Afghan Army soldiers stand during a security transition ceremony in Mazar-e-Sharif, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 23, 2011. The Afghan government officially took control of security in the capital of the peaceful northern province of Balkh on July 23, as part of an effort to begin handing over all security responsibilities to Afghan forces by 2014.
This week, NATO Cabinet ministers, including U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, will try to tackle the problem of Afghan security. The basic plan for bringing American troops home from Afghanistan is to let Afghan security forces fight for their own country. But there's a hitch — finding a way to pay for the Afghan army.
And if you're just joining us, you're listening to WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.
In Afghanistan today, the Taliban has launched a string of attacks across the country, including coordinated strikes in the capital, Kabul, that hit near western targets and Afghan government buildings. The Taliban says today's attack marks the beginning of what they call the spring fighting season, the period after the winter thaw when mountain passes and roads become accessible again.
There are fresh fears about the infiltration of Afghan security forces by anti-government and anti-American insurgents after the discovery of 10 or 11 (depending on the media report) suicide vests inside the headquarters of that country's defense ministry and the arrest of more than a dozen soldiers.
The killings of some 16 civilians in Afghanistan on Sunday allegedly by a U.S. soldier are raising new questions about U.S. military strategy: whether the surge of American troops worked, and whether the U.S. troops have won over the Afghan people or alienated them.
The place where the killings happened was a "no-go zone" for American and even Afghan troops as recently as two years ago — it was Taliban country.