KABUL, Afghanistan – The U.S. military has halted the training of some Afghan forces while it digs deeper into their background after a surge of attacks by soldiers and police on their international partners, officials said Sunday.
The move puts only about 1,000 Afghan trainees into limbo, a small fraction of the countrys security forces. But it shows how these attacks have the potential to derail the U.S.-Afghan handover of security so essential to the international drawdown strategy.
Officials say that the international coalition ultimately hopes to recheck the backgrounds of the entire 350,000-strong Afghan army and police.
The United States and its allies are pushing to have Afghan forces take over security for the country by the end of 2014. This effort has been imperiled by the spike in insider attacks that 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.
Coalition authorities have said about 25 percent of this years insider attacks had confirmed or suspected links to the Taliban. The militants have sometimes infiltrated the ranks of the Afghan army and police and in other cases are believed to have coerced or otherwise persuaded legitimate members to turn on their coalition partners.
With this increased interest in the insider threat, everybody started looking at it and saying: What can we do to make sure that all of our vetting processes are in place? Were going through and looking at everything, said Lt. Col. Todd Harrell, a spokesman in Afghanistan for the U.S. special operations forces.
NATO spokesman Jamie Graybeal said the training suspension is not the sum total of everything that were doing. Other measures include a more intense vetting system for new recruits, increasing the number of people working in counterintelligence, the revetting of Afghan soldiers as they return from leave and a ban on the sale of uniforms.