Afghan officials take steps to stop rogue attacks on US soldiers

Afghanistan's top defense official said Kabul has begun implementing measures to help stem increasing attacks on U.S. troops by rogue Afghan soldiers.

"We are taking a lot of preventative measures," Afghan defense chief Abdul Rahim Wardak told reporters after his meeting with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Tuesday, according to reports.

Those measures include improved vetting processes at Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) recruiting centers.

Afghan recruiters have also started to institute full background checks for all ANSF candidates, Wardak said.

Agents with Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security, the country’s fledgling intelligence agency, have been planted at every level within the ANSF, Gen. John Allen said at a March 26 briefing at the Pentagon.

Those counterintelligence units are “inside their schools … inside their ranks” with the intent of weeding out Taliban infiltrators and radical fundamentalists from the Afghan armed forces, Allen, who is the commander of all U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said at the time.

With the assistance of coalition forces, the intelligence units have been successful in capturing Taliban double-agents within the ANSF.

But the four-star general noted the majority of the attacks on U.S. troops were not carried out by Taliban infiltrators. Nearly 50 percent are committed by regular soldiers who somehow became “gradually self-radicalized” during their time in the Afghan military, he said.

Those radicalized soldiers have not limited their attacks to Western troops, but have also lashed out against their own in incidences of “green-on-green” violence, Allen noted.

In March, an Afghan interpreter working for American forces attempted to run down a delegation of U.S. officials, including Panetta, during an unscheduled visit to the country.

The Afghan man, who died in the attempt, did not have any known ties to the Taliban or other fundamentalist groups. The measures outlined by Wardak are geared toward identifying possible threats early in the recruiting process, before those soldiers have a chance to harm U.S. or NATO troops.

No matter what the Afghan government does to prevent these green-on-blue attacks, however, officials expect them to continue until American and coalition forces leave the country by 2014.

The attacks on American soldiers by their Afghan counterparts is simply "a characteristic of counterinsurgency [operations]," Allen said.