By Barbara Starr
Although the international coalition and Afghan government are making progress in the war in Afghanistan, "the Taliban-led insurgency and its al Qaeda affiliates still operate with impunity from sanctuaries in Pakistan," according to a new semi-annual report issued by the Pentagon.
"The insurgency's safe haven in Pakistan, as well as the limited capacity of the Afghan government, remain the biggest risks to the process of turning security gains into a durable and sustainable Afghanistan," it said.
While the coalition is on track to turn security fully over to Afghan control, the insurgency "remains a resilient and determined enemy and will likely attempt to regain lost ground and influence this spring and summer through assassinations, intimidation, high-profile attacks and emplacement of improvised explosive devices," the report said. FULL POST
By Larry Shaughnessy
One third of all American troop deaths in Afghanistan this year has been at the hands of Afghan security forces.
The latest occurred Monday when a man alleged to be a local Afghan policeman killed an American service member in eastern Afghanistan.
By Adam Levine, with reporting from Nick Paton Walsh, Masoud Popalzai, Larry Shaughnessy, Moni Basu, Chris Lawrence and Tim Lister
The gunman who shot two U.S. military officers on Saturday in the highly secured Afghan Ministry of Interior was a junior intelligence officer with ties to a Pakistani religious school, an Afghan counter-terrorism official said.
It's just the latest incident of "green on blue" attacks which have been a rising problem for the U.S. and NATO. A recent Congressional hearing looked at the issue and found that while some were influenced by Taliban ideology, some of the motives were more personal.
It adds another layer of difficulty to tamping down the anger and mistrust that has arisen from the admission by NATO that troops burned some religious documents seized from prisoners. FULL POST
By Adam Levine, with reporting from Tim Lister and Chris Lawrence
An Afghan soldier's killing of four French troops on Friday brought a disturbing issue to center stage in the long Asian war - attacks by local security forces against coalition troops.
"We believe that they do appear to be increasing in frequency in recent months," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters. "We've seen the numbers increase in recent months, certainly."
The incidents are a mere fraction of the total coalition deaths in the war. But they may feed a climate of uncertainty and even mutual suspicion between Afghan units and their coalition partners at a time when NATO's International Security Assistance Force is trying to hand over control of more districts and provinces to the Afghan National Army.
The latest killings, in Afghanistan's eastern Kapisa province, prompted French president Nicolas Sarkozy to suspend its training operations and combat help, saying "the French army is not in Afghanistan to be shot at by Afghan soldiers." FULL POST
Compiled by Tim Lister
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In late November, U.S. soldiers were supervising artillery training for Afghan troops in Nangarhar province, close to the Pakistan border.
After they climbed a ridge to assess the impact area, an Afghan border policeman suddenly turned on them and opened fire.
Seconds later, six Americans and their assailant were dead.
It was one of the deadliest incidents of what the military call "green on blue" - a euphemism for attacks by members of the Afghan security forces on their allies in the international force known as ISAF.
They have risen sharply over the past year, raising fears that the Taliban are infiltrating the Afghan National Army and police force.
But military analysts and intelligence officials say the reality is more complicated. FULL POST
By Chris Lawrence
Gen. John Allen is considering whether to retire rather than move forward with the nomination to become the supreme allied commander of NATO, a staff member said.
In a written statement, a member of his staff said, "After 19 months in command in Afghanistan, and many before that spent away from home, Gen. Allen has been offered time to rest and reunite with his family before he turns his attention to his next assignment."
After speaking with Allen in the last two days, outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said: "My recommendation to him was 'take your time.' Your country will always find a way to make use of your great services, but you have to make up your own mind."
A senior Defense official tells CNN that Allen met with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey Tuesday afternoon. But the official says he was not aware of whether Allen had informed Dempsey of his decision. The official says it was a personal, one-on-one meeting in Dempsey's Pentagon office.
By Mike Mount
The surge of U.S. forces into Afghanistan is all but over. Within days, the last several hundred troops will have left the country, according to U.S. military officials, ending an almost three-year operation to quash what was widely viewed as Taliban resurgence.
In December 2009, just over eight years after the war in Afghanistan started, President Barack Obama ordered more than 30,000 additional troops to stabilize the country enough so U.S. and international trainers could focus on developing the Afghan security forces.
While the U.S. spent years pouring troops and resources into the war in Iraq, the Taliban used that time to rebuild and start re-taking their traditional stronghold in southern Afghanistan.
Ahead of his decision to move these additional troops into Afghanistan, Obama spent several months reviewing numerous options from his advisers on how he should proceed with the "Afghan surge, as it came to be known. It would be one of his administration’s biggest gambles.
"Any time you send our brave men and women into battle, you know that not everyone will come home safely, and that necessarily weighs heavily on you. The decision did help us blunt the Taliban's momentum, and is allowing us to transition to Afghan lead," the president said last month while talking to the online community Reddit.
From Masoud Popalzai, CNN
U.S. Special Operations Forces has suspended the training of Afghan Local Police recruits while it double checks the background of the current police force following a rise in attacks against NATO troops by their Afghan counterparts, an official said Sunday.
The order follows reports that more than 40 NATO troops were killed this year by either members of the Afghan security forces or by insurgents disguised as an Afghan policeman or soldier.
"Current partnered operations have and will continue, even as we temporarily suspend training of about 1,000 new ALP recruits while revetting current members," said Col. Thomas Collins, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.
"While we have full trust and confidence in our Afghan partners, we believe this is a necessary step to validate our vetting process and ensure the quality indicative of Afghan Local Police."
An Afghan soldier opened fire on NATO troops Monday, killing two in the latest "green-on-blue" attack in the country, a military statement said.
The attacker fired on troops with NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in eastern Afghanistan, according to the coalition.FULL STORY