Friday, October 12, 2007

Waziristan Again

Bill Roggio continues to follow events in Pakistan.

The Taliban takeover of the Northwest Frontier Province continues virtually unopposed. In North Waziristan, the Pakistani government is suing for peace after five days of fighting that resulted in at least 50 soldiers killed; unofficial estimates are over 100). In South Waziristan, the Taliban are showing off a captured military base, parading captured soldiers in front of the media, and bragging about beheadings. In the settled district of Swat, the local Taliban are conducting public floggings while the bomb religious statues. In Mohmand, the Taliban are conducting public beheadings.

Suppose for the sake of argument, the US were to transfer every troop, every private security contractor and every piece of equipment to Afghanistan to watch developments in Pakistan from the other side of the border? What would be the single most valuable asset they possess? And what would be the single greatest thing they would lack?

Their greatest single asset would be experience as embodied in the personnel sent there. Someone once explained that air forces are not about airplanes. They are about the human expertise behind the flying assets. That's true across the board. What men being transferred across theaters would bring is competence born of actual experience.

But what would be the single greatest thing they would lack? Experience in Afghanistan. Language capability, human networks, local knowledge, a million little things. All the experience peculiar to Iraq will be left behind in the withdrawal. A dead loss. Thrown away after having been acquired at such great cost. And new knowledge would have to be acquired at a new cost. But running close second in the sweepstakes for "greatest liability" would be the lack of strategic consensus in Washington DC to guide actions in Afghanistan. Time will remedy the first shortcoming. But will anything remedy the second?


Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

This whole business, from an objective standpoint, makes no sense. The Paks have over 1 million men under arms. They have an air force, rockets, and all kinds of weapons. The Grozny model would seem to apply here. Why would the Pak military allow themselves to be humiliated by a bunch of rag-tag militants that they could snuff out from a distance?

Is Mushy sympathetic to AQ? Hard to believe.

Is his military so infiltrated with jihadi sympathizers that he can't count on them to fight against AQ and the Taliban in Waziristan? Who knows?

There are certainly many islamists in his country and it is difficult for him to act against their wishes, from a political standpoint, but if they attack the Pak military it would seem that counter-attack would be normal. It's not as if any reporters will be embedded.

10/12/2007 09:10:00 PM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

Is his military so infiltrated with jihadi sympathizers that he can't count on them to fight against AQ and the Taliban in Waziristan?


The Taliban are almost all Pashtuns. Pashtuns are disproportionately represented in the Army. They were designated a martial race by the British and heavily recruited. The Paks continued that tradition.

10/12/2007 10:11:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Utopia, this post at Threatswatch is a very thorough description of the insurgency, thier goals, and the forces loyal to Musharraf.

Understanding Al-Qaeda's Pakistan PSYOP and Insurgency
The Troubling Effectiveness of al-Qaeda's PSYOP On The Pakistani Army

AQ Targets Police for Violence and Army Soldiers for Influence

The al-Qaeda Information Operation (IO) is designed to support the insurgency’s incremental march on Islamabad.
It’s not that al-Qaeda and their indigenous Taliban allies cannot attack the Pakistani Army with expectations of success. They most certainly can and have.

First, the Interior Ministry is widely regarded as the one segment of the Pakistani government with unwavering loyalty to Musharraf, whom al-Qaeda has sought to assassinate several times.

Unlike the military and the military’s intelligence arm (ISI), the Pakistani police forces, constabularies and Frontier Corps of the Interior Ministry do not have historical ties to Islamist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Interior Ministry loyalty to Musharraf makes their ranks logical targets for the Islamists who seek to kill and replace Musharraf atop an Islamist-run Pakistani government.

Secondly, and most importantly, al-Qaeda at the same time seeks to avoid open bloody conflict with the Army. Not because it fears the deadly consequences of such a confrontation, but rather because al-Qaeda senior leadership wants the Pakistani military intact – for themselves. Ideally, they do not want to ultimately find Musharraf killed or oustered only to have the military splintered internally between pro-government and pro-al-Qaeda commanders. Al-Qaeda is executing an insurgency to gain control, not to touch off a civil war.

