Top US Military Officials Cite Progress in Afghanistan Despite Recent Attacks

Posted August 20th, 2012 at 7:55 am (UTC-5)
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Top US military officials cite progress in the campaign against insurgents in Afghanistan, despite the recent wave of attacks by Afghan soldiers and police against their international counterparts.

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, and the commander of U.S. Central Command, General James Mattis arrived in Afghanistan for talks with NATO and Afghan officials on Monday.

NATO said the two commanders met with the head of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General John Allen, and discussed “how to maintain momentum against the insurgents” and building Afghan capacity. The discussion also focused on recent “insider” attacks.

Afghan security forces have killed 10 international troops, mostly Americans, in the past two weeks. In the latest incident Sunday, a person wearing an Afghan police uniform shot and killed a coalition service member. At least 39 international coalition members have been killed in such attacks this year.

NATO troops have been ordered to carry loaded weapons at all times, even when on their bases, as a precaution against the attacks.

The Taliban says it has infiltrated the ranks of Afghan security forces and considers the attacks a major part of its strategy against alliance forces.

General Dempsey and General Mattis are also meeting with other senior Afghan and coalition leaders on Monday.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta discussed the issue of insider attacks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in a phone call Sunday. The Defense Department said Panetta urged Mr. Karzai to boost counterintelligence cooperation with NATO, introduce more rigorous vetting of Afghan security recruits and engage in more dialogue with village elders who can vouch for such recruits.

The Pentagon said Mr. Karzai and Panetta agreed that U.S. and Afghan officials should work more closely together to minimize the potential for future attacks.