"Current partnered operations have and will continue, even as we temporarily suspend training of about 1,000 new ALP recruits while re-vetting current members," said Col. Thomas Collins, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan spokesman, in a statement released Sunday. "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."
At least 45 NATO soldiers have been killed this year in at least 34 so called "green on blue" attacks. Fifteen of these attacks occurred last month alone, including the killing of three Australian soldiers on Wednesday by an Afghan wearing an army uniform in Uruzgan province, suggesting they are becoming more frequent. Most of the casualties have been Americans, who have the highest number of boots on the ground of all allied forces.
The effort to eliminate infiltrators from the program to train local police, national police and army soldiers is key to meeting the deadline of handing over security operations to the Afghan government by 2014.
Lt. Col. John Harrell, a spokesman for U.S. special operations forces in Afghanistan, wouldn't say how long it would take to re-vet current recruits.
"It may take a month, it may take two months, we don't know," he said, according to the Associated Press.
The United States is responsible for training the ALP, while NATO is focused on the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police. Afghan Special forces are being trained by both, and that training will continue, said NATO. The re-vetting process will affect more than 27,000 Afghan troops in all security branches, including the current 16,380 ALP officers. There are currently about 130,000 NATO troops stationed in the country.
The current eight-step vetting process will be supplemented with follow-up investigations of Afghan troops and officers returning from the field. The sale of Afghan security uniforms in the black market will also be addressed, and counter-intelligence measures bolstered.
Standard operating procedures for vetting recruits have not been consistently applied in an effort to expedite training, a special-ops source told The Washington Post in a report Sunday. For example, according to the source, there have been no follow-ups with graduates of the training programs to ensure their loyalties lie with the Afghan government or that they haven't switched sides in the process.
Now, it seems, those standard U.S. military guidelines will be more vigorously executed in order to avert green-on-blue casualties.