US military role in Pakistan no secret: Pentagon

February 24th, 2009 - 7:34 am ICT by IANS  

TalibanWashington, Feb 24 (IANS) The US Defence Department confirmed that it has a team of military advisers training the Pakistani army in counter-insurgency operations but said the programme has been openly discussed for months, rejecting a newspaper report suggesting it was a “secret” project.
“The training effort with the (Pakistan) Frontier Corps is not a secret,” said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman Monday, referring to a New York Times report.

“We’ve talked about it on the record for several months,” he told reporters.

Whitman spoke after the newspaper posted a report late Sunday that a team of 70 advisers were secretly helping the Pakistani army with training and intelligence against Taliban and Al Qaeda militants in western tribal areas.

He said there were about 30 advisers involved in a “train the trainer” programme with the Frontier Corps, in which Pakistani soldiers undergo instruction from US officers and then go on to train their own troops operating in the restive border area.

The programme was designed to “help the Frontiers Corps develop its own training programme in counter-insurgency techniques”, Geo TV quoted the spokesman as saying.

He would not confirm or deny that the advisers were mainly from US Army Special Forces, as reported by the newspaper.

“We’ve never really talked about the composition (of the US military team),” he said. There were fewer than 100 military personnel in total stationed in Pakistan, including the training contingent, he said.

He added the US “shares information” with the Pakistani authorities on militants.

Earlier The Times wrote that a unit within the Frontier Corps has used information from the Central Intelligence Agency and other sources to kill or capture as many as 60 militants in the past seven months, including at least five high-ranking rebel commanders.

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