Pakistani Army launches operation in Hangu; Taliban issue ultimatum

Red agencies/ districts controlled by the Taliban; purple is de facto control; yellow is under threat.

The Pakistani Army has launched a military operation against the Taliban in the settled district of Hangu in the Northwest Frontier Province.

The military took over security in Hangu from the Frontier Corps on July 16 after imposing a curfew and warning the residents to leave the area and not to shelter the Taliban. “People who fail to move to relief camps will be considered to be anti-government,” a pamphlet distributed by the district administration warned.

The Army moved more than 1,500 infantry into the region. The force is backed by Cobra attack helicopters and artillery. The target of the operation are more than 4,000 Taliban, “along with Uzbeks and Taliban from Waziristan” operating in the Zargari and Shinawari regions in Hangu. Troops have blocked the Kohat-Parachinar road to limits Taliban movement in the district, and have “secured the Naryab dam where militants were deeply entrenched and putting up stiff resistance for five days.” The military reported the Taliban withdrew from Zargari and Shinawari, and the fighting has stopped.

There are no reports of Army or Taliban casualties. Five suspected Taliban were reported captured, but were later released. Civilians appear to have taken the brunt of the casualties, with 13 reported killed and homes leveled by artillery fire.

The Taliban have responded by issuing an ultimatum to the provincial government, warning it would attack if the operations against Taliabn forces did not cease and the government did not live up to the terms of the peace agreements signed throughout the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province. “[The Northwest Frontier Province] government will itself be responsible for the damage,” Mullah Omar, the spokesman for Baitullah’s Pakistani Taliban movement told Geo TV. “{The Awami National Party] government made peace pacts but failed to fulfill its promises,”

The operation in Hangu began after a week of unrelenting attacks by Taliban forces in the region. On July 8, a police force detained seven Taliban fighters after a clash in Hangu. Security forces found weapons and explosives as well as “poisonous injections.” Rafiuddin, a senior Taliban leader and a deputy of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, was captured during the raid. Rafiuddin’s group is based out of South Waziristan, which borders Hangu to the south.

The Taliban then launched a siege on the police station where Rafiuddin and the other fighters were held. A force comprised of 400 Taliban fighters surrounded the police station, but dispersed after a Pakistani Army battalion was dispatched to lift the siege.

On July 15, an estimated 250 Taliban surrounded a fort in the Shinawarai region and ordered the paramilitary troops to leave. The Frontier Corps paramilitary toops abandoned the fort, and it subsequently looted and destroyed by the Taliban. The Taliban are said to have captured 29 members of the Pakistani security forces during the past week, and threatened to kill them if extremists in custody were not released.

The security situation in northwestern Pakistan has rapidly deteriorated since the government initiated its latest round of peace accords with the Taliban and allied extremists in the tribal areas and settled districts in the Northwest Frontier Province. Peace agreements have been signed with the Taliban in North Waziristan, Swat, Dir, Bajaur, Malakand, Mohmand, and Khyber. Negotiations are under way in South Waziristan, Kohat, and Mardan. The Taliban have violated the terms of these agreements in every region where accords have been signed.

The Taliban, al Qaeda, and allied terrorist groups have established more than 100 terror camps in the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province, US intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Alex says:

    Cobras and artillery, eh? Sounds like this time the Pakistani gov’t might be taking things more seriously.
    I’ll have to see it to believe it though.

  • Libertarian says:

    Is there verification of this operation by indpendent sources? Does the Pakistani Military permit reliable reporters to witness its operations? How can we judge whether this is a real operation or just a fabrication to respond to US pressure?

  • Gigantor says:

    The fact is we can’t verify it. This might be all show and no go like many of the previous operations, I mean you have to figure they know that Biden and Co. want to shower the Pakistani govt with 15 billion dollars in aide and this might be a little something to string them along. And lets face it, they have had many operations that started with “Pakistani military begins operation against Taliban” only to have it stop in 2 days and then completely capitulate to the Taliban.
    I guess I will have to see it to believe it.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Just look at how many casualties the Taliban have taken.
    The answer is zero.
    I am sure tanks are moving and helos are circling, and shells are falling. The Pakistani papers are doing their jobs. I do question the effectiveness of said operation. Its a Khyberesque offensive.

