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Panetta: Afghan-NATO operations to resume

- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 27, 2012

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta announced Thursday the resumption of Afghan-NATO partnered operations after a week-long suspension of such missions below the battalion level.

The U.S.-led international coalition in Afghanistan had halted all training and joint missions in the wake of widespread protests in the Muslim world over an anti-Islamic film that was made in the U.S.

The halt in partnered operations also came in response to an increase in insider attacks, in which Afghan security forces turn their weapons on their coalition trainers.

Mr. Panetta acknowledged the "very troubling rise" in insider attacks, and added he expected that there will be more.

"It is their effort to try to create the kind of high-profile attacks that, while they don't gain them anything, basically try to break our will. That's what this is about. And I think when an enemy reaches that point, you know, it's near the end of their effort to really fully fight back and try to regain the areas that have been lost," he told reporters.

Insider attacks have claimed the lives of 51 coalition troops, compared with 35 last year.

Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the suspension was implemented to allow commanders in the field to determine what changes need to be made to prevent such attacks.

Gen. Dempsey, who recently returned from Afghanistan, said Afghan forces have been persuaded to take insider attacks as seriously as their NATO partners.

"I came back with a renewed sense that we can lower the risk of the insider threat," he told reporters.

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