Afghan insider attacks may hasten US withdrawal: NATO

NATO`s head Rasmussen comments come as he conceded that the recent Taliban strategy of ‘green on blue’ killings.

Kabul: The withdrawal of western forces from Afghanistan could come sooner than expected, the head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has said.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen comments come as he conceded that the recent Taliban strategy of ‘green on blue’ killings had been successful in undermining morale.

In an interview with the Guardian, he responded to pressure for a faster withdrawal from Afghanistan by stating that the options were being studied and should be clear within three months.

“From now, until the end of 2014, you may see an adaptation of our presence. Our troops can redeploy, take on other tasks, or even withdraw, or we can reduce the number of foreign troops,” he said.

“From now, until the end of 2014, we will see announcements of redeployments, withdrawals or drawdown … If the security situation allows, I would not exclude the possibility that in certain areas you could accelerate the process,” he added.

According to the report, Rasmussen admitted that the killings of almost 50 allied troops this year in ‘green on blue’ attacks, Afghan security forces turning on their trainers and mentors, had damaged the relationship between the international forces and the Afghan police and military.

“There’s no doubt insider attacks have undermined trust and confidence, absolutely,” he said.

"It``s safe to say that a significant part of the insider attacks are due to Taliban tactics … Probably it is part of a Taliban strategy," he said.

According to the report, while it was allied soldiers who were being killed, Rasmussen said the Taliban campaign``s ultimate target was to turn western public opinion against the war.

Rasmussen stressed that any accelerated rate of withdrawal should not be seen as ‘a race for the exits’.