Quetta Attack Plan

 

By A Khokar           16 December 2009

When President Obama explained his decision to send 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan to support General Stanley McChrystal’s new counterinsurgency campaign, he left a key question unanswered: Will this be enough to achieve U.S. strategic ends in Af-Pak?

U.S. military counterinsurgency doctrine calls for a security force ratio of 20 to 25 counterinsurgents for every 1,000 residents for success. Afghanistan’s population of 28.4 million means the combined ISAF and Afghan security forces would need to number between 568,000 and 710,000.

The Afghans now have approximately 170,000 national police and army forces and the United States and ISAF have 107,000 troops. Adding 40,000 U.S. and alliance troops will bring the total to 317,000—nowhere near the Army’s own doctrinal guidelines.

Therefore, the success of the campaign will be highly contingent on an Afghan security force that is far larger than its current size—McChrystal wants 400,000—and much more capable and reliable. Given the state of the Afghan government, the near-term likelihood of a markedly greater contribution from these forces is remote at best.

President Obama’s decision on a timetable for withdrawal of American troops by July 2011 makes the entire plan flawed—- or can be said phoney and misleading. While the clock is ticking in Afghanistan the top American commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, may find that there are many issues to focus on: building more competent Afghan Army and police forces, adopting more effective anticorruption measures and reintegrating “moderate” Taliban and other insurgent fighters into Afghan society and politics programme by next year only makes it unachievable.

 

 But perhaps the most difficult issue is largely outside of General McChrystal’s control undermining the Taliban’s sanctuary in Pakistan says the think tank—Rand Corporation. It suggests that thus far, there has been no substantive action taken against the Taliban leadership in Baluchistan Province, south of the Pashtun-dominated areas of Afghanistan. It is felt that this is the same mistake the Soviets made in the 1980s, when they failed to act against the seven major mujahedeen groups headquartered in Pakistan.

There is strong belief that where as Pak Army is vigorously engaging its own Taliban groups in Waziristan, this Baluchistan sanctuary is critical because, allegedly the Afghan war is organized and run out of Baluchistan. Virtually all significant meetings of the Taliban take place in that province, and many of the group’s senior leaders and military commanders are based there. The local ISAF command in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, across the border from Baluchistan believes that Taliban sanctuary in Baluchistan is catastrophic for US as the local Taliban fighters get strategic and operational guidance from across the border, as well as supplies and technical components for their improvised explosive devices.”

This is also believed that like a typical business, the Taliban in Pakistan have an organizational structure divided into functional committees. It has a media committee; a military committee; a finance committee responsible for acquiring and managing funds; and so forth. The Taliban’s inner shura, or governing council, exerts authority over lower-level Taliban fighters. It is composed of the supreme Taliban leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, his principal deputy, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, his military commander, Abdullah Zakir, and roughly a dozen other key leaders. Many Taliban leaders have moved their families to Baluchistan, and reportedly their children attend Pakistani schools.

 Yet Pakistan and the United States have failed to target them systematically says the US secretary of State; Hilary Clinton. Pakistani Army and Frontier Corps forces have conducted operations in Pakistan’s tribal areas to the north, and the United States has conducted many drone strikes there. But relatively little has been done in Baluchistan.

This seems to be a point of contention that United States and Pakistan must act now to target Taliban leaders in Baluchistan. The cost of failing to act in Baluchistan is seen an enormous.

On the other hand the internal security of Pakistan is also at stake that ‘large swathes of Pakistan remain outside government control, run by the Pakistani Taliban and tribal leaders looking for establishing a Islamic Emirate of their own in areas extending from Swatt- Malakand to Waziristan and Baluchistan. This year’s military campaign to roll back Taliban territorial gains saw a number of successes, but insurgents have shown they can launch major attacks in key urban, industrial and commercial centres with relative impunity. The ability of militants to launch attacks as several assaults on key military facilities in particular have shown the continued ability of Taliban militants to attack even protected targets. There is no sign of a sustained improvement in security despite offensives against the Taliban.’

 

It is said that this is likely to make the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal a major issue. Pakistan’s poor record of preventing attacks even on secure military targets has raised concerns that militants could penetrate a nuclear facility. Analysts say that while there is minimal risk that insurgents could get their hands on a nuclear missile, a potential danger is that they could steal some fissile material which could be used to build a “dirty bomb”.

 

A pretext is in building fast to push wage a war—— inside Pakistan that owing to the Pak Military extra ordinary engagement in Waziristan in the north where they may remain busy for a considerable long time in order to accomplish their unfinished task. Pak military forces may not be able to help US capture the Taliban leadership reportedly located near Quetta in Baluchistan within the time frame set by Obama. For which aerial raids by US marines must be conducted or Taliban leadership must be hit by drone strikes, as the United States and Pakistan have done so effectively in the tribal areas.

 Links references; Adab- arz.co.uk, Rand Corporation and Reuters