NATO tightens screening of Afghan army against Taliban infiltrators

Nearly one in five NATO soldiers killed this year have died at the hands of their Afghan comrades.


Afp March 14, 2012

BRUSSELS: NATO said Wednesday it was tightening screening of Afghan forces to prevent insurgents from infiltrating the army after a spate of killings of foreign troops by their Afghan colleagues.

An updated counter-infiltration plan designed by military commanders was adopted by NATO ambassadors Tuesday on a request from France in the wake of the killing by a recruit of four French troops in January.

Nearly one in five NATO soldiers killed this year has died at the hands of their supposed allies -- six of them Americans who were killed by Afghan colleagues after the burning of Korans at a US base.

The new security measures come at a time of deep strains between Kabul and its Western backers after the Koran incident and after a US soldier went on a shooting rampage this weekend, killing 16 civilians.

"This is a type of attack that only concerns a tiny proportion of our forces and a tiny proportion of Afghan forces," NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu told reporters.

"Clearly any such attack is of serious concern. It's vital that we do everything we can to reduce the risks," she said, adding that the plan would evolve depending on the security situation.

NATO will embed Afghan counter-infiltration officers within the security forces to detect individuals behaving suspiciously or who demonstrate psychological problems, officials said.

The number of counter-intelligence officers will increase and the alliance will step up screening of Afghans returning from neighbouring nations including Pakistan to determine why they left the country.

The alliance will also ensure that members of the Afghan forces get proper leave and get paid on time, require drug tests and boost cultural awareness programmes to eliminate any mistrust between Afghans and foreign troops from 50 nations.

NATO is aiming to increase the number of Afghan troops to 352,000 by the end of the year as part of its plan to hand over control of security to Kabul across the country by the end of 2014.

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