NATO suspends training of new Afghan recruits
The senior commander for special operations forces in Afghanistan is suspending training for new recruits to the Afghan local police (ALP) until re-vetting more than 27,000 Afghan troops over possible ties to insurgents.
According to a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the temporary suspension of training is aimed at making the already existing eight-step vetting programme more effective and only applies to new ALP recruits. The Afghan army is unaffected by the suspension and the training of Afghan special forces will also continue. It was also announced that any sale of Afghan army and police uniforms will be considered illegal.
The decision comes in the wake of a series of incidents in which NATO forces have been targeted by Afghan soldiers or policemen. Insider attacks were responsible for nearly 15 percent of this year’s coalition fatalities. 45 coalition troops have died in more than 30 “insider” attacks this year, at least 15 of them in August alone.
On August 17th two American special forces members were shot by a new Afghan local police recruit in western Afghanistan. The most recent “insider” attack occurred last week when three Australian troops were shot by a man wearing an Afghan army uniform. Most of the NATO victims were Americans.
According to a directive from NATO leaders, troops are now being advised to stay away from Afghan soldiers and police officers during vulnerable- off-duty- moments.
The Taliban has been vigorously recruiting members of the Afghan security forces, and has announced repeatedly that insider attacks were a core part of their strategy against coalition forces. Currently, around 130,000 NATO troops are fighting insurgents in Afghanistan together with 350,000 Afghans. Afghan officials have re-vetted about 1,100 Afghan local police officers, and in the process of vetting 8,000 Afghan commandos and 3,000 Afghan army special forces soldiers.