NATO's Afghan Mission Cast in Doubt

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NATO's Afghan Mission Cast in Doubt

Post  lavivi on Sun Feb 26, 2012 12:08 pm

KABUL—The U.S. mission to train and advise Afghan security forces is facing unprecedented strains, as a the U.S.-led coalition withdrew its advisers in Kabul following a string of deadly attacks by Afghan service members on American troops.

Ten out of the 60 U.S.-led soldiers from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization who died this year have been killed by their Afghan comrades in arms.
Four of the those deaths—including the shooting of an American colonel and major inside the Afghan Ministry of Interior headquarters Saturday—occurred in the past week, amid a wave of unrest triggered by the burning of Qurans at the Bagram U.S. military base north of Kabul.

The shootings led U.S. Marine Gen. John Allen, the commander of coalition forces, to withdraw hundreds of military advisers working in Afghan government ministries in and around Kabul.

While the U.S. military cast the move as a temporary measure, the decision is a reflection of widespread American concern about the reliability of Afghan partners that is likely to have a lasting impact on critical decisions in the coming months.

Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and Interior Minister Bismullah Khan were supposed to travel to Washington in coming days to argue against U.S. plans to cut Afghan security forces from 352,000 to some 230,000 men after most coalition troops withdraw in 2014. They are likely to receive a frosty reception after the latest shootings.

"Americans understand, at some level, that Afghans would be upset by the burning of the Quran," said Andrew Exum, a former U.S. Army Ranger who served two tours in Afghanistan and is now senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington think-tank. "But Americans do not understand why the United States should continue to send trainers and advisers to a country where those trainers and advisers are liable to be targeted by the very people they are training and advising."

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