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
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.