US special forces in Afghanistan have suspended training for about 1,000 Afghan police recruits to vet existing members, the military said on Sunday, after a surge in insider attacks on NATO.
There has been a sharp rise in so-called “green-on-blue” attacks in recent months, in which members of the Afghan security forces turn their weapons on their Western allies, sometimes their military trainers.
In more than 30 such incidents this year, 45 coalition troops have been killed — about 14 percent of the overall death toll in the war for 2012. Most have been American, though the latest to die were three Australian troops.
Taliban insurgents claim responsibility for many of the attacks, saying their fighters have infiltrated the Afghan army and police, but NATO says the majority of the incidents are due to cultural differences and personal animosities.
Last month was the worst for insider attacks in more than 10 years of war, with nearly one in three international coalition deaths caused by Afghan allies.
The ALP — which has around 16,000 members according to the Afghan interior ministry — is a US-sponsored police force recruited to fight Taliban insurgents in remote areas of the Afghan countryside, though it has been accused of corruption and violence towards civilians.
The Washington Post said the re-vetting process would affect more than 27,000 Afghan troops.
The suspension was temporary, the colonel said but gave no timeframe.
Training for the Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army — carried out by NATO rather than the US — will not be affected by the halt.
Afghan interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said: “We want all the training programmes for our police forces to continue and we are in discussion with our NATO partners about it.”
There are about 130,000 US and NATO troops in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban insurgency and training the Afghan security forces since the Taliban were ousted from power in late 2001 in a US-led invasion.
The US-led NATO troops will withdraw at the end of 2014, giving all security responsibilities to the Afghan forces in a US-designed programme that began earlier this year.
According to the Post, numerous military guidelines were not followed by either Afghans or Americans because of concerns that they might slow the growth of the Afghan army and police.
The Taliban have stepped up their attacks in recent months as part of efforts by the insurgency to undermine the transition process.