In light of the rising incidence of insider attacks in Afghanistan, NATO announced on Tuesday a temporary and selective ban on joint operations with members of the country's government security forces.
The fresh directive, according to The Wall Street Journal, was issued Sunday by U.S. Marine Gen John Allen, commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which over the weekend saw the deaths of six foreign troops, four Americans and two Britons.
All were gunned down while working with Afghan police officers.
In a statement read at the White House, U.S. Press Secretary Jay Carney said on Tuesday that "most partnering and advising will now be at the battalion level and above."
"This does not mean there will be not partnering below that level. The need for that will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis," Mr Carney was reported by CNN as saying.
The operational adjustment will effectively reduce or eliminate small unit patrols and exercises involving Afghan personnel and ISAF troops.
It is also understood that NATO's decision will affect all foreign troops' operation in Afghanistan, including that of the 1,550-strong Australian contingent that were mostly deployed in Uruzgan.
The Digger have had their shares of casualties due to green-on-blue attacks with the latest death toll pinned at seven, three of which were suffered in late August when an Afghan officer shot to death three soldiers while resting in an Australian forward base.
Apart from the troubling deaths caused by enemies within, Pentagon, the U.S. military headquarter, said in a statement on Tuesday that the furor generated by the film 'Innocence of Muslims' was indeed a source of concern for NATO.
"(The film was a) cause for ISAF troops to exercise increased vigilance in their interactions with Afghans," the Pentagon was reported by WSJ as saying.
To date, the short movie, viewed by Muslims as an insult, has sparked protests around the world with some demonstrators specifically targeting U.S. embassies and other American establishments.
In one attack last week, Libyan 'protesters' killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other embassy officials. The incident, media reports said, was largely linked to militants identified with al Qaeda.
These occurrences, ISAF said, prompted for increased vigilance and careful review of "all activities and interactions with the local population."
"We adjust our force protection measures based on the threat. If the threat level goes down, we could see a rolling back on this decision," an ISAF spokeswoman was quoted by CNN as saying.
In Washington, Mr Carney also clarified that notwithstanding the new policy to govern NATO's troop movements in Afghanistan, the coalition's scheduled pull out by the end of 2014 will remain in place.
He also assured that the underway transition of allowing Afghan forces to gradually take over security responsibilities will go on as planned.
The U.S., according to Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, views the spike in insider attacks as reflective of the Taliban's desperate measures to gain some form of leverage.
"It is kind of a last-gasp effort to be able to not only target our forces but to try to create chaos because they have been unable to regain any of the territory that they have lost," the top American defence official told CNN.
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