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Agnostic Muslim
22 Dec 13,, 16:25
A very interesting piece by Wajahat S Khan, reporting on his experiences while embedded with two infantry divisions in South Waziristan - some excerpts:

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... The new brigadier got a bit of a welcome party in just his first week, officers recall. They had picked up signal chatter a month ago, but they hadn’t been able to process it because the intel was too disconnected. All they knew was that the insurgents had gotten hold of some uniforms. That’s it.

Meanwhile, the army’s new “digital camo” uniforms had still not arrived for all the units stationed in this sector held by the 327 for a couple of years now. Some of the officers who had been to Pindi for down time or briefings were sporting the new gear. Most of the rest of the troops were not. That proved to be a critical logistical lapse. When they came in, around a week into the new brigadier’s stint, the six insurgents were all wearing the old uniforms. So they blended in, because so many units move up and down the new road. That allowed them to take the initiative: all you need in an engagement here.

The firefight lasted a couple of hours. Three of the insurgents were gunmen, the other three “suiciders”. Before he blew himself up, one of them even managed to get just inside the ring of fire, the Brigade Headquarters’ officers’ complex itself, ironically built around the residence of Khan Gul, a militant commander who was killed in a drone strike in 2012. The 327 took losses: one soldier was killed, two injured. They hadn’t seen them coming. That’s why the officers were pensive, even angry at themselves.

Later, visiting the public square cum market the 40th Division has built (which features a tailor, a butcher, a tea stall, a hardware depot, a blacksmith, even a barber-shop, which is a tough sell around these parts), the edginess didn’t disappear as interactions with the locals began.

“We haven’t had an attack here in months. More than a year, even,” said a captain. “An attack of such scale doesn’t mean they’re coming back. But it means they’re around. And it also means there was some sort of local support. After all we’ve been through together, the locals and us, that’s unacceptable.” ...

... “The Hunting Party”

“It’s VUCA,” said the commanding officer (CO), whose unit patrols the eastern shoulder of what the Army calls the ‘Mehsud Triangle’ - the gaping area once dominated by Mehsud tribesmen that is now flanked on the east by the 40th Division and held on the west by the 9th Division. “It’s totally VUCA, this place.”

“Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous,” he wisps into the smoke filled room, with Hamid Mir pontificating on the flat screen. “Volatile because the nature, speed, volume, magnitude and dynamics of events change all the time. Uncertain because of the lack of predictability of events and issues. Complex because of the interconnectivity of various and different parts that confound those issues. And ambiguous, because reality is hazy, mixed confusingly with the meaning of conditions.”

We’re having, believe it or not, perfectly crusted chicken pot pie. Complete with cheese, mushrooms, potatoes and Dunhills. “I picked up the recipe at (names the Western military academy he’s recently trained at). The chef here took some time to adapt to it. We don’t have much to do here except fight and eat. So we do both…we have a lot of time to improve both those skills.”

Under a picture of the Chief of Army Staff and the colonel commandant of his regiment, there is a framed still from the field. I count 18 in all, officers and soldiers, wearing their tac-gear, bandoliers and a Waziristani sunburn, looking like they all need sleep and showers. The name and date of the operation, which happened this summer, and a commendation from the 327 Brigade, is etched under the picture.

“That was fun…A hunting party,” says the CO. “We had been picking up chatter for days and we knew, roughly, of a location that these guys were hiding out in. We had estimated around 20 to 30 of them to be there. So I put together a contingent, got permissions, and took off. We were tired of sitting around.”

“We pre-streamed two fully charged iPads with the estimated Google Maps location our intel had indicated these guys were at. We drove for half a day, till the track finished. We kept going, on foot, on light rations, and dropped our heavy weapons. We walked for two days and nights. We slept on the rocks, and hid in caves. We moved at night. We had borrowed these new lights [gear specifics cannot be named] from the SSG [Special Service Group, the army’s special operations formation], which helped us along.”

“When we made contact, on the third afternoon, we had just 12 percent of batteries left on our second iPad. I remember that. Most of our cigarettes were also gone, which is always a bad sign. We were getting tired. We had Steyrs [Austrian-made sniper rifles], a couple of Dragunovs [Russian-made sniper rifles], RPGs [rocket propelled grenades], and our regular kit with SMGs {Type 56s, Chinese variants of the AK-47].”

“Our intel had been good on location, but bad about the numbers. There were more than 20 of them. Much, much more than 20. We engaged through our snipers from the high ground, then took out a couple of their compounds with the RPGs. They swarmed out, and kept coming, from a hidden enclave in the rear that we hadn’t seen. We kept engaging.

“They had solar panels. They had sat phones. They had mortars. The hot part of the engagement lasted around 45 minutes.

“We eventually called in aviation. We had to, as I didn’t want to carry a single shaheed back. But Google Maps, Zindabad.

