October 18, 2007

That Didn't Take Long

Earlier today, I wrote about Benazir Bhutto's triumphal return to Pakistan. She traveled in a procession in Karachi to celebrate her return in defiance of an assassination threat -- and found herself in the center of a bombing that killed dozens in the crowd of 150,000 celebrants:

Two explosions went off Thursday night near a truck carrying former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on her celebratory return to Pakistan after eight years in exile. Police said she was unhurt, but officials and witnesses said up to 45 people were killed and more than 100 wounded.

An initial small explosion was followed by a huge blast just feet from the front of the truck carrying Bhutto during a procession through Karachi. The blast shattered windows in her vehicle. Neither Bhutto nor any of the others riding on the truck was hurt, police officer Hasib Beg said.

Karachi police chief Azhar Farooqi told Dawn News that Bhutto was rushed from the area under emergency plans prepared ahead of her return.

The specially-designed truck ferrying her in Karachi apparently saved her life. The double bombing blew out its windows, but it remained in operation to get Bhutto out of the attack. She has arrived at her house in Karachi, where she remains under guard.

The Taliban and al-Qaeda threatened to kill her if she returned. She has openly supported the American-led war on terror, and has even suggested that the Americans cross the border into Waziristan to assist Pakistan in wiping out the Islamists. They know that her return and pending alliance with Pervez Musharraf puts them at a strong disadvantage in Pakistan, where they had hoped to prevail politically.

Instead, Musharraf appears ready to declare total war on the Islamists, according to the normally reliable Asia Times (via Rick Moran):

An all-out battle for control of Pakistan's restive North and South Waziristan is about to commence between the Pakistani military and the Taliban and al-Qaeda adherents who have made these tribal areas their own.

According to a top Pakistani security official who spoke to Asia Times Online on condition of anonymity, the goal this time is to pacify the Waziristans once and for all. All previous military operations - usually spurred by intelligence provided by the Western coalition - have had limited objectives, aimed at specific bases or sanctuaries or blocking the cross-border movement of guerrillas. Now the military is going for broke to break the back of the Taliban and a-Qaeda in Pakistan and reclaim the entire area.

The fighting that erupted two weeks ago, and that has continued with bombing raids against guerrilla bases in North Waziristan - turning thousands of families into refugees and killing more people than any India-Pakistan war in the past 60 years - is but a precursor of the bloodiest battle that is coming.

Musharraf simply couldn't conduct this kind of war without the proper political support. As dictator, he couldn't get it. With Bhutto's blessing, he has enough politcal strength to marginalize the Islamists and their sympathizers, and with his hand-picked military leadership, he has the control necessary to launch the war.

It still will not go easily for the Pakistani Army. The Taliban and AQ have created a network of tribal alliances that will be difficult to break. They have some of the toughest terrain possible for military units in Waziristan, and that will be the Taliban and AQ home-field advantage. The edge that Musharraf holds is that these terrorists have the worst generalship in straight-up fighting possible, and the Pakistani Army has already seen the American template for success in Afghanistan.

Interestingly, Musharraf gave them the option to leave peacefully a couple of months ago. If they cleared out of Pakistan, Musharraf offered safe passage -- into Afghanistan. After they left, he would seal the border for good. They refused, rightly considering what would happen to them in Afghanistan, with NATO forces slicing through their limited operations like butter already.

Unfortunately, their backs are against the wall. The foreign fighters are not Pashtus, and cannot simply blend into the local Afghan populations. NATO will also provide an anvil for the Pakistani hammer, sealing the border against flight. Intel officials believe that by pacifying the Waziristans, both the Afghan and Iraqi efforts against the West would drop by as much as 85%.

Hopefully, Musharraf is serious this time -- and hopefully, he'll let us give him a hand in Waziristan.


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Comments (57)

Posted by Jon Prichard | October 18, 2007 3:51 PM

Bhutto may indeed be a corrupt politician but by God she IS brave. Too bad they had to cancel her speech though...would've been quite a statement to make that speech having just survived an assassination attempt a la Teddy Roosevelt who once finished a speech after having been shot.

Posted by harleycon5 | October 18, 2007 4:34 PM

This act will give the duo of Mushareff and Bhutto the reason they need to go after the perpetrators with a vengeance.

After all, Bhutto has already talked openly about allowing US forces aid in the extermination of these human vermin.

My take is that they should strike immediately and make a point.

