U.S. troops in Afghanistan are being guarded more closely and are taking other steps to protect themselves from attacks by Afghan troops, the top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, said Wednesday.
Allen ordered the measures in recent weeks after a spate of 16 attacks in which U.S. and other coalition forces were killed by Afghan soldiers. Some of the killings were believed triggered by the accidental burning of Qurans and other religious materials.
New measures include the use of so-called "guardian angels" — troops who guard others as they sleep. Americans can now carry weapons in some ministries and have moved their desks so they can keep an eye on the door. Two officers were killed at their desks in the Interior Ministry in Kabul.
While Allen did not detail the new measures in a briefing earlier this week, he acknowledged that changes had been made.
"We have taken steps necessary on our side to protect ourselves with respect to, in fact, sleeping arrangements, internal defenses associated with those small bases in which we operate," Allen said, adding that now someone is "always overwatching our forces."
Allen issued a directive "to get every single troop in the war zone to read it and think" — and to emphasize that troops should be aware of their surroundings as they go about their jobs, the military official said.
Allen issued a directive ordering troops to have at least one armed soldier on watch at all times, including during exercise, sleep and work.
“It is being prudent, that’s all,” NBC News reported a senior defense official as saying. The source added that these measures were ordered by the commander of NATO International Security Assistance Force, and that each regional commander can implement the orders as they see appropriate.