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The Battle for Pakistan!

Discussion in 'Pakistani Siasat' started by Elmo, Jun 1, 2009.

  1. Elmo

    Elmo RETIRED MOD

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    PAKISTAN
    The battle for Pakistan

    By Javed Hussain

    Monday, 01 Jun, 2009 | 08:24 AM PST |



    COUNTER-INSURGENCY operations are a tough undertaking. They become tougher when the geography of the area favours the insurgents, and even more when the soldiers are not trained for them.

    They are trained for conventional warfare which is the anti-thesis of guerrilla warfare. As a consequence, switching from the conventional to the unconventional is not easy for the soldiers.

    When they are unable to adapt to the clandestine nature of guerrilla warfare, they tend to collapse under minimal stress, as happened to the French and American soldiers in Vietnam, to the Soviet soldiers in Afghanistan, to the Indian soldiers in Kashmir and is happening to the Americans once again, this time in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    The only elements of the regular army who feel completely at home in guerrilla warfare are the Special Forces. They can switch from commando to guerrilla to anti-guerrilla with ease. Like the skillful guerrillas, they are also masters of surprise and innovation. Outfits like the American Green Berets, the British SAS, the Russian Spetsnaz and the Pakistani SSG conducted some spectacular operations in Vietnam, Malaya, Afghanistan and former East Pakistan respectively that earned them the respect of the guerillas – the latest being the SSG assault on the Peochar heights. But on their own, the Special Forces cannot win a war; they can contribute a great deal when used imaginatively and on sound intelligence.

    If the experience of the SSG in unconventional warfare is utilised for preparing the regular infantry for the counter-insurgency role, it will pay dividends. Although our infantrymen have done far better than the French, American, Soviet and Indian infantry under similar conditions, it is only fair that they are prepared mentally, physically and tactically for a war that will not end any time soon.

    The ultimate objective of both sides in guerrilla war is control of the people. If the guerrillas succeed in winning them over, the army would have to contend with a hostile population also. Conversely if the army wins them over, the guerrillas stand exposed and begin to gasp for breath like fish out of water since they derive their staying power from the people. In a remarkable turn of events, the outrages perpetrated by Taliban insurgents have alienated the people, while their large-scale exodus from the areas of operation has removed the cover behind which they could hide – hence their recent appeals to the people to return.

    While displacement is a harrowing experience for the people, it has created an opportunity for the government to win them over completely. If it fails, the people’s antipathy to the Taliban will get dissipated, and in time, turn into sympathy. This would make the army’s task that much more difficult. The exodus has created an opportunity for the army also for conducting operations in a relatively free environment.

    Another act of the insurgents that has favoured the army immensely is their propensity for holding ground and fighting pitched battles. But this is not likely to last long as they cannot sustain the attrition thus caused, and sooner than later, they would have to revert to guerrilla warfare and its classic hit-and-run tactics.

    The army operation would then be reduced to small-scale actions by infantry platoons and companies.

    The reason why counter-insurgency operations drag on is that when the insurgents come under pressure, they slip out to hit-and-run another day, as they did when the army went into Kalam and Bahrain. But when they hit and cannot run, demoralisation starts setting in. This can only be ensured when the theatre of operations, and within the theatre the area of operations, are sealed from all sides before an operation is undertaken to make escape from it or ingress into it difficult (Swat is a theatre, Mingora an area of operation).

    It is this compulsion that consumes maximum troops, more so, when the terrain is harsh. Therefore, it is important for the army to make sure it doesn’t get overstretched by operating in multiple theatres at the same time. Thus the need to establish the right soldier-to-guerrilla ratio on the basis of intelligence about the number of guerrillas present in the theatre of operations, and within the theatre in each area of operation, as well as the number outside the theatre who could influence the operation. But since intelligence-gathering is far more difficult in a guerrilla-warfare setting, it is better to err on the side of excess.

    If the Soviets had secured the Pak-Afghan border, they could have severed the logistics line to the Mujahideen and thus created a major problem not only for the Mujahideen but also for their handlers in Pakistan. But they were unable to muster the troops required for this and paid heavily for it.

