An increase in Afghan security forces attacking their NATO counterparts -- or what have been called "green on blue" incidents -- is prompting the U.S. military to implement a host of new safeguards, top Pentagon officials announced Tuesday, Aug. 14.
NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) will increase intelligence and counterintelligence efforts aimed at stopping attacks before they occur, establish forensic teams that will analyze attacks, improve the vetting process for Afghan security forces, and require that a NATO service member, dubbed a "guardian angel," observe any gathering of NATO and Afghan troops. The guardian angel will "watch people's backs and hopefully identify people that would be involved in those attacks," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters during an Aug. 14 briefing at the Pentagon.
There have been 27 green-on-blue incidents so far in 2012, which have led to 37 deaths, according to ISAF. There have been several such attacks in the last week, killing three NATO troops and wounding two.
The safeguards will be implemented by ISAF commander Gen. John Allen. "General Allen is meeting with the [Afghan] security minister to talk about further steps to take in order to protect against these attacks, and he's also meeting with the village elders," said Panetta. "These are the people who usually vouch for these people -- they have to sign something that vouches for the character of these individuals. He's going back to them to ensure that that's being done properly."
At the briefing, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that, as part of his upcoming tour of the Middle East, he will travel to Kabul next week to talk with Allen about how to protect against what he called an "insider attack threat." "I think you'll hear us start talking about these incidents more as 'insider attack' rather than 'green on blue' because that understates the effect this is having on the ANSF [Afghan national security forces] itself. They're suffering casualties from the same trend that we're suffering" from, said Dempsey.
Allen will also meet with all his one-star generals in Afghanistan to discuss ways to end the attacks. Meanwhile, Afghan defense officials will hold a summit to discuss how to fight the problem. Dempsey noted that the Afghan security forces have "discharged hundreds of soldiers who did indicate that some of these young men had the capability to be radicalized." These soldiers were known to have consumed terrorist propaganda or frequently traveled back and forth between Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to Dempsey.