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Pakistan may allow drone strikes if given control over campaign: Former CIA official

Discussion in 'War Against Drones' started by Devil Soul, Dec 23, 2013.

  1. Devil Soul

    Devil Soul ELITE MEMBER

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    Pakistan may allow drone strikes if given control over campaign: Former CIA official
    By Reuters
    Published: December 23, 2013

    WASHINGTON: Pakistan might be willing to allow future drone launches, provided it is given substantial control over drone activities and targets, said former director of the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) Counterterrorism Center Robert Grenier.

    “Under those circumstances, the politics surrounding the country’s sovereignty might not be a big issue,” he said.

    The United States would likely seek approval from future Afghan leaders for most or all of post-withdrawal training activities and counter-terrorism activities – possibly including the use of drones, which have been a defining feature of the Obama administration security strategy in far-flung places.

    However, the lack of a sizeable US troop presence in Afghanistan could mean that drones become one of the few remaining tools the United States has against militant groups in the region.

    Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations think tank, said it would be very difficult to continue the drone program if Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s successors decide against allowing launches from Afghan soil after foreign troops withdraw.

    Central Asian nations that might allow such flights are too distant from likely target areas, while the US military currently has only limited ability to operate drones from ships in the Arabian Sea or elsewhere.

    “Short of receiving basing access from a neighbouring state, and overt overflight support from Afghanistan and Pakistan, it would be a very difficult operational risk to conduct drone strikes into Afghanistan or Pakistan,” Zenko said.

    Troops withdrawal

    US officials have warned of the potential for catastrophe if Karzai fails to sign a security pact to permit foreign forces to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

    Unless a deal is reached to enable a modest US force of perhaps 8,000 to stay in the country, the Taliban might stage a major comeback, al Qaeda might regain safe havens and Afghan forces might find themselves starved of funding, the officials say. The post-2014 US force envisioned would train and assist Afghan soldiers and go after the most dangerous militants.

    But even if the Obama administration abruptly pulls out its entire force of 43,000 a year from now, it would still retain a handful of limited security options in Afghanistan.

    While US officials have not discussed a possible post-withdrawal scenario in public, the United States might still, even under those circumstances, continue to provide small-scale support to local forces, mount some special forces missions, and use drones to counter al Qaeda and help keep the Taliban at bay.

    A narrowed security mission would in many ways track a decade-long shift in US strategy, away from the counter-insurgency campaigns of the 2000s toward the Obama administration’s preference for low-profile support to local forces combined with occasional targeted operations.

    Even so, full withdrawal of the main US force would make it more difficult to prevent al Qaeda militants regrouping along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and to stop the Taliban from solidifying control of its southern Afghan heartland.

    “We have a lot of capabilities, but without the (Bilateral Security Agreement), we are very limited,” a US defence official said on condition of anonymity, referring to the bilateral pact the United States is seeking with Karzai.

    For now, US officials remain hopeful – in public at least – that Karzai will drop last-minute demands and sign the pact well before Afghan elections in April. They say they have not begun to plan for a full withdrawal or a possible post-withdrawal mission in earnest.

    But General Joseph Dunford, who commands international forces in Afghanistan, told reporters in Kabul recently that, “If there’s not an answer in December, I expect that we’ll begin to do some more detailed planning about some other eventuality besides the (post-2014) mission.”

    To understand what options the United States might have in Afghanistan following a full withdrawal, “you can look to places where we are already active countering terrorism, like Iraq, Libya, Somalia,” another US defence official said.

    Targeted missions and small-scale support

    Even if all foreign troops do withdraw from Afghanistan, the United States might still send small numbers of special forces, such as Green Berets, to do limited, short-term training missions at the request of Afghan officials. They might also launch occasional raids against militants, as they have in Libya or Somalia.

    “This is a model that’s used around the world,” the first defence official said.

    In October, US forces seized Abu Anas al-Liby, a suspect in the 1998 bombings of two US embassies, in Tripoli, Libya. It is unclear what sort of authority it received from the Libyan government.

    The same weekend, US special forces launched an operation against an al Shabaab militant in Somalia but failed to capture him, US officials said.

    In Iraq, following the US military withdrawal in 2011, the United States set up a large security office attached to its embassy in Baghdad to oversee military sales and provide limited support and advising to the Iraqi government.

    US special forces have also been invited to return to Iraq to provide counterterrorism and intelligence support to Iraqi forces, the general who headed that office said last year, according to a report in the New York Times.

    The US military also is providing some training and equipment to security forces in Yemen, defence officials have said, as the Obama administration seeks to weaken al Qaeda and other militants in the Arabian Peninsula.

