Enhanced vetting of Afghan recruits agreed


KABUL – US defence secretary Leon Panetta and Afghan president Hamid Karzai agreed yesterday to boost the vetting of Afghan recruits to stem the number of foreign troops being killed by their local partners, the Pentagon said in a statement.

In the latest “insider” attack on Friday, two US special forces personnel were shot dead by an Afghan soldier, taking this year’s death toll of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces and contractors killed by their Afghan partners to 37, compared to 35 for all of 2011.

The growing insider threat has eroded trust between Nato and its Afghan allies, causing a headache for western powers who are planning to pull out most of their troops by the end of 2014.

Mr Panetta, in a phone call to Mr Karzai yesterday, urged the president to work with Nato to boost counterintelligence efforts, introduce more vigorous vetting of Afghan security forces and to speak more with village elders who have ties to the army and police, the statement said.

“They expressed shared concern over this issue and agreed that American and Afghan officials should work even more closely together to minimise the potential” for future attacks, it added.

Nato’s top commander in Afghanistan, US general John Allen, this week issued dramatic orders for all coalition forces members to carry a loaded magazine in their weapons at all times on base after six marines were killed on August 10th in two separate insider shootings.

Field commanders have also been given discretion to increase numbers of so-called “guardian angel” sentries who oversee foreign soldiers in crowded areas such as gyms and food halls to respond to any rogue shootings. – (Reuters)