Insider killings by uniformed Afghans against their foreign allies rose dramatically in 2012, eroding confidence between the two sides at a crucial turning point in the war.
At the same time, insider killings by uniformed Afghans against their foreign allies rose dramatically, eroding confidence between the two sides at a crucial turning point in the war and when NATO troops and Afghan counterparts are in more intimate contact.
"The overall situation is improving," said a NATO spokesman, US Air Force Lt. Col. Lester T. Carroll. He singled out Afghan special forces as "surgically removing insurgent leaders from the battle space."
Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense, said Afghan forces were now charged with 80 percent of security missions and were less equipped to face the most lethal weapon of the militants – roadside bombs.
"Our forces are out there in the battlefields and combat areas more than at any other time in the past," he said, citing reasons for the spike in casualties.
US troop deaths, overall NATO fatalities and Afghan civilian deaths all dropped as insurgent attacks fell off in their traditional strongholds in the country's south and east. However, insurgent activity was up in the north and west, where the Taliban and other groups have been less active in the past, and overall levels of violence were higher than before a US troop surge more than two years ago.