Friday, December 7, 2007

US counterinsurgency plan 'utter stupidity': expert

The US military's plan to "replicate the Iraq model" (Guardian) by training and equipping tribal militias is "utter stupidity", according to Ahmed Rashid, the celebrated author and expert on the Taliban. From UPI:

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- The U.S. plan to arm Pakistani tribal forces on the border with Afghanistan to help in the fight against Islamic extremists is fraught with difficulty ...

Ahmed Rashid, one of the world's foremost experts on the Taliban, this week ridiculed the plan as an exemplar of the problems with U.S. policy in the region.

He called it: "A prime example of utter stupidity and a complete blindness to what's going on on the ground."

... Officials say the U.S. plan to secure the tribal belt has three elements: a significant increase in current military assistance to the Frontier Corps; a proposal by U.S. Special Operations Command to train and arms tribal militias; and a $750 million aid package for the border area, which is divided into seven semi-autonomous areas, known as the Federally Administered Tribal Agencies.

Rashid poured scorn on the idea that the Frontier Corps could be an effective force to interdict cross-border activity by Taliban or secure the area against al-Qaida militants. The corps had been "on the side of the Taliban since the 1980s," he said, and had been used by the Pakistani intelligence services in their covert support for the Taliban against the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance before Sept. 11.

... But one veteran observer of the region was skeptical about any "boots on the ground" involvement by the United States.

"I have trouble imagining that," former state department intelligence official Marvin Weinbaum told UPI. "U.S. personnel in the tribal areas would be very exposed," he said, as would any U.S.-associated infrastructure, like a training center. "We are not well liked there." (link)
See this blog's previous post on the matter.

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