"Insider attacks" kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan

A deadly enemy tactic is killing more and more U.S. troops, while in some parts of the country, al Qaeda is making a comeback

Eleven years after 9/11, Lara Logan talks to the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, who is incensed over deadly attacks on his men by Afghan troops the U.S. has trained and supported. In this hard look at the Afghanistan war, she also talks to President Hamid Karzai and a Taliban commander.


The following is a script from "The Longest War" which aired on Sept. 30, 2012. Lara Logan is the correspondent. Max McClellan, producer.

The war in Afghanistan is now the longest war in American history. Eleven years after 9/11, the enemy the U.S. went there to defeat, is coming back, according to the two men who know more about this than anyone: U.S. General John Allen and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

We interviewed both of them, and they were blunt about where the war stands and about an enemy tactic that's killing more and more Americans.

We arrived in the Afghan capital just after four U.S. soldiers were gunned down by an Afghan policeman who was with them in a firefight. It's what the U.S. military calls an "insider attack" when U.S. forces are killed by the Afghans they're training and fighting with. Last month, these attacks were the leading killer of American troops.

It's a critical problem for Gen. Allen, whose job is to make sure Afghan security forces take over the fight so U.S. soldiers can come home.

Lara Logan: You're in a tough spot right now. Can you explain why the sudden increase in these attacks?

Allen: Well, I'm mad as hell about them, to be honest with you. We're going to get after this. It reverberates everywhere, across the United States. You know, we're willing to sacrifice a lot for this campaign. But we're not willing to be murdered for it.

Lara Logan: At a certain point, if these attacks continue, the American people are going to say, "We've had enough." Right? "Why are we training these people if they're murdering us?"

Allen: Well, that may be, in fact. It may be the voice right now that we're hearing. The key point is for us to understand that the vast majority, the vast majority of the Afghans, and you've lived with them, you understand these people, they're with us in this. They understand right now the severity of this problem and the urgency of what's happening. And there have been Afghans who've been killed trying to save our forces when these attacks have been underway. Because that was the only reaction that they could've taken, was to try to save us at that moment of attack.

Training Afghan troops, like these Afghan Special Forces soldiers, is the centerpiece of Allen's mission. He's already had to suspend training twice because of the rise in insider attacks, which are threatening America's exit strategy.

Lara Logan: Should Americans brace themselves for more attacks? Is this going to continue?

Allen: It will. The enemy recognizes this is a vulnerability. You know, in Iraq, the signature weapon system that we hadn't seen before was the IED. We had to adjust to that. Here, I think the signature attack that we're beginning to see the-- is going to be the insider attack.

Allen has asked Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, to do something to keep enemy elements out of the Afghan army and police.

Karzai: These attacks are sad. This is something I have discussed in detail, something that I bear responsibility for, to correct.

We met Karzai at the presidential palace in Kabul where he spends most of his time. He rarely ventures beyond these manicured grounds and fortress walls that have housed Afghanistan's leaders for more than a hundred years.

And with good reason: he's survived four serious assassination attempts, like this one in southern Afghanistan in 2002 when U.S. Navy SEALs guarding him gunned down his attacker.

Now, as his forces take over security, they still face a formidable enemy.

Lara Logan: Can you tell Americans what's still at stake in Afghanistan after all these years of war?

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