NATO: Halt in joint Afghan ops won't hurt strategy

Associated Press
French soldiers arrive at the scene of a suicide bombing, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012 in Kabul, Afghanistan. A suicide bomber rammed a car packed with explosives into a mini-bus carrying foreign aviation workers to the airport in the Afghan capital early Tuesday, killing at least nine people in an attack a militant group said was revenge for an anti-Islam film that ridicules the Prophet Muhammad.  (AP Photo/Ahmad Jamshid)
.

View photo

French soldiers arrive at the scene of a suicide bombing, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012 in Kabul, Afghanistan. A suicide bomber rammed a car packed with explosives into a mini-bus carrying foreign aviation workers to the airport in the Afghan capital early Tuesday, killing at least nine people in an attack a militant group said was revenge for an anti-Islam film that ridicules the Prophet Muhammad. (AP Photo/Ahmad Jamshid)

BRUSSELS (AP) — NATO's top official has played down the significance of the alliance's decision to scale back joint operations with the Afghan army and police after a string of insider attacks, saying NATO's strategy of handing over responsibility for the war to its Afghan allies remains unchanged.

Following the deaths this year of 51 international troops killed by Afghan forces or militants wearing Afghan uniforms, NATO has said that troops will no longer routinely carry out operations such as patrolling or manning outposts with their Afghan counterparts.

On Tuesday, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said plans for a gradual transition to having Afghans responsible for security in the country by the end of 2014 would continue despite the suspension, which he described as "prudent and temporary."

The so-called "green-on-blue" attacks by Afghan forces or militants in their uniforms has tested the trust between NATO troops and their Afghan allies.

The suspension of joint operations came amid a spate of bad news for NATO, after insurgents mounted a brazen attack on the sprawling and heavily guarded Camp Bastion base in Helmand province and destroyed or badly damage eight U.S. Marine attack jets. Meanwhile, a mistaken NATO airstrike killed eight village women and girls searching for firewood in eastern Laghman province, and eight South African civilian contractors died in a suicide bombing near Kabul airport.

Fogh Rasmussen sought to put a positive spin on the decision to suspend joint operations, saying it proved that Afghan forces "ware already capable of operating on their own."

"The measures taken to reduce the risks facing our troops .... won't change our overall strategy," he told reporters in Brussels.

"Let me be clear, we remain committed to our strategy and we remain committed to our goal of seeing the Afghans fully in charge of their own security by the end of 2014," he said. "The goal is unchanged, the strategy remains the same and the timeline remains the same."

Still, critics pointed out that insider attacks — which have continued despite efforts to vet all 352,000 members of Afghanistan's army and police forces — were undermining the entire international mission in Afghanistan.

In London, lawmakers criticized the suspension as potentially undermining the strategy of training local forces to provide security once U.S. and NATO forces leave Afghanistan at the end of 2014.

"It does appear to be a really significant change in the relationship between (coalition) and Afghan forces," said opposition Labour Party lawmaker Jim Murphy.

John Baron, a member of Britain's ruling Conservative Party, said the change "threatens to blow a hole in our stated exit strategy, which is heavily reliant on these joint operations continuing."

"This announcement adds to the uncertainty as to whether Afghan forces will have the ability to keep an undefeated Taliban at bay once NATO forces have left," Baron, a former army officer, told the House of Commons.

U.K. Defense Secretary Philip Hammond told lawmakers that the decision was a temporary response to elevated threat levels following the outrage in Muslim countries over an anti-Islam video produced in the United States.

Troops would "return to normal operations" as soon as the tension eased, Hammond insisted after being called to the House of Commons to explain the changes.

Labour legislator Paul Flynn, a staunch opponent of the Afghanistan war, was banned from the Commons for a day after he accused Hammond of misrepresenting the truth.

"Our brave soldier lions are being led by ministerial donkeys," Flynn said.

___

Stringer reported from London.

Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • Melania Trump stuns in first lady fashion stakes

      First Lady Melania Trump stunned fashion watchers by donning a sleek, off-the-shoulder cream dress with a daring thigh-high slit to dance with President Donald Trump at the inaugural balls. The new first lady's sartorial picks for the inauguration went some way to silencing critics who have complained in the past that she favored high-end European clothes rather than American creations.