    Light footprint

    The former director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center said that if withdrawal of the main US force from Afghanistan becomes necessary, the United States should consider putting some special forces under CIA authority to train local forces or perform limited counter-terrorism activities, possibly along with some members of the CIA’s small paramilitary force.

    “The US footprint would be much smaller, and we would have many fewer capabilities. But it might not be a bad thing,” Grenier said. A light US footprint would give Afghan forces more of a leadership role in pursuing militants than they have had in the past, he said.

    Retaining even a very narrow ability to support elite Afghan soldiers could be especially important if plans for a larger training mission collapse along with US efforts to finalise the security pact. Top US officials have warned that the $4 billion a year in outside aid promised for Afghan forces would be less likely to materialize if the full departure of foreign troops limits lawmakers’ ability to track US aid.

    The administration would also have to rethink much of its development aid as well as its diplomatic strategy if US troops depart.

    Without outside help, Afghanistan’s central government will likely lack the means to pay police and soldiers, encouraging a fracturing of its military along ethnic or regional lines.

    “The biggest risk if we go to the zero option is that the Afghan military falls apart, and then the Afghan state falls apart,” said retired Lieutenant General David Barno, who commanded US and Nato forces in Afghanistan from 2003-2005.
     
  2. Hamartia Antidote

    Hamartia Antidote ELITE MEMBER

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    One has to wonder if there are any Pakistani defense officers actually watching the live video of drone targeting and pointing out what to do/not to do. I certainly doubt they are sitting behind the pilots in Nevada but they could be remotely watching a live video feed and commenting. Not sure what "substantial control" would mean. I doubt they'd be allowed to fly them.
     
  3. xyxmt

    xyxmt ELITE MEMBER

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    I think It means we decide the targets, you fly and destroy it
     
  4. Khan_patriot

    Khan_patriot SENIOR MEMBER

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    I hope this is not the case because the drone policy is a major resentment among the Pakistani populace and if the Pakistani government publicly takes control then all the resentment will be aimed at the government and the military and will give the Talibs one more cause to increase their sphere of influence and gain some more legitimacy for their cause....If the government is going to take control then it must be kept covert....
     
  5. VCheng

    VCheng ELITE MEMBER

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    That can work only if Pakistan stops making the self-defined distinction between the "good" and the "bad" Taliban.
     
  6. Imran Khan

    Imran Khan PDF VETERAN

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    and pakistan will never ever so i am ok with drone they kill both good and bad :partay:
     
  7. Horus

    Horus ADMINISTRATOR

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    What if they turn your family into 'collateral damage', would you still get drunk and cheer over it??

    IMHO even your boozy athiest arse will turn into a suicide bomber, and thats the whole problem.

    Americans create suicide bombers via drone strikes, who destroy and kill us, because America is too far.
     
  8. Imran Khan

    Imran Khan PDF VETERAN

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    ehehehe truth hurts ? bomb them well or wait for drone. pakistan has 0% control over that terrorists heaven . if there was no usama no commando action was taken on abitabad . keep your eyes close till they reach your arse and bang it . you people have to thank drone that they killed two heads of TTP one of them was living some 3km for your army cant :sarcastic::sarcastic::sarcastic:
     
  9. Horus

    Horus ADMINISTRATOR

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    I'll take that as a 'i don't give a shit'.
     
  10. Basel

    Basel ELITE MEMBER

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    If drone strikes are done with coordination of Pakistan then Pakistani Intelligence may be very use full in avoiding civilian casualties, but to minimize that US should have to provide advance surveillance equipment and may be training of using it, to Pakistan on ground so we can work better and avoid agents detection and protect their Identities.
     
  11. Imran Khan

    Imran Khan PDF VETERAN

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    boss if you were not giving a sh1t you will never quote me . lolz we pakistanis blindly following our lies and keep eye close on blunders . i am worry where is aymen al zawahri ? may be one morning we awake and read another commando attack on lahore .
     
  12. RescueRanger

    RescueRanger PDF THINK TANK: CONSULTANT

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    Many moons ago, 2005 to be exact the entire drone campaign in Pakistan was directed out of a 5 bedroom house on street no.3, Islamabad. Plans changed swiftly when the "contractors" decided they could block the entire street from traffic for "security reasons", didn't count on how much "pull" people in that city have with those in the seat of power.
     
  13. Doritos11

    Doritos11 SENIOR MEMBER

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    Why has Pakistan not yet bought the Wing Loong from China ?
     
  14. Horus

    Horus ADMINISTRATOR

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    'We' need to take care of 'them'. My question is about the ~98% collateral damage. It doesn't bother people like you....unless its your family members turning into charcoal!!
     
  15. Imran Khan

    Imran Khan PDF VETERAN

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    yes you are right its never bother me even if my family were killed . let them die