Mar 19 2008

Updates On The War On Terror In Afghanistan And Pakistan – The Marines Have Arrived

Interestingly enough there are times when the far left get their hands on detailed information which is of interest to all. Of course these people spin this information to prop up their radical, fringe views – but nonetheless there is an interesting core of truth at the center of all the propaganda. And sometimes it is worth noting (un-spun of course). That is the case today as I round up some very interesting articles on the war efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan which you won’t see highlighted in the SurrenderMedia.

As with regards to the war front in Pakistan against al-Qaeda and their ilk, there is an interesting left wing piece which notes a major policy shift in Pakistan to address America’s needs to take out al-Qaeda’s last strong holds.

In September 2006, while launching his book – In the Line of Fire – President Pervez Musharraf revealed that soon after 9/11, US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage warned Lt. Gen. Mahmud Ahmed, head of ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence service, the US would “bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Age” if it did not accept the following seven demands:

1) Stop Al-Qaeda operations on the Pakistani border, intercept arms shipments through Pakistan and all logistical support for bin Laden

2) Blanket over-flights and landing rights for US planes.

3) Access to Pakistan’s naval bases, airbases and borders.

4) Immediate intelligence and immigration information.

5) Curb all domestic expression of support for terrorism against the United States, its friends and allies.

6) Cut off fuel supply to the Taliban and stop Pakistani volunteers going into Afghanistan to join the Taliban.

7) For Pakistan to break diplomatic relations with the Taliban and assist the US to destroy bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda network.

Now more than six years later, the US has handed over another ‘wish-list’ to Pakistan. US Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen’s two recent visits to Pakistan were reportedly linked to the following 11 American demands for the US military and auxiliary personnel to be deployed in Pakistan under new plan:

1-The US military and auxiliary personnels should be granted a status that is accorded to the technical and administrative staff of the US embassy in Islamabad. Meaning diplomatic immunity.

2-These personnel be allowed to enter and exit Pakistan on mere National Identification (for example a driving license) that is without any visas.

3-Pakistan should accept the legality of all US licenses, including the arms licenses.

4-All these personnel should be allowed to carry arms and wear uniforms as they wish, across the whole of Pakistan.

5-The US criminal jurisdiction be applicable in Pakistan to US nationals. In other words, these personnel would not be subject to Pakistani laws.

6-They should be exempted from all taxes, including indirect taxes like excise duty, etc.

7-They should be allowed inspection-free import and export of all goods and materials.

8-Allow free movement of vehicles, vessels including aircraft, without landing or parking fees.

9-Selected US contractors should also be exempted from tax payments.

10-Free of cost use of telecommunication systems and using all necessary radio spectrum.

11-A waiver of all claims to damage to loss or destruction of others’ property, or death to personnel or armed forces or civilians.

While the author sees this as American Imperialism I see this as a sign of immense progress and clearing the path for a major effort to take out al-Qaeda’s final sanctuaries. And it is clear the Pakistani government – for the moment – is either going along with this or unable to do much about it. To me these are standard agreements required to let our forces deal with al-Qaeda in limited operations – something that has been known to be allowed for months now.

Even more interesting is this article from the World Socialists Web, which notes the arrangements that have been made for US Special Forces and Intelligence activities inside Pakistan:

The issue remains highly sensitive as the winners of last month’s elections—the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)—prepare to form a government. Whatever their limited criticisms of US militarism during the campaign, both parties have a long record of supporting Pakistan’s alliance with Washington and collaborating with the US military. Significantly, neither party has protested against the latest missile strike, an indication that the new government, like Musharraf, will acquiesce to US strikes in the tribal areas.

There are many signs that the Bush administration has expanded covert operations inside Pakistan since the beginning of the year. In early January, the New York Times reported that a top-level White House meeting, involving Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and other senior officials, discussed in detail “far more aggressive covert operations” inside Pakistani border areas.

“The new operations for expanded covert operations include loosening restrictions on the CIA to strike selected targets in Pakistan, in some cases using intelligence provided by Pakistani sources, officials said. Most counter terrorism operations in Pakistan have been conducted by the CIA… [I]f the CIA were given broader authority, it could call for help from the military or deputise some forces of the Special Operations Command to act under the authority of the agency,” the article stated.

While the New York Times claimed that no decisions were taken at the January meeting, another article last month reported that the CIA had established a base inside Pakistan. “Among other things, the new arrangements allowed an increase in the number and scope of patrols and strikes by armed Predator surveillance aircraft launched from a secret base in Pakistan—a far more aggressive strategy to attack Al Qaeda and the Taliban than had existed before,” the Times explained.

In its report of Sunday’s strike, the Times noted that Mike McConnell, director of national intelligence and General Michael Hayden, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, reached an agreement in January with the new Pakistani army chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, to allow the US greater freedom to strike targets in the tribal areas without specific permission from the Pakistani Army. The article claimed that the US was receiving “better on-the-ground human intelligence” by providing “large cash payments to tribesmen”.

