By Barbara Starr
It's a fold-up pamphlet that any U.S. service member in Afghanistan can stick inside a uniform pocket and forget, or perhaps re-read often enough that it just might save their lives if they are attacked by uniformed Afghan personnel.
The title "Inside the Wire Threats - Afghanistan Green on Blue" says it all.
The number of U.S. and coalition troops killed by Afghans who turn their weapons on coalition forces is at an all-time high. The U.S. military says it's doing everything it can, from increased security measures to improved training, to help troops respond more quickly.
The pamphlet, which troops started to receive in February, is marked for "official use only" to ensure it is not distributed and read by the public, including the Taliban.
A congressional panel Wednesday took up the uneasy topic of Afghan security forces turning on their international allies, incidents that have fueled mutual distrust at a critical juncture of the long-running conflict.
Rep. Buck McKeon, the California Republican who chairs the Armed Services Committee, said that existing security procedures failed to identify 42 attackers between 2007 and 2011; 39 of those attacks were by members of the Afghan National Security Force and three by contracted employees.
"This is 42 attacks too many, and the new process must do better," McKeon said.
That number did not include the latest incident, in which a man wearing an Afghan National Army uniform killed a coalition forces member in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday.
The panel heard testimony from four defense officials who laid out delicate issues pertaining to Afghan security forces, among them the vetting of Afghans brought onto coalition bases to provide security.
The defense officials said that in 58% of cases, the attackers were not puppets of insurgent groups but acted on their own accord, perhaps over a personal dispute.
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From Barbara Starr and Holly Yan
U.S. troops in Afghanistan have been ordered to halt some joint operations with Afghan security forces after a spate of attacks by their local allies and amid fallout from a controversial anti-Islam video.
"In response to an increased threat situation as a result of the 'Innocence of Muslims' video, plus the recent insider attacks, ISAF forces are increasing their vigilance and carefully reviewing all activities and interactions with the local population," said Maj. Lori Hodge, a spokeswoman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force, said Tuesday.
"We adjust our force protection measures based on the threat. If the threat level goes down, we could see a rolling back on this decision."
The "Innocence of Muslims" video, which was privately produced in the United States, mocks the Prophet Mohammed as a womanizer, child molester and killer.FULL STORY
By Larry Shaughnessy
A new report details the military's approach for countering so-called insider attacks in Afghanistan, which remain a concern but have declined over the past month.
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction said in a periodic update to Congress that the U.S. military and its partners in the region have taken four steps to address the problem that triggered concerns about the stability of Afghan security forces ahead of planned NATO withdrawals in 2014.
The plan involves enhanced training that emphasizes cultural awareness, counterintelligence techniques, vigilance, and real-time information sharing as well as implementing a "guardian angel" program, in which one or more coalition troops remain armed and ready when working with Afghan counterparts.
The plan also expands vetting and counter-intelligence operations and efforts to analyze attack patterns.
The Afghan defense ministry also took steps to help reduce the problem by going back and rechecking each service member's background to make sure there was no indications they might one day turn their guns on their brothers in arms.
This year through the end of September, 38 insider attacks killed 53 troops in Afghanistan, including 33 Americans, according to Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. William Speaks. The number spiked in August to 15 fatalities, which included a dozen U.S. forces.
There have been no confirmed attacks since September 29, Speaks said, but some incidents are under investigation.
And earlier this week, a man wearing an Afghan police uniform shot and killed two British soldiers in an apparent "green on blue" attack.
By Jamie Crawford
The vast majority of attacks by Afghan soldiers on their U.S. and NATO counterparts are the result of a "mutation" of terrorist tactics rather than a difference in cultural sensitivities, a senior Afghan official said Thursday.
"The majority of it is a terrorist infiltration in the (Afghan army) ranks and forces which is a tragic thing in itself," Jawed Ludin, Afghanistan'sdeputy foreign minister, said of "green on blue' attacks, in which Afghan soldiers turn their weapons on NATO forces alongside whom they serve.
U.S. officials have said a percentage of such attacks can be attributed to cultural grievances by Afghan forces, as well as Taliban or other insurgents exploiting the situation to drive a wedge between the United States and Afghanistan.
