WASHINGTON (March 28, 2012) — Afghan and coalition leaders are working to limit “insider threat” killings in Afghanistan, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces there told reporters here today.
Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen said at a Pentagon news conference that Afghan and coalition forces have changed their operations to address the killing of coalition members by Afghan soldiers or police forces, also known as “green-on-blue” events.
Fifteen coalition members have been killed in such events this year. “I think you’re aware that tragically we had one overnight, as two young British soldiers were killed in Helmand province,” Allen said.
Afghan leaders have put in place an eight-step vetting process, Allen said, and have placed counterintelligence operatives in army and police schools, recruiting centers and within the ranks “to spot and assess the potential emergence of an individual who could be an extremist or, in fact, a Taliban infiltrator.”
The general said some breakthroughs have taken place, as Afghan investigators have arrested people in uniform who potentially could have been perpetrators of “green-on-blue” violence.
“So the process is actually working,” he added.
Allen said he has directed International Security Assistance Force troop-contributing nations to increase training for their deploying forces. ISAF troops, he added, have changed sleeping, basing and guard arrangements to better-protect coalition troops.
“Between what the Afghans have done for themselves, what we’re doing for ourselves and how we’re partnering together, we seek to reduce this tragedy to the maximum extent possible,” he said.
While the Taliban take credit for all such attacks, Allen said, the majority are not a direct result of Taliban infiltration. But it’s no secret that the Taliban have for some time tried to infiltrate Afghan forces and elements that support Afghan and coalition forces directly, he noted.
In most cases, the relationship between Afghan and coalition troops is strong, the general said. Still, he acknowledged, the attacks are one characteristic of counterinsurgency campaigns.
“We experienced these in Iraq, [and] we experienced them in Vietnam,” Allen said. “On any occasion where you’re dealing with an insurgency and where you’re also growing an indigenous force – which will ultimately be the principal opposition to that insurgency – the enemy’s [going to] do all that they can to disrupt the counterinsurgency operations, but also disrupt the integrity of the indigenous forces that develop.”