Taliban assault military base in Mohmand


Map of the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province. The government signed peace agreements in the red agencies/ districts (the military said Shangla was under Taliban control in October); purple districts are under de facto Taliban control; yellow regions are under Taliban influence.

The Taliban launched a major assault on a Frontier Corps base housing an elite counterterrorism force early Sunday morning, sparking a battle that killed at least 10 Pakistani paramilitary troops and more than 40 Taliban fighters.

An estimated 600 Taliban fighters crossed the border from Afghanistan and joined forces with Taliban fighters in the Mohmand tribal agency, according to reports. At 2:00 AM local time, the Taliban force then attacked the Mamad Gate base with mortar and rocket fire, then attempted to storm the base. The Quick Reaction Force, a counterterrorism force created by former President Pervez Musharraf in 2003, operates from the base.

The Pakistani paramilitary troops repelled the attack after fierce fighting, but it appears the Taliban force partially breached the perimeter. In addition to the 10 paramilitary troops killed, more than 25 have been reported missing and are thought to have been captured by the Taliban.

The Taliban also attacked a Frontier Corps checkpoint at Lakro in Mohmand, killing five Frontier Corps troops.

Mohmand has become a major battleground in Pakistan's Taliban-controlled tribal areas. Fighting in the Bajaur tribal agency to the north has spilled over to Mohmand, while Taliban forces have launched attacks from Mohmand into the neighboring settled district of Peshawar.

Mohmand also borders the volatile Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nangarhar. US and Afghan forces have been battling Taliban forces in Kunar, the second most violent province in Afghanistan. The Taliban control several districts in Kunar and Nangarhar.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari boasted the military would retake control of Mohmand and Bajaur by the end of 2008. Fighting is still raging in Bajaur. Today, the Taliban captured four members of the Pakistan Army's Razakar Force. The four soldiers were tortured and had their ears chopped off.

Despite the Taliban advance in the northwest, the Pakistani Army has begun to redeploy at least two divisions, or an estimated 30,000 of the 100,000 troops deployed in the region back to the eastern border with India. Tensions over the Mumbai terror attack, which was carried out by the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, have raised fears of an Indian attack.

Taliban fighting as a military force

The Pakistani military is fighting a determined Taliban force in the tribal agencies, US military and intelligence sources told The Long War Journal last year. The Taliban and their allies have organized into military formations capable of fighting at the battalion and in some cases the brigade level. Today's attack in Mohmand comprised a force of at least battalion strength, with supporting mortar and rocket fires.

Pakistani officials confirmed the sophistication and organization of the Taliban in the tribal areas. During heavy fighting in Bajaur last fall, Pakistani military officials said the Taliban "have good weaponry and a better communication system (than ours)."

"Even the sniper rifles they use are better than some of ours," the Pakistani official told Dawn "Their tactics are mind-boggling and they have defenses that would take us days to build. It does not look as though we are fighting a rag-tag militia; they are fighting like an organized force."

The Taliban has conducted complex operations against the Pakistani security forces in the tribal areas in 2007 and 2008. The Taliban, under the command of Baitullah Mehsud, captured an entire company of regular Pakistani Army soldiers as well as took over several military outposts in South Waziristan in 2007. In 2008, Taliban forces overran several forts in South Waziristan, eventually forcing the Frontier Corps to abandon the region.

Taliban forces have conducted battalion-sized operations outside the tribal areas. In July 2008, a Taliban force laid siege to a police station and a fort in Hangu. The fort was abandoned by the Frontier Corps and the Taliban destroyed it. Operations of this scale have been reported in Swat and Shangla in 2008.

Like the Taliban, al Qaeda is upgrading its ability to conduct conventional military operations. Al Qaeda has reformed its paramilitary wing in the tribal areas over the past several years. The terror group has re-formed Brigade 055, the infamous military arm of the terror group made up of Arab recruits. The unit was commanded by Shaikh Khalid Habib al Shami, who was killed in a US Predator airstrike in North Waziristan in October 2008.

Brigade 055 fought alongside the Taliban against the Northern Alliance and was decimated during the US invasion of Afghanistan. Several other Arab brigades have been formed, some consisting of former members of Saddam Hussein's Republican Guards, an intelligence official told The Long War Journal.

Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and Hizb-e-Islami joined forces to conduct a complex assault on a US outpost in Wanat in Nuristan province in July 2008. The attack was repelled, but resulted in the loss of nine US soldiers, the largest loss by US forces in a single engagement in Afghanistan to date.

The establishment of Taliban and al Qaeda military formations has been facilitated by the establishment of terror training camps in the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province.