There has been a marked increase in visits to Pakistan this year by senior American military officers, including two by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen. During his latest visit on March 4, Admiral Mullen discussed US assistance to expand Pakistan’s Frontier Corps to a force of around 85,000 recruited from tribesmen in the border areas. The Pentagon has already spent around $25 million to provide the Frontier Corps with equipment, including vehicles, radios and surveillance devices, and plans to spend another $75 million over the next year.

I have posted on all of these stories as they have come out – and more. But it is a nice synopsis of the changes taking place and why Pakistan is ‘heating up’: the big battle against the remnants of al-Qaeda is being prepared, and may be ready to start up in earnest. The 80,000 Pakistani troops surrounding the southern perimeter of the tribal areas are just one side of the trap surrounding the terrorists. There are the 30,000 NATO troops along the Northern perimeter inside Afghanistan. And amongst these are the newly arrived Marines, battle hardened and ready to go after al-Qaeda, which some of our readers (who are members of these brave soldiers’ families) have been telling us about in the comments section:

Some of the 3,200 U.S. Marines slated for a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan’s volatile south have begun arriving at the region’s largest base following a call from Canada for more troops there.

About 2,300 troops from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., will be based in Kandahar, the Taliban’s former power base. A majority of those Marines arrived in the last several days.

The Marines will conduct a “full spectrum of operations” to capitalize on recent gains by NATO and Afghan forces, said Brig. Gen. Carlos Branco, a spokesman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force. They began arriving this week.

“I believe that the arrival of the Marines simply reinforces what is proving to be a successful strategy. It also demonstrates the commitment of the United States to Afghanistan over the long-term,” U.S. Ambassador William Wood said Tuesday.

After arriving, key personnel began meeting with other military leaders and collecting lessons learned from those who have been operating in the area, said Capt. Kelly Frushour, a spokeswoman for the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Another story I noticed was a day-in-the-life review of a unit fighting in Afghanistan, and how they were succeeding (despite the fanciful headlines from the DC and NYC based SurrenderMedia):

Just one of the recent “ticks” that Amos, an Apache Indian and National Guardsman from New Mexico, has been in against faceless al-Qaeda-backed insurgents along Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan, the fight underscores the intensity of the conflict with a nearly invisible enemy.

It is rare – almost never – when US forces get to count the dead enemy and take toll of who precisely has been attacking them. “I interact on a daily basis with an enemy that has both local and foreign elements,” says Captain Loius Frketic, who commands a battalion known as the “Able Main Warlords” in Kunar province’s Pech Valley. He is sure they are foreigners because he can hear Arab voices on the radio communications he intercepts. “But just what the foreign element is bringing to the fight, I don’t exactly know.”

Platoon leaders in regular clashes with insurgents here say that their foe is under the direct sway of al-Qaeda. “When we are in a village, we always know that al-Qaeda and the Taliban will soon be back to try to undercut us and try to one-up us,” said Sergeant Mark Patterson, whose platoon in the Korengal Valley has been in some of the heaviest fighting anywhere in Afghanistan. US forces based out of the “KOP”, or Korengal Outpost, face a higher concentration of al-Qaeda-backed insurgents than most regions of Afghanistan, not least because an Egyptian lieutenant of al-Qaeda operates among them, say US officers.

While US forces rarely see their enemy, their mission is to fight for the hearts and minds of the same people al-Qaeda and its affiliates try to win over. While the insurgents try to operate with the cover of the what Chinese leader Mao Zedong once called the “sea of the people”, US forces are trying to pry away that popular backing.

“We are constantly pushing into areas where the enemy operates freely – encroaching upon them and taking away their population base,” says Commander Larry LeGree, who is charged with building roads into insurgent strongholds in the foothills of the Hindu Kush.

These stories always amaze and impress me because of the unbelievable challenges are forces face and how their gritty determination helps them find a way to succeed. These folks on the front lines are definitely a cut above the rest. When they put their minds to it they find a way.

Under pressure the terrorists are beginning to lash out – at children. They know they are no match for the forces of NATO, the US and Pakistan so they have now stooped to threatening schools filled with children if they are attacked:

The Federal Home Department has issued a confidential letter (PS/HS/68/2008) to the Punjab chief secretary, police chief and other concerned departments on March 15 (Saturday) with the details of the threat that the al Qaeda supporters want to take revenge of military operation against the Lal Masjid [schools] of Islamabad. “In view of above and recent suicide attacks in the province, it is imperative that necessary precautionary and preventive measures may be taken with heightened vigilance over the public schools and other prominent school chain system to avoid any untoward incident,” the letter read as saying.

