The desperately-in-need-of-a-haircut Pakistani Taliban supremo, Baitullah Mehsud, has assumed ambient temperature; or rather, the extant bits and pieces of him have. Much like the end of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, this will not mean the end of his movement, but it does move the end a little closer. And it’s just a nice little pick-me-up for the day. UJ at B5 agrees. Congrats are due to every man and woman in that kill chain.
A recent firefight near Asadabad, Afghanistan was ended when US Air Force F-15Es and a B-1 dropped several 500-lb bombs into Pakistan. Only trouble is, the planes apparently targeted Pakistani paramilitaries, killing 11 of them. Pakistan is upset over the loss.
The incident highlights one of the perils of employing paramilitary forces – the difficulty of distinguishing them from the actual insurgents. My last tour in Iraq saw much of the same, although we were not being engaged by insurgents at the time, so there was little danger of mistakenly killing the Neighborhood Watch guys. However, on more than one occasion I had aircraft working for me report some sort of suspicious activity that looked an awful lot like, say, insurgents placing an IED on a dirt road that we used from time to time. After a watching for a bit, we realized we couldn’t identify them as a threat with any reasonable certainty, and eased our proverbial fingers off the triggers. When we stopped out there on patrol the next day, turns out, it was just the local Neighborhood Watch filling sandbags to fortify one of their checkpoints. We left them with a polite suggestion that they might not want to fill sandbags in the middle of a road at night.
These guys have found a great way to fight the US military: Fight the Pakistani military. This is a big deal, because as this movement grows, it entrenches a support network in northern Pakistan that allows Taliban elements actively engaged in combat against NATO forces north of the border safe haven when they get shot up. Additionally, the specter of a civil war in Pakistan coupled with the “loose nuke” scenario scares to death the US , India , and everyone who is paying attention. I thought this wasn’t a big deal, but check out these numbers: A disparate group [...]