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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid