Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Speculating on US-Pakistani Cooperation

The evidence that the US and Pakistan are coordinating quietly in the tribal border regions of the Pakistani state is increasing. Increased US drone attacks suggest both permission and intelligence from the Pakistani army--these attacks provide the Army with not only a great psychological advantage (previously safe spots are no longer safe for the Taliban), but a tactical one (they frequently enough kill enemy commanders). Precision strikes by the Pakistani Army suggest US aerial and satellite intelligence in real-time, allowing jets and artillery to pinpoint their attacks.

The "softening" operation has prompted the Taliban in Waziristan to abandon a peace agreement they had with the government (which, frankly, I did not know was officially in place at all). Such an abandonment will mean more attacks on civilians--and if they come quickly, the Army will be forced to act more quickly than it might otherwise like. But with the spectre of civilian deaths hanging over the Army, they will utilize their American allies more to hit the Taliban hard and keep them off-balance as the Pakistani Army prepares for its assault in Waziristan.

The Pakistani assault is not, contrary to my expectations, caused NATO casualties to go down: this month was the worst in almost a year. But I have been reminded that casualty-counting during a surge in troop activity provides a false comparison: there are more troops more actively and aggressively deployed now than before, and casualties can sometimes be a sign of intense forward activity rather than enemy success. But the real US opportunity will come after a successful Waziristan assault, and the US is going to do anything it can to help that happen.
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