  • Gigantor says:

    Bingo. We have to face the facts, the Pakistani govt will make no serious attempts to stop the Taliban/ AG from training, equipping, and launching strikes from the tribal regions. To much corruption, to much infiltration and to much sympathy and outright allegiance from not only the people but also the govt.
    Outside of a major NATO (fat chance) independent US operation (land, air or both), the dynamic will not change.

  • Libertarian says:

    What is the Pakistani end game here? Does the Pakistani Military want the Taliban/AQ to, in fact, take over large parts of Pakistan, of course ,extinguish the NATO supply route, then attemp a conquest of
    Afghanistan and an inevitable war with India? I do not understand the strategic objective…..or are the Pakistanis going the way of the Saudis i.e sponsor the terrorists until the terrorists threaten the ruling elites and then and only then confront and defeat AQ? could someone explain the strategic logic behind the obvious Pakistani Military/Taliban/AQ alliance? Who controls whom in the end?

  • don juice says:

    either they lying or not gonna arrest or kill taliban militants but instead they will arrest of criminals and wrap up the operation and tell us they making progress.

  • C. Jordan says:

    Either way, action is picking up. Good or bad the fight is becoming more engaging for AQI.
    They must be focused on like a laser beam. We’ve got them on their heels, time to make a push.

  • KW64 says:

    Sounds like more Kubuki dancing again. When the Taliban gets outrageous, the army makes a demonstration but no more. Last time the army said they cleared a town near Peshawar during their previous short lived “offensive”, but the people in the town called reporters and said the Taliban were still there. This time the army orders the civilians out. No casualties reported but no witnesses to say what went on.
    I spoke with a Pakistani this week who feels the government is too divided within itself to take decisive action and Gilani lacks real authority. For now, it seems we just have to secure the border as best we can.

  • cjr says:

    The strategy(or lack thereof) is probably the same as it has been for hundreds of years. The Mountain areas have alway been the poor region where, on a regular basis, the mountain people come down from the mountains to raid and loot the richer lowlands. The script is always the same:
    Act 1: Lowland’s ineffective military response due to corrupt government.
    Act 2: Lowland’s attempts to deals and appeasment. “If you go back to the Mountains and leave us alone, we will pay you”
    Act 3: Mountain people take the raiding and looting too far. They tick off enough of the lowland that they finally get their act together and fight back effectively. They drive the mountain people back into the mountains(they are the rich and ultimately have more resources to win the fight) but they dont stay and occupy the mountain area because, well its just poor. Cost too much to maintain a permanent garrison.
    Act 4: Mountain people retreat back into the mountains. For some years they nurse their wounds and recover and then…..
    Act 1: The next cycle begins all over again.
    So where are we today?
    Act 1 was Musharaf’s miltary activities from 2002 to 2006. Act 2 started in 2007 when the first deal was made in Waziristan. So today we are in the early part of Act 2. No idea when we might get to Act 3.
    PS: The new actor in this time around is AQ who is actually paying the mountain people raid and loot. For the mountain people, its a great deal. Double the profit for playing the same role. In the end this will make Act 3 much more bloody than historically.

  • C-Low says:

    Pakistan has US by the short hairs. We cannot get too belligerent with them or we lose our supply lines. We cannot put enough boots on the ground to even threaten Warizistan without a secure supply line. Simply we are FUBAR in a never ending holding action, unless we can find a solution to the supply route.
    North the Stans are air routes (not adequate), Iran Baluchistan Provenance (Not going to happen unless a full scale ground invasion which will take up the forces needed anyway), India (very rough mountain route through hostile territory Kashmir), so this leaves US with Pakistan and back to the beginning.
    Afghanistan was AQ’s choice of battlefield and it was a good choice. They had a safe haven rear Warizistan that the Paki regulars could not conquer by themselves and at the sometime could not sign off on US or NATO direct action. The gen pops in both Afghanistan and Warizistan are illiterate, never-been-westernized, tribals that never left the 5th century, literally (the gen pop will not get ticked at AQ’s ways they never stopped living em).
    I think our best bet would be a slow step up against/into Warizistan. In the process hope that a) Paki gov can keep from being toppled and b) AQ/Taliban go and do something stupid and overreach like making a major move on the Paki gov troops or terrorism campaign in E Pakistan pop centers i.e. Iraq.
    The problem is unless we can goad Pakistan into either going partners (supply route) or doing it themselves we are stuck in a holding action. This holding action is in a nation with near 0 resources to tap to pay for a military strong enough to defend itself without never ending foreign underwriting.
    No good or easy options and they all are long VERY long term.