In the end, al-Qaeda’s design is also to co-opt an intact military in order to gain command of a military force with the assets of a state (aircraft, armor, etc.) and direct control of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. Recent reports of defections of Pakistani military elements since bin Laden’s latest message to them indicates a level of success in the al-Qaeda IO campaign targeting them.

10/12/2007 10:29:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Sorry! I missed the rest of the post.
Thought it was a quiz!

10/12/2007 10:51:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...


Since Tora Bora, on a steady track.

The Taliban went into sanctuary, in the hills of their sponsors.

The US has maintained a very limited presence Afghanistan, even less so in Pakistan.

They'd lack Offensive Mission Orders into Pakistan

Containment would become the objective. Denial to the Pakistani of their "Strategic Depth".

10/13/2007 12:32:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Let me see I have this right; if we withdraw from Iraq that will be bad because we will lose all the knowledge built up there. But on the other hand, if we don’t withdraw from Iraq we will never be able to reuse the knowledge built up there anywhere else since there will be a need for it in Iraq.

Am I missing something here?

If the goal is to reuse the knowledge acquired in Iraq is it not necessary to first withdraw so that those soldiers will be freed up for other theatres? Now obviously the knowledge acquired in Iraq will have a certain shelf life, it will not be eternal, but it hardly likely to instantaneously combust the second a soldier hits his transport plane. Again, correct me if I am wrong here, but it sure seems that if reuse of this knowledge is the goal then at least a partial withdrawal is a precondition to being able to profit from this knowledge.

10/13/2007 03:23:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

If one of our soldiers holds onto that knowledge eternally, we can quit worrying about the 12th Imam and a number of other concerns!

10/13/2007 04:36:00 AM  
Blogger Marzouq the Redneck Muslim said...

Some USMC assets are rumored to be redeployed to Afghanistan. They are considered to be more flexible than US Army. It is possible Iran is a red herring and we pound the bases in N&S Waziristan.

Meanwhile Muslim scholars submitted a manifesto to the religious leaders of the West yesterday. It is a very interesting read and it seems they appeal to a common denominator among Muslims and Christians.

The blogosphere is skeptical so far but I see a hopeful sign. The them is similar to what I had posted on my blog before taking it down, conciliation between the sons of Abraham and competition in good works instead of contention.

I hope a dialogue between Christian religious leaders and their Muslim counterparts does come to pass.

Salaam eleikum Y'all!

10/13/2007 06:29:00 AM  
Blogger Marzouq the Redneck Muslim said...

OOPS. Link to manifesto and commentary can be found on Melanie Phillips blog.



10/13/2007 06:32:00 AM  
Blogger Elijah said...

If the Taliban were eliminated from Waziristan, why would there need to be a U.S./NATO presence in Afghanistan?

10/13/2007 06:55:00 AM  
Blogger Alison said...

I appreciate Roggio's analysis as he has street cred in the War on Islamo-fascism. One 800 pound gorilla in the room isn't contemplated though. If Pakistan begins to go into major meltdown mode and the million man army and the nukes fall into the hands of the bandits of Kashmir, what will India do? For that matter what will China do? I hope the "competent Clintonistas" bring their cojones to the ballgame.

10/13/2007 07:10:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Containment, until that fails or the Islamoids do.

If containment collapses, they'll go to guns, on defense.

The 48 nukes remain a viable deterence to Indian invasion, not matter who in Pakistan has the button.

10/13/2007 08:15:00 AM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

Doug, I read Roggio's article. I understand what AQ wants. Since being kicked out of their safe haven in Afghanistan they want another safe haven. They've got Waziristan but on top of that they want a country, and Pakistan is what's at hand. Or to put it another way, they want what the Iranian islamo-fascists have.

That all makes sense. What doesn't make sense is why Pakistan is ready to give it to them.

