American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 25, 2012 – Partnered operations between coalition and Afghan forces are continuing despite a decision by the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan to scale them back in response to a series of deadly insider attacks, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.
On Sept. 16, Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen ordered that all combined International Security Assistance Force and Afghan operations below the battalion level must be approved at the regional command level following attacks by Afghan soldiers and police that have killed 51 members of the coalition this year.
At a Pentagon news conference today, Little told reporters he did not know how long such operations would be scaled back, but that some patrols below the battalion level do continue. “This is a temporary measure,” he said, “and let me be clear as well that operations with our Afghan partners continue.”
Last week, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described the pullback as precautionary and partly in response to the violent anti-American demonstrations that broke out across the Islamic world after an American-made video surfaced on the Internet defaming the Prophet Muhammad. “The protection of our personnel is paramount, and we will continue to make adjustments as required over time to ensure their security,” Little said.
The spokesman said it would be up to the command in Afghanistan to determine how long partnered operations are curtailed, and that Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta strongly supports Allen’s decision. He called coalition operations “successful” and stressed that the U.S. goal in Afghanistan remains the same.
“We see Afghans more and more in the lead for their own operations and for their own governance. That is the goal here, that is what we’re training toward,” he said.
“At the end of the day,” he added, “that is how success is going to be defined: whether Afghans can provide for their own security and govern themselves.”