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Special Operations: The Pakistani Specials
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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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GOP       8/14/2008 1:56:22 AM
OK, I'll bite.
Why are we training these guys? Why are we training a country that has proven it will play both sides of the fence in the GWOT? Why are we training a unit to be highly competent when the odds are that many of these highly competent 'operators' will go rogue and switch over to the Talibani side (and possibly share the knowledge they learned from the SF guys and use it against us)? I just see this going badly, or ending up being useless. Thoughts?
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Smoking Gun       9/12/2008 8:07:03 PM

Your comments don?t make any sense. Their Special Services Group is quite capable to take care of Taliban. They don?t need any additional training. They have vast experience from Soviet war in Afghanistan, the SSG deployed there, disguised as Afghans and provided support to the Mujahideen fighting the Soviets. They were known as ?Black Strokes?. SSG has aided in the capture of many senior Al Qaeda leaders, most notably Abu Zubaida and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and conducts regular operations as part of the Pakistani Special Operations Task Force in the Tribal Areas of North West Pakistan. As far as creating a separate counter terrorism squad is concern, yet another ploy of Pakis to get military and financial payoff from US.

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Achi    Square-up   11/29/2008 1:16:50 PM
Pak Specops and ISI operator networks (formal and informal) have divergent goals and ISI's overarching strategy (implicit or explicit) includes severing or managing the Indian connection. Pak's "counter-insurgency" strategy is not working and Taliban and Qaida terrorists are roaming around when they could be rounded up (because they are so open about it!) in a couple of months! Policy-makers should square with reality! An Afghani solution would be to annex Waziristan but the intl community and the US will not stomach this. The US solution is intel + targeted killings of terrorists. General Jones squared with reality when he identified Queda et al as Taliban + Qaida bases. The Paks' response to US counter-terrorism overtures and efforts are really very predictable! Pephaps this is why the US has been blind to reality for so long! Pak specops have a stark choice: "who do I want as my enemy in Pakistan? The US or the Taliban or Qaida?" They prefer the US as their enemy!! Come on guys! Square up! This is not really "their job" except on paper. It's our job. Pakistan is another failed state as far as Waziristan is concerned. What are the policy-makers waiting for? Border patrols and the occasional drone won't solve the problem. We need to fight their strategy by making it clear that Waziristan will not be governed by Paks if it continues to fool around. The call to order will come sometime anyway.
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