Monday, November 24, 2008

Their Hammer, Our Anvil, Our Nails

To win in Afghanistan we need to defeat the Taliban in Pakistan who shelter al Qaeda. Both contribute to attacks inside Afghanistan.

I'd thought that a hammer and anvil approach that bypassed an uncooperative Pakistan would be necessary to carry out this strategy. We'd beef up our border presence and mobilize friendly Paksitani border tribes to drive the jihadis out of Pakistan to where we could kill them.

But it seems like the Pakistanis are taking on the role of hammer (and quietly enjoying our Predator missile strikes nailing jihadi leadership inside Pakistan) to our anvil. Two American brigade commanders in Afghanistan describe higher levels of coordination between our forces and Pakistani forces:

Both attributed the changes to increased activity by Pakistan's army and other border security forces. In Spiszer's view, increased effort by Pakistan's army in the Bajaur tribal area "might actually be pushing some guys back this way, which might account for some of the rise." Pakistani operations, he said, are "having an impact, both good and bad."

For Johnson, the decline in enemy activity in his area can also be attributed to new operations across the border by the Pakistani military, which he said have led to a "marked decrease" in the number of improvised explosive devices used against coalition and Afghan forces.

Both officers praised a sharp increase in cross-border coordination among themselves, the Afghans and the Pakistanis. Spiszer said he frequently goes to strategy sessions at a "border coordination center" at one of his forward operating bases near the Khyber Pass, where there are representatives of the United States, the Afghan National Army and the Border Police, along with Pakistani army and Frontier Corps personnel. We "figure out what's going on and coordinate our activities," he said.

This cooperation could make this Taliban Campaign centered on Pakistan the last jihad.

Which means we could see al Qaeda really step up their attacks on Pakistani cities to compel a public outcry against the government to get the Pakistani military called off.