By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 20, 2012 – President Barack Obama said today that he, senior coalition military leaders and their Afghan counterparts will continue intensifying measures to thwart the spate of insider attacks by people wearing Afghan military and police uniforms.
During a White House news conference, the president said he spoke with Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was in Afghanistan today, and plans to speak with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
"[Dempsey] is having intensive consultations not only with our commander, [Marine Corps Gen.] John Allen, on the ground, but also with Afghan counterparts," Obama said. "And I’ll be reaching out to President Karzai as well, because we’ve got to make sure that we’re on top of this."
Some of the attackers, the president said, are members of the Afghan security forces, and others have donned Afghan military or police uniforms to carry out their attacks. Coalition forces already have a range of successful vetting measures in play, he added, and pressure needs to remain.
As of yesterday, there have been 32 insider attacks this year that have resulted in 22 deaths, a senior defense official said. In all, 40 coalition personnel had been killed and 69 others have been wounded in such attacks. Over the same period in 2011, the official added, 16 attacks resulted in 28 deaths and 43 wounded.
The security transition under way in Afghanistan includes navigating the complexities that stem from closer contact with Afghan troops as coalition trainers prepare them to take responsibility for security throughout the country, Obama said.
"Part of what we’ve got to do is to make sure that this model works, but it doesn’t make our [troops] more vulnerable," he added. "In the long term, we will see fewer U.S. casualties and coalition casualties by sticking to our transition plan and making sure that we’ve got the most effective Afghan security force possible."