Steps on to counter insider attacks: Panetta
The US and Afghan forces were taking a series of measures including increased counter-intelligence and a tougher vetting process to counter the attacks, he said.
Panetta, who was briefed by ISAF Commander Gen John Allen on the current situation in the country, told media Afghan forces had significantly enhanced their capabilities to meet any challenge from the Taliban.
Expecting tough fighting and attacks from terrorist groups, the secretary said: “The reality is the Taliban have not been able to regain any territory lost, and so they're resorting to these kinds of attacks to create havoc.
“There's no question it's of concern, it's dangerous and we've got to do everything we can do to try to prevent it,” Panetta told Pentagon correspondents at a news conference.
Panetta noted that the recent insider attacks, involving 31 Afghans, did not reflect the pride and dedication of the 350,000 Afghan soldiers and police.
The US and its allies, he said, were putting pressure on the insurgency and so did the growth of Afghan forces. “As the fighting season has progressed, we've seen an increase in enemy-initiated attacks…”
The US was taking the fight to the enemy, he said, warning that aggressive operations could lead to mounting casualties. “The fighting has increasingly been taking place away from major populated areas. The insurgency remains on the defensive…”
He said two-thirds of all of those in uniform defending Afghanistan were Afghans. “The ANSF remains on track to grow to 352,000 later this year. The growth of Afghan special operations and having that capability has allowed Afghans to plan, conduct and lead special operations missions.”
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