    In the early days of the war in Vietnam, Generals Maxwell Taylor and Westmoreland suggested that a superiority of 10:1 would be necessary to defeat the Viet Cong, but as early as 1965, it was revised to 25:1, while after the defeat a ratio of 50:1 was bandied about.

    The Taliban insurgents essentially are mountain fighters. When they come under pressure they withdraw into the mountains, their safe haven. But when these are denied to them they become vulnerable. Mountains therefore, constitute a key terrain for them as well as for the army. If the heights are secured by landing helicopter-borne troops on them, the insurgents in all probability would be forced down into the valleys, thus exposing themselves to pre-positioned units of the army. But if this doesn’t force them down, a downhill attack would.

    Unless the insurgency is defeated in the tribal areas of Pakistan, the insurgency in Afghanistan will not be defeated. Therefore, it would be in America’s interest to provide the requisite number of troop-carrying helicopters and infantry’s night-vision devices to the Pakistan Army and to redeploy their forces to make it difficult for the Afghan insurgents to cross into the tribal areas.

    If they decline they would only reinforce the perception that in their ‘new strategy’, they see their battle for Afghanistan being fought by the Pakistan Army in Pakistan.

    Fate has placed the destiny of Pakistan in the hands of the army. It is fighting a brutal enemy programmed by religious pseudso and supported by external elements inimical to Pakistan. The soldiers are fighting with great élan.

    They are fighting a battle that has to be won – the battle for Pakistan. Every time a soldier is buried, we should remind ourselves of Pericles’ oration at the funeral of Athenians who died in 431 BC in the Peloponnesian War: ‘Take these men for your example. Like them remember that prosperity can only be for the free, that freedom is the sure possession of those who have the courage to defend it.’



    DAWN.COM | Pakistan | The battle for Pakistan

    Copyright © 2009 - Dawn Media Group
     
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  2. Elmo

    Elmo RETIRED MOD

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    1. Wondering, do we have any former local/foreign SSG officers here who can comment on their role in counter-insurgencies?

    2. Also, at this point how important is it to employ kinetic versus non-kinetic warfare in the operation in Swat?
     
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  3. AgNoStiC MuSliM

    AgNoStiC MuSliM ADVISORS

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    I don't think Kinetic operations can be ruled out at all - at best the need to employ them could be gradually reduced as the militant threat is reduced, and eventually be the domain of local law enforcement instead of the Military.

    If by non-kinetic operations the implication is 'reconstruction and development', then the time has arrived and it is extremely important that a framework on re-settlement, reconstruction and development of local institutions be formulated (I imagine it's too much to hope it has already been formulated) and implemented in areas that have been cleared.

    The larger cities and towns would be the primary focus I imagine, given the larger concentrations of people, and how they tend to function as a focus for the surrounding countryside in terms of facilities such as hospitals etc. that are not available in the rural areas.
     
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  4. AgNoStiC MuSliM

    AgNoStiC MuSliM ADVISORS

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    Also, regular army units have been receiving COIN training for a while now. It is now apparently part of the PA's training regimen.
     
  5. Elmo

    Elmo RETIRED MOD

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    Thanks for replying Agnostic. By non-kinetic warfare I was referring to the use of aerial bombardment or rather arterial shelling, whereby the military assumes a fixed position and doesn't engage in direct combat. With kinetic there is more ground troops' operation that engage with the enemy directly. More like SSG commando stuff I would assume (correct me if I am wrong here).
     
  6. AgNoStiC MuSliM

    AgNoStiC MuSliM ADVISORS

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    "Among the complexities Robinson found is the division between the physical and the "non-kinetic" battlefields. In Robinson’s opinion, the true center of gravity in irregular warfare rests in the minds of the populations—both abroad and in the United States—rather than in a military force or industrial base. This distinction allows practitioners of irregular warfare to focus on what Robinson referred to as "non-kinetic warfare" or activities that can be employed to engage the minds and resolve of the population—to avoid acts of violence and their consequences among host populations.

