Obama to reach out to Karzai over insider attacks
WASHINGTON (PAN): US president Barack Obama on Monday said he would soon reach out to his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai about “insider attacks” that killed 10 American troops over the past two weeks in Afghanistan.
“Obviously we've been watching with deep concern these so-called green-on-blue attacks, where you have Afghan individuals, some of whom are actually enrolled in the Afghan military, in some cases dressing up as Afghan military or police, attacking coalition forces, including our own troops,” Obama said.
Obama’s remarks came during a visit by General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to Afghanistan, with the killings of American forces by their Afghan allies topping the agenda.
There have been 32 insider attacks so far this year involving 36 shooters that have led to 40 coalition deaths, just over half of them Americans. Some 69 coalition troops have been wounded.
“I'll be reaching out to President Karzai as well because we've got to make sure that we're on top of this,” Obama said.
“We are already doing a range of things, and we're seeing some success when it comes to better counterintelligence, making sure that the vetting process for Afghan troops is stronger. You know, we've got what's called the Guardian Angel program to make sure that our troops aren't in isolated situations that might make them more vulnerable. But obviously we're going to have to do more because there has been an up-tick over the last 12 months on this,” he said.
Referring to the security transition in Afghanistan, Obama said: For us to train them effectively, our troops are in much closer contact with Afghan troops on an ongoing basis. Part of what we've got to do is to make sure that this model works but it doesn't make our guys more vulnerable.”
In the long term, there will be fewer US casualties and coalition casualties by sticking to the transition plan and making sure that they have got the most effective Afghan security force possible, he hoped. “We have got to do it in a way that doesn't leave our guys vulnerable. So we are deeply concerned about this from top to bottom. And hopefully over the next several weeks we'll start seeing better progress on this front,” he said.
In Kabul, Dempsey met with his Afghan counterpart, General Sher Mohammad Karimi, who raised the issue of insider threat at the start of their meeting — something Dempsey saw as a sign of Afghan resolve.
Earlier, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the Obama Administration was committed to withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.
“He is very carefully working with military and civilian leaders on developing a strategy in Afghanistan to be focused on our number one goal to disrupt, dismantle and ultimately defeat Al Qaeda. And I think there is no question that the president's administration has made, with the remarkable capacities of our military and intelligence leaders and soldiers and others, great progress towards that goal,” he argued.
“The President has also committed, when it comes to Afghanistan, to winding that war down. And as you know, we have begun a process of withdrawing forces that were part of the surge in Afghanistan, and that process continues,” Carney said.
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