WASHINGTON — U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan have assigned "guardian angels" — troops who watch over their comrades even as they sleep — and other increased security measures to protect troops against possible attacks by rogue Afghans.
The added protections are part of a directive issued recently by Marine Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, to guard against insider threats, according to a senior military official, the Associated Press and McClatchy Tribune reported. They come in the wake of a spike in attacks on U.S. and coalition forces by Afghans, including the point-blank shooting deaths of two U.S. advisers in Afghanistan's Ministry of Interior.
In several Afghan ministries, Americans are now allowed to carry weapons. And they have been instructed to rearrange their office desks there to face the door, so they can see who is coming in, said the official.
Allen acknowledged that changes had been made.
"We have taken steps necessary on our side to protect ourselves with respect to, in fact, sleeping arrangements, internal defenses associated with those small bases in which we operate," Allen said, adding that now someone is "always overwatching our forces."
The security measures came after the U.S. military mistakenly burned Korans in February, triggering anti-American demonstrations and riots.
So far this year, 16 NATO service members have been shot and killed by Afghan soldiers and policemen or militants disguised in their uniforms, according to an Associated Press tally.
Officials insist the killings have not hampered the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. But they come at a time when new, small advisory teams are heading into Afghanistan to beef up the training program, requiring them to work closely with Afghan military units.