More than 150 camps and more than 400 support locations were reported to be in operation, senior US intelligence officials told The Long War Journal in the summer of 2007. Some of the camps are devoted to training the Taliban's military arm, some train suicide bombers for attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan, some focus on training the various Kashmiri terror groups, some train al Qaeda operatives for attacks in the West, and one serves as a training ground for the Black Guard, the elite bodyguard for Osama bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahiri, and other senior al qaeda leaders.


For more information on the Taliban's development of its military forces, see:

"More than 100 terror camps" in operation in northwestern Pakistan
July 11, 2008
Joint al Qaeda and Taliban force behind Nuristan base attack
July 14, 2008
Pakistani military abandons forts in South Waziristan
Aug. 1, 2008
Cross-border strike targets one of the Taliban's 157 training camps in Pakistan's northwest
Aug. 13, 2008
Tough talk after the Marriott bombing, but can Pakistan deliver?
Sept. 23, 2008



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READER COMMENTS: "Taliban assault military base in Mohmand"

Posted by MTF at January 11, 2009 1:20 PM ET:

"Even the sniper rifles they use are better than some of ours," the Pakistani official told Dawn "Their tactics are mind-boggling and they have defenses that would take us days to build. It does not look as though we are fighting a rag-tag militia; they are fighting like an organized force."


Any thoughts as to the sources of those weapons and training?

Posted by KnightHawk at January 11, 2009 4:29 PM ET:

Curious how large the force was that repelled the attack at the Frontier Corps base.

Posted by Neo at January 11, 2009 7:04 PM ET:

"Any thoughts as to the sources of those weapons and training?"

If you look through Bills articles you will find plenty of references to both local resources augmented by plenty of money and manpower coming from across the Muslim world. Former military personnel are especially valued. The Gulf Arabs have the money and that buys them a leadership role. There are also historical reasons for Arab leadership, but mostly it's their money.

Posted by Neo at January 11, 2009 7:14 PM ET:

No sign of air support for the base. It appears that the Pakistani's don't even do rudimentary support for their bases. That's got to be great for morale. The competent use of a couple of helicopter gunships could have given the Taliban a very bad night. That brings up a question. Do these Pakistani's have much in the way of night fighting ability and does their air support have anything in the way of night flying ability, or day fighting ability for that matter?

Posted by Render at January 11, 2009 8:50 PM ET:

If nothing else it does speed up the reaction time of the "quick-reaction force" if the Talib attack their home base.

===

Interesting that they could raise a battalion sized unit inside Afghanistan, but chose to send it across the border to battle the Pakistanis, this time.

Could they be unhappy with the results of their Mumbai operation? Or did they not have the manpower local to the QRF fort?

HMMM,
R

Posted by Neo at January 11, 2009 9:39 PM ET:

Here is another report with some additional details mixed in.

http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=19549

Exact information in these reports must be taken with a grain of salt. Piecing together a fairly accurate picture of what happened frequently isn't straight forward. So many reports are good and bad information mixed with spin.

Posted by Tim Sumner at January 12, 2009 10:02 AM ET:

That this was a cross-border attack illustrates the need for Pakistan, if serious about supressing the Taliban, to agree with our coalition in Afghanistan about jointly fighting them. I know, that's a pipe dream considering the political situation in Pakistan yet without such an agreement the situation there will only get worse.

Posted by Libertyship46 at January 12, 2009 12:09 PM ET:

The strength, scale, and sophistication of the Taliban attacks on isolated Pakistani bases or "forts" reminds me way too much of the North Vietnamese beginning their major assaults against the French in North Vietnam. The French had poor equipment, not enough (or very little) air support, were tied down to "forts" or defensive bases, and were overrun by a guerrilla force that had evolved into an organized, well equipped, army. We seem to be seeing the same movie being replayed here and unless the Pakistanis start taking this threat seriously and start putting a lot more men and resources into this fight against the Taliban, then they are going to end up like the French, only the Pakastanis will be defeated in their own country.

Posted by Jerjes Talpur at January 12, 2009 1:41 PM ET:

This all happened and expected to happen in future just because of indian unbearable attitude towards pakistan.

We have shifted more then 100,000 troops from western border to eastern.

Just because of indian pressure, the reality is that india not want to see pakistan as stable country, and taking full advantage at the neck of the time.

India has complained for terrorists, even knowing we are already fighting with them then, what was the reason of building tensions ? who gonna take benefit of these tension of course Terrorists.

These terrorists already busy in terrorist activities in Pakistan, already bombing here killing civilians, then what was the shocking for indians if one of terrorist entered india?

This whole region is under-fire and fighting is going on, WHO IS FIGHTING ? WE PAKISTANI, NOT INDIA who is trying to weaken strength of our forces INDIA is busy to build up tensions at eastern border.

Because they know by that pakistan will get weak, and terrorists would succeed to take easily action against Pakistan military and thats what happened in HANGU.

