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Monday, July 12

U.S. confidence-building measure for Pakistan's military: If it looks like treason and it quacks like treason.....

June 30, 2010:
(WASHINGTON) ... Speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee here, General Petraeus said it was difficult to verify whether Pakistan was working with the Taliban or it was merely assisting the extremists to garner information.

"What we have to always figure out with Pakistan is: are they working with the Taliban to support the Taliban or to recruit sources in the Taliban? And that's the difficulty, frankly, in trying to assess what the ISI is doing in some of their activities in FATA, in contacts with the Haqqani network, or the Afghan Taliban," General Petraeus said while replying to Republican Senator John McCain's question.

McCain had asked Petraeus whether he was concerned that the ISI continued to work with the dreaded Haqqani group, an ally of Al Qaeda and other Taliban groups. ...
July 11, 2010:
(WARSAK, Pakistan) — The recent graduation ceremony here for Pakistani troops trained by Americans to fight the Taliban and Al Qaeda was intended as show of fresh cooperation between the Pakistani and American militaries. But it said as much about its limitations.

Nearly 250 Pakistani paramilitary troops in khaki uniforms and green berets snapped to attention, with top students accepting a certificate from an American Army colonel after completing the specialized training for snipers and platoon and company leaders. ...

About a dozen American trainers are assigned to yearlong duty at this training center, a cluster of classrooms and dormitories and adjacent training ranges on a large campus, which the United States spent $23 million to build, plus another $30 million for training and equipment requested by the Pakistani military.

The most gifted Frontier Corps marksmen are selected for sniper training, a skill in need against the Taliban who have been using Russian-made Dragonov sniper rifles to deadly effect against the Pakistani Army.

Five two-man sniper teams, trained to use American-made M24 rifles as well as how to work with a spotter, measure wind speeds and camouflage their positions, received awards from Colonel Sonntag. But five [other] two-man teams were dropped during the training because their math skills were not good enough, another American trainer said.

Much of the training here is aimed at building the confidence of the Frontier Corps scouts, some of whom have relatives in the Taliban, and who speak the same language, Pashto, as many militants. Often the militants are better armed and more handsomely paid than the scouts.

Three basic skills were built into the course, one of the American trainers said: How to shoot straight, how to administer battlefield first aid, and how to provide covering fire for advancing troops. ...[1]
Now let me see if I understand this correctly. General Petraeus claims the United States military is trying to learn whether Pakistan's military is "working with" the Taliban; i.e., using Taliban fighters to wage a proxy war against NATO forces in Afghanistan. Yet despite that unresolved life-or-death question for ISAF troops, the U.S. military is providing sniper training to members of Pakistan's armed forces.

So what was the plan? Cross our fingers and hope for the best? Anybody at the Pentagon consider that such a plan would be treasonous?

Or did the idea of population-centric counterinsurgency warfare become so all-encompassing that actions any reasonable person calls treason would be seen by COIN planners and the U.S. Department of State as simply another tactic for winning hearts and minds?

If that was the idea I wonder what Harry Lime would have thought of it. I guess he would have burst into laughter.

1) Read the rest of the article, published by the New York Times and titled U.S. Training of Pakistani Forces Faces Hurdles, to learn about the vaunted limitations of the program, which cry out for a category of problems labeled "Pakistani generals Mau-mauing Richard Holbrooke."

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