WASHINGTON – The top US commander in Afghanistan has said that the situation in Afghanistan is better than it was, but more needed to be done about the sanctuaries in Pakistan.
Responding to a question, Gen Allen said he is ‘mad as hell’ about insider attacks in Afghanistan following a firefight between NATO troops and their Afghan allies that killed five people in the latest incident.
ISAF commander General John Allen told CBS that insider attacks were unacceptable. “I’m mad as hell about them, to be honest with you,” he said. “We’re willing to sacrifice a lot for this campaign, but we’re not willing to be murdered for it.”
Gen Allen said that just as homemade bombs had become the signature weapon of the Iraq war, he believed that in Afghanistan, “the signature attack that we’re beginning to see is going to be the insider attack”.
At least 51 coalition troops have been killed in such assaults this year - about 15 per cent of all NATO deaths - and the top ISAF general has described them as ‘the signature attack’ of the Afghan war. The scale of the insider assaults is unprecedented in modern warfare, and has seriously undermined trust between NATO coalition forces and their Afghan allies in the joint effort against Taliban insurgents.
Asked if he could explain the increase in such treacherous attacks, the general replied “Well, I’m mad as hell about them, to be honest with you. We’re going to go after this. It reverberates everywhere across the United States.”
The murder will continue, predicted Allen. “The enemy recognises this as a vulnerability,” he said. The Taliban claim to be behind the attacks. One of its commanders told CBS “These are Taliban attacks. This is part of our new military strategy; we have people in the Afghan police and the army.”
“There are many groups that have Al-Qaeda members. We can’t do this without them,” the Taliban commander said. Besides teaching them to make IEDs, he said they are weapons experts. “When our weapons break, they are the ones who repair them.” Talking to the CBS, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that he is saddened by these attacks and takes responsibility to correct them.
But he was disappointed with the fact that Pakistan is still a sanctuary for foreign fighters 11 years after 9/11. He further said Arabs and Chechens are present on the Afghan battlefield, still able to kill US and Afghan soldiers. “Name them Al-Qaeda, name them Haqqani, name them Taliban. They’re still there,” he added. “I know that a lot of innocent people die every day. The question is what have we done wrong that they are still able to hurt and damage people?... That is the question that I have engaged with the United States almost daily.”
Gen Allen said the situation in Afghanistan is better than it was, but more needs to be done about the sanctuaries in Pakistan. “The relationship that we have between ISAF forces and the Pakistani military has improved dramatically.”