The Pashtun taliban are locals and some are Paks themselves. I doubt that however you slice it Pakistan wants to be ruled by some islamist from Saudi.

I suppose that AQ is boiling this frog slowly and that is part of why their strategy is working. Mushy has to know what's going on however. Maybe he's just incompetent.

10/13/2007 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger Kinuachdrach said...

Alison wrote: "If Pakistan begins to go into major meltdown mode ... what will India do?"

Excellent point -- and chilling! Is the situation in Asia today a little like the situation in Europe pre-WWI, with lots of armed force & lots of overlapping suspicions, just waiting for a spark?

In recent history, the linkage was Pakistan-China and India-USSR. Great Powers could get pulled into what starts as a local conflict.

Then there are all the South Asians -- Indians, Pakistanis, etc -- who keep the oil-rich countries of the Middle East running. Are they going to continue to work side by side in the UAE while their brothers back home fight each other? And what about the South Asians in Europe, especially the UK?

Add the religious elements. And the tribal areas which extend into Iran. The situation could rapidly develop into a bar fight.

Let's hope the EU can persuade the UN to pass a strongly-worded resolution before the situation gets out of hand.

10/13/2007 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Meanwhile Muslim scholars submitted a manifesto to the religious leaders of the West yesterday. It is a very interesting read and it seems they appeal to a common denominator among Muslims and Christians.

The fact that the Muslim "scholars" left out the Jews in their dialogue means that Islam is and remains a religion of death and destruction, and that Muslims are a race of backwards haters.

When Muslim "scholars" can issue the same manifesto / invitation to the Jews, then we can talk about them joining the rest of us in the human race.

10/13/2007 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

is it not necessary to first withdraw so that those soldiers will be freed up for other theatres?

I think the real force multiplier is what's in their heads. Some of that knowledge is portable, but a lot of it isn't. The reason why counterinsurgencies and building successor states takes so long is because the process requires knowledge and time. On a purely kinetic battlefield (such as naval engagements) it is possible to treat things as interchangeable units, but once the human environment becomes primary that may not be so practical.

10/13/2007 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger Elijah said...

“The most immediate task [for the U.S.] is to make certain that no state or combination of states gains the capacity to expel the United States from Eurasia or even to diminish significantly its decisive arbitration role.”

- Brzezinski, 1997

“…NATO has been transforming from its Cold War and then regional incarnation of the 1990s into a transatlantic institution with global missions, global reach, and global partners. This transformation is most evident in Afghanistan where NATO is at work, but the line we've crossed is that that ‘in area/out of area’ debate that cost so much time to debate in the 1990s is effectively over. There is no ‘in area/out of area.’ Everything is NATO's area, potentially. That doesn't mean it's a global organization. It's a transatlantic organization, but Article 5 now has global implications. NATO is in the process of developing the capabilities and the political horizons to deal with problems and contingencies around the world. That is a huge change.”

- Daniel Fried, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs (April 17, 2007)

US elevates Pakistan to regional kingpin

US scatters bases to control Eurasia

10/13/2007 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

It's not that the Pak PEOPLE would vote for Taliban control, far from it, but the people have no way to defend themselves against Taliban/AQ Terror except for their police and military.
The Military is the problem, because far too many of them are not loyal to Musharrof, and many of them are either sympathetic to the Taliban or afraid of them.
The only thin Mushy could do is a mass bombing campaign, but that would almost surely result in a revolution, starting with the military.
Hopefully Canoneer will return with his take.

10/13/2007 12:36:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

(I again reccomend that piece by Steve Schippert @ Threatswatch, I excerpted only a small part of it here.)

10/13/2007 12:39:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

US elevates Pakistan to regional kingpin elijah's link

Negroponte treated with kid gloves the entire delicate issue of Taliban and al-Qaeda activities in Pakistan's tribal agencies, which is the heart of the matter. Notably, he spoke with understanding about Pakistan's genuine difficulty in cracking down on the militants' "safe haven" in the tribal agencies, given the potential for tribal rebellions and a "backlash" by sympathetic Islamic political parties in Pakistan, which are staunchly opposed to the US military presence in Afghanistan.

But the astonishing part of Negroponte's statement was his observations regarding the nexus between the "war on terror" and Musharraf's own political future. Negroponte implicitly acknowledged that Musharraf is politically vulnerable and his ability to crack down on the Taliban will, therefore, be significantly reduced in the months ahead because of the compulsions of the elections in Pakistan.

But elsewhere in his testimony, Negroponte contradicted himself by virtually expressing confidence that Musharraf's continuance in power is beyond doubt, despite the huge criticism within Pakistan about his remaining president as well as chief of army staff. Negroponte said, "There are no political leaders inside the country able to challenge his continued leadership. Musharraf's secular opponents are in disarray, and the main Islamic parties continue to suffer from internal divisions and an inability to expand their support base."

What explains such verbal jugglery? Indeed, statements at other senior levels in the Bush administration in recent days have also paid handsome compliments to Musharraf's cooperative attitude in countering the Taliban challenge, including at the level of the military leadership.
"The conditions are ripe for a complete victory," Richards claimed. So what has happened to the crisis that Karzai has been complaining about in respect of Pakistan's alleged role in masterminding the Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan? Was it all a concoction by the international media? (Richards actually put the blame on the media for unduly exaggerating the Taliban challenge.)

Someone also seems to have advised Karzai to see the writing on the wall. He too has calmed down. In his presidential address to the Afghan Parliament in Kabul on Sunday, Karzai refrained from criticizing Pakistan.
He vaguely attributed in a passing reference all the "Talibanphobia" to "certain Pakistani circles".
Only a few weeks ago an agitated Karzai indulged in a "public display of resentment" toward visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz through "hot words, gestures, body language and finger-pointing", to quote a former Pakistani ambassador in Kabul.

10/13/2007 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

The falcon has landed

Steve Farrell, PhoenixBird handler, pulls 'Mustang' out of his box after arriving at Manas AB from the United Kingdom Sept. 13.
The lugger falcon is now on duty helping keep the skies clear of bird strike threats at Manas.

10/13/2007 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger Neo Conservative said...

"Kinuachdrach said... Let's hope the EU can persuade the UN to pass a strongly-worded resolution before the situation gets out of hand."

oh gawd... i'm tearing up, that's hilarious.

the united nations is to regional peace and security... what addition & subtraction are to particle physics.

c'mon... give us another one.


10/13/2007 05:50:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

AlGore for President?

10/13/2007 06:35:00 PM  
Blogger Marzouq the Redneck Muslim said...


Good point but the manifesto pointed to the common denominator of Jesus. That would not leave Messianic Jews out, would it?

10/14/2007 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

AQ wants more than what the Iranian islamo-fascists have. They want the world.

"Pakistan" is not a conventional western-style Westphalian nation-state. It is an amalgam of anti-Hindu Punjabis, Afghans (also known as Pashtuns), Kashmir, Sindhis, Balochis from Balochistan and the descendants of Muslim refugees from India. It is an artificial geopolitical construct based on Muslim rejection of Hindu majority rule. The more secular Pakistani passport-holders invariably keep quiet when the holier-than-thou fanatics preach jihad. They would really not like to live under sharia, but they will either submit to it or vote with their feet and refugee to India.

The Taliban are nearly all Pashtun. The Pashtuns are undergoing a tribal civil war between the mullahs and the khans over whose word will be final. The khans are losing, and AQ money is on the mullahs. Pashtuns have a moral code, Pashtunwali, and AQ takes advantage of the tenets of melmastia and nanawati to hide out in some of the most rugged and inaccessible terrain on the planet.

May as well bombard the Rocky Mountains as the Himalayas. JDAM's from 20,000 feet won't accomplish much. They're already pretty close to the Stone Age. Conventional air and land power just cannot be decisively brought to bear on that real estate.

If Musharraf was incompetent, he'd be dead by now.

10/14/2007 04:30:00 PM  

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