Green on Blue Attacks

Inside Attacks and How They Happen

While “inside attack” is a more general and broad term, the NATO term “green on blue” attacks refer to incidents where an Afghan soldier attacks U.S. troops. Green on blue military attacks were especially prevalent in Afghanistan when coalition forces were fired upon by Afghan troops or civilian police and security. Despite having the same goal of fighting the Taliban, there are times when attacks from within occur – to the frequency of becoming a serious threat.

According to information from an article on We Are the Mighty, green on blue incidents can happen for various reasons, and it is often debated which is the most common motive. The two most likely purposes are that the attacker is a disgruntled soldier or the soldier is not on the friendly side at all but actually an infiltrator.

While not every green on blue Afghanistan attack is carried out through the same method, past attacks were often using firearms. One example from 2020 detailed in a Military Times article occurred when an Afghan soldier opened fire on U.S. troops using a machine gun, killing two U.S. service members and wounding six others. Further information later revealed that this was not a Taliban infiltration, but the attack stemmed from an argument between an Afghan soldier and U.S. forces.

Responses to Green on Blue Attacks

Reacting Quickly and Effectively

Knowledge of how these incidents commonly occur is vital to staying alert and responding appropriately. Military green on blue attacks are more often than not perpetrated by using a firearm rather than an explosive. There are occasional suicide attacks and situations where green on blue attacks become an active threat situation; however, the vast majority of cases between 2008-2017 involve a subject opening fire.

Coalition forces typically respond with deadly force, as it is the fastest and most efficient way to end the threat. Less commonly, there are instances when Afghan police and troops are able to take a perpetrator into custody alive – usually, after they are wounded or have surrendered.

Soldiers and warfighters are not always able to tell when something is amiss with a friendly or neutral party. Not all inside attacks happen after an argument or involve clearly suspicious movements. Green on blue attacks can happen by surprise, so maintaining an alert posture around other forces and knowing where your duty weapon is at all times is crucial.

If there is a threat of loss of life, a well-placed shot is the best way to neutralize the threat immediately. The head is important to target even if the perpetrator is using explosives due to the unknown factor of the bomb’s impact sensitivity. This also ensures central nervous system shutdown – the closest to instantaneous neutralization. To achieve this, shot placement and aim must be trained.

Training for Inside Attacks

How VirTra Training Can Help Prepare Servicemembers

Inside attacks usually catch servicemembers by surprise and have the potential to be devastating if the proper response isn’t taken quickly. VirTra’s training scenarios and programs can help warfighters prepare for anything by giving real-world training that is transferrable to the field.

Simulation Training Scenarios

VirTra has created scenarios specifically for the green on blue incidents and inside attacks. One ambush scenario available on VirTra’s multi-screen simulators is titled “Green on Blue” and challenges trainees to make timely decisions in an interactive, virtual setting.

With the ability to use either a rifle or handgun, the trainee/student will encounter an insurgent dressed as a friendly who suddenly opens fire on servicemembers. The student must quickly load their weapon and eliminate the threat quickly while onscreen soldiers take cover and tend to the injured.

Other scenarios can also be altered by the instructor to create a green on blue attacks event, keeping trainees on their toes and helping them judge situations quickly and effectively while being attentive to their surroundings. Each scenario is video-based and filmed with professional equipment to ensure immersion and realism during training.

Marksmanship Simulations

To practice and perfect marksmanship, VirTra’s simulated marksmanship ranges are an ideal supplement to live-fire training. Whether it is with a single-screen or a multi-screen simulator, VirTra’s marksmanship program is ballistically accurate and verified by independent third parties.

The V-ST PRO® and its V-Marksmanship® program allow up to 6 firing lanes per screen and can have between one and five linked screens. Instructors may select from multiple range environments with the ability to control the time of day, weather, wind, and more. Instructors may also select the types of targets and their movements. Just like what is available for scenario debrief, there is an after-action report for marksmanship that shows all hits and misses for each firing lane.

To make the range experience even more realistic, warfighters can use their own assigned weapons within the simulator by replacing the barrel or bolt carrier with stainless steel, durable recoil kit. Providing realistic recoil can take minutes, as the installation is quick and requires no permanent modification to your duty weapon. Combined with CO2 magazines, your firearm can be outfitted for simulator use for a more immersive experience on the virtual range.


For more information about how VirTra can help service members prepare for the green on blue attacks and provide effective training for your unit, contact a specialist by clicking the button below.