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Thread: The US & others working with Pakistan

  1. #661
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    David and Bourbon:

    Those were two quite outstanding articles. Thank you both for highlighting them.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  2. #662
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    Default Paid by the USA, doing Pakistan's work

    A few weeks ago I posted a review of 'Ask Forgiveness No Permission: The True Story of an Operation in Pakistan's Badlands' in the thread on Pakistani Internal Security, which is reproduced in Part 2.

    Last week The Spectator published a review of the BBC's veteran Pakistan correspondent, Owen Bennett-Jones, which is more a commentary on working with Pakistan and it ends:
    Of course, you could argue that his militia was politically controlled — but just not by the country that picked up the bill to pay for it.
    Link:http://www.spectator.co.uk/books/889...as-in-control/

    Part 2

    A modern Lawrence, with locals in choppers

    A new book on:
    an ex-Royal Navy pilot, led a 25-strong force of specially-recruited (Frontier Corps) Pakistani soldiers raiding Taliban camps, hunting down kidnap victims and detaining suspected al-Qaeda militants (in 2003).
    Lt Cdr Leedham tells his story in a new book, Ask Forgiveness Not Permission....The inspiration for his instructions came from the writings of Lawrence of Arabia. “These guys really did perform..I used a lot of Lawrence doctrine. I know it sounds a bit hokey but I did.”.....the model he used — small teams of local fighters with tight security protocols that prevent tip-offs to militant leaders — could still be used to hunt terrorists even as Western forces pull out of the region.
    Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...t-Taliban.html

    The UK Amazon has six rave reviews and the Foreword is by Frederick Forsyth:http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ask-Forgiven.../dp/1903071674

    It appears not to have been released yet in the USA:http://www.amazon.com/Ask-Forgivenes...Not+Permission
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    Last edited by davidbfpo; 05-04-2013 at 09:18 PM.
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  3. #663
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Here is a link to an article that Madhu pointed out to me. It is about working, no, dealing with, no, doing whatever it is we do with the Pak Army/ISI. It has the most wonderful title-Malice in Wonderstan.

    http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/2013/05/13342035
    Last edited by carl; 05-30-2013 at 06:30 PM.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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  5. #665
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    Default Ten fictions Pakistani officialdom uses

    Christine Fair wades into the fray with a ten point article on War on the Rocks, none of the points made will come as a surprise here:http://warontherocks.com/2014/01/ten...ove-to-peddle/
    davidbfpo

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    Default Our Expertise on Pakistan is not up to Snuff

    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Christine Fair wades into the fray with a ten point article on War on the Rocks, none of the points made will come as a surprise here:http://warontherocks.com/2014/01/ten...ove-to-peddle/
    Perhaps.

    However, the real overlooked point is that, arguably, Pakistan has been able to get away for decades because the U.S.-based expertise on Pakistan hasn’t been up to snuff.

    Unfortunately, this deficiency continues to this day, with none other than Dr. Christine Fair herself muddying the waters.

    For example, in an article (title: "Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Pakistani State") published in Survival over two years ago, she suggested this: “Containing Pakistan per se is not feasible, nor is attempting to do so even desirable.”

    Now, an opposite advice in her latest article published in lawfare blog: “[The U.S. should] develop more coercive tools to contain the threat that Pakistan poses to itself and beyond.”

    As Amb. Husain Haqqani points out in his new book Pakistan's strategic outlook has changed little in almost four decades. And yet, our eminent political scientists are yet to figure out what makes Pakistan tick!

    With al-Qaeda variety now resurgent, policy-makers in the US and in Europe must be wondering who they can turn to for advice.

  7. #667
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    A rather critical commentary by a Pakistani writer on his nation's greatest weakness:http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-New...gnty-for-money
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    I am sure most people have seen this by now

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/23/ma...=tw-share&_r=1

    She says surprisingly little about the US end of this axis; were they incompetent or complicit? Is there a third choice?

    Anyway, it seems the end is nigh (for the US as worldcop and/or imperial power, depending on how you look at these things). That may not be a bad thing for the US. I suspect American culture is not really ideal for either job. Better to stick to things the US understands better.
    But it may be bad news for many others.
    Would it be correct to say that China is to be the most likely cop in the "Afpak" region? or will there be a free for all with Russia, India and smaller regional powers all having a go?

  9. #669
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Omar:

    Thanks for the link. I had not seen that.

    Incompetent or complicit? Both. Initially incompetent. You yourself well described one of the ways the Pak Army/ISI played them, the whole romance of the Raj bit. That was but one facet of the incompetence.

    But they aren't completely stupid people and that is where the complicit comes in. When they realized they been had and more importantly what fools they had been to have been had so completely, they became complicit because they had to cover that up. Their primary motivation became avoiding embarrassment, hundreds of dead 21 year old NASCAR fans and thousands of dead Afghan and Pakistani dirt farmers were small price to pay if the right people continued to look good.

    So after that it took on a life of its own. It is almost as if the multi-stars and genii inside the beltway were blackmailing themselves. The Pak Army/ISI didn't have to do anything to keep the deception going. Once it was set up it ran on its own.