  • sha says:

    Operation is the only solution but there are certain problems with pakistani government.
    Major coalition partners like party of nawaz sharif and JUI of fazlur rahman are against. why?
    Nawaz himself and most of his senior party mates were brought to politicas and grown up under the bigoted umbrella of the father of this so called jihad late military ruler of pakistan Gen zia and. Though he is clever by oftenly changing his politiical tactics but overall he is one of them.
    JUI chief is the head of main stream and all mullahs active in the shape of talibans in various areas are the students of madrassas (seminaries) working under him.
    PPP of zardari has no policy and they even don”t know how to address the issue. His strong man Rahman malik is totally ignorent and he has never seen the area called FATA.He was security chief of Benazir Bhutto but failed to secure her,now how one can consider him suitable to save pakistan from terrorists.
    Parviz musharaf became ineffecive due to sham democracy slogen and now he is not in position to pick up stick and his successor is worried that his fate will also become like parviz, if climbed in politics.
    Now some thing about the ongoing operation, they did the same in BARA KHYBER AGENCY but now Ican tell this being a native that the area is once again in mangal bagh”s hands and that his men are buisy in reconstruction of demolished centers. What will be the end result of this on going operation, one can predict easily.
    I will conclude with the note that pakistani government is completely failed and coalition forces must sort out stretegy to act themselves in FATA on priority bases other wise the situatio will become worse than pre 9/11.

  • Libertarian says:

    If your theory is correct then why not let the mountain savages ocupy and pillage the lowlands? surely it will be easier to combat them away from their mountain fortresses when they occupy lowland villages and towns and must fret about their supply lines and flanks and are far more vulnerable to air and artillery power and to the decapitation of their most talented commanders by our special forces?and also more exposed to the vengance of the brutalized lowlanders? why fight them on their terms?

  • TS Alfabet says:

    Here is what seems to be the salient points we face right now:
    1. AQAM needs established bases to train, equip and plan.
    2. U.S. has the means of locating and eliminating AQAM bases, but the political situation is not yet there to unleash those means and wipe out bases wholesale. (Unknown at this time whether we can pinpoint specific bases that pose the gravest threats and eliminate them piecemeal).
    3. With Iraq all but won and forces drawing down steadily there, an increasing number of troops and resources will become available to A-stan, so AQAM faces a rising tide of U.S. power on its doorstep. AQAM is under pressure to *do* something sooner than later, and their style tends toward something dramatic.
    4. AQ’s past operations indicate that they require long periods of time to grow and execute devastating plans like 9/11, so anything U.S. can do to rush them or force them into action prematurely is good.
    5. As others have noted, AQAM seems bent on consolidating their grip in the tribal areas and using that as a base of operations to seize control of Pakistan. The logic seems to be that once AQAM’s control over the tribal areas is deemed irreversible in the minds of the Pakistan govt (and people), this mindset will result in a collapse in confidence and a feeling among Pakistanis that Taliban control of the country is inevitable. AQAM is playing games with A-stan now, using it as a training ground for its fighters and commanders and putting in the resources deemed necessary to keep the U.S. and Afghan govt off-balance, but concentrating on the real prize which is Pakistan with its nuclear arsenal. It is a dream come true for AQ; who would have thought that the Pak govt would prove to be so weak and ineffective?
    6. The ultimate question is whether AQAM can find a way to seize power and control the nukes before the U.S. can find the political will to wipe out AQ’s bases and safe havens. The safe bet for AQAM would be a continuation of its erosion of the Pak govt, but if the erosion does not occur fast enough the U.S. will eventually find a way to eliminate the AQAM bases, perhaps by finding tribal allies in P-stan that would be willing to fight against AQAM in exchange for U.S. miitary and financial backing.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    So we should throw the people we are supposed to be protecting to the wolves and then expect them to back US?
    Get real. Those lowlanders are not expendables. Their support for one side or the other is the battlefield. And you do not win COIN battles by destroying that which you are supposed to be protecting…