Posted by docjim505 | October 18, 2007 4:41 PM

Good luck to the Pakis. I hope they do clean out that nest of vipers and not uncoincidentally start crushing the islamofascist elements throughout the rest of Pakistan. A nightmare many of us have had for years is an islamofascist Pakistan armed with nukes (though I expect that they are even more sensitive to this in Dehli). Musharaff may not be Ghandi, but he's a damned sight better than the alternative.

Posted by eaglewings | October 18, 2007 4:57 PM

Don't know that Bhutto is corrupt or as corrupt as anyone else in that area of the world, but she has cajones like Golda Meir (hope the Zionist reference doesn't p.o. her other supporters).
I also am hopeful about Musharref's upcoming Battle of Waziristan. I think he is waiting until he gets the green light on his election and Bhutto's return from their Supreme Court. Once those ducks are lined up, the talibani ducks hopefully will be fair game.
But to beat the LMSM, within two weeks of the operation be prepared to hear that the Paki armed forces are in a QUAGMIRE. Don't believe it, just remember the forces of darkness are in control of our mainstream media.

Posted by James | October 18, 2007 5:06 PM

They've sealed their doom.

Soon they will understand the wisdom of "If you strike at the king you must kill him."

Posted by coldwarrior415 | October 18, 2007 5:20 PM

About a week ago, the Taliban in Waziristan issued a decree that Bhutto would be killed upon her return. Over the past week several AQ outlets in Pakistan called for her murder. Not a lot of plausible denial of today's bombing.

Musharaff has already issued orders, and Pakistani military units are deployed and engaging Taliban, AQ and foreign fighters and their sympathizers across Waziristan. It appears that the Pak army hostages have been killed. No reason for restraint on the part of the Pak army now.

Bhutto and Musharaff may finally be able to bring about a more solid marriage of convenience and bring together the majority of Pakistan using today's bombing as the final straw.

As for the Taliban, AQ and other Islamist foreign fighters in Pakistan, seems they screwed the pooch with today's bombing.

Posted by Eric Classic | October 18, 2007 5:20 PM

God's speed, Musharraf.

Posted by AnonymousDrivel | October 18, 2007 5:23 PM

If Musharraf and Bhutto weren't really allied before, they will be now. harleycon5 and James said it: the Talebs screwed up and the duo need be dynamic... now.

Posted by Shaprshooter | October 18, 2007 5:31 PM

Go, Girl!!

Posted by Glenmore | October 18, 2007 5:38 PM

World opinion will be that Bhutto is responsible for the death of over a hundred innocents because her presence there incited violence by her enemies. She should leave immediately so there can be peace. Watch for it.

Posted by lexhamfox | October 18, 2007 5:49 PM

Awful news but the militants have shown their hand and this attack may backfire on the movement. Once a new government if formed on the back of an election much of the animosity towards Musharref from moderates and professional classes should evaporate.

Pakistan is certainly at the heart of our efforts to contain and destroy AQ and the Taliban. I can't htink of any more important battleground.

Posted by Fight4TheRight | October 18, 2007 5:57 PM

Let me see if I have this right. Bhutto is a Muslim woman. The islamofascists attempted to kill her. Now, she's a Muslim woman so she isn't an infidel. She's not an apostate. Hmmmm...the only thing I can come up with is the fatwa was placed on her because she supports a democratic Pakistan.

So, in summary, the islamofascists wanted her murdered due to political reasons, yes? Would that be a proper deduction? So, we could take that a step further and say, islam is not a religion but a political ideology, correct?

p.s. any that disagree, I would encourage you to provide an example of another religion on this Earth that calls for the extermination or submission of all other religions. Oh, and before any use the term "moderate muslim", I do ask that you review the profile of those who carried out the recent bombing in Glasgow as well as the attempted bombing in London.

Posted by John F Not Kerry | October 18, 2007 6:45 PM

The plight of any "refugees" or "civilians" in Waz. can be placed directly on the backs of AQ and the Taliban. Whatever the rhetoric, their actions and intransigence have created the situation. They have given the government no choice in the matter, and should be eliminated (not captured) without prejudice.

Posted by Ray in Mpls | October 18, 2007 6:57 PM

The attacks on her will continue and will only worsen. This is going to get very messy until AQ and their supporters are finally driven out of Pakistan. I hope that the citizens of Pakistan follow Iraq's lead and start fighting back against AQ and their kind.

I am glad that Pakistan is actually making an effort to reconcile the difference amongst the separate parties and that the Pakistani government is serious about cracking down on terrorism. May their struggle be short and their people safe.

