Afghan police recruits' training halted after attacks on Nato

Members of the Afghan Local Police (ALP) patrol at the Char Darah district of Kunduz province Training Afghan security forces is an essential part of Nato forces' strategy

The US says it is suspending training for new recruits to the Afghan local police (ALP) while checks are carried out on possible ties to the Taliban.

The move follows a series of incidents in which foreign troops have been killed by Afghan soldiers or policemen.

The suspension of training - which only applies to new ALP recruits - will allow US special operations forces to "re-vet" current ALP forces.

US special forces currently have around 1,000 Afghan local police trainees.

"While we have full trust and confidence in our Afghan partners, we believe this is a necessary step to validate our vetting process and ensure the quality indicative of Afghan local police," Col Thomas Collins, spokesperson for US forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement.

The suspension of training would be "temporary", according to Col Collins, adding: "Despite the recent rise in insider attacks, they are relatively rare among SOF [Special Operations Forces]-partnered forces."

An existing eight-step vetting programme will be made more rigorous, officials say.

The number of counter-intelligence teams will be increased and there will be greater vetting when Afghan soldiers return from leave.

Analysis

The international mission here has been trying to get a grip on rising insider or "green-on-blue" attacks. Recently commanders from all the various forces here met to discuss how they stop the attacks happening.

It was agreed then to re-examine the vetting of candidates. American special forces commanders, who are responsible training the ALP, consulted with Gen John Allen and the Afghan Ministry of Interior.

Training for around 1,000 new recruits is suspended - and the remaining 15,000 plus ALP members will continue working as normal but will be 're-vetted'. The ALP have been to blame for a number of green-on-blue attacks, but more come from the regular army and police force.

It remains to be seen whether the rest of Afghan forces, namely the national police and the national Army, will also have to undergo revetting. That would be a huge task given that they number almost 350,000.

The sale of Afghan army and police uniforms will be made illegal.

Military guidelines on vetting have sometimes not been followed in the past for fear of slowing the growth of the Afghan security forces, officials told the Washington Post.

Operations by forces already trained would continue, as would the recruitment of new trainees, US Special Operations Forces spokesman Lt Col John Harrell told the Associated Press.

There are currently 16,380 members of the ALP.

The Afghan army and national police, trained by Nato, are unaffected by the suspension. The training of Afghan special forces will also continue.

On average, 7,000 Afghan soldiers and 3,700 Afghan police graduate from training every month.

The ALP is a relatively new force, introduced to improve security in some of the most remote parts of the country, the BBC's Quentin Sommerville in Kabul reports.

'Green-on-blue' attacks

On Wednesday, three Australian soldiers were killed by a man in Afghan army uniform in Uruzgan province.

Green on blue deaths

  • So far this year there have been some 45 in more than 30 "green-on-blue" deaths - mostly Americans
  • There were 35 such deaths during 2011
  • A dozen British service personnel have been killed in such attacks since 2009
  • About 130,000 coalition troops are fighting alongside 350,000 Afghan security personnel against the Taliban-led insurgency

Currently, approximately 130,000 Nato troops are fighting insurgents in Afghanistan alongside 350,000 Afghans.

Some 45 coalition troops have died in more than 30 "green-on-blue" attacks this year, at least 15 of them in August alone.

The term refers to the colour-coding systems used by the US military - Nato forces are "blue" and Afghans are "green".

The Taliban has been actively recruiting members of the Afghan security forces, publicly announcing that insider attacks were a central part of their strategy against Nato forces.

Most of the victims of the green-on-blue attacks have been Americans.

Correction: An earlier version of this story referred to the killing of civilians by an ALP commander. The BBC now understands this was a local militia commander, not a policeman.

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