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Our secret war in Pakistan

Discussion in 'Political Zone' started by Big Dakota, Oct 7, 2008.

  1. Big Dakota

    Big Dakota New Member

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    Our secret war in Pakistan

    Posted: Tuesday, October 07, 2008 8:29 AM
    Filed Under: Islamabad, Pakistan

    By Richard Engel, NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent

    [IMG] JALALABAD, Afghanistan – U.S. military officials don’t talk about our secret war in Pakistan. Don’t even ask, I was told, on U.S. military bases in Afghanistan at Bagram and Jalalabad.
    Don’t ask about the remotely-controlled American drones armed with missiles that are now hunting across the Pakistani border, searching through the mountain peaks, valleys and dusty villages inside Pakistan for the leaders of a few dozen networks of al-Qaida fighters, Taliban militants, warlords, weapons smugglers and opium traffickers.
    [IMG]VIDEO: Pakistan struggles to maintain power in a Taliban stronghold
    And certainly don’t ask about the troops on bases here in Afghanistan who don’t wear uniforms, have long beards (so they can better blend in during covert operations), tattoos and don’t mingle with regular soldiers.
    They eat in their own chow halls, plan their own missions and don’t talk much. They don’t talk at all to the media. They’re the men who have been called in to cross into Pakistan when the drones can’t get deep enough to find and kill their targets.
    They are elite Special Operations Forces, the most-highly trained and covert of the U.S. military. They are America’s ghost warriors. According to Pakistani villagers who claim to have witnessed their operations, the "Special Ops" work in small teams, fast roping out of helicopters, air assaulting their objective before the enemy can re-group.
    Their strengths are rapid violence, stealth, mobility and surprise. The Special Operations Forces don’t receive much attention or credit in the media, but they’re leading America’s secret war inside Pakistan, at least for now.
    The Army Times, a military newspaper, recently reported that the U.S. will temporarily halt ground incursions into Pakistan. The newspaper quoted an unnamed Pentagon official as saying, "We are now working with the Pakistanis to make sure that those types of ground-type insertions do not happen, at least for a period of time to give them an opportunity to do what they claim they are desiring to do." The newspaper said the halt did not apply to the incursions by drones.
    U.S. perspective
    While details of American operations in Pakistan are sparse, several commanders have helped me understand the American motivation for the raids.
    They say the cross-border incursions are necessary because the Pakistani government has failed to contain Taliban and al-Qaida fighters. Pakistan’s tribal region – 10,000 square miles along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan – has become a no-man’s-land where radical militants train, equip, rest, regroup, refit, plan and launch attacks on American troops in Afghanistan and on the Pakistani government in Islamabad.
    Pakistan has taken some action. In August, the Pakistani military launched an offensive in Bajaur, a militant stronghold near the border. The Pakistani army is also building alliances with tribal leaders who have turned on the Taliban and al-Qaida.
    But Pakistan’s actions have yet to produce significant results, according to tribal elders, witnesses, and the U.S. military. The border region remains a lawless insurgent safe haven that the United States has decided it can no longer tolerate.
    From the U.S. perspective, the military had to act in Pakistan, a U.S. ally, because the Pakistani government and military could not, or would not, crack down on Islamic radicals.
    Pakistan’s perspective
    Sipping cups of green tea in a villa in Islamabad, I recently spoke for three hours with a Pakistani military official, who also worked for several years in his country’s intelligence service, to get the other side of the story. He argued passionately that both Pakistan and the United States share the same goal – to wipe out the dangerous radicals – but that the U.S. cross-border incursions are counter-productive.
    The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, said Pakistan has deployed 120,000 troops along its border with Afghanistan, stationed at 1,000 posts. He compared Pakistan’s force to just over 30,000 U.S. troops at about 100 posts on the Afghan side of the border.
    "You see where the insufficiency of forces is?" he asked. "I don’t understand why [the Americans] don’t just kill the militants on their side of the border. They show us videos as proof of militants crossing into Pakistan. Why don’t they just sort them out there, in Afghanistan, instead of making videos?’"
    I asked the Pakistani official about the U.S. cross-border raids. Do they help? Don’t they target the same people who plot attacks against Pakistan? Unlike the U.S. military, he had a lot to say.
    The official claimed there have been about 50 drone incursions into Pakistan since this summer, along with roughly 10 "physical incursions." He claimed the raids had killed "several hundred" civilians and were causing panic in the tribal areas.
    "The villagers hear the buzzing [of the drones] and are terrified. They are scared to have weddings, funerals or any social gatherings, afraid they will be blown up by the drones," he said.
    The official also claimed the U.S. strikes undermine the Pakistani military’s ability to operate in the tribal areas. It’s a problem of logistics and terrain, he explained.
    The few roads in the mountainous border area run through villages. Since the Pakistani military lacks aircraft, the roads are the army’s main supply line. The official argued that if the villagers, angered by American air strikes, turn on the Pakistani military – who are after all U.S. allies – they could cut off Pakistani troops.
    "We may have to pull them out completely if [the American incursions] continue. We cannot leave the troops there, if we are cut off from supplies and can’t support them."
    Human toll
    While the United States and Pakistan argue over the incursions, conditions in border villages are rapidly deteriorating. The mountain town of Swat was once known as the Switzerland of Pakistan, a resort where Pakistanis vacationed to escape the bustle of Islamabad and Karachi. Today it is a battle zone.
    According to a Pakistani military spokesman, in Swat Valley Taliban and al-Qaida fighters have burned down 111 girls schools, destroyed 37 government buildings, blown up 29 bridges, incapacitated the main power plant and cut the gas supply. Villagers are often completely without power. Schools that haven’t been burned down don’t operate.
    Not surprisingly, more than a quarter million refugees have escaped areas like Swat and Bajour. At least 20,000 refugees have crossed into Afghanistan. Aid workers say tens of thousands more may be coming.
    What can be done?A senior U.S. military official told me he’d heard Pakistan’s argument – leave us alone, we’ll handle it, stay out – a thousand times, but had yet to see results.
    But what can the U.S. actually do?
    It’s difficult to fight a secret war, especially here. The Special Operations Forces must fight in the mountains, far away from their bases in Afghanistan, against a battle-hardened enemy funded by the opium trade.
    Since U.S. troops must operate covertly, they also can’t afford to lose a single man, fearing the enemy would drag his body Somalia-style through the streets, exposing their presence. The Americans also can’t leave anything behind, no equipment, no bags of MREs, no tracks, no trace they were there fighting America’s newest, most secret war.
    Both American and Pakistani officials seem to agree that the only long-term solution to combating the militants in the border region is through better coordination. For now, however, there’s little trust between the two sides, and suspicions are growing.
  2. ABQCOWBOY