Posted by DeadReckonign | October 18, 2007 7:03 PM

According to his excellency Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama's religious advisor, any government not adhearing to sharia law is apostate (period), and any supporter of other than sharia is an infidel. We all know what happens to apostate infidels. Let us be thankful that Musharraf and Bhutto can hold Pakistan together long enough to defeat these religious quacks.

Posted by Baxter Greene | October 18, 2007 7:10 PM

Gaza,Lebanon,Indonesia,Iran,Saudi Arabia.....


According to our super intelligent liberals,
this is just a bumper sticker.

Posted by Eric Classic | October 18, 2007 7:21 PM

It appears that for some time to come, the United States will be involved in a conflict with radical Islam. We will easily defeat them, but following our victory, we will need to offer support, including military support.

Just a question for the room…should we create a few brigades of Muslim Americans to help these countries during the settlement stages? Is this more respectful of their culture? Might it be viewed favorably by them? Could these Muslim American serve as role models of discipline and moderation?

I’m just wondering.

Posted by patrick neid | October 18, 2007 7:59 PM

Posted by patrick neid | October 2, 2007 8:19 PM

On the bright side, Bhutto said the magic words---she would let the U.S. operate inside Pakistan to kill Bin Laden if she were unsuccessful with her own attempts!

She's a brave lady or an idiot to make a statement like that.

Posted by patrick neid | October 17, 2007 10:16 AM

Like her or not she has a lot of balls returning to Pakistan given her recent statements. Hell, I wouldn't even go there as a tourist disguised as a muslim!

Just to be safe after typing that, allah akbar!


Predicting idiot islamists is pretty easy. If I knew it so did she and others. This is one of those times I hope they planned accordingly such that this will prove to me a defining moment in Pakistan's history. It's either the cave or the 21st century. More than I wish hangs in the balance.

Posted by chaos | October 18, 2007 8:02 PM

I wonder how many dead Army troops it will take before Musharraf gives up and signs a humiliating truce. Just like he did last year, and the year before that, and the year before that. This is about the fourth time he's declared that the final battle in the tribal regions is about to begin.

Unless Musharraf has at least 150,000 more soldiers lying around somewhere polishing their rifles for lack of anything else to do the Pakistani Army isn't going to be able to suppress the tribal militias, Taliban, and AQ much.

Posted by coldwarrior415 | October 18, 2007 8:15 PM

An interesting idea Eric Classic.

What enables our armed forces to work effectively is that they are viewed by the locals as Americans, first, last, and always. They are not all just beefed up white boys; our present day armed forces reflect our national diversity. But, from abroad, they are viewed as American.

Having a distinct Moslem unit or two within the military may actually serve to exacerbate problems...Sunni or Shia...and a few dozen other sects...a number of which are not welcome in certain locales. As politically incorrect as it is to suggest, there is also the matter of personal loyalty. The only documented fragging case in the Iraq War was committed by a Moslem-American in Kuwait a day or two prior to our moving into Iraq. The only documented US military desertion in Iraq was a Moslem-American. For operational planning and unit security, and AQ's attempts over the years to infiltrate our military...and there have been successes on their part...this cannot be overlooked.

Our military over the past 50 years, for civic action, civil affairs, Special Operations, and other action teams have put together unit rosters that would be viewed as more friendly to the locals...having Filipino Americans doing civic action in the Philippines as part of a regular unit roster; Latinos involved in Central and South America; having African-Americans involved as part of regular unit rosters with training missions in areas under the recently activated U.S. Africa Command, for example, works well. But they were not solely of one ethnicity or nationality. They were part of an intergrated American unit roster.

Having our military overseas viewed as American. No hyphenations. Just American. That Flag on the uniform sleeve is all the credentials needed.

Posted by coldwarrior415 | October 18, 2007 8:29 PM

I wouldn't rule out the Pakistani Army just yet.

Gen. Ashfaq Kayani the new Chief of Staff, apppointed by Musharaff first to clean up the ISI and also put in charge of the anti-terrorist forces, has done a generally good job at both. His visit to Waziristan this past week and his statement that "...there would be no let up in the war against terrorism till it is taken to its logical conclusion" should be taken at face value. He has a tough reputation in the Pakistani military and is a soldier's general, not afraid to get out front. The Pakistani Army in Waziristan over the past year has suffered from poor leadership, mixed political loyalties, no mandate from Islamabad to actually mix it up with the Taliban and AQ, and had been forced to deal with the previous "truce" arranged last year to placate tribal elders in the region.