    This notion, to separate the combatant and the non-combatant elements in a conflict, was identified by Maj. Gen. Lambert, following Robinson’s remarks, as the "true revolution in military affairs". Maj. Gen. Lambert stated his belief that for many years military planers have focused on destroying the "bad guys" while minimizing harm to non-combatants. However, planners have not adequately engaged the question of how to separate the ties between the "bad guys" and the civilian population—the complex relationships that drive guerilla and insurgency warfare. This is primarily a matter of intelligence collection and sharing, across government agencies and across countries. As Maj. Gen. Lambert noted, prevention is always preferable to preemption for Special Forces and Conventional Forces alike."

    CSIS Event - The Future of the U.S. Military and Irregular Warfare
     
  7. blain2

    blain2 ADVISORS

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    I do not think the above is an appropriate definition of Kinetic vs. non-Kinetic ops. The concepts are somewhat confusing in my opinion. At a very basic level (and others are free to dispute), Kinetic operations are those that are backed up force and mobility and can include lethal and potentially also non-lethal operations - these are of the type which come in situations after some kinetic operations have been undertaken or during the course of a kinetic operation. Whereas non-Kinetic operations are typically the public affairs type of work conducted by Army units (such as harvesting for locals, providing food and relief, albeit in a setting where the units can go into a Kinetic mode should they receive fire etc.).

    In the case of our current operations linked with Raah-e-raast, I would think that at least in Swat and adjoining areas, our troops would be moving from a Kinetic to non-Kinetic phase now or already have to a great extent.

    By the way the writer, Brig Javed Hussain, is a former-SSG officer.
     
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  8. AgNoStiC MuSliM

    AgNoStiC MuSliM ADVISORS

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    Your definition was how I interpreted Kinetic vs non-Kinetic as well.

    And I agree that the Army is already transitioning into the non-Kinetic phase. Engineering and medical teams have already been deployed in Mingora for example to restore basic services and infrastructure.

    I am not sure if this is the case in other smaller towns at this point. I imagine Mingora is the focus since it is the largest and has been the center of media attention, and restoring stability and services there quickly is important from a psychological and PR POV.
     
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  9. blain2

    blain2 ADVISORS

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    Not every town in Swat would need assistance in my opinion. I would think mostly the bigger towns that were occupied by the TTP folks and the ones that saw the mass migrations. Most others would have life going on as usual.

    My personal take is that GoP needs to take a hard look at what kind of development it has done in NWFP and FATA in the past 60+ years and come up with a mega deal to uplift the area. The GoP needs to put its money to its mouth. If the areas are Federally Administered, then lets get Federal administration there and help out these people..build schools, universities, hospitals and wean these people off from alternate saviours. Although this cannot be done overnight, however the GoP needs to put this effort on and infront of the people so they realize that things are going to change for the better. An approach very similar to this is needed in Balochistan as well.
     
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  10. AgNoStiC MuSliM

    AgNoStiC MuSliM ADVISORS

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    On FATA, my wish list of events (once government writ is restored of course):

    1. Move on the long languishing provincial autonomy.

    2. Make FATA a fifth province, separate from the NWFP because of the more conservative and Tribal traditions and to reassure the tribals that they won't be 'forced' into modernity against their wishes - possibly implement another NAR for FATA.
     
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  11. jeypore

    jeypore SENIOR MEMBER

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    Why are you advocating NAR, after taking over the proviance?
     
  12. AgNoStiC MuSliM

    AgNoStiC MuSliM ADVISORS

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    I should have clarified - implement NAR only if FATA is to continue to exist in its current form.

    With provincial autonomy and the creation of a FATA province, it would be up to the elected representatives of FATA to determine how to administer their region, provided their laws were not against the Pakistani constitution.
     
  13. niaz

    niaz PDF THINK TANK: CONSULTANT

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    This article highlights three things.

    Firstly, insurgency will not be defeated until such time all Taliban heavens have been flushed out. This means Waziristan, Kurram and Mohmand Agencies; some pockets in North Western Baluchistan; Southern Punjab and also Sohrab Goth in Karachi.

