"Taliban spokesman Azam Tari said the guerrillas had inflicted “heavy casualties” on the army, the Associated Press reported yesterday. “We will defend our land till our last man and our last drop of our blood,” the agency quoted him as saying. “This is a war bound to end in the defeat of the Pakistan army.”
The army has said it expects to complete the offensive in six to eight weeks, though today Abbas said he could not say how long it would last.
“This fight could be longer and harder than any the army has taken on so far,” said Ashraf Ali, director of the FATA Research Center, an Islamabad think-tank that studies the tribal areas, including Waziristan.
“The Waziristan terrain is much tougher for the army and better for guerrilla-style fighters,” Ali said. He added that the Taliban targeted in the campaign “are more experienced and trained than the ones in Swat,” the northern valley the army recaptured in a 10-week battle that ended in July.
Even a determined offensive may not crush the Mehsud faction or its allies.
The Taliban will “split into small groups and harass the strangers in a terrain which the Mehsuds know well,” said Bahukutumbi Raman at the Chennai, India-based Institute for Topical Studies. Pakistan is likely to face a new round of terrorist attacks in cities far from the fighting, he said. " Bloomberg
What is to be feared in this situation is that the Pashtun tribesmen in South Waziristan might fight the Pakistan army to a standstill. This could happen. These men are fighting on their own terrain, under their own traditional leaders, for their own homes. The terrain is very tough for a conventional army designed to fight India in maneuver warfare down on the plains to the east.
An army failure to dominate the situation would strengthen the Islamic zealots in the general Pakistan population and threaten the stability of the government.
If the United States has played a significant role in pressuring Pakistan into this operation we may have future reason to regret our actions. pl
More “taliban this, taliban that”. The Pashtun/Arab/Muslim/GenericWog is never allowed high-minded, whites only sentiments like patriotism or defense of his homeland.
I hope the Pashtuns send the Punjabis packing. I can’t imagine any Pashtun fighting against his kin for the sake of Pakistan.
I heard many a Pashtun say “I am Pashtu first, Muslim second, and Pakistani third”. I hope they win.
You have to wonder about the level of morale of the Pakistani army, too. I can see them being motivated to fight India. But against the residents of Swat? In winter?
You could not have said it better.
“An army failure to dominate the situation would strengthen the Islamic zealots in the general Pakistan population and threaten the stability of the government.
If the United States has played a significant role in pressuring Pakistan into this operation we may have future reason to regret our actions.”
FATA….hmmm…here are excerpts from GAO reports to Congress:
April 2008 —
“The United States has not met its national security goals to destroy terrorist threats and close the safe haven in Pakistan’s FATA. Since 2002, the United States relied principally on the Pakistan military to address U.S. national security goals. Of the approximately $5.8 billion the United States provided for efforts in the FATA and border region from 2002 through 2007, about 96 percent reimbursed Pakistan for military operations there. According to the Department of State, Pakistan deployed 120,000 military and paramilitary forces in the FATA and helped kill and capture hundreds of suspected al Qaeda operatives; these efforts cost the lives of approximately 1,400 members of Pakistan’s security forces. However, GAO found broad agreement, as documented in the National Intelligence Estimate, State, and embassy documents, as well as Defense officials in Pakistan, that al Qaeda had regenerated its ability to attack the United States and had succeeded in establishing a safe haven in Pakistan’s FATA.
No comprehensive plan for meeting U.S. national security goals in the FATA has been developed, as stipulated by the National Strategy for Combating Terrorism (2003), called for by an independent commission (2004), and mandated by congressional legislation (2007). Furthermore, Congress created the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) in 2004 specifically to develop comprehensive plans to combat terrorism. However, neither the National Security Council (NSC), NCTC, nor other executive branch departments have developed a comprehensive plan that includes all elements of national power—diplomatic, military, intelligence, development assistance, economic, and law enforcement support—called for by the various national security strategies and Congress.”….