You can feel the fear of desperation in this sick act. al-Qaeda and their radical Taliban cousins are in serious trouble if this is their defense, to kill Muslim children if attacked. It is missteps like this which indicate to me al-Qaeda is scared to death of what is coming. And it also indicates to me they will lose more and more public support – as can be seen in this Pakistani Commentary:

We must accept that we are caught in a horrible bind from which there is no escape. And, that there is only one practical way forward and that is a resolute fight to the finish against religious extremism. This specious search for ‘root causes’ is sophistry and self-deception.

I also ran across this article noting the rising backlash to AQ in Pakistan – sounds like something I would have (or have) written!

In the last year, Taliban attacks kept about four percent of children out of school. This is often done by burning down the local school, or killing teachers. The tribes support the schools, but if the Taliban can get one of their combat teams (50-100 gunmen) into an area, the tribesmen back down and do what the Taliban want. These Taliban teams are large enough to drive away local police. The Taliban groups can be gone before the Afghan army can show up, and return to keep the locals terrorized. But the U.S./NATO troops are more mobile, and have better intel (UAVs and manned aircraft). If foreign troops are available, the Taliban often get caught, and that’s when those items show up in the news, about “20-50 Taliban killed in southern Afghanistan.” Last year, over 4,000 Taliban were killed in this way, and the Taliban lost influence in many areas.

The increased number of suicide bomber attacks are of dubious value. As in Iraq, most of the victims are civilians, which turns more of the population against the Taliban. Arabs have been more willing to accept the al Qaeda religious belief that Moslem civilians caught by a suicide bomb are “involuntary martyrs”, and Moslems who don’t agree with al Qaeda are not really Moslems at all, and can be killed. Even in Arab nations, most of the population was appalled at these attitudes, and have turned against al Qaeda in the last five years. Afghans are less tolerant of this kind of terrorist violence. But al Qaeda has shifted personnel and cash from Iraq (where they have been defeated) to Afghanistan, and al Qaeda still believes in suicide bombings. So if the Taliban wants al Qaeda help, it’s got to accept the dead civilians.

And losing support in the process. And that leads me to my last article of the day, one which is from as local news station here in DC which highlights how al-Qaeda targets young people to be their butchers, preying on the next generation of Arab Muslims:

Al Qaida recruiters lingered outside the mosques and picked lonely, young men to quickly befriend. Within days, enthusiastic candidates for Jihad were consuming massive amounts of al Qaida’s anti-American rhetoric.

Less than a year later, these recruits are in U.S. custody in Iraq.

Tricked by al Qaida into killing fellow Muslims, they’re now praying for a chance to go back to North Africa and Saudi Arabia.

Forty-eight middle class young men thought they could make a name for themselves and achieve glory by joining al Qaida.

Bored and disengaged, they were constantly fighting with their parents. Most of them were angry with their harsh, abusive and often absent fathers. Their jobs as taxi drivers and construction workers were taking them nowhere. They were stuck in dead-end lives with no purpose or excitement, and no way to become “somebody.”

Bouyed by an inflated sense of self-importance about their mission to kill Americans in Iraq, these young, strong, and in many cases, poorly educated fighters secretly packed their bags and sneaked out of their homes — most planning to never return.

“They all then flew to Damascus,” Smith says. “It often would take weeks or a month or two to get from Syria into Iraq and they were then handled by various facilitators inside Syria.”

They were quickly handed off to an Iraqi al Qaida, who right from the beginning shunned these foreign fighters. They were not welcomed into the group. They were often sequestered away from the rest of the fighters. If they were there as suicide bombers they were often under fed.”

After weeks and months of similar indignities came the ultimate humiliation.

“They became more and more indoctrinated into the ideology and then given a mission to go off and kill what they thought were Americans, but as we all know, the vast majority of the targets were fellow Muslims.”

I am probably going to pull this out into a separate post because this is the story of the war in Iraq and how al-Qaeda fought it. It is what will stick in the minds of the Muslim world and cement the image of al-Qaeda as not only the enemy of Islam, but a predator which preyed upon Islam’s children, either as hostages with guns to their heads or suicide bombers killing fellow Muslims. This is why al-Qaeda is doomed and America can and will and must win this war – just as George Bush claims.

6 responses so far

6 Responses to “Updates On The War On Terror In Afghanistan And Pakistan – The Marines Have Arrived”

  1. crosspatch says:

    And then there’s this piece on Fox’s website that says maybe our military isn’t broken after all!

  2. AJ: I know the MEU Commander personally; I served with him some years ago; I’m reaching out to him; I’ll let you know how it goes.

  3. Cobalt Shiva says:

    The Marines have landed, and the situation is well in hand.

  4. VinceP1974 says:

    I really hate the Left in this country.

  5. AJStrata says:

    Dale, that would be immensely helpful. You have my email – right?

  6. I do; I’m reaching out to him; I’ll let you know. R/dale