Top U.S. general in Kabul to discuss attacks

KABUL, Afghanistan — The U.S. military’s top general met with American, coalition and local officials in Afghanistan on Monday to try to stop a wave of lethal attacks by Afghan soldiers and police against international forces.

Once an anomaly, attacks on international troops from inside the Afghan security forces have been climbing in recent months. There have been 32 such attacks so far this year, up from 21 for all of 2011, according to NATO.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, landed at Bagram Air Field outside Kabul earlier in the day.

In Kabul, Gen. Dempsey and Marine Gen. James R. Mattis, chief of U.S. Central Command, met with Marine Gen. John Allen, the top NATO and U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and discussed the progress of the Afghanistan campaign, a statement issued by the coalition said.

Gen. Allen said in the statement that they discussed “how to maintain momentum against the insurgents,” adding that international forces continued to support a push to train and equip Afghans in preparation for the departure of most international combat forces at the end of 2014.

“The campaign remains on track,” Gen. Allen said in the statement.

Gen. Dempsey and Gen. Mattis also met with several senior Afghan and coalition leaders, the statement said.

Ahead of the talks, Jamie Graybeal, a spokesman for international forces in Afghanistan, said Gen. Dempsey would be bringing up the rising number of attacks by Afghan forces.

“He’s certainly talking about a number of issues including progress with the [military] campaign and the like,” Mr. Graybeal said. “He’s also obviously talking about the insider attacks,” though he declined to provide further details.

In the latest such attack Sunday, two Afghan policemen turned their weapons on U.S. troops in Kandahar province, killing an American service member, officials said.

That raised the death toll to 10 U.S. troops killed in such attacks in just two weeks.

Sunday’s attack happened in Kandahar’s Spin Boldak district near the border with Pakistan. One of the attackers was killed when the troops returned fire and the other escaped, Mr. Graybeal said.

The Taliban have been actively recruiting members of the Afghan security forces, saying in a statement last week that they consider these turncoat attacks a major part of their strategy against international forces.

On Saturday, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta called Afghan President Hamid Karzai to encourage him to work with U.S. commanders to ensure more rigorous vetting of Afghan recruits.

It was disclosed Friday that, as a precaution, U.S. troops have been ordered to carry loaded weapons at all times in Afghanistan, even when they are on their bases.

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