But, as indicated by both Musharaff and Kayani the gloves are off, and the bare knuckle fighting has just begun.

Today's attempt to assassinate Bhutto gives both Mushjaraff and Kayani and the Pakistani Army a long needed mandate for action.

Posted by patrick neid | October 18, 2007 8:38 PM

We are probably painting some of our choppers with the appropriate insignia right now.

Posted by chaos | October 18, 2007 8:40 PM

We've heard that all before too. This time Musharraf is serious, he's going to start an offensive and fight it to the finish, he's brought in fresh military blood who will get the job done.

I'll believe it when I see it. If it isn't obvious yet in this war that the only military force that the United States can rely on is the military of the United States, then we're in trouble.

If the Pakistani Army floods into the tribal areas and sweeps all before it or finds itself in a long, hard, but ultimately successful campaign, great. I don't think it's going to happen.

I think we'll see a few weeks of the Pakistani Army once again moving out into the remoter tribal areas, achieving some tactical successes, achieving nothing strategically, and eventually falling victim to large tactical defeats like we've seen happen again and again in the last few years. It will take a united national effort for the Pakistani government to rout Al Qaeda and the Taliban out of the tribal areas and I doubt that Pakistan is capable of that right now. Maybe in one-three years if Musharraf and Bhutto can reconcile and create political stability, but not now.

Posted by capitano | October 18, 2007 8:41 PM

O/T -- Shattered Glass, the movie about Stephen Glass' serial fabrications in 27 of 41 of his articles published in The New Republic, is playing now on Independent Film Channel and will replay again at 1:15 a.m. Coincidentally, my wife rented it and we watched it last night (no baseball).

It is stunning how TNR has learned nothing. The DVD included commentary by the director and by Chuck Lane, who replaced Michael Kelly as editor. Most of the commentary dealt with how the movie script was pieced together from actual events and transcripts of recorded conversations. Considering how painful it must have been for Lane who confronted and fired Glass, they went to great lengths to detail the sources for everything and to describe amalgams of events and characters.

It doesn't present a very flattering picture of TNR then, and given its history and the lessons that should have been learned, even less flattering today. Interestingly, one of the checks that broke down was that Glass had a romantic relationship with a co-worker who had approval authority over his work and he built similar, non-romantic relationships with other fact checkers.

Remind you of anyone?

Posted by Christoph | October 18, 2007 8:45 PM

Ed, and people like harleycon5, you simple don't know what the h*ck you're talking about. Musharraf simply does not have great control over front line Pakistani soldiers in this conflict.

In a recent action, nearly 300 Pakistani soldiers including two majors and a colonel surrendered to Tribesmen without a shot being fired and there have been many such incidents.

All this, "declare total war on the Islamists," and, "go after the perpetrators with a vengeance," is just totally overoptimistic bullsh*t.

Posted by Christoph | October 18, 2007 8:49 PM

Posted by patrick neid | October 18, 2007 8:38 PM

We are probably painting some of our choppers with the appropriate insignia right now.

Does it hurt or feel good to be that retarded?

Posted by Christoph | October 18, 2007 8:51 PM

and with his hand-picked military leadership, he has the control necessary to launch the war.

He can have all the handpicked leadership he wants. He doesn't control his front line soldiers. Does it hurt to...

Oh, never mind.

Posted by chaos | October 18, 2007 8:58 PM

I would not go so far as to say that the government does not have control over the soldiers currently operating in the tribal areas.

What happened when the 300 Pakistani soldiers were captured was that they were part of a supply convoy that came upon a group of armed tribesmen who they started negotiating with in the hopes of passing by them without fighting. The Pakistani officers radioed their superiors and were told to wait while the superiors negotiated with the leaders of the tribesmen, time passed, and the Pakistani soldiers realized that in that meantime they had been completely surrounded, that the tribesmen were pro-Taliban and they had no chance whatsoever of successful resistance, so they surrendered.

That shows a lack of competence in leadership and in strategy and tactics, not in the loyalty or fighting ability of the soldiers.

If Musharraf can bring the necessary resources to bear and wield them effectively, he can certainly
"break the back" of the Taliban/AQ in the tribal areas. I just doubt that he can for at least another year.

Posted by CaptainAmerica | October 18, 2007 9:02 PM

Excellent post. I just found your blog and I've made this my Post of the Week. If you don't mind I'll add you to my Blogroll. CA

Posted by chaos | October 18, 2007 9:08 PM

The reports in the last two weeks or so of heavy fighting and "scores" of Taliban/AQ killed in North Waziristan in particular and now with this report of a general offensive, the assertion that General Musharraf doesn't have effective control of the front-line Pakistani Army units is exaggerated at best and far-fetched at worst.

