The Straits Times
Published on Sep 18, 2012

Nato halts work with Afghan allies to stem insider attacks


KABUL (REUTERS) - The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) ordered a cutback on Tuesday on operations alongside Afghan forces in response to a surge of "insider attacks" on foreign servicemen, a move that could complicate plans to hand security over to Afghan forces ahead of a 2014 drawdown.

The order, issued by the second most senior United States (US) commander in Afghanistan, Lieutenant-General James Terry, indefinitely suspends joint operations for units smaller than 800-strong battalions, where most training and mentoring takes place.

"The need for that will be evaluated on a case by case basis and approved by regional commanders," said Major Adam Wojack, a spokesman for the 100,000-strong Nato-led coalition backing the Afghan government against Taleban insurgents.

The order, Maj Wojack said, would impact on the "vast majority"of the 350,000 Afghan National Security Force members who will now have to operate without support from coalition allies. That will deal a blow to Nato's longstanding focus on training.