Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Beginning of the Taliban Campaign

Pakistan needs an awakening of their own to fight the new Taliban Campaign that spans the Afghanistan and Pakistan campaigns, drawing from the same base of support.

The need for Pakistan to face the problem head on and not seek to excuse or ignore their jihadi problem is clear from this defeat:

"Around midnight 400 miscreants attacked the Frontier Corps at Sararogha. The fort was captured by militants, we are taking stock of the situation," chief military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told AFP.

"There are reports of 40 to 50 dead miscreants, while seven personnel embraced martyrdom." The attack, believed to be the first time Pakistan has lost one of its tribal area forts, highlighted growing insecurity ahead of elections on February 18 which were postponed because of unrest sparked by Bhutto's killing.

Military sources said the Islamist fighters besieged the remote post in darkness before blowing up part of the walls using explosives, storming inside and taking control of the building. Abbas said soldiers responded with artillery before fleeing.

Of 42 troops manning the fort, 15 had escaped to a separate base while the whereabouts of the remaining "stragglers" was not known, he added.

This is bad. The enemy needs to be atomized so they can't overrun bases like this. Yet even in the face of this disaster, some Pakistanis remain in denial:

Pakistan's foreign ministry Wednesday issued a stern warning against any international military strikes on Pakistani territory, following reports that Washington was considering covert action in the tribal areas.

"Without Pakistan's permission, without Pakistan's involvement, any action by a foreign government on Pakistan's territory will be an enemy act," foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Sadiq told a weekly briefing.

Yet this permission may be on the way:

They see they've got real problems internally," Fallon said in a 20-minute interview with three reporters accompanying Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at a private conference here of military chiefs from Middle Eastern countries, hosted by Fallon.

"My sense is there is an increased willingness to address these problems, and we're going to try to help them," he said, adding that U.S. assistance would be "more robust," but offering few details. "There is more willingness to do that now" on Pakistan's part, he said.

The Bush administration's anxiety about Pakistan's stability has grown in recent months, not only because of its potential implications for U.S. stability efforts in neighboring Afghanistan but also because of worry about the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.

Fallon said expanded U.S. military assistance to Pakistan would include, but is not limited to, a U.S. training program for tribal groups in the federally administered tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

The Pakistanis need American surveillance, communications, and firepower that will tear up war bands that hit isolated outposts until those war bands don't dare mass. This might mean special forces teams operating within Pakistani units out there in the bush.