I am working on a new model where the only source I consider authoritative on the war in Af/Pak is the Long War Journal. Roggio's accuracy record crushes any other source. Today he has some bad news that is going to be played for a lot of political and other points by a lot of people.
Three US soldiers involved in the training of Pakistan's paramilitary Frontier Corps were among nine people killed in a roadside bombing near a girls' school in Pakistan's insurgency-infested Northwest Frontier Province...
The US military has deployed Special Forces and other soldiers to serve as trainers to the Frontier Corps, the locally raised paramilitary organization that is on the front lines against the Taliban. The deployment of US soldiers in Pakistan has been a controversial issue, and the soldiers are not supposed to conduct military operations alongside the Frontier Corps units.
Of course we have Special Forces in Pakistan training their troops, it's a core mission. The last time I was at SOCOM the Commmander announced that as of that morning SOCOM had troops in over 125 countries worldwide. We train all kinds of country's militaries. friends, allies, people we want to make friends with and we even conduct exercises with people we don't like. I've been to over a dozen countries to do just that. Many of them had active insurgencies which is why we were there. Not always to conduct combat operations, but to teach the host nation troops how to, or advise them or whatever. It runs the entire gamut of operations. We always have and we always will, no need for hyperventiliation.
Godspeed to the men and condolences to their families.
UPDATE: Noah Shactman at Wired is doing a bit of heavy breathing about this.
It’s another sign that America’s once-small, once-secret war in Pakistan is growing bigger, more conventional, and busting out into the open. The U.S. Air Force now conducts flights over Pakistani soil. U.S. security contractors operate in the country. U.S. strikes are growing larger, more frequent, and more deadly; the latest attack reportedly involved 17 missiles and killed as many as 29 people. Billions of dollars in U.S. aid goes to Islamabad. And now, U.S. forces are dying in Pakistan.
Which begs the question: When are we going to start treating this conflict in Pakistan as a real war — with real oversight and real disclosure about what the hell our people are really doing there? Maybe at one point, this conflict could’ve been swept under the rug as some classified CIA op. But that was billions of dollars and hundreds of Pakistani and American lives ago.
It is fair to point out that the ops in Pakistan are more tightly tied to a shooting war than many others, but does that mean we should take them and shine a bunch of bright lights on them? What would real disclosure of properly classified ops do? There is plenty of oversight operating where it belongs in classified briefings. Is it somehow better to have Wired or the NY Times reporting on what we are doing there? I disconcur, and think that like far too many things we are doing these days having part of the story told in the media in decidedly unhelpful. The political environment in Pakistan is delicate as Hell so we properly tread lightly. A bunch of breathless stories about the mere possibility that we are cooperating more w/ Pakistan or that heaven forbid the evil Blackwater mercenaries are helping load drones doesn't make doing any good there easier. The whole idea of ops like this is to try and get the locals up to speed so they can do their own heavy lifting. It is smart and a proper use of Special Forces. Now let's stop making their jobs harder by acting like something nefarious is going on.