'Disgruntled elements' attacking troops: Pentagon
WASHINGTON (PAN): The Pentagon on Monday said it was looking into the possibility of Taliban’s infiltration into Afghan forces, believing that “disgruntled elements” within the Afghan security forces were attacking their international counterparts.
“We believe the vast majority of these insider attacks come from disgruntled individuals and it is not part of an orchestrated campaign by the Taliban. Can I rule out the possibility of a Taliban infiltration in the Afghan National Security Forces? No,” said the Pentagon Press Secretary, George Little.
Little was responding to questions about a recent statement by the Taliban leader Mohammad Omar, who claimed their men had infiltrated Afghan forces to target US forces. At least 10 American troops have been killed in the past two weeks as a result of insider attacks, raising a serious concern among military and security planners in the US.
The Pentagon official said it was too early to come at any conclusion with regard to the Taliban involvement in these attacks because investigations were ongoing. “The pressure that we bring to bear on the Taliban is forcing them to look at new tactics. I can’t say that these green on blue incidents originate with the Taliban. Some of them may, some of them may not. But they (the Taliban) are under severe strain, they are under severe pressure. We maintain intense focus on routing them out and we would continue to do so. They would not have safe harbor as long as American forces are in Afghanistan,” he said.
He said the morale of coalition troops was very high despite the tragic incidents. “The moral (of US forces) is high. Partnering with Afghan forces is an all-time high. We are not shying away from engaging with our Afghan partners. Our Afghan partners are doing a tremendous job as well,” he said.
Little said the US forces have “identified people” who might be intending to carry insiders attacks. The vetting procedures, he argued, have become more robust and stronger than before. “Can I take the risk down to zero when we are operating in war zone like this, absolutely not,” Little said.
Over the weekend, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called Afghan President Hamid Karzai and discussed with him the increase in insider attacks on American troops. The two leaders expressed concern over the incidents.
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