October 1, 2012  

Targeting insider attacks

To Maj. Gen. Tony Thomas, senior commander for Special Operations forces in Afghanistan, for temporarily halting the training of local forces amid the recent spate of green-on-blue violence.

It can’t have been easy to buck the pressure to keep the training pipeline open even as insider-attack casualties mounted and evidence grew that vetting procedures were being ignored or circumvented. Such training is the centerpiece of the U.S. and NATO plan to withdraw most troops by 2014.

But as the Washington Post reported last month, vetting itself became a casualty of the race to stand up sufficient local forces to allow the withdrawal. Background checks were held to a minimum, while such elementary security precautions as requiring visible ID on U.S. bases were inconsistently enforced.

But after a year that had seen nearly four dozen U.S. and friendly troops killed in inside-the-wire attacks, Thomas put the vital training program on pause. His message: Let’s get our security house back in order so we can get on with helping Afghans do the same.