Top U.S. military brass met Monday in Kabul to grapple with a stubborn spate of attacks by rogue Afghan officers on American troops, a day after another insider shooting killed a U.S. soldier.
The increasing regularity of those insider, or "green-on-blue," attacks on coalition forces has U.S. commanders alarmed, and they already responded last week by announcing new policies intended to curb casualties from such incidents.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey arrived at Bagram Air Field on Monday to meet with Gen. John Allen, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, as well as chief of U.S. Central Command Marine Gen. James R. Mattis and top Afghan leaders.
A spokesman for international forces confirmed that a priority of the meeting was to mull the recent string of incidents, The Associated Press reported.
In a coalition statement, Allen said they also discussed "how to maintain momentum against the insurgents" and noted that they still supported training and equipping Afghans ahead of the NATO forces' departure at the end of 2014, according to the AP.
Their summit came a day after two Afghan policement turned their weapons on U.S. troops in Kandahar province near the Pakistani border, killing an American service member, officials said. That marked the tenth U.S. troop death from such attacks in two weeks.
Last week the U.S. military unveiled a new policy requiring all personnel in Afghanistan to keep a fully-loaded magazine in their weapons at all times. A senior military official told NBC News of that new policy Friday, after an Afghan policeman — whom NATO forces had just handed a new weapon as a present — opened fire, killing two U.S. Special Forces service members.
The new requirement "could save precious seconds," the official said at the time — but he acknowledged that any rogue armed Afghan officer or soldier "could always get the drop on" allied troops.
The Army also announced a new policy Friday designating one soldier at any gathering of U.S. military and armed Afghan forces a "guardian angel." That soldier would stand in a protected space with his weapon loaded to enable a swift response to any threat.
The New York Times reported, though, that military leaders realize there is a delicate balance to be struck in securing U.S. troops' safety. More barriers between NATO troops and the Afghan officers they are training could protect Americans, but they could also further strain relations and morale — both of which have been blamed in part for the growing number of green-on-blue attacks.
The Times also noted that military scrutiny of the attacks has yielded worrisome observations: Few of the shootings have been clearly a result of Taliban activity, suggesting a deeper disconnect and enmity between Afghan and U.S. forces.
The acceleration of attacks have also raised concerns about the strategy by coalition forces to train Afghan forces to take over the country's security when most foreign troops pull out in 2014.