Undoubtedly they have infiltration and loyalty problems that would appear appallingly bad to anyone using the standard of discipline in Western armies, but Musharraf obviously has enough control to order large-scale offensive operations and have them carried out.

Arrogance and ignorance combined are a pretty appalling combination Christoph.

Posted by chaos | October 18, 2007 9:15 PM

However, active use of the American military in the tribal areas at this time is just not a good idea. The effort, other than logistics and intelligence, must come entirely from the Pakistani military. We cannot jeopardize the mission by any possible inflaming of nationalist sentiment against "foreign invaders" from the West.

It is also just wrong to say that al-Qaeda can be "split off" from the ethnic Pashtuns (aka Taliban) fighting the government. The two are inseparable. The area is a wellspring of violent Islamic fundamentalism. These alleged "outsiders" (AQ and Taliban) are commonly men who have lived in the area for two decades or more and are deeply ingrained into the society. The tribal areas of Pakistan are not Iraq. In Iraq al-Qaeda challenged the authority of the local sheikhs; bad idea. In the tribal areas of Pakistan al-Qaeda and the Taliban ARE the local sheikhs.

It will be a long, hard battle.

Posted by Christoph | October 18, 2007 9:18 PM

I would not go so far as to say that the government does not have control over the soldiers currently operating in the tribal areas.

They show up and go where they're told, but many of them surrender pretty damn quick.

Posted by Christoph | October 18, 2007 9:20 PM

It will be a long, hard battle.

Indeed. My point is that Captain Ed and ilk are grotesquely optimistic, not that I'm not behind Musharraf and don't think the fight is worth doing. I am and do.

But get some reality, people...

Posted by chaos | October 18, 2007 9:26 PM

You have provided no evidence of that, other than an incident where the soldiers were, according to reports, completely surrounded and outnumbered somewhere in the neighborhood of three to one.

Starting on October 8, in response to an ambush of an Army truck, the Pakistani Army started actively fighting back against the latest al-Qaeda/Taliban offensive in North Waziristan and the fighting has been ongoing since then, with at least 50 Pakistani soldiers, 150 al-Qaeda/Taliban, and no one knows how many civilians killed.

Now with this report of a general offensive in all the tribal areas (who knows if it will actually happen) we will see what we will see. What is not in doubt is that the Pakistani Army will fight. It has been for the last two weeks at an intensity not seen for a year.

Posted by Christoph | October 18, 2007 9:37 PM

Soldiers are expected to fight when they are outnumbered. Do you know how many defenses historical were made in far worse circumstances? Do you know that generally the attacking side needs a 3:1 ratio of troops (by standard military doctrine) to be assured of victory?

This was a tremendous failure of loyalty and leadership. There is much evidence the situation in Afghanistan is incredibly tough, and Captain Ed's optimism is unwarranted.

You said it yourself a moment ago.

Posted by chaos | October 18, 2007 9:52 PM

Soldiers are expected to fight when they are outnumbered.

Modern soldiers are not expected to sacrifice themselves for nothing other than glory in some kind of last stand. This isn't the age of chivalry or a war movie, sorry.

Do you know how many defenses historical were made in far worse circumstances?

And I wonder how many men were massacred in last stands that brought their causes no gain but the ephemeral glory of having fought until annihilation.

Do you know that generally the attacking side needs a 3:1 ratio of troops (by standard military doctrine) to be assured of victory?

This pile of non-sequitirs coming from you isn't going anywhere.

Apparently, because the Pakistani soldiers decided they'd rather surrender than be massacred, they and the majority of Pakistani troops are disloyal and cowardly regardless of any evidence to the contrary.

This was a tremendous failure of loyalty and leadership.

No credible report on the incident can lead one to those conclusions, regarding the soldiers who were actually captured anyway. Their superiors who dithered around for four hours, apparently didn't even think of bringing in a relief detachment, and allowed them to be cut off and surrounded by a superior force certainly weren't competent.

You're making conclusions based off, apparently, thin air.

Posted by Christoph | October 18, 2007 10:03 PM

Their superiors who dithered around for four hours, apparently didn't even think of bringing in a relief detachment, and allowed them to be cut off and surrounded by a superior force certainly weren't competent.

This matches your statement that this wasn't a failure in loyalty and leadership, how?

