Tuesday, September 18, 2012

NATO halts work with Afghan allies to stem insider attacks

(Reuters) - NATO ordered a cutback on Tuesday on operations with Afghan forces in response to a surge of so-called insider attacks on foreign servicemen, but said the restriction was temporary and would not derail a 2014 handover of security to Afghan forces.

The order indefinitely suspending most mentoring operations was issued by the second most senior U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Lieutenant-General James Terry, and applies to all front-line missions involving units smaller than an 800-strong battalion.

But a senior NATO spokesman, U.S. Colonel Tom Collins, said the order was only a "temporary and prudent response" to current threats of insider attacks and a week of mounting anger across the Muslim world over a film mocking the Prophet Mohammad.

"It will apply only until the threat level returns to a tolerable level," Collins said, adding that separate training missions would be unaffected and the scaling back would apply only to smaller front-line and field troops.

Enabling missions, like NATO helicopter support for Afghan troops and medical evacuations by air, would also be unaffected, Collins told Reuters. Read More