US-Pak anti-terror operations in “jeopardy” following emergency

November 14th, 2007 - 10:22 am ICT by admin  
Lt General Carter Ham, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington said on Wednesday, “We would certainly not want to see… jeopardised in any way” the “very valuable” cooperation between the two militaries, the Daily Times reported.

Ham further said that in Islamabad, the US and Pakistani military officials are “exploring a wide range of options that could improve operations” in the tribal areas, where Pakistani efforts have been “mixed.”

The US military also has a critical interest in preserving bilateral ties, as it depends heavily on Pakistan to facilitate its air and ground transit for over half the fuel and other supplies for the 25,000 US troops fighting in Afghanistan, US officers said.

Many military supplies go through Karachi; while fuel is trucked by Pakistani contractors over the mountain passes into Afghanistan.

“We, obviously, are very interested in making sure that that stays open,” Ham said.

Pakistan and the US are all set to put into motion a five to seven year plan to fight insurgency in the tribal areas.

A report in the Washington Post said on Friday that the initial programme is to last from five to seven years.

“It extends beyond security to span broad-reaching economic development, health-care and literacy efforts by several US and Pakistani agencies under a plan integrated by US Ambassador Anne Patterson. The plan, developed over the past year, recognises that ‘there is a full-blown and complex insurgency in the FATA,’ said one official.

‘It’s not just a bunch of foreign fighters running around conducting terrorist acts.’

The security elements of the initiative are expected to cost 75 million dollars to 100 million dollars a year, including the cost of trainers, training facilities and light infantry weapons such as machine guns, as well as mortars, body armour, helmets, radios and trucks, the paper reported.

Currently, US Special Forces teams make occasional trips to Pakistan for about six weeks at a time to train different groups of Pakistani soldiers.

However, under the new plan, the 12-man teams would be stationed there for longer assignments, without gaps in between, and they would work consistently with the same set of local troops.

“Other trainers would teach basic skills to Pakistan’s Frontier Corps, the tribally recruited paramilitary force that patrols the tribal regions,” the official said.

“Training would include marksmanship as well as how to set up checkpoints and gather basic intelligence, while providing the force with helicopter support such as medical evacuation by the Pakistani army,” he added.

At present, about 400 US military personnel work in Pakistan, and the total is expected to grow by dozens under the new initiative. (ANI)

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