  • Libertarian says:

    Despite the excellents posts here I continue to be puzzled about the aims of the Taliban/AQ/Pak. Intelligence(TAPI) alliance….How will they actually occupy the major economic and population centers of Pakistan? even if they succed in occupying Pakistan how will they hold control given the widespread food and energy riots that will occur all over Pakistan as the economy collapses, trade diminishes greatly,talent and capital flee the country , energy imports cease etc?or is the objective to have a large safe haven where tens of thousands of terrorists can be trained to attack the world and also sieze Pak. nuclear weapons, missiles and technicians? i still do not see the strategic path to success for this TAPI alliance…

  • Liberterian says:

    DJ ELLIOT, I was responding to CJR’s theory, not advancing a policy prescription. IF the theory is true, then the sooner we get to Act 3 the better because it is in Act 3 that the lowlanders switch sides or stop appeasing/aiding the terrorists(the Sunni Iraq and the Sadr City experiences); no one can protect a people who do not have the desire or the will to be free. I do not know where the lowlanders stand…are they in the appeasement stage(as America was before 9/11) or are they willing to fight in their own defence?If the former, it is premature for us to act on their behalf; if the latter, then we have no moral choice but to increase our presence, in all forms, over there; maybe you have the necessary insight which, i agree, i lack

  • cjr says:

    That is exactly what happened and is currently happening in Afghanistan. In the late 90’s, the Mountain people (aka Taliban) can out of the mountains to occupy Afghanistan. They were then vulnerable, which is why they were so easy to push out in 2001. At the same time they also angered most Afghanis which is why most Afghanis support our presents today. In other words we are in Act 3 today in Afghanistan.
    As for Pakistan, I dont think there is much we can do one way or another, either to hasten or to retart the progress to Act 3. Pakistan is a big country and since they are still in Act 2, they are not currently much interested in our help.
    So what we have to do today is everything we can to prepare for Act 3. AND THAT INCLUDES DOING NOTHING THAT WILL MAKE US PERSONNA NON GRATA WHEN ACT 3 FINALLY ARRIVES. Act 2 is just going to have to run its course and we have to make sure that we stay friends until Act 3 arrives. Crappy situation, but there it is.

  • TS Alfabet says:

    Libetarian said:
    “Despite the excellents posts here I continue to be puzzled about the aims of the Taliban/AQ/Pak. Intelligence(TAPI) alliance….How will they actually occupy the major economic and population centers of Pakistan? even if they succed in occupying Pakistan how will they hold control given the widespread food and energy riots that will occur all over Pakistan as the economy collapses, trade diminishes greatly,talent and capital flee the country , energy imports cease etc?or is the objective to have a large safe haven where tens of thousands of terrorists can be trained to attack the world and also sieze Pak. nuclear weapons, missiles and technicians? i still do not see the strategic path to success for this TAPI alliance…”
    AQAM will do this the same way that the Taliban did it in Afghanistan, that the Bolsheviks did it in 1917, that Fidel did in Cuba, that Mao did in China… at the barrel of a gun.
    One of the primary lessons learned from 20th Century dictators and fascists is that they did not need to run everything and be everywhere; that is physically impossible. Instead, the fascist must make the population FEAR that it is everywhere and that resistance to the regime is either futile or far too costly to attempt. Human nature is such that a certain part of the population will fall right in line with AQAM if they perceive them to be gaining the upper hand and even participate eagerly (i.e. Nazi Germany). Another, perhaps largest part of the populace will mentally resist but do nothing and get along as best that they can out of fear or ignorance. A very small part will actually resist, but history is replete with regimes who can repress its people for long periods of time.
    Think of the AQAM strategy as a python: they will endeavor to squeeze more and more of the population into submission by making demands for “reform” and insisting on Sharia law everywhere they can get away with it. All the while they build their strength and numbers and assassinate anyone who actively resists. By the time Pakistanis wake up to the loss of their freedoms, it will likely be too late. Hopefully the U.S. will be able to find some brave Pakistanis who will work with us to save their country from a long, dark nightmare. Perhaps India plays a part as well, as noxious as that would be to Pakistanis.