    Only few of Sohrab Goth Pushtoons are actual Taliban, but when someone is trying to hide, he is likely to go where he can get succor, meaning to one of his relations. Thus when Baitullah Mahsud’s fellow tribal supporters run away to fight another day, most likely they would end up in Karachi where lot of Mahsuds live. That is why Sindh gov't wanted to ban the entry of IDP’s that action went too far.

    Secondly, one mustn’t make the mistake of letting Taliban establish again. Therefore once any area is cleared, army needs to stay put until such time that civil administration is equipped with resources to fight off Taliban menace.

    Finally, there should be confidence building measures in place so that Joe public is not afraid of history being repeated and civil population left to fight Taliban on their own as happened after previous operations. Achieving this end will require weeding out Taliban supporter from within the establishment. (Remember Commissioner of Swat).

    At the risk of being called a liberal bigot, I would insist on thorough screening of all police and civil administarors before they are appointed in the sensitive areas. ZA Bhutto did not screen Zia and we got sectarianism and extremism, MMA must have promoted Taliban lovers over liberals during their 5 years tenure in the NWFP which resulted in officers such as Commissioner of Swat. We must not go through the same agony again? (I don’t mean that any one with a regulation length beard is suspect. My late grandfather always kept one and my father also started keeping beard after he performed Umra; but they were certainly not extremists)

    This truly is the battle for Pakistan.
     
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  14. niaz

    niaz PDF THINK TANK: CONSULTANT

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    This article says the same thing in a much better way.

    Winning the peace

    Tuesday, June 02, 2009
    Dr Maleeha Lodhi

    The writer is a former envoy to the US and the UK, and a former editor of The News

    A spate of terrorist bombings has rocked the country in the past week. A day after the devastating attack in the heart of Lahore, multiple explosions followed in Peshawar's historic Qissa Khawani bazaar and D.I. Khan. This wave of violent reprisals was widely anticipated in the wake of the increasingly effective month-old military operation in Swat.

    The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was quick to take responsibility for the Lahore atrocity that targeted a police centre and an intelligence agency's offices, claiming over 20 lives while leaving hundreds of people injured. Baitullah Mehsud's deputy and Taliban commander Hakimullah Mehsud announced that the attack was in retaliation for the Swat operation. He vowed further attacks on government targets in other Punjab cities and Islamabad and warned residents to evacuate these urban centres.

    The terrorist backlash is principally aimed at draining public support for the army offensive in Swat, even though it may have other objectives. The violent effort by militants to take the war to the country's urban heartland indicates a number of possibilities:

    a) That the bombings are acts of desperation reflecting the inability of the TTP to help its militant allies in the combat zone, in the face of the military's use of massive fire power and its effective closure of supply routes into Malakand Division.

    b) The terrorist attacks represent an effort to reduce pressure on the militants in Swat by widening the theatre of conflict.

    c) The bombings aim to raise the stakes in order to deter the widely anticipated military action against Baitullah Mehsud in South Waziristan.

    d) By upping the ante in the Punjab heartland the TTP wants to create a high impact while escalating and enhancing the "costs" of the Swat operation.

    The retaliatory actions may well be seeking to achieve a combination of these aims. But central to all these objectives is to rattle the political and military establishments, weaken national resolve and erode public support for the anti-militancy campaign. The national leadership has responded appropriately, restating its commitment to stay the course. Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani has said the campaign will be taken to its logical end. Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, has reiterated the army's resolve to "defeat those out to destabilize the country", and declared that the country will not be terrorized by such actions.

    The public reaction, so far, indicates that the anti-Taliban sentiment is solidifying rather than fragmenting. The consensus behind the fight against militancy is holding, while the bloody mayhem in Lahore and the Frontier is reinforcing public anger at the wanton violence unleashed by the militants. For now it is the militants who are losing hearts and minds. If fear and ambivalence dictated the public mood before, outrage at the excesses of the militants appears to define it for now.

    But public opinion can be fragile in the weeks ahead. The broad consensus that has emerged over the past month could fray under the mounting pressure of a prolonged bombing campaign of urban centres, accompanied by levels of disruption that can test the public's patience. Fear and war-weariness can trump the public will to resist the militants. This makes it necessary for the government to complement its statements of resolve with political outreach to maintain and consolidate the consensus as it comes under increasing strain.