Indirect way india is supporting terrorism and doing their best to weak the forces against terrorism.

World-Communities must build pressure at india at its evil-will, Terrorists attacked at mumbai they knew troops will be deployed at eastern border.

We have tell india for several times that you are indirectly supporting the agenda of terrorists Who attacked in Mumbai.

Only one terrorist was pakistani national miss-used by extremists groups and rest was foreigners. why india building only pressure at pakistan government. Did we send them are we fool ? to do such things when timings are not in our favor, are we crazy to make our troops weak at western border.

I think india should use their little mind, if not then international community must put pressure at india to let them use their mind in productive direction, rather then destruction.

Posted by AntiTalib at January 12, 2009 5:43 PM ET:

"Any thoughts as to the sources of those weapons and training?"

The numerous Indian consulates in southern Afghanistan have been busy. Not to mention Iran, no friend of Pakistan.

Posted by Neo at January 12, 2009 6:40 PM ET:

""Any thoughts as to the sources of those weapons and training?"

The numerous Indian consulates in southern Afghanistan have been busy. Not to mention Iran, no friend of Pakistan."

-------------------------------------
Indians supporting the Taliban in southern Afghanistan? Seriously!!! How many minutes before that Indian becomes an ex-Indian.

Posted by Neo at January 12, 2009 6:52 PM ET:

"This whole region is under-fire and fighting is going on, WHO IS FIGHTING ? WE PAKISTANI, NOT INDIA who is trying to weaken strength of our forces INDIA is busy to build up tensions at eastern border."

I guarantee the Indian's are a lot more worried about a "weak" Pakistani army losing control of its nuclear arsenal than it is about the supposed strength of the Pakistani army. To put it bluntly, the Pakistani army has no real offensive capabilities, and is not a conventional threat to India.

Posted by bard207 at January 12, 2009 9:53 PM ET:

Jerjes Talpur

I found no reports of a settlement in the Hangu conflict when I posted, so it wasn't old news as you claimed. Timing is everything.

---------------------------------------------------

Jerjes Talpur and AntiTalib

If the loss of control -- order in the NWFP is attributed to the movement of Pakistani troops to the Eastern Border in December, then why did the Pakistani military admit in October that they had lost control in certain areas of NWFP?


Political leadership briefed on counter-terrorism strategy: Taliban a threat to country's security, Parliament told

Thursday, October 09, 2008

.........Swat and Shangla: He told the parliament that the Taliban had gained complete control over certain districts, including Swat and Shangla, and that the armed forces were trying to contain their influence....

Did Swat and Shangla get moved to the FATA so they don't count as lost territory from NWFP?


Other that artillery, helicopters and other standoff types of weapons, I have found little mention of regular Pakistani Army having been on the ground fighting the militants. Frontier Corps and other Paramilitary are/were the tip of the spear against the militants from what I have read.

--------------------------------------------------------
Jerjes Talpur

Only one terrorist was pakistani national miss-used by extremists groups and rest was foreigners. why india building only pressure at pakistan government. Did we send them are we fool ? to do such things when timings are not in our favor, are we crazy to make our troops weak at western border.

When Mehmud Ali Durrani made a statement to the media about Kasab being from Pakistan, he was terminated from his position. It appears that an honest man isn't wanted or appreciated in Pakistan.

Do you have a source to back the assertion that Kasab was the only Pakistani in the Mumbai attack?

A source (other than Pakistani) is needed since there were lies and coverup before admitting that Kasab was from Pakistan.

Posted by Justin at January 13, 2009 1:00 AM ET:

I seriously doubt the sniper rifles are better than the US military.......

Posted by Mike at January 13, 2009 2:38 AM ET:

The Taliban assault military is still a strong military and we may not know when the US could destroy them all. They are stll a threatening for US.

Posted by Jerjes Talpur at January 13, 2009 2:48 AM ET:

Brad207

Do you have a source to back the assertion that Kasab was the only Pakistani in the Mumbai attack?

A source (other than Pakistani) is needed since there were lies and coverup before admitting that Kasab was from Pakistan.

----------------------------------------------------

Brad do you have sources to back your claim that rest terrorists was Pakistani.


But still india is blaming at pakistan without any proofs like you are doing here.

Who is Mehmud ali durrani to decide without acknowledging Prime Minster, Government accepted Kasab was pakistani and they were about tell through press conference, In mannered way. but durrani told before that, and took very impractical step without prime minsters acknowledge he leaked the news.

So prime minster Fired him, he took a legal step so one should not worry about it.

Brad i think we must talk according to current thread, we must discuss about the current issues, which Bill Roggio rises here.

