By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 24, 2008
The U.S. military plans to significantly expand and accelerate its counterinsurgency training and provision of equipment for Pakistan's armed forces this year as part of a five-year, $2 billion U.S.-Pakistani effort to help stabilize the country, senior U.S. and Pakistani officials said.
The enhanced cooperation will include U.S. military assistance toward counterinsurgency training, technical gear and assistance to improve the Pakistani military's intelligence gathering and its air and ground mobility, the officials said. If requested by Pakistan, it could also involve U.S. Special Operations Forces working with the Pakistani military as it launches "more aggressive" actions against insurgents in northwest tribal areas, said Ambassador Dell L. Dailey, the State Department's counterterrorism coordinator.
The plan will involve about $150 million from the United States each year, Dailey told defense reporters Tuesday, and will emphasize development assistance. In turn, Pakistan will contribute $1.25 billion to the plan over five years, according to State Department figures.
The effort comes amid criticism from Congress that the billions of dollars the Bush administration has already spent on Pakistani security efforts have produced poor results. Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the United States has poured about $10 billion in aid into Pakistan -- more than $6 billion of it for military financing and reimbursement to Pakistan for counterterrorism operations.
Despite the aid, the insurgency of Islamic extremists in Pakistan has grown, and the Pakistani Army has lost hundreds of troops in tribal areas. "It has not worked," said Rick Barton of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
U.S. officials said the new strategy is critical, as insurgents once focused on Afghanistan have turned inward to challenge the Pakistani government. "The plan to counter insurgents is to work with the Pakistanis to share intelligence, increase cross-border cooperation between ourselves, the Afghans and the Pakistanis, and to work with Pakistan's military to increase their capability," Adm. William Fallon, the top U.S. commander for the Middle East, told The Washington Post this week.
"Pakistan's military recognizes the seriousness of the internal insurgent problem," said Fallon, who arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday to meet with military leaders.
Senior military officials place high hopes on the new chief of Pakistan's armed forces, Ashfaq Kiyani, who studied at the U.S. Army's Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. "The army under Kiyani is already changing its tactics," said a senior military official who was not authorized to speak on the record.
Kiyani also must change the army's traditional emphasis on India. "We trained for set piece battles in the plains of Pakistan and India . . . we need more detailed counterinsurgency training," said Mahmud Ali Durrani, Pakistan's ambassador to the United States.
Much of the increased U.S. military cooperation will be tailored to improve the counterinsurgency operations of the Pakistani military and Frontier Corps, a large but ill-equipped force that has suffered most of the government's combat casualties in tribal areas. For example, it will involve sending in small teams of U.S. trainers, including Special Forces soldiers, as well as technical experts to work with the Pakistani Air Force and intelligence personnel. The U.S. military is planning to expand the number of trainers for Pakistan's Frontier Corps, possibly including contractors or allied forces, and is also seeking to tap into $37 million in counterterrorism funds for that effort, according to U.S. officials.
This increased cooperation would both expand a multiyear U.S. counterinsurgency plan that is being implemented, with $157 million in aid planned for 2008 and more U.S. contract and Special Forces trainers expected to arrive in Pakistan this spring, U.S. officials said.