NATO vows action on Afghan attacks

Sep 04, 2012, 10:28 AM EDT
In this Thursday, July 14, 2011 file photo, newly graduated Afghan national police officers march during a graduation ceremony at a National Police training center in Jalalabad east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, July 14, 2011.
AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File

BRUSSELS (AP) — The surge of assaults by Afghan soldiers and police on their foreign allies will not derail plans to draw down international troops from Afghanistan, but in the meantime, NATO will "do everything it takes" to stop such insider attacks, the military alliance's top official said Tuesday.

"Our goal, our strategy, our timetable remain the same," Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.

The United States and its allies are pushing to have Afghan forces take over security for the country by the end of 2014. That effort has been imperiled by the spike in insider attacks, which have killed 45 international service members this year, most of them Americans. There were at least 12 such attacks in August alone, resulting in 15 deaths.

On Sunday, the U.S. military halted the training of some Afghan forces. Although the move affects only about 1,000 trainees, a small fraction of the country's 350,000-strong army and police, it highlighted the potential of the attacks to derail the U.S.-Afghan handover of security considered so essential to the international exit strategy.

Additional measures to prevent insider attacks may include strengthened vetting and screening procedures, improved counterintelligence, as well as cultural awareness training, Fogh Rasmussen told journalists. He did not elaborate.

Officials say that the international coalition ultimately hopes to re-check the backgrounds of the entire Afghan army and police forces.

"We have introduced and will continue to introduce a broad range of measures to prevent such attacks, because these attacks threaten to undermine trust and confidence between foreign troops and Afghan security forces," Fogh Rasmussen said. "We'll do everything it takes to prevent such attacks."

Military historians have noted that that the level of violence by local forces in Afghanistan against their Western allies was unprecedented in modern guerrilla warfare. This included the Vietnam War and wars waged by France, Britain and other colonial powers since the 1940s.

In such conflicts, the guerrillas usually sought to infiltrate local security forces to obtain intelligence on enemy intentions or to subvert enemy operations rather than mount attacks on Western soldiers, said Martin Windrow, a British military historian and expert on colonial wars.