Taliban outflanks US war strategy
By Gareth Porter and Shah Noori
WASHINGTON/KABUL - Sharply increased attacks on US and other international forces personnel by Afghan security forces, reflecting both infiltration of and Taliban influence on those forces, appear to have outflanked the US-North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) command's strategy for maintaining control of the insurgency.
The Taliban-instigated "insider attacks", which have already killed 51 NATO troops in 2012 - already 45% more than in all of 2011 - have created such distrust of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and national police that the International Security Assistance
Force (ISAF) command has suspended joint operations by NATO forces with Afghan security units smaller than the 800-strong battalion of Kandak and vowed to limit them in the future.
ISAF had intended to carry out intensive partnering and advising of ANA and police units below battalion level through 2012 to get them ready to take responsibility for Afghan security. Now, however, that strategy appears to have been disrupted by the insider attacks, and Afghan military and civilian officials are seriously concerned.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta sought to minimize the crisis in US war strategy Tuesday by calling the inside attacks on NATO troops the "last gasp" of a Taliban insurgency that has been "unable to regain any of the territory that they have lost". The "last gasp" phrase recalls then Vice-President $$$$ Cheney's infamous 2005 claim that the Iraqi insurgency was "in its last throes".
But General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, who has no apparent personal stake in touting the existing strategy in Afghanistan, called the attacks "a very serious threat to the campaign" in an interview on Saturday.
"You can't whitewash it," said Dempsey. "We can't convince ourselves that we just have to work harder to get through it. Something has to change."
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