By Barbara Starr
A deadly assault on American forces in eastern Afghanistan over the weekend stokes fears of a disturbing new form of "insider attack" - an assault on coalition forces by an Afghan military unit rather than a lone attacker.
U.S. forces apparently took fire on Saturday from several Afghan troops shooting at them from several directions, according to a U.S. military official familiar with initial results of the investigation.
NATO and Afghan officials investigating the Wardak province assault are expected to make their findings public soon, maybe as early as Wednesday, the official said.
By Wesley Bruer
The killing and capture of Taliban leaders and facilitators indicates Afghan and coalition troops are aggressively targeting those insurgents involved in "green on blue" attacks, which have accounted for more than 50 coalition deaths this year.
In addition to taking extreme measures to ensure safety while effectively training their Afghan counterparts, coalition forces have made it a priority to share and utilize intelligence to kill or capture anyone responsible for the insider attacks.
On Monday, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) confirmed the death of a Taliban member believed to be behind a May 11 insider attack. The casualty report stated that "an individual wearing an Afghan National Army uniform has turned his weapon against coalition service members," which left one service member dead.
The insurgent, identified as "Mahmood," was killed in a precision airstrike in Kunar Province on September 15 in what the assistance force said was "the result of Afghan and coalition efforts to track down and find insurgents involved with insider attacks."
By Joe Sterling
NATO's decision limiting some operations with Afghan troops might lessen so-called insider attacks, analysts say.
But the move could undermine the coalition's efforts to help the locals take over their nation's security.
Coalition forces have been regularly partnering with small Afghan units in operations for years.
But in an order Sunday from Gen. John Allen, head of NATO's International Security Assistance Force, a regional commander now must give the OK for a joint operation, a move seen as a setback to the transition of military power to Afghans by the end of 2014.
The spurt of attacks by Afghan police and soldiers against their coalition counterparts and the anger of the anti-Islam video that went viral across the world forced the NATO-led force to adjust the relations between coalition and Afghan forces.
By Jamie Crawford
Editor’s Note: Over the next week, CNN's national security reporters and producers will be looking at some of the most poignant differences between the two candidates on the most pressing foreign policy issues. Watch for the stories all week on CNN. More from Election Center
The protests and violence at American diplomatic missions across the Middle East and North Africa last week steered the 2012 presidential race into somewhat unchartered territory - a debate over U.S. foreign policy.
While the topic certainly has not been absent in the rhetorical sparring between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney, most of the campaign's focus thus far has been a battle over who has the best prescription to jolt a seemingly sluggish economic recovery.
But that changed last week. Romney's charge the United States was too quick to condemn a film that insulted Muslims before condemning the violence directed at American diplomatic missions abroad spurred Obama's claim that Romney had a tendency to "shoot first and aim later." And all this talk has opened a window on an area that is sure to consume a great deal of attention for whomever sits in the Oval Office next January.
The list of foreign policy challenges facing the United States is daunting - including an awakening in the Arab world with a direction still unknown, a looming nuclear crisis with Iran and an uncertain future in Afghanistan (and neighboring Pakistan) once U.S. troops withdraw in 2014.
And let's not forget a bloody civil war in Syria, where the fate of thousands of biological and chemical weapons also hang in the balance. Then there are fiscal issues, from debt crises plaguing Europe to economic and geo-political challenges posed by a rising China.
Here is a look at some of the most pressing foreign policy issues facing the United States, and how the candidates who seek to lead the country approach them.
By Chelsea J. Carter and Masoud Popalzai
A man in an Afghan military uniform killed three U.S. troops Friday in southern Afghanistan, a day after the United States condemned a suicide bomb attack that left four Americans dead.
The man opened fire on the troops in the volatile Helmand province, said Maj. Lori Hodge, a spokeswoman for the International Assistance Security Force.
It is the latest in a series of so-called "green on blue" attacks that has seen attackers dressed in Afghan security force uniforms turn their weapons on NATO soldiers.
Hodge did not immediately provide details about the attack, one of a handful of attacks in recent weeks to target NATO troops.