The Great Debate UK
from Pakistan: Now or Never?:
Brian Clougley is a South Asia defence analyst. Reuters is not responsible for the content - the views are the author's alone.
When the Taliban insurrection in Pakistan began in earnest, in 2004, the Pakistan army did not have enough troops in North West Frontier Province to combat the growing menace. It was not possible for the army and the paramilitary Frontier Corps to conduct operations without considerable reinforcement. In any event, the role of the lightly-armed Frontier Corps has always been more akin to policing than to engaging in conventional military operations. Dealing with inter-tribe skirmishes and cross-border smugglers is very different to combating organised bands of fanatics whose objective is total destruction of the state.
It was therefore decided to redeploy some units and formations from the eastern frontier to the west, but the main problem with the decision, no matter its appropriateness, was that troops facing India along the border and the Line of Control in Kashmir are skilled in conventional warfare tactics but not trained in counter insurgency (COIN). Retraining was essential if there was to be a properly conducted campaign against militants in the west of the country. The process requires much time and energy. (The British, for example, had
to design a training programme lasting up to eight months before units were considered effective to fight the terrorist Irish Republican Army. The US belatedly dealt with a similar problem before deploying units to Iraq, having learned the hard way.)
But there is another important factor in Pakistan’s equation of redeploying troops : the attitude of India.