghanistan by a man believed to be a member of a village-level fighting force the U.S. is fostering.

Last week, Gen. Allen told Congress that 52 U.S. troops have been killed and 68 wounded in such attacks since 2007, when the incidents were first tracked, not including those under investigation.

“We should expect that this will occur in counterinsurgency operations. It is a characteristic of this kind of warfare,” the general said Monday.

“We’ve experienced these in Iraq, we’ve experienced them in Vietnam, and any occasion where you’re dealing with insurgency and where you’re also growing an indigenous force,” he said.