By Carlo Muñoz - 09/10/12 05:56 PM EDT
Last Sunday, American commanders in Afghanistan announced the suspension of those training operations amid the dramatic spike in so-called "insider attacks" against U.S. trainers in country.
The suspension would allow U.S. special operations forces responsible for training Afghan police units time to properly vet the roughly 16,000 local recruits moving through the training pipeline.
“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, U.S. forces spokesman, said in a statement at the time.
The suspension has been seen as a serious blow to the Obama administration's war plans, which have all U.S. troops leaving the country by 2014. Nearly 32,000 Marines are already scheduled to leave the country by this summer.
However, those plans are contingent on Afghanistan being able to field enough military and police units to take over all security operations by the time American forces come home.
Washington and Kabul have pointed to Monday's official handover of the U.S. military prison at Bagram Air Force Base and other instances where Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have taken the lead on the battlefield as proof the training mission is a success.
But a startling increase in insider attacks, where Afghan soldiers and policemen have turned their guns on U.S. trainers, has cast a pall over that progress.
To date, 45 coalition troops have been killed at the hands of the ANSF; 30 of those casualties were American soldiers. Nearly a dozen U.S. service members were killed in a two-week span in August, prompting serious concerns at the Pentagon and White House.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called Afghan President Hamid Karzai to press Kabul to take steps to better identify potential attackers in the Afghan military and police shortly after the August attacks.
Along with the suspension of training operations, Gen. John Allen, commander of all U.S. forces in Afghanistan, took the drastic step of ordering all American troops to be armed at all times — even when within U.S. or coalition bases — as a way to protect against insider attacks.
Pentagon leaders have also surged counterintelligence assets in Afghanistan, specifically to try and uncover Taliban operatives who have worked their way into the ranks of the Afghan military and police.