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Ominous news from Pakistan

Very bad news from the tribal regions of Pakistan, as reported by Bill Roggio at The Long War Journal:

The Taliban in South Waziristan have overrun a fort manned by the Frontier Corps in the town of Sararogha. During a massed assault, the Taliban launched a coordinated attack on the military post manned by 42 paramilitary soldiers of the Frontier Corps. The military claimed seven soldiers and up to 50 Taliban were killed. Reports indicate 20 paramilitaries may have been captured by the Taliban.

The Pakistani military confirmed the assault.

* * * * *

The Taliban conducted a well-planned military operation. Reports indicate a force sized from 400 to 1,000 Taliban fighters, indicating a battalion- to brigade-sized assault force. Organizing such a large assault force for a night operation requires planning and training. The Taliban breached the wall of the Sararogha fort using explosives, then rushed through the breach to capture the fort.

Read the entire post at the above link. Roggio also supplies a map of the region in question.

Why is this such terrible news, given the fort attacked was a lightly manned garrison? For several reasons: first, most of the Pakistani government outposts in these remote tribal regions are manned with minimal forces. These are rough, sparsely-populated areas with little commerce and no amenities. So, who is assigned to them? If troops from the more civilized areas of the country are deployed, they quickly become demoralized from the isolation, and frequently desert their posts. If those with ties to the region are assigned, they often have tribal loyalties which compete with their national duties, and may defect or collaborate.

That the Taliban felt confident enough to take the fort is also disturbing. While they amassed an overwhelmingly superior force, they had to know such an action invites retribution from the central government - but they apparently do not fear that response. They are growing bold and confident. Musharraf's negotiated armistice with the radicals has enabled them to recruit and train significant forces undisturbed, and the results are only beginning to be seen.

Finally, in military campaigns, nothing breeds success like victory. This applies equally to conventional warfare and to rebel movements. If not immediately suppressed, the Taliban will add followers and sympathizers by winning the battle, and not just in the untamed tribal areas, but among the growing pockets of radicalism in the more populated provinces. Waziristan is the petrie dish for Islamic terrorism, awash in growth medium now.


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Comments (7)

Bhutto's assassination has ... (Below threshold)

Bhutto's assassination has destabilized Pakistan making a reprisal less likely as Musharraf focuses elsewhere. It has also made the people less sympathetic to the government and more sympathetic to the Taliban.

If Encouraging Bhutto to return was State Deptartment's/Condi's brainstorm nice work.

And why, after the Taliban ... (Below threshold)

And why, after the Taliban seized the fort, was the entire place not leveled by US airstrikes? Up to 1,000 Taliban fighters in one place and we didn't take the opportunity to wipe them out? That, and not the fort being taken, is the bad news, that we don't have our act together enough to be able to take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves.

Yes Steve, just like that f... (Below threshold)

Yes Steve, just like that funeral setting where a bunch of the scoundrels were a clear target and were not eradicated.

would be a good time for a daisey cutter right over thr fort.

Actually, I think this migh... (Below threshold)
Not Tony:

Actually, I think this might be GREAT news.

This puts pressure on Musharraf to allow US troops a greater role in fighting the Taliban, including perhaps some day actual boots on the ground.

I'm not so sure about your ... (Below threshold)
Mikey NTH:

I'm not so sure about your analysis of the Taliban. They appear to have a history of showing confidence no matter how warranted that confidence actually is, and taking actions that are not logical from a western political and military point of view.

They may disregard any reaction from the Pakistan army as unimportant compared to the importance of taking the fight to the apostate lackey of the Great Satan. To understand their past actions and predict future ones, their way of thinking and prioritizing has to be used, not ours.

Whew, good thing we kept ou... (Below threshold)

Whew, good thing we kept our eye on the ball and made sure we wiped out the Taliban and stabilized Afghanistan after 9/11. Imagine what kind of mess we'd be in if we lost focus and allowed them to rebuild and thrive.

Now if Pakistan was actuall... (Below threshold)

Now if Pakistan was actually another name for Afgahnistan, Brian would be right.






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