February 2009 — per the above
“In written responses to our report, Defense and USAID concurred with the recommendation that a comprehensive plan should be developed; State asserted that a comprehensive plan existed; the NSC provided no comments; while the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Counterterrorism Center stated that plans to combat terrorism exist. During a May 20, 2008, hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the Deputy Secretary of State also indicated plans exist for a variety of efforts underway to assist Pakistan in combating terrorism, but he acknowledged that more can be done to integrate plans to focus on the threat along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The Deputy Secretary of State also indicated that efforts were underway to revisit the U.S. plans to focus on the key components suggested in our April 2008 report. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence noted in an August 2008 response to our request for a status update on the development of a comprehensive plan that it continues to disagree that the United States lacks plans to combat terrorism in Pakistan’s FATA. The Director also noted that the United States has a multi-faceted strategy, with short- and long-term elements to increase the capability of Pakistani security forces to confront terrorist groups. We do not assert that the United States lacks individual plans; rather, we did not find nor were we provided a comprehensive plan that integrated the combined capabilities of Defense, State, USAID, the intelligence community, and others, and included key components we called for in our report to meet U.S. national security goals in Pakistan. As of January 2009, neither the National Security Council, the National Counterterrorism Center, nor Defense, State, or USAID has produced for our review an integrated comprehensive plan as recommended in our April 2008 report….”
Apparently, “the adults” that were supposed to be overseeing the new Obama Administration are nowhere to be found as yet…
History’s variation on old themes is playing, louder and louder. This invasion sure feels like South Vietnam’s disastrous 1971 invasion of Laos; again egged on by the United States.
Lowlanders always have difficulty in controlling mountain folks. Fighting for ones home will be even more intense when the invaders are identified as puppets of foreign infidels.
Wars fought on the cheap never end. Only total wars end in surrender. Sri Lanka’s Tamil rebellion has ended for now after Sinhalese seized control of the entire island.
To seize control of the Hindu Kush Mountains will require the total commitment of the Pakistan and its people; just as doubtful, as the Military Draft and Taxes needed for the United States to seize control of Afghanistan.
To quote the epigraph from Winston Churchill’s History of the Second World War:
In War: Resolution
In Defeat: Defiance
In Victory: Magnanimity
In Peace: Good Will
The U.S. of course had a major role in starting this useless campaign. Guess why Kerry and Petraeus are now in Islamabad.
I studied the area a bit – the campaign will be lost. Only three access roads all leading through massive canyons and prone to IED attacks and fire from the surrounding mountains.
No way the Pakistan army can go in there without a much bigger campaign including division size airdrops and by taking massive losses. Even then – long-term they would not be able to stay there against the will of the locals.
Up to now, in the last 30 years, of USA involvement in ME land it doth appear that the blowback from “well thought out strategies” was always greater then the precived advantage. This applies to Iran [1953 and 1979], Sadam [ CIA promoted entity] Hazzbullah, Hamas, arming the afgans against the USSR, various “plans” for Somalia and Lebanon, and the list goes on!!!
So inquiring minds are wondering when and what will be the blowback of USa insistance that Pakistan attack PASHTUN HOMELAND [Afganistan Pakistan through the druard [??] line, when there are 42 or so million erxtremely independent Pashtun, all armed? [The side Q is of course, the perception in Pakistan that the USA has the famous nuclear deal with India [do not know it is complete or only in way]. An added reason for blowback.
This operation is going to force members of the Pakistani military to choose sides for good. My guess is the side they will choose is that of the military coup and thereby lapse into live and let live with Taliban and AQ until those groups decide time is right to play for keeps and the Islamic Bomb. Time will tell.
When you fight for your country, you have no place to run
I’ve never paid too much attention to Pakistan, but I’ve been reading “Three Cups of Tea” and I don’t think this is going to go well for the Army. You just can’t whip up Pakistani nationalism. Here, it is easy, there, not so much, too tribal. I may be wrong…
¿Dónde está el Señor Holbrooke?
We are told that a nuclear armed Iran is dangerous and looming around the corner. Well both could be true say in 2-5 yrs, but a nuclear ICBM armed “Waziristan” is much more dangerous I say and is running towards us at full speed. If things go awry are we (NATO) prepared for such a scenario?