“I don’t have drones and satellites, but I have what the Americans don’t: ownership. That’s why we’re innovative. We could have just sat there and done nothing, or we could have engaged. So we engaged and had a hunting party. More pie?” ...

Walking with warriors: Dispatches from Waziristan - DAWN.COM (http://www.dawn.com/news/1075596/walking-with-warriors-dispatches-from-waziristan)

Dreadnought
23 Dec 13,, 15:35
“I don’t have drones and satellites, but I have what the Americans don’t: ownership. That’s why we’re innovative. We could have just sat there and done nothing, or we could have engaged. So we engaged and had a hunting party. More pie?”

Dam shame they didnt show "ownership" for decades and now they realize the problems they have let into the country to bloom. Who would have figured?:rolleyes:

Parihaka
23 Dec 13,, 18:25
It leaves me wondering, is the PA really that ad hoc?

Agnostic Muslim
27 Dec 13,, 20:21
It leaves me wondering, is the PA really that ad hoc?
A paucity of resources requires 'improvisation' ...

Agnostic Muslim
27 Dec 13,, 20:27
Dam shame they didnt show "ownership" for decades and now they realize the problems they have let into the country to bloom. Who would have figured?
There was no 'TTP conflict and army deployment in FATA' for 'decades', so you can hardly expect the Army to 'take ownership' of a conflict that did not exist in the time frame you defined.

Secondly, while the units deployed in the battlefield may have taken 'ownership' to some degree, the larger question of 'Pakistani ownership' (separate from the more limited concept of Pakistan Army 'ownership') remains unresolved given the lack of political consensus (in the largest political parties of Pakistan) and/or lack of intent over the approach needed, whether it be sustained military operations, capacity building of civilian law enforcement and intelligence to take over from the military or governance/development programs after the initial military deployments.

Agnostic Muslim
27 Dec 13,, 20:41
A recent article in Pakistan's Dawn newspaper listed some interesting facts about Pakistan Army casualties in North Waziristan compared to the other FATA agencies. Some interesting quotes attributed to Pakistan Army officers deployed in NW (displaying increasing frustration at the neither here nor there policy WRT NW). The interviews were conducted in the aftermath of the recent fighting in MirAli after a suicide bomber destroyed a mosque with soldiers praying in it (military lists one dead and 30 plus wounded) and the subsequent terrorist ambush of a Pakistani convoy conducting relief operations at the destroyed mosque (30+ terrorists, primarily Uzbek) killed:


... A ceasefire has now been in effect. But the question is for how long. The military is edgy. For far too long, they say, they sat out there, taking casualties.

Since September, they say, a total of 67 improvised explosives devices were planted to harm them; 40 were neutralised, 27 exploded, resulting in deaths and injuries to about a hundred of their men.

Since 2009, compared with other tribal regions, the casualty rate the military has suffered is the highest in North Waziristan and eleven times the casualties they have taken in South Waziristan. Patience has worn out.

“The question is for how long,” asked one military officer. “It’s better to go out and die fighting them than take casualties sitting inside our camps.”

In Mirali the fighting has stopped but the situation remains fluid. The military, despite its furious response, says it is committed to the political leadership’s plan to initiate peace dialogue with militants in Waziristan.

Commitment notwithstanding, no-one in the know is willing to put his bottom dollar on the success of the yet-to-start peace process. Such is the complexity of the situation. There are so many groups and with so varied objectives that no matter whom the government speaks to sue peace, any of the groups not happy with the process can light a match to burn down the entire process. Consider what happened on December 18. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) posted an English translation of its statement on the Jamia Hafsa Urdu Forum on Tuesday, saying that the military responded with air and ground attack after a group of “frustrated fighters” had bombed a military convoy.

In the event, it said, fighters from the IMU, the TTP and Ansarul Mujahideen hit back to ‘defend civilians’.

Two IMU fighters were killed and 22 foreign “refugees” wounded. It put the civilian casualty figures at 70. The military, the IMU said, had suffered more than 300 casualties.

The military rubbishes the claim and insists that not a single soldier was killed or injured in the follow-up action which, it says, left more than 30 foreign militants dead, most of them Uzbeks ...
North Waziristan appears close to full-blown conflict - DAWN.COM (http://www.dawn.com/news/1076409/north-waziristan-appears-close-to-full-blown-conflict)
The IMU, true to typical AQ/TTP fashion, issued its own ludicrous 'casualty figures', but the fact that it even admitted casualties through an 'official statement' is an implicit validation of the Army's account of targeting and killing terrorists, primarily Uzbek.

antimony
27 Dec 13,, 20:46
“I don’t have drones and satellites, but I have what the Americans don’t: ownership. That’s why we’re innovative. We could have just sat there and done nothing, or we could have engaged. So we engaged and had a hunting party. More pie?”