  • Libertarian says:

    TSAlfabet: your historical analysis is correct but there is a significant difference amongst the 20th century examples you used and Pakistan today. Russia/Soviet Union had the landmass and natural resources to decouple itself from the West and be almost entirely self sufficient and the enslaved populations had no acess at all to outside information. Mao succedded because the Soviet Union provided tremendous support and China aslso had the enormous land mass and natural resource base to decouple itself from the West and couple itself economically to the soviets. Cuba was practically a wholly owned subsidiary of the Soviet Union.Today it is kept alive by Venezuela.Afghanistan was never economically integrated with the West or the Soviet Union or China but was coupled with Pakistan. Pakistani support made the Taliban conquest of Afghanistan possible and provided substantial ongoing assistance.
    Pakistan, however, is much more integrated into and dependant on the global economy and the Net; tens of millions of literate Pakistanis have good acess to external information.
    Who will be Pakistan’s patron once TAPI takes over? Pakistan does not have the landmass or natural resource base to decouple itself from the global economy without mass deprivation. It cannot be supplied via land and its ports are vulnerable to the Indian Navy;its communication and energy infrastructure can be crippled via sabotage both from internal resistance and outside agents;. its air links will be severed. Without massive external support an Islamic Fascist takeover cannot endure. Is China going to be the patron? Why?What can it possibly gain? Is Iran? Iran does not have the tens of billions of dollars per year needed to finance an ongoing occupation of Pakistan by TAPI. Iran’s economy is quite small.
    i thank you for taking the time to respond but I still do not see the path……maybe others see it more clearly.

  • Chris says:

    Ok, let me get this straight….
    Taliban signs treaties with the Pakistanis in the western regions and breaks EVERY one of them. Pakistan moves troops into the AO and the Taliban whines because it breaks the treaty.
    Treaty? Treaty? We don’t need no stinkin’ treaty.
    How can anyone sign a treaty with the Taliban and expect anything but violence? Liars are liars. The Pakis will have to kill them all.

  • t-bone says:

    It seems that the Taliban/AQ/Islamic Terrorists have established an area where they can operate freely. The kill their opponents by accusing them of being “spies” or “apostates” as their justification. They “brainwash” the population through their education programs set up in Madrassahs. They will continue to build on that model and recruit “fighters/murderers” from the local populace and from around the world.
    They don’t seem to mind that 50 “fighter/murderers” get killed in engagements with Coalition forces while the Coalition loses 1 soldier. They will have more people to throw into the fight and death for a great cause is better than life itself.
    They do have to worry about some things like spreading themselves to thin but they seem to have plenty of resources to keep the fight going. They do it on the cheap so to speak. They also do a lot of Saber Rattling such as “issuing ultimatums”, stating all tribesmen will fight the invader if the US invades the tribal areas etc.
    I would like to see us accelerate the process of putting them on notice that we will not accept THEIR aggression in Afghanistan. If they want to do that in Pakistan, I guess I would go along with the Pakistanis government and let Pakistan deal with it, for now. ( I think Pak is making a big mistake doing that but can live with it for a while ). They need to stay out of other peoples villages just like they expect others to stay out of theirs.
    Assuming the tribals in FATA etc have some common sense not ravaged by their idealology, they should understand that their neighbors will not allow them to incessantly attack them. There will be a price to pay. Putting them on notice that the time will come if the do not desist on attacking another country, then the payback will come. This has to be done in the manner of, we do not attack you but will respond where you live if you attack us.
    This would hopefully also be done by the “International” Community and not just the US. This also requires a lot of communication (better than killing) and PR work. They may think it cool or a duty or a response to our aggression that they fight for, but they may also find that it will be expensive for them to continue excursions into Afghanistan. They need to understand they are in the wrong, not us. This will take a lot of work but since I believe that we are in the right and they are wrong, we just need to convince them of the truth.
    I am proposing a massive counter brainwash communications blitz that puts them on notice that what they are doing is wrong. They would not accept others doing it to them and should expect payback if they do it to others. I am appealing to their common sense and humanity (if they have any and I presume they do). The context has to be in the customs & religion of the area.
    The end game is that they will begin to actually pay the price for their actions. For this action, there will be this reaction. The International community has to be behind us on this also. Right now, I think the tribals believe they are in the right on this fight and the World hates the Imperial US. We need to turn that around and at the same time protect the Border area as best as possible while the Public Relations ramps up. We are losing this battle on the PR front and that is our biggest weakness. AQ/Taliban are exploiting that for maximum gain. We need to work diligently to reverse that while letting people know WE do not want to kill, they are the ones living the life of violence and death. They have a choice to make. They can make the wrong choice and many more will suffer or they can make the right choice and bring peace to their land. Speak the truth repeatedly and make sure they hear it. Then back it up with our courageous military. I know the devil is in the details and maybe we are already doing this. I just do not see this conceptual plan being worked out in Afghanistan. I just see more violence, destruction, and death on a large scale.
    Or, we just give them $100 billion and tell them we are sorry.

