US to expand ground ops in Pakistan?

According to The New York Times, US military leaders are pushing for the expansion of US ground operations against the Taliban based in Pakistan:

The proposal, described by American officials in Washington and Afghanistan, would escalate military activities inside Pakistan, where the movement of American forces has been largely prohibited because of fears of provoking a backlash.

The plan has not yet been approved, but military and political leaders say a renewed sense of urgency has taken hold, as the deadline approaches for the Obama administration to begin withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan. Even with the risks, military commanders say that using American Special Operations troops could bring an intelligence windfall, if militants were captured, brought back across the border into Afghanistan and interrogated.

But as we’ve noted numerous times before, cross-border ground operations and helicopter attacks by US military forces have been responded to quickly by the Pakistani military, which is fiercely opposed to such action. The last time such raids took place, in late September, the Khyber Pass border crossing was closed down and the Pakistani military green-lighted attacks by the Taliban against ISAF supply convoys moving in the northwest and Baluchistan, as well as just outside the cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

Also, note how touchy ISAF was in late November when rumors emerged that US helicopters had crossed into Pakistan. Clearly ISAF is concerned that the Pakistanis will again close the border.

The bottom line is that US special operations forces and Afghan counterparts (see the NYT article for more information on those) will not be able to operate in northwestern Pakistan without the approval of the Pakistanis, lest the vital supply lines that sustain forces in Afghanistan are shut down in protest.

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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  • Jack Daniels says:

    US personnel are going to go in. I think this is going to happen soon. US has already put in place it’s soldiers for the Afghan surge and Predators are killing dozens in Pakistan border sanctuaries every week, which goes to show there are so many militants just across the border in Pakistan.
    There are no two ways about this, unless US’ final goal is put it’s tail between it’s legs and give a final look back, before scooting the hell out of Afghanistan.
    All I can say to US is to stand firm with Pakistanis, they second best and next in line to the North Koreans, when to comes to extreme brinkmanship, but if US deals with it in ever increasing firmness, it will break and submit.

  • M. Muthuswamy says:

    The ISAF

  • DANNY says:

    So from what I read, US troops won’t be the ones going into Pakistan? They are Afghanistan troops guided and trained by Us military. Now that is smart! How can those Pakistani phony politicians complain. Hell It’s just a fair fight then, you reap what you sow. I hope Pakistan reaps ten fold what it has sown. I fully support American troops going into Pakistan, but this just might be just as good. Go Afghani special ops!

  • Dan A says:

    I think what’s probably going on is that after Holbrooke died the military is trying to push the boundaries of what they can do. This info was probably leaked to gauge the reaction of Pakistan.

  • JRP says:

    There should be no doubt that both the need to get our people into Pakistan and the planning for same have been long known and long ongoing. Probably the biggest deterrent to our Gov’t and our military actually going in up till now has not been the threat to supply convoys but the risk of being confronted by Pakistani Army regulars brought in to repel the “invasion”. I think the story went public to gauge American public & media reaction vice reaction from the Pakistani Gov’t. Our people have probably gotten a secret promise from the Pak Gov’t that, yes, there will be an outcry of outrage for consumption by the Pakistani public; and some attacks on the convoys, but, no, there won’t be any confrontations with the regular Pakistani Army and word will be passed to the frontier guards to stay out of the way.

  • zarin says:

    You American or ISAF have no other choice if you want success in Afghanistan. Kurram boarder is very important and there are several pockets on Pakistani side where terrorists are hiding and preparing for attacks. Pakistani agencies are supporting them and you can destroy them by cross boarder raids or joint operation with the tribes who are against taliban like Turis of Kurram

  • Leo the lip says:

    Frankly, I think the Europeans should unite, and along with the Canadians and Americans should invade Pakistan to wipe out those areas that support Usama Bin Laden. This will put an end to this terror network, and serve all nations that threaten modern civilized society.

  • Sean says:

    Those militias are a lot like the MIKE Force from Vietnam. Yes, they’re trained by our guys, but there’s still a US ground element attached to the group.
    Some serious leverage the administration can use is questioning Pakistan’s legitimacy of Kashmir, cutting the sale of US equipment to Pakistan, ultimately cutting US foreign aid to Pakistan. Special Ops raids in Pakistan should been happening at a much higher rate than they have been thus far.

  • Early Light says:

    Pakistan has a large, professional military, armed with nuclear weapons, defending one of the most populous countries on Earth. It is not the kind of nation we can just invade. Furthermore, many Pakistanis are far more threatened by the terrorism that Pakistan has played such a role in unleashing than we infidels are. If Pakistan were to harvest what Pakistan has planted, nuclear weapons would wind up in the hands of some very bad people. The critical campaign in this war is in the hearts and minds of a critical mass of Pakistanis; when they are ready to deal with militancy and terrorism, this war will move forward. But first, Pakistan’s elite must stop viewing the militants as a hedge for their bet against India, and instead view them as a threat common to all.

  • Will Doohan says:

    Instead of Predator strikes and cross border raids that risk our best soldiers (SOF’s) we should put Artillery pieces on the border and begin shelling North Waziristan and the other so-called “Federally Administered Tribal Areas”. This should be accompanied by a public announcement that ISAF will no longer consider these areas a legitimate part of Pakistan since the Federal government of Pakistan has no control there. Of course the Paks will howl in protest but isn’t long past due time that we told them we are tired of their lies?


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