In Washington, President Barack Obama nominated Marine Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, to be the next NATO supreme allied commander.
Allen is slated to replace Admiral Jim Stavridis in the spring, and Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the assistant Marine commandant, would take the top Afghanistan job. The changes must be confirmed by the Senate.
During the NATO meeting, Allen and Panetta assured the ministers that commanders have come up ways to reduce the insider attacks.
The tactics to reduce the attacks have largely been in place for some time. They include increased vetting of Afghan recruits, enhanced training and cultural awareness, greater use of so-called guardian angel troops who stand guard to protect their comrades, and a new system that requires partnered operations with small units to be approved by top commanders.
Rasmussen seemed to reject any idea that there will be any acceleration in the drawdown, despite concerns about the insider attacks.
"This is not about speeding up," said Rasmussen, adding that the coalition will execute a careful, deliberate and coordinated process for the transfer of security to the Afghans by the time the NATO combat mission ends in 2014. "This is not a rush for the exit."
At that time, NATO will change to a training and advisory mission. NATO ministers are expected to endorse a broad framework for that transition during their meeting here.
That mission is also likely to include continued counterterrorism efforts by the U.S. There have been suggestions that a force of as many as 20,000 troops could remain in Afghanistan after the end of 2014, but no decisions have been made. Allen is expected to provide some recommendations before the end of the year on the pace and number of U.S. troops leaving Afghanistan beginning in 2013.
Dunford has been assistant commandant since October 2010. Allen took over the Afghanistan job in July 2011, after serving as the acting commander of U.S. Central Command for a short time.
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