A congressional panel Wednesday took up the uneasy topic of Afghan security forces turning on their international allies, incidents that have fueled mutual distrust at a critical juncture of the long-running conflict.
Rep. Buck McKeon, the California Republican who chairs the Armed Services Committee, said that existing security procedures failed to identify 42 attackers between 2007 and 2011; 39 of those attacks were by members of the Afghan National Security Force and three by contracted employees.
"This is 42 attacks too many, and the new process must do better," McKeon said.
That number did not include the latest incident, in which a man wearing an Afghan National Army uniform killed a coalition forces member in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday.
The panel heard testimony from four defense officials who laid out delicate issues pertaining to Afghan security forces, among them the vetting of Afghans brought onto coalition bases to provide security.
The defense officials said that in 58% of cases, the attackers were not puppets of insurgent groups but acted on their own accord, perhaps over a personal dispute.
Such disputes can arise from cultural misunderstanding, religious and ideological friction or combat stress, said Brig. Gen. Stephen Townsend, director of the Pakistan/Afghanistan Coordination Cell in the Joint Chiefs of Staff office.
He said cultural training has been vital for U.S. soldiers and now, the Afghans are considering doing the same in providing better understanding of Americans.FULL STORY
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Today's programming highlights...
10:00 am ET - Wartime contracting hearing - Federal contracting is the subject of a Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan hearing in Washington. The commission will look at Pentagon efforts toward saving money on contracting.
A federal judge declared a mistrial Monday in the case of two U.S. security contractors accused of killing two Afghanistan civilians.
The jury in the case against Christopher Drotleff and Justin Cannon told Judge Robert Doumar that they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict.
A retrial has been scheduled for March 1, 2011.
Xe, the private security firm once known as Blackwater, has reached a $42 million settlement with the U.S. State Department over alleged export violations, a State Department official said.
Darby Holladay, a State Department duty officer, said the civil settlement was reached Wednesday for 288 violations between 2003 and 2009, when the company personnel were guarding U.S. staff overseas.
For nearly eight years he sat at the helm of the world's most infamous private security contracting company. Today, former Blackwater president Gary Jackson is wanted by authorities to answer to charges of weapons violations.
An indictment filed last week in federal court lays out just how prosecutors believe Jackson and other current and former Blackwater employees skirted gun laws in the company's pursuit of lucrative security and training contracts. The charges are the most serious yet to be levied against former heads of the company which has rebranded itself as Xe.