Pakistan army to move into the FATA

LA Times:

Meeting a key Pentagon demand, Pakistan's military is planning to move a major unit of its regular army into the tribal areas on its western border, a largely lawless area used as a haven by Al Qaeda and Afghan insurgents, Pakistani commanders have told U.S. military officials.

The army unit would supplement the country's Frontier Corps, an ill-trained force frequently routed by insurgents, a senior U.S. military officer said. A fully trained and equipped army unit would represent a change, long sought by U.S. officials, in Islamabad's stance toward the troubled region.

However, U.S. officials also question how effective or long-lasting the Pakistani push is likely to be.

"I think they are sincere in addressing what we have identified as the problem, but I am not sure they have wrapped their minds or their enthusiasm over what it will actually take," the officer said. "They are answering our request, but not in a way that will produce an enduring solution."

I think this move is probably the quid pro quo for upgrading the F-16s. To be effective the troops need counterinsurgency training which the US has offered to supply in the past. With that training they have the potential to be the best answer to the problem of the sanctuaries. Whether the force will give them an adequate force to space ratio is another question. The terrain is such that the ratio needs to be higher than it would in Iraq.

Still, I think it is a good start.


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