      AFP
    • ESPN drops commentator over Venus Williams 'gorilla' remark

      US broadcaster ESPN has dropped commentator Doug Adler after he compared Venus Williams to a "gorilla" at the Australian Open -- although he insisted the word he used was "guerrilla". ESPN said Adler should have been more careful during his coverage of the seven-time Grand Slam-winner's win over Stefanie Voegele. "During an Australian Open stream on ESPN3, Doug Adler should have been more careful in his word selection," an ESPN statement said.

      AFP
    • 'NCIS: Los Angeles' star Miguel Ferrer dies at 61

      NEW YORK (AP) — Miguel Ferrer, who brought stern authority to his featured role on CBS' hit "NCIS: Los Angeles" and, before that, to NBC crime drama "Crossing Jordan," has died.

      Associated Press
    • Bell & Blount's friendship transcends abrupt exit

      PITTSBURGH (AP) — The football player and friend in Le'Veon Bell understood why LeGarrette Blount walked off the job that cold night in Nashville more than two years ago, jogging to the locker room with the clock still running as Bell and the rest of the Pittsburgh Steelers reveled in a critical victory over Tennessee.

      Associated Press
    • Here’s a look at the Fashion Moments of the Inauguration

      America's first immigrant First Lady since Louisa Adams paid homage to the old guard of American fashion in a powder blue suit by Ralph Lauren Collection.

      Elle Videos
    • Animal Shelter Offers $11,200 Reward After Rottweiler Is Found With Ears, Nose and Tail Cut Off

      "Baron is doing remarkably well considering his injuries," a veterinarian reported.

      Inside Edition
    • Grown-up Paris Jackson hits her namesake city for Givenchy

      PARIS (AP) — Colorful fall-winter menswear shows in Paris mixed high culture, androgyny and streetwear, as Paris Jackson, the daughter of the late pop icon Michael Jackson, stepped out for the cameras at Givenchy's library show— fittingly in the City of Light.

      Associated Press
    • One of the largest icebergs ever seen is even closer to breaking off Antarctica

      Just 6.4 miles of ice are holding an iceberg the size of Delaware onto the floating Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, and scientists warn it could cleave off the ice-bound continent at any time. Researchers who closely monitor the crack cutting across this particular Antarctic ice shelf reported on Thursday that it continued to make rapid progress, expanding another six miles in just the past two weeks.  SEE ALSO: An iceberg the size of Delaware is about to break off Antarctica This means that a collapse may be imminent, at which point, one of the top 10 largest icebergs ever observed will break away into the turbulent seas off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula.  Scientists affiliated with a group that has been tracking the ice melt in this area, known as Project MIDAS, say the iceberg could measure 5,000 square kilometers, or 1,930 square miles. The rift in the Larsen C Ice Shelf, including the 6-mile extension in the past two weeks. Image: Project midas/nasa Scientists are worried that the calving event — which refers to the breaking off of the iceberg from the ice shelf — could speed up the disintegration of the broader shelf and land-based ice that lies behind it. "When it calves, the Larsen C Ice Shelf will lose more than 10 percent of its area to leave the ice front at its most retreated position ever recorded; this event will fundamentally change the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula," researcher Adrian Luckman wrote in a blog post.  "We have previously shown that the new configuration will be less stable than it was prior to the rift, and that Larsen C may eventually follow the example of its neighbor Larsen B, which disintegrated in 2002 following a similar rift-induced calving event," Luckman wrote. Larsen B Ice Shelf prior to the breakup in 2002. Image: NASA Larsen B Ice Shelf after its breakup in 2002. Image: nasa The researchers found that the rift which had been progressing episodically across the floating ice shelf suddenly grew by 11.2 miles, or 18 kilometers, during the second half of December, leaving only 12.4 miles left connecting the iceberg to its parent ice shelf.  On Thursday, that length declined to 6.4 miles of ice remaining fully intact, which puts the ice shelf in an even more tenuous position.  Scientists are not sure exactly when the iceberg will break free, but they think it will occur soon.  The length and width of the crack in the Larsen C Ice Shelf over time. Image: Project midas "We expect that the iceberg will break free within the next few months, although it's hard to be certain about timing," Martin O'Leary, a researcher at Swansea University in the U.K. who studies the Larsen C Ice Shelf as part of the MIDAS team, told Mashable in an email on Jan. 6. Rifts like this are a natural phenomenon, but such large ones are rare, scientists say. They can destabilize larger parts of ice shelves and land-based ice sheets by exposing more ice to mild ocean waters and air temperatures. This has been happening in parts of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, but it is not guaranteed to happen with Larsen C. The Larsen C Ice Shelf is the most northerly of the remaining major Antarctic Peninsula ice shelves. This part of Antarctica has been warming rapidly in recent years, and the shelf is being undermined from below by warming ocean waters, as well as from above by increasing air temperatures.  View is of a rift in the Antarctic Peninsula's Larsen C ice shelf from our airborne survey of polar ice: https://t.co/VgjxopHHLI @NASA_ICE pic.twitter.com/gt5mpHqbxn — NASA (@NASA) December 3, 2016 In 2002, Larsen C's neighbor, known as the Larsen B Ice Shelf, disintegrated entirely after a series of similar rift-induced calving events. The Larsen B calving event was featured in the opening scenes of the sci-fi climate change-related disaster film, The Day After Tomorrow . Sea level rise implications Floating ice shelves don't raise sea levels when they disintegrate or lose large icebergs. This is because their ice is already resting in the ocean, like an ice cube in a glass.  However, because they act like doorstops to the land-based ice behind them, when the shelves give way, the land-based glaciers can start sliding into the sea in a process that's difficult (if not impossible) to stop, long-term. It adds new water to the ocean — therefore, increasing sea levels.  The entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet contains enough ice to raise global sea levels by another 10 to 15 feet if it were all to melt. This process would likely take centuries, however, though sea level rise is already accelerating worldwide as glaciers melt and ocean temperatures increase. BONUS: 2016 was Earth's warmest year on record, continuing a three-year streak

