Posted by Lex, on October 8, 2010
In AfPak, “intelligence” agencies are increasingly concerned that the Pakistani ISI is supporting cross-border terror attacks into Afghanistan to destabilize the situation there, ostensibly to preserve Afghanistan’s value as strategic depth against generational enemy India. The result has been a very great deal of bug hunting by the CIA, and an unfortunate incident against Pakistan’s frontier guards (NJ subscription required):
The stepped-up American military campaign is a direct response to Pakistan’s unwillingness to clean out the insurgent strongholds in its lawless tribal regions, according to U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the operations. Militants use the safe havens as staging areas for deadly cross-border raids against targets in Afghanistan, the officials said. High-ranking Qaida fugitives — including September 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri — are also thought to be hiding out in the area, the officials said.
American commanders in Kabul “basically want to schwack these guys,” a senior U.S. military official said in an interview. U.S. forces have launched a “huge, stepped-up effort” to kill Pakistani-based militants before they can cross into Afghanistan to carry out new attacks, the official said.
A second senior American military official said that the strikes were the result of increased intelligence sharing between the United States and Pakistan. Islamabad hasn’t been willing to send many of its own forces into the militants’ safe havens on its side of the border, but the official said that Pakistan has at times provided valuable intelligence on potential targets there. Pakistani forces have also spent more than a year battling militants in South Waziristan, another insurgent stronghold, suffering thousands of battlefield casualties.
“The outcome of the increased cooperation is more operations that support each other, which means more strikes on Pakistani targets,” the second U.S. military official said…
But American operations inside Pakistan have recently expanded well beyond the CIA’s drone program. On September 25, U.S. helicopters carried out a pair of raids inside Pakistan, killing a total of more than 50 militants, according to American officials. Two days later, Afghan troops at a base in eastern Afghanistan’s Khowst province came under machine-gun and artillery fire from insurgents on Pakistan’s side of the border. U.S. helicopters crossed into Pakistan in response to a call for assistance and fired on the militants, killing at least 30 fighters, U.S. officials say…
“Frustration with Pakistan has gotten more intense, particularly within the military, because the Pakistanis aren’t doing anything about the safe havens,” he said. “Now that there are more troops in the region, we’re seeing a more aggressive posture, both in drone strikes and in other operations.”
A quarter plane away, a rising generation of military officers within a rising regional hegemon is about to take the helm of a rising Chinese naval fleet:
China is also reported to be building an anti-ship ballistic missile base in the southern province of Guangdong, with missiles capable of reaching the Philippines and Vietnam. The base is regarded as an effort to enforce China’s territorial claims to vast areas of the South China Sea claimed by other nations — and to threaten U.S. aircraft carriers that now patrol the area unchallenged.
Even improved Chinese forces pose little threat to a far more capable U.S. military. But their increasing range and ability — and the certainty that they will strengthen further — make it crucial to help lower-level officers become more familiar with the Americans, experts say, before a chance encounter blossoms into a crisis.
‘‘These past few years are part of a process where a group of young officers in China are beginning to rise up to a more senior position,’’ said Huang Jing, a scholar of China’s military and leadership at the National University of Singapore. ‘‘All militaries need a straw man, a perceived enemy, for solidarity. And as a young officer or soldier, you always take the strongest of straw men to maximize the effect. Chinese military men, from the soldiers and platoon captains all the way up to the army commanders, were always taught that America would be their enemy.’’
From the Chinese military’s view, this year has offered ample evidence of the United States’ ill will…
The United States ‘‘is engaging in an increasingly tight encirclement of China and constantly challenging China’s core interests,’’ Rear Adm. Yang Yi, a naval commander, wrote last month in The P.L.A. Daily, the military newspaper. ‘‘Washington will inevitably pay a costly price for its muddled decision.’’
In the geographic middle of these two theaters, the Indian air force plans to acquire 250-300 fifth generation Russian fighters which will fundamentally alter the balance of regional air power.