You're accusing me of non-sequiturs?

Do you know that generally the attacking side needs a 3:1 ratio of troops (by standard military doctrine) to be assured of victory?

This pile of non-sequitirs coming from you isn't going anywhere.

It's not a non-sequitur, it's a fact wildly taught to officers and soldiers around the world, often called the "3:1 rule of thumb". Your ignorance does not a non-sequitur make.

You don't know what you're talking about in this as well as your other points in your last comment.

You were on the right track when you said this:

"It will be a long, hard battle."

And that's a best case scenario. Worst case scenario is it destabilizes and blows up in Musharraf and Bhutto's face fast.

I think it won't... but there is no reason to support a Captain Ed level of overoptimism.

Posted by flenser | October 18, 2007 11:46 PM

Do you know that generally the attacking side needs a 3:1 ratio of troops (by standard military doctrine) to be assured of victory?

Quite the military genius we have here. What branch of the service are you in?

Posted by Christoph | October 19, 2007 12:19 AM

flenser, I was in the infantry and my training expressed this point and that my nation expected me to fight when the odds are against us, as does yours.

This figure, however, is only a rule of thumb. Yet it intrinsically makes sense if you understand the nature of offensive and defensive operations and it is so common knowledge that no trained military officer in the land forces of any country on Earth would be unfamiliar with it or something like it -- including Pakistan.

It's basic doctrine, not genius level.

Soldiers fight -- surrendering at near battalion level without a shot fired is unusual. Spare me your further analysis.

The issue here is not intelligence, but, if it was, you would lose.

Posted by pk | October 19, 2007 1:07 AM

if we're going to "assist" mussharaf we need to fight to our strengths.

ours happen to be people in physically really good condition and equipment for staying in the field in the dead of winter in deep snow.

what we shoud do is to blast through the area in the dead of winter, lay waste to various areas while the opponents are hunkered down in their winter houses trying not to freeze to death.

then get the hell out before spring thaw. not getting tangled up with "nation building".

repeat as necessary on an annual basis.


Posted by patrick neid | October 19, 2007 1:27 AM

Posted by Christoph | October 18, 2007 8:49 PM

Posted by patrick neid | October 18, 2007 8:38 PM
We are probably painting some of our choppers with the appropriate insignia right now.

Does it hurt or feel good to be that retarded?

Actually it pains me to find out there are people who are so naive to think that the US doesn't cross borders when it sees fit during a time of war. My first impulse would have been to say you were stupid but that's not possible. There's just too much evidence of prior operations to prevent that.

My best guess is you are just an opinionated asshole that actually thinks they have something to say. You don't, read your posts.

Posted by Christoph | October 19, 2007 2:47 AM

Actually it pains me to find out there are people who are so naive to think that the US doesn't cross borders when it sees fit during a time of war.

I never said that. I never even mentioned it nor touched on the issue.

What I did is offer a more military perspective on some of the unrealism I see here. At least Captain Ed is bright...

Posted by swabjockey05 | October 19, 2007 3:00 AM

Can't believe nobody's suggested this yet:

The "terrorist attack" was staged.

Paki government was behind it. Bush/Cheney planned it to give Paki gov "cover" to allow U.S. to help kill more brown people for oil -- I know, I know, I know there's not much oil in Afghanistan...work with me here...

Posted by docjim505 | October 19, 2007 4:05 AM

Christoph: Soldiers are expected to fight when they are outnumbered. Do you know how many defenses historical were made in far worse circumstances? Do you know that generally the attacking side needs a 3:1 ratio of troops (by standard military doctrine) to be assured of victory?

Yes... when there's a war on. In the case of those Paki "cowards", they were in a convoy traveling in their own country. It may be that their headquarters told them not to shoot at their (nominally) fellow Pakikstanis to avoid a major incident.

I recall hearing about a company of Canadian infantry serving as peacekeepers in Bosnia that got surprised and surrounded by several hundred Serbian soldiers with tanks and APCs (this was before NATO took over from the feckless UN). The Canucks had their rifles and not much more. They surrendered.

As much as I like to think that a company of US soldiers would have fought it out AND WON under such circumstances, it would NEVER occur to me to call Canadian troops "cowards". Unless and until I see more evidence, I will also not consider Pakistani soldiers to be cowards.

Posted by Captain Ed | October 19, 2007 5:35 AM

The British surrendered Singapore to the Japanese without firing a shot, and they had over 100,000 men there. I wouldn't have called the British nor their soldiers useless or cowardly, although in that instance, I would have questioned their leadership on Singapore.

