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Statement of ISAF commander Gen. John Allen on insider attacks


KABUL, Afghanistan (Sep. 6, 2012) — The issue of insider threats is very complex and requires a comprehensive, integrated combined response from ISAF and the Afghans. The challenges of the Afghan operating environment are many and countering this threat requires unwavering vigilance, close cooperation and a constant assessment of the situation. There is no one single solution or simple means to deal with the challenge posed by insider threats. But I can assure our friends and foes alike that I take this issue very seriously and my entire command is absolutely driven to do everything we can to reduce this threat.

It's important for everyone to understand the work that is being done. There is a great deal of activity at all levels of ISAF, in our communications and coordination with the Afghan government, and in our military-to-military cooperation between the Coalition and the Afghan National Security Forces. At all levels we are pulling ideas and resources together in a coordinated and energized effort. The dedication to eradicating this threat runs from the highest levels in our headquarters in Kabul to every soldier – both Afghan and Coalition – fighting to secure the most remote corners of this country. This is not simply a Green on Blue problem; it is a threat to both Green and Blue that requires a Green and Blue solution.

As part of a number of measures to counter insider attacks, I recently approved a recommendation to slow the training of new recruits for the Afghan Local Police. My decision delays the enrollment of roughly 1,000 new ALP recruits in an effort to ensure adequate resources are available to re-vet the other 16,000 ALP personnel who are currently manning posts throughout Afghanistan. This force is on the job today, working and achieving results alongside other Afghan and Coalition forces. The immediate operational impact of this decision is that about 1,000 ALP recruits who have not yet entered in the training pipeline will be delayed for a relatively short time while the Afghan government, with Coalition support, conducts the necessary checks to ensure we are doing all we can to protect our people.

ALP training is overseen by the Special Operations Joint Task Force – Afghanistan, led by U.S. Maj. Gen. Tony Thomas. In my capacity as the commander of U.S. Forces – Afghanistan, I approved his recommendation to delay ALP recruit training. Other subordinate commanders within ISAF and U.S. Forces Afghanistan are assessing the situations within their particular areas and for their specific missions. Through their combined efforts and inputs, overseen and coordinated at the highest level, we will be best positioned to defeat insider attacks. The entire Coalition and our ANSF partners are moving as one toward that end.

And this decision to delay ALP recruit training also helps maintain and reinforce the reputation of the ALP as a legitimate, trained and properly overseen arm of the ANSF at the local level. It supports the continuing ISAF and Afghan Government’s efforts to professionalize this force. Recent allegations of ALP reprisal killings in Kanam of Kunduz Province, for example, are incorrect. There are no ALP forces serving in this area, yet these rumours gain credence in certain sectors because of inaccurate reporting and confusion of the ALP with unauthorised, illegitimate local militias (Arbakai) that have long been a feature of local community life in Afghanistan, but which are now a comparatively rare phenomenon as the Afghan Government extends its influence. The change to the training timeline only affects the ALP and does not impact on any other arm of the ANSF.

The decision to slow ALP recruit training has received much media attention, but it is only one of many recent actions taken to confront insider attacks. I have been in frequent communication with President Karzai. I have his personal assurance that the Afghan government and military are full partners in our efforts to eradicate this problem. My senior commanders and staff are also holding frequent meetings with representatives of the Afghan Government and security forces at the national and local levels to coordinate further effective action. The problem of insider attacks hurts our Afghan partners as much as they hurts us, and like the battle for stability in Afghanistan, insider attacks are a problem that we are only going to solve through steadfast partnership. On any given day, the 350,000 members of the Afghan National Security Forces continue to relentlessly pressure the insurgency in every corner of this country. This includes 8,000 Afghan Commandos and 3,000 Afghan National Army Special Operations Forces, who recently themselves underwent intensive re-vetting without missing an operational step. Similar efforts are occurring in other sectors of the Afghan security forces. This point is proof positive that we can do what we need to protect the force, in full partnership with the Afghan government and security forces, all while keeping unrelenting pressure on the insurgents.

I have in the last month directed the organization and execution of major conferences with top commanders and senior Afghan representatives. We have stood up a new executive oversight group of senior Afghan and Coalition leaders to monitor, direct and drive our threat mitigation initiatives. This will be supported by a combined multi-agency working group whose only task is to tackle the insider Threat problem. Additionally, we are implementing improvements to the vetting process for new Afghan recruits; increasing the number of counterintelligence teams in Coalition and Afghan formations; helping the ANSF to develop new procedures for Afghan National Army soldiers returning from leave, and creating of an anonymous insider threat reporting system. We have also enhanced intelligence exchange between the ANSF and Coalition, as well as establishing a joint investigation commission to study incidents in order to identify lessons and required actions. These are just a few of the range of continuing initiatives.

The sum total of our combined efforts will be that we are better protected. Central to success is maintaining and strengthening our bonds with our Afghan brothers and recognising this is a threat directed at us all. Relentless pursuit of the enemy is a key line of operation and this applies equally to the insider threat. I can assure you that we will sustain our focus on this threat and we will constantly review, adapt and modify our arrangements to deliver maximum protection to our troops.