      Mashable
    • Prosecutor: 'Dance Mom' should be imprisoned for fraud

      PITTSBURGH (AP) — A prosecutor on Friday urged a federal judge to sentence "Dance Moms" star Abby Lee Miller to prison instead of probation for bankruptcy fraud.

      Associated Press
    • Is There a Hidden Meaning Behind Melania Trump's Tiffany & Co. Inauguration Gift?

      On Friday morning during the traditional welcoming to the White House of the incoming president and first lady by the outgoing president and first lady before the inauguration, Melania Trump presented Michelle Obama with a gift from Tiffany & Co.

      Yahoo Style
    • Women's march against Trump swamps Washington streets, subway

      By Emily Stephenson and Scott Malone WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Large crowds of women, many wearing bright pink knit hats, poured into downtown Washington by bus, train and car on Saturday for a march in opposition to U.S. President Donald Trump only a day after the Republican took office. The Washington event was expected to be the largest of a series of marches across the world in cities including Sydney, London, Tokyo and New York to criticize the new president's often angry, populist rhetoric. The flood of people stressed the city's Metro subway system, with riders reporting enormous crowds and some end-of-line stations temporarily turning away riders when parking lots filled and platforms became too crowded.

      Reuters 11 min ago
    • Woman charged in teen's shooting says she felt unsafe

      MACON, Ga. (AP) — A central Georgia woman charged with shooting a teenage boy in the head said she and her husband had been terrorized by young people throwing rocks for days before she opened fire.

      Associated Press
    • ‘Not An Easy Day’: Hillary Clinton Arrives for Donald Trump’s Inauguration

      After fighting a bitter and often personal battle during last year’s bruising presidential election, Hillary Clinton arrived for Donald Trump‘s swearing-in ceremony in Washington, D.C. Friday alongside her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and their daughter, Chelsea Clinton

      People
    • Everything We Think We Know About the Upcoming Ford Bronco and Ranger

      Ford promises a new small pickup truck and a return of the legendary Bronco name. Here's what to expect.

