'US special forces suspend training of Afghans'
Washington: In the wake of increasing insider attacks on NATO soldiers in Afghanistan, the commander of US special forces has suspended training for all new Afghan recruits until probe into their ties to insurgents is completed.
"We have a very good vetting process," a senior Special Operations official told The Washington Post. "What we learnt is that you just can't take it for granted. We probably should have had a mechanism to follow up with recruits from the beginning."
The insider attacks have killed 45 NATO troops this year. The most recent attack occurred on Wednesday when three Australian troops relaxing at their base in southern Uruzgan province were shot at close range by a man wearing an Afghan Army uniform.
According to NATO officials, the vetting process for Afghan soldiers and police was not properly implemented, fearing that extensive background check could hamper the recruitment process.
Afghan officials, working with US Special Operations troops, have re-vetted about 1,100 Afghan Local Police officers and removed five policemen from the program, The Washington Post reported.
They are in the process of vetting 8,000 Afghan commandos and 3,000 Afghan Army special forces soldiers who are fighting alongside American Special Operations troops throughout the country.
Directives from NATO leaders have advised troops to stay away from Afghan soldiers and police officers during vulnerable moments, such as when they are sleeping, bathing or exercising.
"We need to reduce risks by reducing certain interactions with the Afghans. We don't need to sleep or shower next to them, because that's when we're most vulnerable," a NATO official who has been charged with making security recommendations said. "It's about force protection without endangering the relationship. It's a true teeter-totter."
The Afghan Army has announced plans to launch an expanded counterintelligence campaign against infiltrators and NATO forces have also launched an independent counterintelligence effort.