For that matter, in our first major engagements in WWII, it took us three days to fight the French to a truce, and then the Nazis slaughtered us at Kasserine Pass (over 1500 dead), where the poorly-led American soldiers who didn't die ran away from the battle. I think we acquitted ourselves well in WWII regardless.

One incident does not a pattern make.

Posted by Christoph | October 19, 2007 5:47 AM

Posted by docjim505 | October 19, 2007 4:05 AM
These mystical Canadian troops in an incident which never happened.

2nd Battalion Princes Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry did fight in the battle of Medak Pocket, but there was no company level surrender as you describe. You will not be able to find such a link and reference because your memory is wrong. It didn't happen.

The nearest incident that matches what you describe is Srebrenica in 1993. Canadian Forces did not surrender and this is a lie. That would imply they turned their weapons over to the Serbs and allowed themselves to be taken into captivity. This did not happen.

The Muslim officials in Srebrenica did surrender after the problems of attacking U.N. forces (one company of Canadian peace keepers) caused Serbian General Mladik's Forces to halt for a week on the outskirts of Srebrenica. This gave time to allow for evacuation of the city's residents who wanted to leave.

Then the Canadians left. Their mandate was never to defend the town, but to act as an incentive for the Serbians to avoid attacking, but the Muslims decided to surrender. They weren't "surprised" by Serbian armor -- they were deliberately placed in the path of it.

I certainly do not mean the average Pakistani soldier is a coward. I mean their heart is not in a fight against their fellow countrymen and many undoubtedly support the Taliban style vision for Pakistan. It also is a failure of leadership for two majors and a colonel, supporting forces engaged in operations against the Taliban, their purpose, to surrender in such circumstances. It was a failure of Pakistan's generals not to plan better and not to immediately order forces to their relief. In other words, a failure of leadership.

It is a complicated situation and I hope Musharraf and Bhutto are successful. Success is possible, but nowhere near quick or easy. My point, all along, is that several people on this thread are way overoptimistic.

Posted by Captain Ed | October 19, 2007 5:35 AM

No, one incident does not a pattern make. But Pakistan shows many similar incidents and the reliability of their Forces is a major concern, as much to Musharraf and Bhutto as to I. Further, Pakistan has a million other problems as yesterday's events demonstrate yet again.

I am sure Pakistan's leadership will try to turn this attack in their favor... and you're analysis is still too rosy by half.

Posted by docjim505 | October 19, 2007 6:44 AM


I'll have to look into this some more, because a good friend of mine was in the Canadian Grenadier Guards and had friends of his in the non-existent Canadian unit that didn't surrender and thus didn't go into captivity. Perhaps I misunderstood him.

Posted by Christoph | October 19, 2007 6:52 AM

A lot of Canadians felt badly about the Srebrenica incident and it may have felt like a surrender to them. Certainly, the U.N. didn't resolve it the way they would have preferred to, which would have been the city not changing hands. But the Canadian company didn't surrender in classic military terms in a manner as you described. If you can provide further information about this or even another incident, I would definitely be interested.

Ultimately, I don't think you and I are on opposite sides here... I just believe my overall analysis of the situation in Pakistan that it is not looking that great for western interests is closer to the mark than Captain Ed's.

Even if he is right that there is more hope now than before, it will still be a hard slog at best.

Where Captain Ed really goes wrong is he thinks Musharraf wasn't "serious" before. Musharraf is far more serious than anyone on this board. But he has to deal with leading a fractious country where many people want to kill him and Bhutto, the security and intelligence forces are not particularly reliable, there is open rebellion, foreign fighters enter the rebellious region at will, and his own army is only so so with following his orders with vigor. So it's not a great situation.

Posted by Christoph | October 19, 2007 7:05 AM

Posted by docjim505 | October 19, 2007 6:44 AM

The Liberal Party then in power in Canada tried to cover up, largely successfully, the competent and effective Canadian action at Medak Pocket... so it wouldn't surprise me terribly if they tried to cover up a debacle such as you described. Which I have never, ever heard of. Such a debacle would have hurt their election chances and election chances are what the election is all about.

If you can provide some evidence and references for this action, hopefully more than one soldier's take although I admit that is a start, I will apologize to you for my ignorance. Until then, however, I think you are most like thinking about Srebrenica, which did not unfold as you said.

Some small numbers of Canadians (at one point I believe four were in captivity including a Captain bound to a pole and there was a lot of coverage given to this) were captured. There's a difference militarily and historically between this and half battalions surrendering without resistance.