      Road & Track
    • Roger Federer floors Berdych in 90 minutes at Australian Open

      Swiss marvel Roger Federer blitzed long-time rival Tomas Berdych in straight sets to storm into the fourth round with a vintage performance at the Australian Open on Friday. The 17-time Grand Slam champion, seeded 17th after an injury-hit 2016, downed the 10th-seeded Czech 6-2, 6-4, 6-4, in just 90 minutes. Federer reached the round of 16 in Melbourne for the 15th time where he will face Japanese fifth seed Kei Nishikori.

      AFP
    • How fast is too fast? Tesla’s Model S P100D hits a 0-60 time of 2.38 seconds

      Let's be honest: Tesla doesn't really need to make its cars go any faster. After all, it's not as if Tesla owners are lamenting the fact that a handful of multi-million dollar supercars can go from 0-60 MPH just a few tenths of a second faster than a top of the line Model S. That of course has never stopped Elon Musk and co. from attempting to turn the Model S into an unrivaled speed demon. This past August, Tesla unveiled the Model S P100 D, a car that can go from 0-60 in 2.5 seconds flat. Upon its introduction, Elon Musk boasted that it was the fastest production car on the planet. Elon Musk, though, is a notorious glutton for speed and performance, which is to say that Tesla engineers quickly got to work on ways to make the already jaw-dropping 2.5 0-60 time even more impressive. To this point, Tesla last week released an over the air update that manged to make Tesla's flagship Model S even faster. Musk even took to Twitter where he hinted that a 0-60 time of just 2.34 seconds might even be possible. https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/819609111801139200?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw Just one week later, we finally have our first legit video -- from the adventurous folks on YouTube's Tesla Racing Channel -- which showcases the Tesla Model S P100D in "Ludicrous+" mode going from 0-60 at breakneck speed. While the Model S didn't hit 2.34 seconds, it did manage to post a time of 2.38 seconds. You can check out video of the Model S P100 D putting in work via the video below. All the more impressive is that Tesla managed to make the car faster solely via a software update. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUAZcD0gqDg Lastly, and for those who have an unquenchable thirst for speed, you can check out a list of the world's fastest cars over here .

      BGR News
    • Hawaii bill compels mediation for Zuckerberg-type land deals

      HONOLULU (AP) — A Hawaii lawmaker said Friday he plans to introduce legislation that could force Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg into mediation before he is allowed to buy real estate on Kauai island.

      Associated Press
    • New Documents Show Bin Laden Was Paranoid About Biological Trackers

      The declassified documents, seized by the Navy Seals team responsible for killing Osama in 2011, include letters to family, expense account entries, and Bin Laden's observations on world events.

      International Business Times
    • Obama's photographer just shared a very poignant farewell photo

      Farewell, Obama. Former President Barack Obama's Chief Official White House Photographer Pete Souza has shared thousands of personal photos throughout the years. From Obama playing with kids to serious and intense moments, Souza gave the world a sneak peek inside the life of Obama and his family during their eight years in the White House. Now, Souza has shared a final farewell. SEE ALSO: Michelle Obama's final farewell: "Lead by example with hope, never fear" It's a picture of now-former President Obama looking out of a helicopter window at the White House down below. Farewell. A photo posted by Pete Souza (@petesouza) on Jan 20, 2017 at 12:06pm PST Souza shared the photo to his Instagram page after Obama left the inauguration ceremony via the Executive One helicopter with Michelle and he captioned it, "Farewell." Souza has already changed his Instagram profile to read "TBD. Former Chief Official White House Photographer for President Obama." His photos taken before today have been purged for archival.  Souza also shared a photo of Obama boarding the helicopter, and exiting the Oval Office for the last time. President Obama waves from the steps of Executive One helicopter following the inauguration of Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol. A photo posted by Pete Souza (@petesouza) on Jan 20, 2017 at 12:01pm PST Another view of President Obama leaving the Oval Office for the last time this morning (taken with remote camera). A photo posted by Pete Souza (@petesouza) on Jan 20, 2017 at 11:58am PST BONUS: Donald Trump's inauguration address included a Bane quote

      Mashable
    • Top Trump inauguration memes, mistakes and moments

      As Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States and protests flared up in Washington, D.C., some moments of levity broke the tension. The 45th President of the USA pic.twitter.com/kA2SrkJEeS

      Yahoo Canada News