Military provides details on killing of general in Afghanistan

Maj. Gen. Harold J. "Harry" Greene, who was killed in Afghanistan, served as Natick Soldier Systems Center senior commander from August 2009 to May 2011.

On Tuesday, August 5, 2014, U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Harold Greene was shot and killed in Afghanistan. The act of single shooter, who was apparently working alone, made history as the major general became the highest-ranking U.S. military officer to be killed in either of the post-9/11 wars.

According to the Times Union, Greene’s father is concerned about a military report released this week on the incident. He said it raises new questions about how an Afghan solider, who was by himself, could open fire on his son and dozens of U.S. and coalition troops.

The shooter was identified only as Rafiqullah. He went on a shooting spree while the general was on a tour at the Marshal Fahim National Defense University in Kabul. Rafiqullah opened fire with an M16 rifle, letting loose at least 30 shots at military personnel gathered outside a bathroom and waiting for a briefing to start. Eighteen individuals were also wounded in the incident, some of them seriously. Coalition forces shot and killed the shooter.

“Although there have been many leads, nothing has yet materialized that conclusively links the shooter to any plots, plans or person of interest,” the report summarized. “It may be that the shooter was self-radicalized, or that he suffered from some sort of psychological condition (which is what the Afghan National Army claims is the cause),” the report stated.

Greene’s father, Harold F. Greene, received an advanced copy of the extensive document. He reviewed it approximately three weeks ago while in Washington, D.C. While he was pleased that the report outlined what happened during the incident, he was concerned that inadequate planning and security plagued Greene’s visit to the Afghan military academy.

“It could have been prevented had there been a clear responsibility for sweeping the entire area, including all of the buildings,” said Harold Greene. The Times Union reported that he noted that sharpshooters assigned to protect the area where his son was shot were stationed on the roof of the barracks from which the shooter fired, but no one had secured the inside of the building.

From the start, there was confusion regarding the trip. Originally only 20 people were expected to attend and the threat level was assessed as low, with no indication there was any danger or concern. However, the number of attendees grew to over 90 U.S., coalition and Afghanistan personnel. The change occurred last minute, so organizers were scrambling to revise the program because some of the areas could not accommodate the large group.

“Despite extensive security planning and a number of site recons by the Danish Security Platoon, and recons by U.S., U.K. and German Personnel Security Detachments and Close Protection Teams, there was no comprehensive plan that incorporated all participating security elements,” said the military report.

Around noon, Rafiqullah entered the barracks in direct view of the crowd. Moments after the briefing started, the he positioned himself in a bathroom and fired approximately 30 rounds from about 50 feet away. He hit 18 people, including Greene.

According to the military, the shooting did not appear premeditated. The report did not find any evidence of negligence on the part of planners or leaders. However, it did recommend procedures to limit participants at certain events and better coordination of security teams. It also recommended that senior leadership personnel wear body armor.

Green was the first general killed in combat since the Vietnam War. He was survived by his wife and two children. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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