Dam shame they didnt show "ownership" for decades and now they realize the problems they have let into the country to bloom. Who would have figured?:rolleyes:

Dread,

I would argue that the PA has been taking too much ownership in matters that do not concern them.
Bangladesh, Baluchistan - all essentially political matters clusterfucked by the PA's hamhanded involvement

Parihaka
27 Dec 13,, 22:42
Dread,

I would argue that the PA has been taking too much ownership in matters that do not concern them.
Bangladesh, Baluchistan - all essentially political matters clusterfucked by the PA's hamhanded involvement
There's not going be be any external intervention the way there was in Bangladesh. Baluchistan and Waziristan will be purely internal matters and the PA is not bound by western ROE's.

Agnostic Muslim
27 Dec 13,, 23:08
Dread,

I would argue that the PA has been taking too much ownership in matters that do not concern them.
Bangladesh, Baluchistan - all essentially political matters clusterfucked by the PA's hamhanded involvement
You are only partially correct there - a significant part of the West Pakistani non-military political class held the same views on East Pakistan that the military ruling elite did. ZA Bhutto in fact played a key role in convincing Gen. Yahya Khan to not accede to the demands from Sheikh Mujib - how could he/they? Allowing East Pakistan based political parties to govern based on 'popular mandate' would have meant relegating most West Pakistan based political players to the sidelines. A Bengali political party with strong electoral support in East Pakistan would have an inherent numerical advantage over the political parties of West Pakistan - the West Pakistani vote bank would be divided along Punjabi, Sindhi and Pakhtun lines, and could not be counted on as a 'singular' bloc like the ethnic Bengali vote bank.

Balochistan's problems are, similarly, not primarily due to the military - they are reflective of decades of 'centralized governance' with the Federal Government calling all the shots. It was in fact under the military rule of Musharraf that steps towards devolution of powers to the provinces were initiated and the process culminated during the PPP led government that was just voted out. Issues with devolution of powers remain of course, but for now there appears to be a consensus amongst all political parties over the need to continue to move away from a strong central/Federal Government role in the provinces.

citanon
10 Jan 14,, 05:53
Speaking of warriors: two of Pakistan's died today. One was not yet 18. How many more before the PA goes from walking to kicking ass?

Teen dies stopping suicide bomber at school in Pakistan - CNN.com (http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/09/world/asia/pakistan-boy-stops-suicide-bomber/index.html?hpt=hp_t2)

Karachi blast kills Pakistani Taliban foe - Central & South Asia - Al Jazeera English (http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia/2014/01/karachi-blast-kills-pakistani-taliban-foe-20141914127538342.html)

Agnostic Muslim
11 Jan 14,, 20:28
Speaking of warriors: two of Pakistan's died today. One was not yet 18. How many more before the PA goes from walking to kicking ass?

That remains a question for the political leadership to answer.

citanon
13 Jan 14,, 03:13
That remains a question for the political leadership to answer.

Yes, because they are the ones who are really in charge of security matters. :rolleyes:

zraver
13 Jan 14,, 05:33
A paucity of resources requires 'improvisation' ...

The PA is one of the largest and best funded armies in Asia. Only India and China have bigger armies and neither has a technological edge over the PA. More and all too typical excuse making. 1.2 million troops, 3000 tanks, over a thousand artillery pieces, hundreds of combat aircraft....

Officer of Engineers
13 Jan 14,, 06:35
The PA is one of the largest and best funded armies in Asia. Only India and China have bigger armies and neither has a technological edge over the PA. More and all too typical excuse making. 1.2 million troops, 3000 tanks, over a thousand artillery pieces, hundreds of combat aircraft....Pakistan has nothing in the DF-31 class nor have ever trained in salvo barrages aimed at specific targets. We have target pictures of Chinese exercises.

The Chinese SU-27s outclass the entire Pakistani AF inventory and the J-10s are at least on par, if not superior, to Pakistani F-16s. The less said of the JF-17, the better ... and the Chinese do have an aircraft carrier.

Agnostic Muslim
13 Jan 14,, 15:59
Yes, because they are the ones who are really in charge of security matters. :rolleyes:
Yes, in terms of providing political cover and public support for a military operation in NW and the resulting spike in retaliatory terrorist attacks across Pakistan, the politicians absolutely have ownership of making the decision to launch a large operation in NW.

Agnostic Muslim
13 Jan 14,, 16:04
The PA is one of the largest and best funded armies in Asia. Only India and China have bigger armies and neither has a technological edge over the PA. More and all too typical excuse making. 1.2 million troops, 3000 tanks, over a thousand artillery pieces, hundreds of combat aircraft....
One of the largest, yes.

One of the best funded, no.

COIN operations beyond the initial 'clearing phase' require a lot more than just 'tanks, artillery pieces and combat aircraft', not to mention the need to balance the deployment of those assets against the massive Indian military deployment along the LoC and IB.