Americans Killed in Kabul Were on Routine Ammo Inspection

The two Americans killed in a suspected insider attack in Afghanistan this week were on a routine inspection to check the inventory at an Afghan ammunition dump on the outskirts of Kabul when they were gunned down, a military spokesman said Friday.

Army Sgt. Douglas J. Riney, 26, of Fairview, Illinois, and contractor Michael G. Sauro, 40, of McAlester, Oklahoma, were on a mission Wednesday for the Afghan Defense Ministry when they drove up to the entry point at the Ammunition Supply Point, said Army Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland, spokesman for U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and the NATO Resolute Support mission.

"They had not started the inspection" when a man wearing an Afghan army uniform opened fire, Cleveland said in a video briefing from Kabul to the Pentagon. The gunman was shot dead by Afghan security.

Cleveland said the U.S. could not confirm that the incident was an insider, or "green-on-blue," attack since the Afghans have yet to identify the gunman.

Riney entered active-duty service in July 2012 as a petroleum supply specialist, the military said. He had been assigned to the Support Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, at Fort Hood, Texas, since December 2012.

Riney was on his second tour to Afghanistan. His awards and decorations included the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Army Commendation Medal.

Sauro was assigned to the Defense Ammunition Center, McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, in Oklahoma, the Defense Department said. He traveled to Afghanistan last month for his third deployment and was scheduled to return to the U.S. in March.

A U.S. soldier and two other U.S. civilians employed by the Defense Ammunition Center were injured in the incident. The soldier was reported in stable condition. Civilian Richard "Rick" Alford was in stable condition and civilian Rodney Henderson suffered minor injuries, the center said, adding that they will both return to the U.S., The Associated Press reported.

If confirmed as an insider attack, it would appear to be the first since a U.S. soldier was killed and two others were wounded in April 2015 by an Afghan soldier in southeastern Jalalabad.

More than 150 U.S. and coalition troops have been killed and more than 180 have been wounded in insider attacks in the Afghan war, according to The Long War Journal. The insider attacks peaked in 2012 when 44 attacks killed 61 U.S. and coalition troops.

The suspected insider attack Wednesday came as the struggling Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), backed by U.S. airstrikes and advisers, sought to fend off Taliban offensives from northern Kunduz to southeastern Helmand province, Cleveland said.

The U.S. military estimates that the Afghan government controls about two-thirds of populated areas while the Taliban controls about 10 percent, he said.

Helmand province "continues to be the Taliban's main effort," Cleveland said. The 215th Corps of the ANDSF is struggling to prevent the Taliban from taking the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah, but Cleveland said the U.S. is confident that the Taliban will not succeed.

In January, the commander of the 215th Corps and two brigade commanders were sacked for corruption and poor leadership, and a new commander was installed.

Cleveland confirmed that the 215th Corps commander installed in January has now been sacked himself for poor leadership, and a new commander took over earlier this month.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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