Karzai, Panetta discuss insider shootings

Aug. 19, 2012 at 11:06 AM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 19 (UPI) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta spoke about a spike in attacks on coalition troops by so-called insiders, the Pentagon said.

Panetta urged Karzai to step up counterintelligence efforts to keep potentially dangerous recruits out of the ranks of Afghanistan's security forces, the Department of Defense said in a written statement.

A spate of attacks by Afghan troops against U.S. and NATO personnel prompted a high-level meeting of Western commanders last week. The New York Times said one of the new steps to increase security is requiring Western troops to keep their weapons loaded in the event an Afghan soldier opens fire.

The Times noted that intelligence analysis of such incidents determined the number of shooters directly linked to the Taliban was relatively small, which indicates poor morale and dissent within the Afghan ranks as well as cultural differences between rural recruits and Western trainers.

Panetta encouraged Karzai to do more to keep potential malcontents and unstable recruits from enlisting through better background checks and increased engagement with village elders who often vouch for young men trying to enlist, the Pentagon said.

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