    The only price they had to pay was to give up OBL. Somehow we found out on our own where he was, sort of probably. They let us confirm it and then they let us take him. That was it. They give up one obsolete guy and the game went on. They won in exchange for Mr. Obama getting to say we got him.

    Maybe you are right the Americans as presently constituted can not be what we were. It will be bad for the world though. There is no other country suited to maintain the system of free oceanic navigation the British and us set up and maintained. Bad for us too as an island trading nation.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Quote Originally Posted by omarali50 View Post
    I am sure most people have seen this by now

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/23/ma...=tw-share&_r=1

    She says surprisingly little about the US end of this axis; were they incompetent or complicit? Is there a third choice?

    Anyway, it seems the end is nigh (for the US as worldcop and/or imperial power, depending on how you look at these things). That may not be a bad thing for the US. I suspect American culture is not really ideal for either job. Better to stick to things the US understands better.
    But it may be bad news for many others.
    Would it be correct to say that China is to be the most likely cop in the "Afpak" region? or will there be a free for all with Russia, India and smaller regional powers all having a go?
    That article is derived from a book which I will be sure to order once it comes out.

    I was just in Islamabad and Rawalpindi. One of our movements took us just a few blocks from the Red Mosque, and we passed by ISI HQ multiple times. I have a growing interest in the US-PAK relationship, especially since I served in south Helmand (where the smugglers and insurgents were usually detained with pocketfuls of rupees!)

  11. #671
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    jcustis:

    I have a question.

    What is the general opinion amongst the guys you work with and deployed with about of the Pak Army/ISI in Afghanistan? Are they agnostic? Do they believe they are the enemy, they are a friend? Are they just resigned? What do they think?
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  12. #672
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    That's a question with a few layers Carl, and it merits a thoughtful reply. I will try to draft one this weekend.

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    Quote Originally Posted by omarali50 View Post
    I am sure most people have seen this by now

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/23/ma...=tw-share&_r=1

    She says surprisingly little about the US end of this axis; were they incompetent or complicit? Is there a third choice?

    Anyway, it seems the end is nigh (for the US as worldcop and/or imperial power, depending on how you look at these things). That may not be a bad thing for the US. I suspect American culture is not really ideal for either job. Better to stick to things the US understands better.
    But it may be bad news for many others.
    Would it be correct to say that China is to be the most likely cop in the "Afpak" region? or will there be a free for all with Russia, India and smaller regional powers all having a go?
    By the author's own word she had the story of Pakistani support for the Afghan insurgency since 2007 and the story on Pakistani support for OBL since 2012.

    Why the 7+ and 2+ year delay on the respective/combined stories?

    I'd rather know the clearly very long story of going to print behind this story.

    Why now?

    Why not then?

    I'm assuming massive pressure from the US Administration due to US reliance on Pakistani logistics support for Afghan operations.

  14. #674
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    That's a question with a few layers Carl, and it merits a thoughtful reply. I will try to draft one this weekend.
    Thank you sir.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  15. #675
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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    jcustis:

    I have a question.

    What is the general opinion amongst the guys you work with and deployed with about of the Pak Army/ISI in Afghanistan? Are they agnostic? Do they believe they are the enemy, they are a friend? Are they just resigned? What do they think?
    I first need to put out the qualifier that there are no "general opinions" about the US-Pak relationship where I currently work. Everything supports (or certainly should support) the Theater Strategy, and folks tend to favor specific terms and phrases when you get into the security cooperation/assistance side of things.

    Having said that, most I speak with recognize it is complex, delicate, and sensitive to a terribly wide range of things that can't be controlled all that easily, like public opinion. Trying to put things into a box and characterizing Pakistan as a friend or enemy is too simplistic, in my opinion.

    I believe that military professionals tend to look on each other kindly, no matter the tensions between policymakers/politicians, and that is the reason why the US-Pak military relationship is stronger and both sided aim to increase cooperation to make it more efficient and certainly relevant to current threats.

    Folks in the building understand the situation Pakistan faces, the balance the Pak military strives to achieve in the frontier between eradicating radicalism and insurgency while not creating more radicals. I don't know enough about the connections between the conventional military and the ISI to lump them together, but I do appreciate the claim that things turned upside down on 9/11 for both countries.

    The US has the luxury of leaving. The Pak general or admiral who has attended our various war colleges or perhaps specialized courses, cannot say the same.

    Some appreciate the complex Pak-Indian relationship and how it can be a predictor of Pakistani foreign policy behavior, but it tends to be overshadowed by other headlines, like an Abbottabad raid.

    We seem to share the belief that we must find a way to get past this.

    Now, things were very different when I was in Afghanistan. The Taliban were the enemy--the 50m target. At a battalion level, where things a tactically-focused, there just isn't a lot of time to think about the strategic relationships and dramas, even if they are known. I would say that if they did consider Pakistan an active supporter of insurgents who were in our neck of the woods, they were resigned to the fact that there wasn't anything they could do about it and there more immediate worries, like the daily patrolling effort and getting home in one piece. I don't recall having a conversation with the battalion commander about the topic, and it certainly never came up between me and the operations officer, even though we all stood barely 10 kms from the border during an Oct raid.

