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ISAF, NATO employ tactics against inside threats

By Denver Beaulieu-Hains
JMTC Public Affairs

As the International Security Assistance Force, also known as ISAF, and NATO remain committed to the fight in Afghanistan, leaders addressed the known challenge, “insider threat,” during the International Insider Threat Conference, hosted at the Joint Multinational Training Command in Grafenwoehr, Germany, Jan. 24.

Members of ISAF’s Insider-Threat Mitigation Working Group said, Gen.  John R. Allen, the Commander of ISAF recognizes the “insider-threat” as his number one strategic risk.

“The enemy tactic is to do two things: Drive a wedge amongst the coalition countries for political pressure back home, and to try to drive a wedge between us and the Afghan forces,” said Australian Brig. Adam Findlay, the ISAF deputy chief of operations and the chief of the Insider-Threat Mitigation Working Group.

Gen. Allen has leveraged brain power and leadership to the mitigation of the “insider attacks,” and is doing everything to protect coalition forces.

“We’re not taking this lightly. We’re taking a very sophisticated and holistic view of this problem,” said U.S. Marine Col. John Walsh, the deputy commander of the Insider-Threat Mitigation Working Group.  “This [insider-attack] is emerging as a signature weapon of this conflict.”

Since May 2007 when ISAF officially began tracking insider attacks, 126 ISAF personnel were killed, to include 62 in 2012,  which is by far the highest year for these attacks. Since May 2007 a slightly higher number of Afghan National Security Forces, or ANSF, soldiers and police were casualties of these attacks.

“This is an ANSF and ISAF problem,” said Walsh. “We are both experiencing it. That’s why we are working together on the solutions.”

Hosting the event, the Danish Minister of Defense Nick Haekkerup, said coalition partners must work together, share information and stay committed to the cause, while mitigating risks.

In theater, every soldier has a “guardian angel,” which requires movement and operations in pairs and groups. Further, scientifically-confirmed training using the study of human behavior give ISAF soldiers an advantage on the battlefield, although the applications aren’t just limited to war, trainers believe it can be applied anywhere.

“Soldiers will be learning about the insider threat phenomenon, how to recognize signs ahead of an event, how to mitigate an event before it occurs, and if an event does occur, how to react,” Findlay said.

Greg Williams, trainer with Orbis Operations, a defense contractor, said soldiers can be taught to recognize generic cues in body language, and can develop skills in cognitive reasoning and analysis. The training helps a soldier assess situations more fully, said Williams.

Soldiers demonstrated training scenarios inside during the conference in a moderate-sized conference room with only tables, chairs and civilian attire and prop weapons.

Williams said soldiers don’t need costly props and equipment to learn. The brain only requires a 60 percent solution to learn. The sparse set up provides enough for the individual to learn the concepts. This is important because the environment in Afghanistan is ever-changing. The training can happen anywhere and still be memorable.

“When it’s a mission and there is force-on-force, there are specific rules that apply. When it is an occupational force there are also specific rules,” said Williams. “Now, both of us [ISAF and ANSF] have to reconstruct and rebuild.”

Warriors might not be seeing the difference or make the proper adjustments right-away, and in the meantime there are other threats too, said Williams.

“Everybody can engage in certain levels of anger…when this cue and this cue and this cue, when they come together, it always means homicidal intent,” Williams said.

He said in human behavior, three or more cues are significant. In Afghanistan, a soldier is being taught that three or more cues in any one domain means he or she has to take action to prevent a more serious incident.

“…one cue might just be lucky, two cues might be happenstance, but when we have three it forms a pattern,” Williams said.

Col. John Walsh, ISAF deputy chief of the Insider Threat Mitigation Working Group, briefs conference attendees on the actions being taken to address the threat.

(Cover) Col. John Walsh, ISAF deputy chief of the Insider Threat Mitigation Working Group, briefs conference attendees on the actions being taken to address the threat. (Photos by Steven Beardsley. (c) 2013 Stars and Stripes)

Role players from the Joint Maneuver Training Center at Grafenwohr, Germany take part in a scenario to demonstrate human traits that can be identified in advance of an insider attack.

Role players from the Joint Maneuver Training Center at Grafenwohr, Germany take part in a scenario to demonstrate human traits that can be identified in advance of an insider attack. (Photos by Steven Beardsley. (c) 2013 Stars and Stripes)

 
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