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)
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid