Friday, August 31, 2012

NATO Official: Most Insider Attacks In Afghanistan 'Personal'

Despite a recent spate of insider attacks, most U.S. and Afghan deaths at the hands Afghan security forces have not been organized by the Taliban as part of a larger insurgency, and coalition forces are continuing to make progress in the country, a senior NATO official said Aug. 29.

Thus far in 2012, more than 40 coalition deaths have been attributed to insider attacks, compared with 35 for all of 2011.

“There are a variety of reasons that these attacks have occurred over the last few years,” said Alexander Vershbow, deputy secretary-general of NATO. “The majority still are viewed as having been the result of personal grievances or clashes between Afghan personnel and coalition personnel, and only a small percentage may have been engineered by the Taliban.”

Vershbow acknowledged there has been increased activity by the Taliban in recent weeks but said that NATO has implemented background checks and cultural sensitivity training for troops that will help combat insurgent efforts.

Speaking to reporters about the larger security situation in Afghanistan, Vershbow expressed optimism that the country is headed in the right direction.

“In the broader scheme of things, our strategy is working, and the coalition is solid,” he said.
Vershbow also said that even if Pakistan remains a haven for insurgents after NATO forces draw down, a critical issue that commanders have pointed to as greatly harming progress in the country, he believes that Afghanistan can survive.

Much of NATO’s current approach will shift at the end of 2014 when the coalition force known as the International Security Assistance Force is disbanded, ending major combat operations in Afghanistan. However, ongoing training and support will still be provided to Afghan forces.

Details of how that transition will happen have yet to be hashed out, Vershbow said.

“Planning is underway, but it’s still at an early stage,” he said.

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