    By spreading its terror tactics to the cities, the TTP has thrown down the gauntlet to the authorities. This presents the country's security managers with the choice of either opting for a defensive or an offensive response. The former is evident in the tightening of security in major cities but a weak police and civilian intelligence apparatus sets sharp limits on this approach to deter further attacks, which can be expected to continue. An offensive response would involve striking at the TTP in its stronghold. But before securing Swat and consolidating control of Bajaur this response would risk military overstretch with all its attendant risks. The timing for opening another front would have to be determined very carefully by weighing several military and political considerations. They would include an accurate assessment of Mehsud's capabilities and on whether his efforts to forge a broader front with other militants are foundering or gaining ground. A critical factor in this evaluation would be whether public opinion will support the expansion of military engagement into another, bloodier theatre of combat.

    While these policy options are being weighed, the need to stiffen and sustain the public resolve will remain the key to defeating militancy. It cannot be assumed that the widespread antipathy towards militants will continue to translate into unshakeable support for the army operation. Fear and panic can inject a dynamic that can undermine the public determination to confront the Taliban in an unfortunate repeat of the past. The country's leadership has to brace itself and also steel the public determination to withstand the shock waves of more urban violence by the militants.

    Much will of course depend on the Swat operation being able to attain the core goal of disabling the top leadership of the Swat Taliban. This may not be quick or easy as these leaders appear to have escaped to hard-to-access mountainous hideouts. So long as these militant commanders remain at bay it will be difficult to reverse the climate of fear and insecurity that prevails even in the areas that have been cleared. Only by neutralizing the top leaders can a decisive blow be delivered to the strategic centre of the militant threat. This will create a demonstration effect that reverberates beyond Malakand, undermine the morale of the TTP and significantly diminish the space for militant activity.

    Overall, sustainable success in Malakand has to be construed in civilian-governance rather than in military terms. The biggest question mark still relates to civilian capacity. With virtually no possibility of assembling or mobilizing a civilian 'surge' to fill the vaccum in the post-operation phase, an emergency or interim structure will have to be devised that can be expeditiously installed once the region has been cleared of militants.

    Tough challenges will be posed by the post-conflict situation. The battle zone has witnessed intense war fighting on a scale unprecedented in the region's history, dislocating close to 3 million people and leaving more than 80 soldiers and over 1,200 militants dead. This adds up to a toxic environment of vast devastation, broken infrastructure and a shattered economy. To repatriate the internally displaced persons (IDPs) back to their homes will be an extraordinary task. To resettle them in an environment where basic services are functioning and law enforcement is assured will be an even greater challenge. The situation cannot realistically be expected to normalize so easily or speedily in the aftermath of so much destruction and disruption.

    For these reasons and, in the absence of a viable civilian arrangement that can be fashioned in the near term, the army may have to prepare itself to remain in Swat longer than it may wish to. Establishing a cantonment in Mingora for a permanent presence in the heart of the region to prevent the return of militants and insure a secure environment for the residents of Swat now appears inevitable. This will allow time for the envisaged recruitment and training of the special 10,000 strong police force that can gradually take charge of law enforcement. This is expected to be mostly drawn from retired service personnel (estimated to be around 3 million soldiers).

    The political and military challenges ahead are daunting but the effectiveness of governance arrangements in the war-torn valley of Swat will determine ultimate success. This will require a comprehensive plan, not a patchwork, ad hoc, fire-fighting response. Without this, winning the peace will prove elusive.

    Winning the peace
     
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  15. third eye

    third eye ELITE MEMBER

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    Eliminating the taliban would be like taking a course of anti antibiotics. If the course is interrupted, the infection will not only develop but also develop resistance to the medicine.

    To engage it again, a stronger dose of anti biotics would then be needed.

    Now that the engagement has begun, not only should it be pushed to its logical end, but ' booster doses' may be needed in the future to prevent re occurrence of the ' infection'.