KABUL, Afghanistan — Hundreds of Afghan soldiers are training in counterintelligence to stop Afghan and coalition forces from being attacked by rogue police officers and soldiers, or militants impersonating them.
The program is expected to double by the end of the year — and not a moment too soon, with nearly daily attacks since five NATO troops were killed by a Taliban sleeper agent in a suicide bombing Saturday. In what was a symbolic victory for militants, a man in an Afghan army uniform penetrated to the heart of the Afghan Defense Ministry compound on Monday and gunned down two Afghan soldiers.
NATO and Afghan forces are increasingly partnered as the Afghans prepare to take the lead in security by the end of 2014. Last year, there were 10,400 partnered operations, up from 530 in 2009, the coalition said.
Convinced that insurgents were ramping up reconnaissance on security force movements, Afghan defense officials approached the U.S.-led coalition late last year and requested counterintelligence instruction for some of their top soldiers.
So far, U.S. and French forces have trained 220 Afghan soldiers to spot possible Taliban infiltrators, disgruntled soldiers within the ranks and other conditions that could make the force vulnerable to attack, according to U.S. Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, the commander of NATO's training mission in Afghanistan. The plan is to have 445 soldiers trained by the end of the year.
Since March 2009, the coalition has recorded 20 incidents where a member of the Afghan security forces or someone wearing a uniform used by them killed coalition forces. Thirty-six coalition troops have died. It is not known how many of the 282,000 members of the Afghan security forces were killed.
The data were provided by three intelligence officers with the coalition who briefed the Associated Press on Tuesday.
Abdul Hadi Khalid, a former deputy Afghan interior minister, said the attacks are indicative of weak intelligence.