Officer: Insider attacks aimed at Western resolve
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
WASHINGTON (AP) — A series of “insider attacks” against U.S. and allied troops by Afghan forces are an attempt by the Taliban to drive a wedge between coalition and Afghan troops, a senior officer said Wednesday. But he said that while Western troops are now warier of Afghan partners, they are determined to avoid a full breakdown in trust.
Australian Brig. Gen. Roger Noble, deputy to the alliance’s operations chief, acknowledged in a teleconference from Kabul that the attacks, which have killed 51 coalition troops this year, are upsetting the troops. He said he visited Australian troops at a base where an insider attack killed three Australians on Aug. 29.
“They were pretty unhappy,” Noble told reporters at the Pentagon, adding that they also recognize the potential for the attacks to damage the war effort.
“They live and breathe with Afghans, and they know that most of the Afghans they’re with think that sort of conduct is abhorrent, as well,” he added. “So the enemy’s got a tough task in actually driving a wedge between us, because we know what the people that do this are trying to do, and we will stand firmly against it.”
Noble said it’s understandable that these attacks are particularly galling to the families of those killed and wounded.
“It strikes right at the heart of our resolve,” he said. “It’s one thing to be killed in action by the insurgents. It’s quite another to be shot in the back of the head at night by your friends.”
Reflecting frustration among some in Washington over recent setbacks in Afghanistan, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., suggested the U.S. consider getting out earlier than the planned 2014 exit.
“I think all options (should) be considered, including whether we have to just withdraw early rather than have a continued bloodletting that won’t succeed,” McCain told reporters on Capitol Hill.