Washington: The persistent problem of rogue Afghan soldiers and police turning their guns on US and allied troops is a "very serious threat" to the war effort, which is predicated on placing security responsibility in Afghan hands, the US military's top officer said on Sunday.
In unusually blunt remarks to the Pentagon's own news service, the American Forces Press Service, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey said the Afghan government needs to take the problem as seriously as do US commanders and officials.
"We're all seized with (the) problem," Dempsey was quoted as saying. "You can't whitewash it. We can't convince ourselves that we just have to work harder to get through it. Something has to change."
Dempsey and other US officials have remarked extensively in recent weeks on the need to improve the screening of Afghan recruits and to take other precautionary measures in the face of a series of attacks that so far this year have killed at least 51 allied troops, most of them Americans.
"But we've got to make sure our Afghan counterparts are as seized about it as we are," Dempsey said. "We have to get on top of this. It is a very serious threat to the campaign."
Dempsey commented after attending a meeting in Romania of NATO military representatives. He said they discussed the situation in Afghanistan, including plans for the remaining two years of the campaign and the insider attack problem.
In the latest instances of insider attacks, two British soldiers were killed by an Afghan policeman in the southern province of Helmand yesterday and four American troops were killed in a similar attack today in Zabul province.
First Published: Monday, September 17, 2012, 08:57