Thursday, June 24

David Petraeus might study Kashmir if he doesn't want to repeat Stanley McChrystal's mistakes in Afghanistan

B. Raman has published an excellent analysis of General Stanley's McChrystal's military success in Iraq and the failure of his approach in Afghanistan. Raman warned that General Petraeus will also meet with failure unless he revises the war plan for Afghanistan. I'd like to add to Raman's observations and recommendations by bringing up Kashmir again.

In my post on Friday I explained that the ISAF commanders were up against a battle plan that was invisible to them. Because of this, they'd mistaken a proxy war launched by Pakistan's military for a Taliban insurgency. I further explained that every detail of Pakistan's proxy war in Afghanistan was copied from the battle plan they used against India in Kashmir.

On Monday the RAND Corporation published a paper titled Counterinsurgency in Pakistan by Seth G. Jones and C. Christine Fair. I don't agree with most of the authors' recommendations. However, I think the section of the paper titled Pakistan's Use of Proxy War, which goes into some detail about Pakistan's Operation Gibraltar in Kashmir, will be instructive in light of Pakistani-sponsored actions against ISAF and the Afghans who resist Taliban rule.

The section begins on page 6, chapter two. Although I don't provide the footnotes I've kept the footnote numbering for ready reference. (The paper can be downloaded for free in PDF at the RAND website. A summary in PDF is also available):
Pakistan’s Use of Proxy Warfare

Most accounts assume that Pakistan first engaged in using militants as a foreign policy tool during the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan. Pakistan, the United States, Saudi Arabia, and others supported seven major mujahideen groups operating in Afghanistan.

“The Mujahedeen could achieve nothing without financial support,” acknowledged Brigadier Mohammad Yousaf, who headed the Directorate for Inter-services Intelligence’s (ISI’s) Afghan bureau from 1983 to 1987, and was responsible for the supply, training, and operation planning of the mujahideen.

“Almost half of this money originated from the U.S. taxpayer, with the remainder coming from the Saudi Arabian government or rich Arab individuals.”3

In many standard accounts, Pakistan redeployed these battle-hardened operatives to Kashmir in 1990 when the Soviets formally withdrew from Afghanistan. In fact, Pakistan has relied on nonstate actors to prosecute its foreign policy objectives in Kashmir since its independence in 1947. In that year, the state mobilized lashkars (tribal forces) to seize Kashmir while the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, Hari Singh, debated whether to join India or Pakistan.

The Pakistan Army supported the lashkars. Worried about being defeated by the lashkars, the maharaja asked New Delhi for military support. Delhi’s price was accession to India, and the maharaja agreed.

By October 1947, Pakistan’s first foray into asymmetric warfare had precipitated the first Indo-Pakistani conventional military crisis (the 1947–1948 war). That war ended on January 1, 1949, with the establishment of a ceasefire line sponsored by the United Nations, which demarcated which areas were under Pakistani and which were under Indian control. The ceasefire line was converted to a line of control during the Simla Accords, which concluded the end of the Indo-Pakistani 1971 war.4

Following the failed effort to seize Kashmir in 1947, Pakistan supported numerous covert cells within Indian-administered Kashmir, sometimes using operatives based in the Pakistani embassy in New Delhi.

In 1965, Pakistan assessed that a wider indigenous insurgency could be fomented in Indian-administered Kashmir.5 Pakistan’s interest in using proxy war may have increased during the 1950s, when the United States provided insurgency-specific training during the Cold War.6 The United States was an important supplier of military equipment for several reasons, including to help balance against Soviet power in the region. Pakistan’s military also undertook an important doctrinal shift under American influence and tutelage.

As Stephen Cohen noted, Pakistan began intensively studying guerilla warfare during its engagement with the U.S. military. While the United States was interested in suppressing such wars, Pakistan was interested in learning how to launch such wars against India -- or even to develop its own “people’s army” as a second defense against India.7

With American assistance, Pakistan established the Special Services Group in 1956, a special forces unit initially led by Lieutenant Colonel A. O. Mitha that could fight the Soviets should they invade and occupy the country. It was trained to fight a guerrilla war, and Pakistani officers were brought to Fort Bragg and other facilities in the United States.8

Pakistani professional military journals also began exploring “low-intensity conflict,” a concept and vernacular that Pakistanis still use in place of counterinsurgency.

Case studies were written on Yugoslavia, North Vietnam, Algeria, and China. Many of these studies concluded that guerilla warfare could be a “strategic weapon,” a “slow but sure and relatively inexpensive” strategy that was “fast, overshadowing regular warfare.”9

Maoist doctrine in particular was appealing because of Pakistan’s close ties to China and its perceived applicability for Kashmir. Pakistan concluded that the key conditions for a successful guerilla war in Kashmir were in place: a worthy cause, challenging terrain, a resolute and warlike people (referring to Pakistanis),
a sympathetic local population, the ready availability of weapons and equipment, and a “high degree of leadership and discipline to prevent [the guerillas] from degenerating into banditry” unlike what had happened in 1947.10

Pakistan launched Operation Gibraltar in 1965, named after Tariq bin Ziad’s conquest of Spain in 711 with 10,000 Moroccans. Pakistan’s military leaders may have been motivated by their study of asymmetric warfare and by U.S. military assistance to India during its 1962 war with China.

In addition, India was relatively weak following its defeat in the 1962 war, and the Pakistani military appeared confident of victory following a 1965 skirmish with India in the Rann of Kutch, along the Indo-Pakistani border. Pakistani planners sought to ensure plausible deniability that regular forces were involved. The bulk of each company of about 120 men comprised razakars and mujahideen.

Recruited from Pakistan-administered Jammu and Kashmir, they were given special training. Officers and a component of men from two paramilitary organizations, the Northern Light Infantry and the Azad Kashmir Rifles, accompanied the irregulars, as did a small number of elite Special Services Group commandos.11

Groups of four to six companies were combined into units commanded by an officer with the rank of a major. Many of the locations where Pakistan trained the irregular fighters were later used to train mujahideen for the Kashmir jihad launched in 1989.12

In total, Pakistan dispatched approximately 30,000 infiltrators during Operation Gibraltar into Indian-administered Kashmir to set up bases, carry out sabotage, and create conditions that would foment a wider indigenous insurrection and facilitate the induction of regular troops into the conflict.

While Operation Gibraltar failed to ignite the desired indigenous rebellion against India, it did succeed in precipitating the second conventional Indo-Pakistani conventional conflict, the 1965 war, which ended in a stalemate.13

In the early 1970s, Pakistan began to provide covert aid to Islamist militant groups in Afghanistan, including those led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Pakistan’s assistance was modest, most likely to minimize punitive action from the Soviet Union, whose military and civilian presence in Afghanistan grew during the 1970s.14

Especially alarming to the Pakistanis was the desire of senior Afghan government officials, including President Daoud Khan, to unite Pashtuns on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.15

Contrary to conventional wisdom, Pakistan’s support to Afghan militants did not commence with the December 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Some argue that Pakistan was a victim of U.S. exploitation during the Soviet occupation and U.S. abandonment of Pakistan once the Soviets withdrew.16 But Pakistani assistance began at least five years before the Soviet invasion. [...]

1 comment:

Saurabh Joshi said...

The '65 war is reputed to have ended in a stalemate because the Indian PM was too much of a pushover to resist demands from Pakistan and the international community to return captured territory at the Tashkent conference. Notwithstanding the fact that he died promptly afterward, at Tashkent, under arguably smelly circumstances.