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US, Afghan officials struggling to identify insider attack patterns

WASHINGTON – The United States will help the Afghan government recheck the entire 352,000-member Afghan security force in the wake of an upsurge of attacks against international troops by Afghans in uniform, the No. 2 U.S. general in the country said Wednesday.

“We’re going back through, along with our partners up here at [the Afghan interior and defense ministries,] a lot of information out there to try to pull together patterns,” said Lt. Gen. James Terry, commander of ISAF Joint Command.

So far, however, the analysis hasn’t been able to fully establish where the attacks are coming from or predict what units are likely to be hit by them, he said. According to NATO figures, about 25 percent of insider attacks are carried out or facilitated by insurgents, with the rest related to personal issues or completely unexplained, Terry said.

“To say that we’ve found any one discernible pattern at this time would not be accurate,” he said. “And again, I think over time we’ll develop some of that.”

The Afghan Defense Ministry on Tuesday announced that hundreds of ANSF members have been detained in a probe into the insider attacks, which have killed least 45 international troops this year.

The U.S./NATO strategy in Afghanistan rests on close partnering between international advisors and Afghan troops as the clock ticks toward the removal of most foreign forces by the end of 2014. Terry said building tighter cross-cultural bonds between individuals may be key to preventing more U.S. troops from being killed by supposed partners.

“The closer you are in terms of relationship and friendship with the Afghan partners, the safer you are,” he said. But he admitted, “That’s counterintuitive.”

 

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