The U.S. Special Operations Forces have suspended training of the 16,000 member Afghan Local Police. The recruits will be rescreened for links to the Taliban according to U.S. officials.
Lieutenant Colonel John Harrell a spokesperson for U.S. special operations forces who train the police said:'The training of the ALP recruits has been paused while we go through this re-vetting process, to take a look at this process to see if there's anything that we can improve..It may take a month, it may take two months, we don't know.'
Actually international forces have been re-vetting all Afghan forces but only the U.S.Special Forces decided it was safest to stop training during the process.
These measures are the result of a leap in "insider" attacks carried out not only by Afghan police but also members of the Afghan armed forces and national police. Forty five NATO members have been killed this year and the U.S. lost 12 service members in August alone. While re-vetting may help reduce the number of attacks a considerable number of the attacks are not by Taliban infiltrators but recruits that have personal grudges against their trainers. These types of attack will no doubt continue.
The U.S. worries no doubt that insider attacks may bring into question whether the Afghans can take control of security when the U.S. withdraws combat troops in 2014. Another consideration may be that the attacks may eventually have political repercussions back home in the U.S.A. At present the U.S. public and media are too busy with the upcoming election to care much about what is happening in Afghanistan but if the attacks continue and casualties mount there may be pressure from the U.S. public to simply abandon the training programs. This is the last thing that U.S. and NATO officials want. In fact the training program will go on long after 2014 and possibly up to 2024. This fact probably registers in the minds of few Americans at this stage.
The U.S. Special Forces also mentor Afghan special forces and commando units. Apparently these groups underwent a brief suspension of training while they were re-vetted. Colonel Thomas Collins a spokesperson for U.S. forces said he expected the ALP suspension to last about a month. NATO's training of the much larger Afghan national army and police force will continue. Canada is involved in this training. These forces number almost 350,000. Joint military operations between Western and Afghan troops will also continue.
The move to rescreen ALP members may have been the result of an Aug. 17 shooting when two U.S. special operations forces troop were shot by a new ALP recruit who had just been issued a weapon. Afghan president Karzai has added his own interpretation to the insider killings claiming that they are the work of "foreign spy agencies" no doubt a reference to Pakistan's ISI.
The obvious disconnect between the Karzai government and NATO and U.S. officials is shown by the fact that senior Afghan officials involved in the ALP program claimed not to know anything about the training suspension! Gen. Ali Shah Ahmadzi head of the ALP program said:“The matter is under discussion...Revetting may take place, but training will not be halted.”
The ALP are to be key to fighting insurgents in rural areas where the Afghan army and national police would either not be present or in very small numbers. However the ALP have a very bad reputation often being implicating in beatings, abductions, and extortion rather than protecting rural residents from insurgents. Indeed they may help the insurgents gain recruits.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com