    I have to qualify this by reminding that the lethal smuggling problem, mixed in with the narcotics smuggling across the porous southern border (in name only) was our focus. We faced the same in northern Iraq and had early on let go of any angst that the border was not better controlled on the Pak side.

    I'd have to root through my posts in the '06-'09 era to see if I had a worry about the ISI-Haqqanni nexus claims, but I don't recall reading the "Godfather" article until perhaps early 2013? I had a sense of the accusations, and the wringing of hands over what to do, but I suppose that is because I hang out in spaces like the Council, rather than prepping for Fantasy Football Leauge season.

    Make sense? I want to be sure I get to your question, so feel free to ask for clarification.

  16. #676
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    jcustis:

    That well answered my question. I can well understand the outlook of the guys on the line who have other things to thing about. What concerns me greatly is the attitude of the ones you currently work with.

    I must put this in the right way. I don't want to jump on you for giving me a frank opinion of what you see. That said, it seems to me the people you work with are letting professional sympathy get in the way of a frank assessment of the Pak Army/ISI, its structure and its actions. When you say people in the building understand the situation Pakistan is in, what I hear is those people have bought the Pak Army/ISI line despite the huge amount of open source information available making it clear that they are a straight up enemy. Now maybe I am wrong about that but I'll stand by it. When you say that fighting professionals upon whom we depend upon for our protection from the beasts that stalk the world can't see what the Pak Army/ISI is and has been after 13 years and seeing the dead that come from that, that scares me. It makes me think there is something wrong with the ability of at least a segment of the American military to see things straight. We can get away with that in Afghanistan, sort of, but we won't get away with that if we have to go up against Red China some day. It's scary.

    Again I thank you for providing an honest opinion. It is of great value because I can more understand that actions of the multi-stars may not be wholly because of a lack of moral character, those actions seem also to reflect a serious flaw in our military's ability to perceive things that are.

    All of this is my honest opinion and I hope you don't hold it against me.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Don't worry; everyone has things straight.

    There are elements of things going on that I'm never going to talk about, and you'll likely never hear about. Balanced against the menagerie of things which constitute a foreign policy (and security cooperation/assistance strategy is just one bit managed by the .mil side), the goings on in my realm are probably the last thing to focus on.

    I imagine, for example, that development strategies and other civilian-led pillars of COIN have a lot more relevance in Pakistan at the moment.
    Last edited by jcustis; 03-23-2014 at 08:17 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    Folks in the building understand the situation Pakistan faces, the balance the Pak military strives to achieve in the frontier between eradicating radicalism and insurgency while not creating more radicals. I don't know enough about the connections between the conventional military and the ISI to lump them together, but I do appreciate the claim that things turned upside down on 9/11 for both countries.
    After the May, 2011, raid on the Mehran naval station there was some talk that there was an inside job element to the attack. That seemed a little out there to me. I asked a Pakistani friend of mine, a Political Science professor, what she thought. I was expecting she would tell me something about the nature of rumors and paranoia in the Pakistani media, so I was quite surprised when she told me she thought it was perfectly plausible and that it was her impression that there was more than a little factionalization in the Pakistani military and paramilitary forces.

    Now, as far as I know there ended up being no evidence that the Mehran attack was an inside job in any way. And my friend was not claiming to have any inside track information on that event in particular or the situation in general.* But I did come away from the conversation with the notion that it is probably worth considering that while the Pakistani security professionals might all be on the same team that they might not all be reading from the same playbook. (Of course there are a variety of opinions within any institution, but I mean something beyond minor differences of opinion.)

    *She does have family members who have served as officers in the Pakistani military, though of course many Pakistanis of her class and status do.
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

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    Unfortunately this is in Urdu, but i am sure there are a few people in the US who can understand Urdu. They should take a look at this video. It is the unadulterated Paknationalist viewpoint, not what is put out for American consumption. This is NOT the consensus view of the establishment. The establishment has other views within it. But this view is by no means a joke, nor is it as "fringe' as many people seem to think. It is worth paying attention to...especially the question of why it is being promoted at this point; today, not 5 or 10 years ago.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvkYjpCZwq0#t=74

  20. #680
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
    After the May, 2011, raid on the Mehran naval station there was some talk that there was an inside job element to the attack. That seemed a little out there to me. I asked a Pakistani friend of mine, a Political Science professor, what she thought. I was expecting she would tell me something about the nature of rumors and paranoia in the Pakistani media, so I was quite surprised when she told me she thought it was perfectly plausible and that it was her impression that there was more than a little factionalization in the Pakistani military and paramilitary forces.

    Now, as far as I know there ended up being no evidence that the Mehran attack was an inside job in any way. And my friend was not claiming to have any inside track information on that event in particular or the situation in general.* But I did come away from the conversation with the notion that it is probably worth considering that while the Pakistani security professionals might all be on the same team that they might not all be reading from the same playbook. (Of course there are a variety of opinions within any institution, but I mean something beyond minor differences of opinion.)

    *She does have family members who have served as officers in the Pakistani military, though of course many Pakistanis of her class and status do.
    Did they ever get the whole story on that attack?
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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