KABUL — U.S. special operations forces in Afghanistan have suspended training for about 1,000 Afghan police recruits to vet existing members, the military said Sept. 2, after a surge in insider attacks on NATO.
There has been a sharp rise in so-called “green-on-blue” attacks in recent months, in which members of the Afghan security forces turn their weapons on their Western allies, sometimes their military trainers. In more than 30 such incidents this year, 45 coalition troops have been killed — about 14 percent of the overall death toll in the war for 2012. Most have been American, though the latest to die were three Australian troops.
“Current partnered operations have and will continue, even as we temporarily suspend training of about 1,000 new ALP (Afghan Local Police)recruits while re-vetting current members,” a spokesman for the U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Col. Thomas Collins, said.
Taliban insurgents claim responsibility for many of the attacks, saying their fighters have infiltrated the Afghan army and police, but NATO says the majority of the incidents are due to cultural differences and personal animosities.
Last month was the worst for insider attacks in more than 10 years of war, with nearly one in three international coalition deaths caused by Afghan allies.
The ALP — which has around 16,000 members — is a U.S.-sponsored police force recruited to fight Taliban insurgents in remote areas of the Afghan countryside, though it has been accused of corruption and violence towards civilians.
“While we have full trust and confidence in our Afghan partners, we believe this is a necessary step to validate our vetting process and ensure the quality indicative of Afghan Local Police,” the U.S. spokesman said.
The suspension was temporary, the colonel said but gave no timeframe.
The serving ALP members will continue to carry out operations while the vetting goes on. Training for the Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army — carried out by NATO rather than the U.S. — will not be affected by the halt.
Afghan interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said: “We want all the training programs for our police forces to continue and we are in discussion with our NATO partners about it.”
There are about 130,000 U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban insurgency and training the Afghan security forces since the Taliban were ousted from power in late 2001 in a U.S.-led invasion. The U.S.-led NATO troops will withdraw at the end of 2014, giving all security responsibilities to the Afghan forces in a U.S.-designed program that began earlier this year.
The Taliban have stepped up their attacks in recent months as part of efforts by the insurgency to undermine the transition process.