US halts Afghan forces training after insider attacks
An Afghan soldier looks on while standing in line at Camp Joyce base in Kunar province. Most of the NATO troops are set to withdraw by the end of 2014, which will put Afghan security forces in charge of security for their war-battered country. AFP photo
The U.S. military has halted the training of Afghan government-backed militias for at least a month to revamp the system of vetting of new recruits for ties to insurgents after a string of attacks by Afghan soldiers and police on their international allies, officials said yesterday.
There have been 34 insider attacks this year that have killed 45 international troops, throwing doubt on the ability of Afghan and coalition forces to live and work together during a key time in the transition to Afghan control of security. One of the pillars of the international troop drawdown is for allied forces to hand over responsibility for the country’s security to Afghans by the end of 2014.
Lt. Col. John Harrell, a spokesman for U.S. special operations forces in Afghanistan, said the pause in training affects about 1,000 trainees of the Afghan Local Police (ALP), a militia backed by the government in Kabul.
From one to two months
“The training of the ALP recruits has been paused while we go through this re-vetting process, to take a look at this process to see if there’s anything that we can improve,” Harrell said. “It may take a month, it may take two months, we don’t know.”
Afghan Local Police forces that have already been trained will continue to operate, and the government will continue to recruit new members, Harrell said. Col. Tom Collins, a spokesman for the international military coalition in Afghanistan, also said there was no set date for the training of the local police to resume.
Harrell said the Americans last month also put a two-week pause on operations by the Afghan Special Forces last month to re-vet those soldiers for any potential ties to insurgents. He did not say whether any suspicious links were uncovered.
The international forces in Afghanistan have been revisiting security for their forces in the wake of the recent attacks on international troops, the most recent of which took place last week when an Afghan army soldier turned his gun on Australian soldiers, killing three of them. NATO has some 130,000 troops in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban’s decade-long insurgency alongside government forces.
Most of the NATO troops are set to withdraw by the end of 2014 that will put Afghan security forces in charge of security for their war-battered country. The process is already under way, with security responsibilities of about half of the Afghan population transferred to the local security forces.