Special Operations: The Pakistani Specials




August 11, 2008: Pakistani troops has been having a difficult time going after Islamic terrorists in the tribal areas along the Afghan border. Part of the problem is lack of counter-terror training, and part has been divided loyalties. It works like this. The Pakistani army has been trained largely to fight Indian troops in a conventional war. Counter-terrorist operations against tribal warriors requires a very different skill set. Then there are loyalty issues. About twenty percent of military personnel are from the tribal areas. Being a soldier is considered a worthy career for tribal men, but they have decidedly mixed feelings about fighting their own people.

Well aware of this situation, the U.S. convinced Pakistan to allow the creation of a counter-terror unit trained by American Army Special Forces . The Pakistani military tends to have a favorable attitude towards these Special Forces, and allowed the recruiting and training troops for a special team to go after al Qaeda and Taliban leaders in the tribal areas.

This was not an entirely new undertaking. Half a century ago, U.S. Special Forces helped Pakistan create its first commando unit, the SSG (Special Service Group). But these troops, like the rest of the Pakistani armed forces, have been preparing for another war with India. Unofficially, the Pakistani Special Forces has a strength of about 3,000 troops, and in the last twenty years, they have been involved aiding foreign and Afghan Islamic radicals fighting Russians in Afghanistan, and aiding similar groups fighting in Kashmir. Thus many of the SSG operators feel a close affinity with Islamic radical warriors and terrorists. Despite that, they have followed orders and successfully undertaken operations against Islamic radicals. This led to SSG members being targeted after the SSG led the assault on the Red Mosque in the Summer of 2007. This appears to have created some bad feelings between SSG and their former Islamic radical comrades.

Now there is a section of the Pakistani Special Service Group that specializes in U.S. counter-terrorism methods. Exactly how they will operate, how many of them there are and how they will work with foreign counter-terror operators, is all classified. But they are out there now, doing something.

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