    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

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    Since the days of the Russian/Afghan war, we have had covert opperational troops working in this area. It's an open secret.
  3. ZB9

    ZB9 New Member

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    some people have said the Pakistanis are on board with the recent military actions over the past few years but don't want to officially admit that so they can keep denying it for internal, political reasons.
  4. BrAinPaiNt

    BrAinPaiNt Brotherhood of the Beard Staff Member

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    Well I don't think any middle eastern country wants to be seen as a puppet government for the USA.
  5. ZB9

    ZB9 New Member

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    exactly
  6. Hostile

    Hostile Peace Zone Supporter

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    Good point.

    These things give me hope.
  7. ABQCOWBOY

    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

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    The truth is, they are playing both sides of the street. They are heavily involved in the Heroin trade, they use both Taliban and Al Queda in these opperations. The Pakistan Government has protected this trade for many years. They can say what they want but they are not Pro America in this deal because of the drug trade.
  8. ZB9

    ZB9 New Member

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    i bet your right about playin both sides

    there has been some coordination with them that has led to capture of some AQ members...not enough coordination though according to many

    continued diplomacy with that govt is crucial though obviously. The coalition needs as much cooperation with that government as possible. It would be interesting to be privy to that chess match
  9. Cajuncowboy

    Cajuncowboy Preacher From The Black Lagoon

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    If it's a secret why do you know about it?
  10. BrAinPaiNt

    BrAinPaiNt Brotherhood of the Beard Staff Member

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    You had to open your big mouth didn't you Lucy?!?!?!
  11. Cajuncowboy

    Cajuncowboy Preacher From The Black Lagoon

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    Well I can't count on people like the OP to come up with it.
  12. ABQCOWBOY

    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

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    Are you asking me?
  13. Cajuncowboy

    Cajuncowboy Preacher From The Black Lagoon

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    Nah, it was rhetorical.
  14. ABQCOWBOY

    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

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    :laugh2:

    Don't you mean, Rhe'torique?
  15. arglebargle

    arglebargle Well-Known Member

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    Warlords within the Northern Alliance, which we allied with, and helped support back to prominence, are the main heroin processors in the region. Ooops.
  16. ABQCOWBOY

    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

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    The Pakistani Government protected those Warlords, who were actually Taliban and more specically Al Queda, for years. This is how we sponsored the War effort against the Russians. When the War ended, those dollars went elsewhere but the roles did not change.
  17. arglebargle

    arglebargle Well-Known Member

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    Those Warlords included Tajiks, Persians, Uzbeks, etc.... Not exactly Taliban.

    No disagreement that elements within the Pakistani government support the drug trade, etc. Too much money in it. But so did the banks, for many years. We were all to happy to overlook it when it served our purposes.

    The Pakistanis have played on both sides for decades. They must, after all, look after their own interests, and not blindly follow our dictates. They have been very useful for US interests and very troublesome.....
  18. ABQCOWBOY

    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

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    Taliban is and was responsible for the actual overland shipment of raw materials into processing plants on the Pakistani boarders. These Warloards basically contribute to Taliban and Al Queda alike for some years. I understand the relationship between Pakistan and the US but I would stop short of calling them useful. At times, they have provide assitance but in the end, they are too heavily allied with the Drug Trade and will eventually betray us. It's happened too many times.

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