There is no evidence that Afghan forces assisted Taliban forces with an attack that damaged Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey's plane, a senior Pentagon official tells U.S. News & World Report.
Enemy fighters fired rockets into an American base in Afghanistan early Tuesday morning and managed to damage the visiting Dempsey's aircraft, which was parked at the facility. Dempsey was safe in his quarters and was never in danger, Pentagon press secretary George Little said in an E-mail.
The brash attack comes on the heels of a string of recent fatal attacks on U.S. and NATO forces this year that have been carried out by Afghan forces--or individuals posing as indigenous troops. There have been 32 of those "insider attacks" during the first eight months of 2012; there were 21 the previous year.
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NATO and U.S. officials have not been able to pin the attacks on Taliban operatives posing as Afghan troops. That means it is likely most of the attacks are by Afghan soldiers with an ax to grind.
The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack that left Dempsey's plane damaged as he departed the country on another military plane.
The Tuesday attack raised eyebrows against that background.
But a senior Pentagon official says it appears the attackers acted alone. "I haven't heard of inside help" from Afghan security forces, the senior official says.
President Obama and other NATO leaders have agreed to a withdrawal plan under which all American and western forces will leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014. While such attacks place strain on the U.S.-Afghan partnership, analysts say the withdrawal plan is unlikely to be altered.
"These attacks, as terrible as they are, won't change the withdrawal strategy," says Joshua Foust of the American Security Project. "What it could change is how Americans see the final days of the war. Will it be, 'We did our best and now we're leaving,' or will it be, 'We're leaving and the Afghans are shooting at us and just want us gone'?"
John T. Bennett covers national security and foreign policy for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter.