Walk the line
Here are a two stories touching on the Afghan/Pakistani theater of operations. The Asia Times says that the US has built a base right on the Afghan-Pakistan border for the purposes of raiding into Pakistan, with or without Islamabad's approval. The article goes on to say that al-Qaeda has repeatedly attacked to forestall establishment of the installation but to no avail. Now al-Qaeda's leadership is at risk and must apparently withdraw further into Pakistan. The Asia Times article darkly hints that al-Qaeda will redouble its efforts to inflame Pakistan and attack NATO supply lines in order to compensate for its loss of sanctuaries in the tribal areas.
The second story is from the Counterterrorism Blog and deals with interservice rivalry among the special forces units operating along the Afghan/Pakistan border. The focus of the story is a Marine special operations unit, which was viewed with disfavor by the existing chain of command because of differences in operating philosophy and structure. The Marine unit allegedly cooked up its own missions bypassing the regular chain of command and became involved in an incident in which 19 Afghan civilians were killed. The matter is now the subject of an official inquiry.
Bill Roggio writes in the Weekly Standard that Pakistan has finally admitted it has a counterinsurgency problem and is ramping up to meet it. However, the problem has now metastized beyond the tribally administered areas into parts of Pakistan. "Peshawar, the provincial capital, has been buffeted by suicide attacks and a host of Taliban inspired violence and intimidation since late 2006. The Taliban have been active in Tank, Khyber, and Peshawar since early 2006. A government report stated that settled districts of Bannu, Lakki Marwat, and Swat were falling into a state of "Talibanisation, lawlessness and terrorism" in April 2007." The nomenclature 'counterinsurgency' significantly implies a political dimension to the problem. And political problems exist on both sides of the border. Not only is Musharraf in the middle of a political crisis, but President Karzai recently manifested his displeasure with alliance politics by publicly and pointedly announcing that he would not accept UN viceroy Paddy Ashdown's appointment to Kabul.