  • bard207 says:

    Until Pakistan switches to a Clear and Hold strategy, then no real progress will be made in changing the dynamics in the Border areas.
    After reading quite a few news stories about the current operations, I haven’t found any mention of a Clear and Hold strategy by the Pakistani Army.
    I realize that the Pakistani Army is squeamish about COIN, but doing a sweep with a large & obvious footprint and then going back to the safety of their base isn’t even an attempt to try. There have been suggestions that the local population will eventually tire of the harsh regime of the militants and rise up against them, but that won’t happen until the Pakistani Army shows that they are in the trenches with them.
    No sign of that being close to happening at the moment.

  • Icon says:

    On t-bone’s point, AQ is always reliable.
    During a statement that aired in September 2007 Abu Yahya al-Libi, a prominent al-Qaeda recruiter, provided six ways to wage ideological warfare: highlight the views of jihadists who renounce violence; publicise stories about jihadist atrocities against Muslims; enlist Muslim religious leaders to denounce jihadists as heretics; back Islamic movements that emphasize politics over jihad; discredit and neutralize jihadist ideologues; and play up personal or doctrinal disputes among jihadists.
    This is a beginning. I would like to see any educational leaders in the West begin this path. I am not holding my breath though.

  • MB77 says:

    I don’t think AQAM’s goal is to control the Pakistani state at this point. In my mind, their immediate strategy involves a safe-haven to train, recruit and plan attacks. The next step is to threaten NATO’s supply line to Afghanistan enough to undermine their efforts there. If they can cause enough pressure on the supply line, they can eventually force the US into a confrontation with Pakistan or to abandon Afghanistan. Once Afghanistan is abandoned, they can take over there again and be funded off the massive heroin trade. With regard to the Pakistani nukes, they’re better off getting one through corruption on the black market as the technology contiues to proliferate in the region. Besides, even if their goal were to control Pakistan, I don’t think they’re the type of people to be concerned with the living standard of their people. If everyone starves it won’t matter to them. (see Mugabe.)

  • cjr says:

    Clear and hold is not an option. Pakistani army currently doesnt anywhere near the resouces(troops or money or equipment or training) to clear and hold NWFP.
    Compare NWFT to what it took to clear and hold Iraq
    Iraq without Kurdistan= 24m
    Iraq secutity forces = 560,000
    Iraq miltary budget >$20b
    US forces= ~170,000
    US Military budget in Iraq $150b
    For NWFP = 21 m
    Pakistani army deployed by Musharif to NWFP=80,000.
    Largest possible deployment (remember that most of the army is tied down facing India)….probably less than 150,000
    Pakistani army budget = ~$5b

  • bard207 says:

