News / USA

Congress Probes 'Insider Attacks' Against Coalition Forces in Afghanistan

U.S. Capitol in Washington (file photo)
U.S. Capitol in Washington (file photo)
Cindy Saine

A congressional panel held a hearing on Wednesday on the increasing number of "insider attacks" by Afghan forces and Afghan private security guards on U.S. and NATO troops they are supposed to protect.  Senior U.S. Defense Department officials say a majority of the attacks are motivated by personal issues and are not controlled or directed by insurgent groups.  

U.S. Defense Department officials told members of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee that since 2007, the attacks have killed 70 people and left 110 others wounded.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard McKeon, a Republican from California, outlined the problem.

"No less than one percent of Afghan forces and security guards have attacked coalition forces," said McKeon. "This is 42 attacks too many, and the new process must do better."

New security procedures were implemented after an attack in March 2011 that killed two U.S. soldiers and wounded four others.  The parents of one of the soldiers who was killed, Army Specialist Rudy Acosta, attended the hearing.  The Acosta family is asking lawmakers to take action to prevent a similar tragedy, saying that U.S. forces in Afghanistan should guard themselves, and not be guarded by Afghan nationals.

Representative Adam Smith, a Democrat from Washington state, joined McKeon and others speaking at the hearing in offering condolences to the families of those who have lost loved ones in Afghanistan.

"It is indeed a very serious and troubling situation," said Smith. "Our troops are in Afghanistan to protect the Afghan people and to protect their government.  And to be turned on by the very people they are fighting with and for, undermines the entire operation and places our troops at an unacceptable level of risk."

On January 20 of this year, an Afghan soldier shot and killed four French troops, which prompted France to threaten to withdraw its combat forces from Afghanistan earlier than planned.  This week, an Afghan soldier shot and killed a NATO service member in southern Afghanistan.  

When asked why U.S. and NATO forces use local contractors to guard their bases, Gary Motsek, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, gave this answer:

"Generally speaking, contractors perform well and provide essential support to the conduct of our operations within Afghanistan," said Motsek. "Without them, under the present conditions there, we would have to divert approximately 20,000 troops from essential combat tasks to perform non-combat related security functions.  And our allies in Afghanistan are in a similar situation."

Defense department officials testifying at the hearing said local commanders on the ground can decide to use U.S. forces to guard a base, if they determine that it makes sense to do so.

Army Brigadier General Stephen Townsend said the United States is taking steps to reduce the threat of insider attacks by improving vetting procedures, including weekly biometric checks of contractors, and by providing cultural training to Afghan security forces and private guards as well as to U.S. service members.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has ordered the withdrawal of all U.S. and other foreign contractors from Afghanistan as of March, which, analysts say, could raise even more security concerns.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid