DOD bolsters intelligence work to counter Afghan 'insider attacks'

Counterintelligence operatives will be embedded within U.S. military units and Afghan security forces at the battalion level and above, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told reporters at the Pentagon. 

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The intelligence teams will not be part of the current security force assessment teams, which monitor the progress being made by Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), according to Dempsey. 

"There are indicators that we track" to identify whether certain individuals in the ANSF have been flipped to the Taliban side or are sympathetic to the group's objectives in Afghanistan, Dempsey said. 

The additional intelligence is one of several measures DOD is implementing as a way to clamp down on the recent spate of attacks by local Afghan forces on U.S. and coalition personnel. 

Over the past week, nine American soldiers have died at the hands of Afghan troops across southern and eastern Afghanistan. 

On Monday, an Afghan police officer opened fire on NATO troops stationed in the Nangahar province in eastern Afghanistan.

No coalition forces were killed in the attack, but local Taliban leaders did take credit for the shooting, according to recent news reports.

Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has created new "Joint Casualty Assessment Teams" to look into these recent attacks to see if there were signs of radicalism or signals of allegiance to the Taliban that U.S. and Afghan commanders missed, according to Dempsey. 

The four-star general is also scheduled to meet with the new heads of the Afghan defense and interior ministries, the two offices responsible for staffing the Afghan military and police force. 

Earlier this month, Afghan president Hamid Karzai sacked defense minister Abdul Wardak and interior minister Bismillah Mohammadi over allegations of fraud and corruption within both offices. 

The attacks come as 32,000 U.S. Marines are set to withdraw from Afghanistan in the coming weeks. The White House plans to have all security operations handed to the ANSF and pull out all American forces in the country by 2014. 

"I've been very concerned about these incidents ... because of the lives lost and because of the potential damage to our partnership efforts," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said at the same briefing Monday. 

"It's dangerous. And we've got to do everything we can do to try to prevent it," he added. 

However, Panetta noted the spike in such insider attacks against coalition forces was a sign that Taliban fighters are being forced to go to great lengths to disrupt the progress being made in the country. 

"The reality is, the Taliban has not been able to regain any territory lost, and so they're resorting to these kinds of attacks to create havoc," according to Panetta.

That said, the DOD chief refuted any claims that the spike in insider attacks against Afghan and coalition security forces will throw the U.S. transition plan off track. 

"We have not and will not allow this kind of intimidation to undermine our efforts to build up the ANSF," he said. "Our forces continue to partner closely in the field, and they have not let these incidents disrupt those operations.