    Unfortunately, Pakistan still views India on the Eastern border as their most serious problem with the loss of the Sphere of Influence in Afghanistan behind that. The destablization within the country caused by the militants falls behind the first two Issues from a Pakistani POV.
    In regards to training and manpower, the option is there for the Army to dispatch smaller units (platoon sized?) to be integrated with the weaker paramilitary units such as the Frontier Corps. The soldiers would still be getting paid and it would be an attempt to do something constructive rather than for them to sit in the barracks when not on one of these Sweeps. I agree that the 140,000 – 150,000 troops maximum isn’t enough to cover the entire area that is in crisis, but at least Pakistan could try to reclaim some fraction of it. Granted, the FC tend to have a Local composition that the regular
    Army doesn’t have, but the FC seems to be in fear of the militants because of that same Local aspect.
    The recent surrender & looting of a Frontier Corps facility was disappointing. Would a detachment of an Army platoon alongside the FC troops prevented that? Maybe yes and maybe not. At least it would be an attempt to do something different because the current philosophy and methods aren’t working. I haven’t seen any indication of a QRF to go to the aid of FC and others that are overmatched by a surprise attack by militants. Perhaps the knowledge by FC troops that there won’t be a QRF to come to their aid is a key reason why surrender is often chosen rather than putting up a fight against attacking militants.
    What I mentioned above isn’t a Clear and Hold as we have in Iraq, but it is something more than what Pakistan currently does and would still be doable under current budgetary & manpower limits. Alas, until the Pakistani Army puts their hearts into fighting the militants, things will continue along the current path.

  • Ray says:

    >India (very rough mountain route through hostile territory Kashmir
    The Indians have done a great job in reducing terrorism in Kashmir. It would be an excellent plan B to upgrade the roads in that area, in case the supply lines in Pakistan are cut.
    I suggest President Karzai should go visit India, and actually make noises about inviting Indian troops to Afghanistan. May be actually get some troops. This would hopefully get Pakistan’s attention and send the message either fix the border issues, or have Indian troops on both sides.

  • NS says:

    This has been such an active thread and every one seems to have a lot of thoughtful ideas. Unfortunately much of the onus rests on the tribals. and this is where things look hopeless.
    What i hope every one understands is that the Taliban and the tribals both share the same ethincity, culture and language – they have more in common than just a fundamentalist religion.
    The tribals have given refuge to the Taliban because they dont see them as enemies – they most certainly are not going to rat out on them and that too to a country that they perceive as a Christian Crusading nation.
    There was some one on this thread asking what was the Pakistan Govt’s ultimate strategy is – well they want the US forces to tire out and leave. After which time, the Taliban can regain control of Afghanistan and Pakistan can retain its sphere of influence so that it can use it against India.
    This is more a test of will – how much patience can the US exhibit in playing defense only military strategy ? COIN operations in the NWFP in my view is nothing short of fantasy.

  • bard207 says:

    The trick for Pakistan in regaining the Sphere of Influence in Afghanistan is being able to check – control the Taliban once that is accomplished. If the Pathan – Pushtun decide they want to create their own country incorporating part of Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Indus River, that will be more than the Pakistan State bargained for. With unrest already present in other parts of Pakistan, they don’t need to have a chuck of territory slip completely out of whatever nominal control that they have left.
    Based on the governmental floundering and fractured leadership in Pakistan, I have my doubts
    that they will be able to control the militants if the Sphere of Influence in Afghanistan is regained.

  • C-Low says:

    “I suggest President Karzai should go visit India, and actually make noises about inviting Indian troops to Afghanistan”
    Fear of that possibility is probably what spurned the suicide attack on the Indian embassy a week or so ago.
    Iraq secutity forces = 560,000
    Iraq miltary budget >$20b
    Wow I did not realize that. Is that true that Iraq is spending 20billion a year on their military?
    If Iraq can hold that level and not go stupid (anti-US) in the next 5-10 years they are going to be a real regional power house matched only by Turkey/Israel. I expected them to be a power house but wow. That would put them in a category with India, Canada, Australia, and above Turkey/Israel (which would hold edge for sheer depth of experience).
    Makes one hell of a comparison with Afghanistan which I doubt has a GDP of 20 billion (well if you subtract the black market drugs).


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