Posted by Christoph | October 19, 2007 7:07 AM

*and election chances are what the Canadian Liberal Party is all about

Posted by patrick neid | October 19, 2007 12:30 PM

...Posted by Christoph | October 19, 2007 2:47 AM

Patrick Neid said

"Actually it pains me to find out there are people who are so naive to think that the US doesn't cross borders when it sees fit during a time of war."

your response:

"I never said that. I never even mentioned it nor touched on the issue."

Ah, but you did.

Posted by Christoph | October 18, 2007 8:49 PM

"We are probably painting some of our choppers with the appropriate insignia right now." P. Neid

your response:

"Does it hurt or feel good to be that retarded?"

With all your jumping up and down in the playpen, you did say as much. My response was a quip that we would be helping the Pak's pursuit in Wazi'stan by painting our choppers, a pursuit that is clearly coming, in what I hope is a defining moment in their history and the war on terror.

If you spent a little more time reading the easily understood nuance of fellow posters you might find your urge to be "an opinionated asshole" a little less overpowering.

Posted by Christoph | October 19, 2007 8:07 PM

I guess I can see your point, Patrick. Only in regards to me touching on the issue. I was referring to your inane point about us painting our choppers to look Pakistani. That would give the enemy every legal and moral right to kill the Americans outright as spies if their chopper went down among other issues.

I didn't mean to touch on the issue of whether there should be a great American presence in Pakistan.

Posted by Christoph | October 19, 2007 8:15 PM

Oh, bigger point, plus it would REALLY piss off Pakistani citizens if the U.S. were pretending to be Pakistani soldiers. Can you imagine the propaganda and fear spread if the enemy in that country could legitimately convince people they didn't know if Pakistani military were real or were American invaders? I am saying your point was silly for this reason above all: It's a daft idea.

Posted by patrick neid | October 19, 2007 9:59 PM


I have to now start questioning your military knowledge.

If and when we go into Pakistan, either in full view or as I quipped with "painted insignia" the pilots will know exactly what is at risk and they will go. They may or may not be active duty.

My speculation on this is pretty straight forward. If Bhutto's return ends up beng a defining event two things will have to happen to qualify it as a defining event. Pakistan society will divide into two camps--7th vs 21st century(really about the 19th). Secondly, and more importantly from our view, they will declare war on radical Islam in their mist. As part of that they will attempt to clear our the hinterlands. If that proves too difficult, as Bhutto has already mentioned, she will ask for our help--her supporters already know that.

Well before her asking, our "painted birds", will probably have long been engaged in saying hello.

Posted by Christoph | October 20, 2007 12:32 AM

patrick neid, it's not a matter of whether U.S. forces are willing to take the risk. Of course they are. They regularly get killed and tortured.

It's the horrific damage this would do to Pakistan's internal affairs if, as you quip, you change military equipment to Pakistani markings and this was discovered. If you did, that would not only be unbearably embarrassing for Musharraf, it would also be a massive propaganda win for the fundamentalist Islamic forces. It would cause ordinary Pakistanis to question whether Pakistani military equipment and soldiers were, in fact, native or American.

I'm glad you use the word "quip" because it was never a good suggestion.

Posted by patrick neid | October 20, 2007 2:03 AM

It's irrelevant whether you think its going to happen. It happens all the time already.

It's not going to do a thing to Pakistan internally. If the civil war breaks out in internally against radical islam the folks fighting the radicals will be cheering.

If Bhutto's return and attempted assassination are not defining events, as I have theorized, then this whole conversation is moot.

If it is moot, we then continue doing what we have been doing these last few years. We will cross the border in the northern territories whenever we have actionable intelligence without permission. We will do it will special forces, jets, choppers, drones and missiles. We have not asked permission nor will we because we don't trust the half of the pak military that continues to be partial to the taliban. When accused we will deny it.

If you think we have not gone across the border at will you are very naive. All we are talking about in the future is if there will be bag pipes playing.

Posted by Christoph | October 20, 2007 3:06 AM

"If you think we have not gone across the border at will you are very naive."

I have never ever said that. Are you not paying attention or simply unable to comprehend?

I know U.S. special forces, air assets, etc., operate in Pakistan... I'm saying, as I've said repeatedly, and you, intentionally or by inability I have to assume at this point, aren't getting... I'm merely talking about putting false Pakistani insignia on U.S. military equipment, which would be dumb for the reasons I mentioned.

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