BEIJING — U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said today the U.S. is concerned about the impact insider attacks are having on its forces in Afghanistan.
But he insisted Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander there, is taking necessary steps to protect the force while still ensuring the U.S. will be able to hand over security to the Afghans and be able to withdraw by the end of 2014.
Panetta did not specifically address the dramatic action taken Monday by Allen, as NATO decided to scale back its operations with Afghan security forces in order to lower the risk of them turning their guns on American and allied forces.
Instead, he argued that the attacks do not mean the Taliban is getting stronger. “I think what it indicates is that they are resorting to efforts that try to strike at our forces, try to create chaos but do not in any way result in their regaining territory that has been lost,” he told reporters during a press conference in Beijing with China's minister of national defense, Gen. Liang Guanglie.
Until now, U.S. and NATO troops routinely conducted operations with their Afghan counterparts. But under the new order, such operations will now require the approval of a regional commander.