Mehsud tribe story in today’s Telegraph (London):
” The Mehsud tribe inhabit about two thirds of South Waziristan’s 2,700 sq-mile area in the loosely governed tribal belt. They live in large fortified compounds and have a fierce culture of revenge
Surrounded on three sides by the Wazir tribe and in the east by the Bhittani, they have no direct access to Afghanistan or the rest of Pakistan
From the mid-19th century to 1947, occupying British forces failed to control them
An 1860 campaign in which British soldiers burnt houses and destroyed crops failed to secure a surrender; the locals were, and are, helped by South Waziristan’s treacherous landscape
Sir Olaf Caroe, former governor of the North West Frontier Province, who died in 1981, said: “The Mehsud are a people who can never think of submitting to a foreign power”
Many Mehsuds now live away from South Waziristan and some have reached high positions in the Pakistani Civil Service and Army. But the rebel core remains. In 2007, Baitullah Mehsud founded the Tehrik-e-Taleban movement, which has about 10,000 to 12,000 fighters in South Waziristan alone…”
Clifford, I must dispute the conclusions you came to based on what you quoted.
“Of the approximately $5.8 billion the United States provided for efforts in the FATA and border region from 2002 through 2007, about 96 percent reimbursed Pakistan for military operations there. According to the Department of State, Pakistan deployed 120,000 military and paramilitary forces in the FATA and helped kill and capture hundreds of suspected al Qaeda operatives; these efforts cost the lives of approximately 1,400 members of Pakistan’s security forces. ”
$5.8 Billion over 5 years, of which 96% was used for Pakistani military operations against al Qaeda, which resulted in the loss of approximately 1,400 lives Pakistani security force members. This is less than 1 month of US spending in Iraq during the same period of time; Iraq being a country that did not attack the U.S. nor harbor those who did. These were brave men. We may not like their government nor even the actions of our own, however they were fighting the same enemy that attacked the US on 11 September.
The quoted Bloomberg article references the Taliban. They did not attack the US. The Taliban government in control of Afghanistan in 2001 was defeated in 2001.
“No comprehensive plan for meeting U.S. national security goals in the FATA has been developed, as stipulated by the National Strategy for Combating Terrorism (2003), called for by an independent commission (2004), and mandated by congressional legislation (2007). ”
“Apparently, “the adults” that were supposed to be overseeing the new Obama Administration are nowhere to be found as yet… ”
As to the congressional mandate of 2007, this mandate was a direct result of the 2006 election which gave the Democratic party control in Congress. The February 2009 report, is that dated February 1st, Eleven days after the inauguration of President Obama or February 28th, thirty one days after his election? In my opinion all of this report relates to the activities of the US Government under the administration of George W. Bush, who consistently failed in the defense of the US from 9-11 until he left office on January 20th, 2009.
Seems the operation in south waziristan goes according to plan. I wonder how the Pakistanis intel can separate the population support from TTB. That’s really tricky since TTB is really entrenched. They have to write book on this.
(clips from before the operation began)
According to Sources Pakistan Army Started its Operation against TTP in SWA on 19th June code named Operation Rah e Nijat. Pakistani Strategy was
To soften up the targets through Aerial and Artillery Bombardment.
Complete blockade of South and North Waziristan agency.
Intelligence operations focusing on breaking support base of TTP
Creating friendly Lashkers and Convincing other important Commanders and Maliks to remain neutral
The fruits of Pakistani Strategy have started coming out. Air and Artillery bombardment has damaged the morale of Fanatics. Especially after death of Baitullah Mahsud , leaders of TTP are hiding in caves or have went under ground to escape air attacks.
This success is due to:
* the use of air power against militants in the Malakand division and the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) that, while causing significant civilian casualties, neither turned the local population against the central government nor strained the manpower of the Pakistani security services.
* a commitment to keep a large military presence in Swat for the next few years.
* a sustained counterpropaganda campaign utilizing the private media and religious scholars, particularly Barelvis.
* a clever psy-ops campaign against the TTP.
* a whole-hearted embrace of its fallen soldiers, with public funerals made accessible to the media.
* excellent investigative and police work done by the federal interior ministry down to the provincial police forces.
* the decision by the Obama administration to focus drone attacks against the Baitullah Mehsud network.
I think the experience in Waziristan should help a lot in Helmand/kandahar area. Same taliban groups + similar tribal miltia. Pakistanis officers definitely can give a lot of input for surveying and interaction strategy in those area.