Posted by bard207 at January 13, 2009 5:01 AM ET:

Jerjes Talpur

There isn't a Brad207 that posts at The Long War Journal, but it is fairly close to my name, so you are probably referring to me.

Here is what I posted earlier:
When Mehmud Ali Durrani made a statement to the media about Kasab being from Pakistan, he was terminated from his position. It appears that an honest man isn't wanted or appreciated in Pakistan.

Do you have a source to back the assertion that Kasab was the only Pakistani in the Mumbai attack?

A source (other than Pakistani) is needed since there were lies and coverup before admitting that Kasab was from Pakistan.

What words did I use in the above to say that the rest of the Mumbai attackers were from Pakistan?

--------------------------------------------------

Let me list some things for you in regards to Pakistan and Kasab -- Mumbai attack.

1. It was reported fairly early that Kasab was from Pakistan.

2. His hometown -- village was announced in the media

3. At lest one media outlet went there, found his family and interviewed his father.


Numerous and very obvious clues were given to Pakistan, yet they were unable to verify them until 4 weeks had elapsed.

Now you claim that the rest of the Mumbai attackers:
Only one terrorist was pakistani national miss-used by extremists groups and rest was foreigners.
.

A newspaper reporter was able to find Kasab's family, yet the ISI (or whomever investigated) struggled to accomplish that? A very poor reflection upon their capabilities.

Based upon the very slow & sloppy:

* detective work
* investigative work
* sleuthing
* analysis

by the ISI (or whomever investigated) in figuring out that Kasab is from Pakistan, I can't have much faith in any more analysis from them in regards to the Mumbai attackers.


-------------------------------------------------------

Who is Mehmud ali durrani to decide without acknowledging Prime Minster, Government accepted Kasab was pakistani and they were about tell through press conference, In mannered way. but durrani told before that, and took very impractical step without prime minsters acknowledge he leaked the news.

Well, it might have been news in Pakistan, but it was yesterday's news in the rest of the world.

----------------------------------------------------------

Brad i think we must talk according to current thread, we must discuss about the current issues, which Bill Roggio rises here.

I am glad that you brought that up because I have been meaning to mention that to you.

Unless I overlooked something, here is the only paragraph that mentions India and Mumbai in Mr. Roggio's report:


Despite the Taliban advance in the northwest, the Pakistani Army has begun to redeploy at least two divisions, or an estimated 30,000 of the 100,000 troops deployed in the region back to the eastern border with India.
Tensions over the Mumbai terror attack, which was carried out by the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, have raised fears of an Indian attack.

You then went on a tangent and complained about India rather than discuss the latest incident in the Mohmand tribal agency.

I am more than willing to discuss the specific stories that Mr. Roggio provides us, but hopefully you should strive to do that also. Going on tangential discussions about the failings of India (from your POV) is not keeping on topic.

------------------------------------------------------

In regards to the fighting in the Mohmand Agency (FATA), it does show that the various peace deals -- treaties that Pakistan has struck with the militants in recent years have been dismal & costly failures.

From the story:

The Taliban has conducted complex operations against the Pakistani security forces in the tribal areas in 2007 and 2008.
The Taliban, under the command of Baitullah Mehsud, captured an entire company of regular Pakistani Army soldiers as well as took over several military outposts in South Waziristan in 2007. In 2008, Taliban forces overran several forts in South Waziristan, eventually forcing the Frontier Corps to abandon the region.

Taliban forces have conducted battalion-sized operations outside the tribal areas. In July 2008, a Taliban force laid siege to a police station and a fort in Hangu. The fort was abandoned by the Frontier Corps and the Taliban destroyed it. Operations of this scale have been reported in Swat and Shangla in 2008.

I think Hangu, Swat and Shangla are in the NWFP, so the severe problems and attacks were happening in and outside FATA even before the relocation of troops to the border with India.

Posted by Raven at January 13, 2009 11:53 AM ET:

Pakistan army and Taliban have a symbiotic relationship. They need each others strategic depth. In case any war with India, Pak army and Taliban will be one and the same fighting from the same trenches.

On the suggestion by Talpur to stay on the topic: Weren't you the one bringing up North-East Indian problems, Sri Lankan issues (and their kitchen sink!) to the mix. Follow what you like to preach, please.

Posted by David m at January 13, 2009 4:29 PM ET:

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 01/13/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

Posted by captainjohann at January 14, 2009 3:42 AM ET:

Is this attack due to the effort by Zardari government to open Khyber pass for ISAF supplies?While Musharaff was milking Americans by shadow boxing, i think Zardari is trying to do the right thing.But gillani is being propped up Musharaff's PML(Q),Army GHQ to fight Zardari.Atlast Army is fighting a war with a portion of pakistan Civilian leadership with another portion. Is it a good sign>?