Conflict & Justice

US military reduces joint operations with Afghan forces


Infantry men attend a briefing prior to embarking on a night patrol from Lindsey foward operating base on Sept. 15, 2012 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan. Two NATO soldiers were shot dead that day by a man believed to be a member of a Afghan police force in southern Afghanistan, the US-led military said.


Tony Karumba

The US military curtailed small unit joint military field operations with allied Afghan forces on Tuesday due to increased insider attacks.

Citing so-called "green-on-blue" attacks — Afghan soldiers killing NATO and US troops — and the anti-Islam video that has exacerbated an already precarious situation, military officials said they had issued restrictions on cooperative missions.

"In response to an increased threat situation as a result of the 'Innocence of Muslims' video, plus the recent insider attacks, ISAF forces are increasing their vigilance and carefully reviewing all activities and interactions with the local population," Maj. Lori Hodge, a spokeswoman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force, said on Tuesday.

This year Afghan troops have shot and killed 51 coalition troops. In some cases, the assailants were enemy infiltrators who had acquired Afghan uniforms.

“We are concerned with regards to these insider attacks and the impact they are having on our forces,” Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said at a news conference.

CNN quoted an anonymous US official stating, "We have got to do a better job at protecting our troops."

Foreign Policy points out that the new strategy will "substantially" alter the training of 350,000 Afghans who are supposed to take over for US forces when they leave in 2014.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force issued a statement re-affirming its commitment to working with and training Afghan forces:

"ISAF remains absolutely committed to partnering with, training, advising and assisting our ANSF counterparts. This means that in some local instances, operational tempo has been reduced, or force protection has been increased. These actions balance the tension of the recent video with force protection, while maintaining the momentum of the campaign."

The New York Times spoke with an Afghan officer who said the new rules for joint operations present “a big problem for the Afghan Army.”

“We rely on the Americans for everything,” he said. “The army is not in a level to carry out military operations independently, we still need their support."