Pakistani Forces Helped Taliban In 2007: U.S. Lt. Col.




 
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Pakistani Forces Helped Taliban In 2007: U.S. Lt. Col.
 
September 22nd, 2008  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: Pakistani Forces Helped Taliban In 2007: U.S. Lt. Col.


Pakistani Forces Helped Taliban In 2007: U.S. Lt. Col.
Defense News
September 22, 2008
Pg. 1

By Sean D. Naylor
Pakistani military forces flew repeated helicopter missions into Afghanistan to resupply the Taliban during a fierce battle in June 2007, according to a Marine Corps officer, who says his information is based on multiple U.S. and Afghan intelligence reports.
The revelation by Lt. Col. Chris Nash, who commanded an embedded training team (ETT) in eastern Afghanistan from June 2007 to last March, adds a new twist to the controversy over a U.S. special operations raid into Pakistan. The Sept. 3 raid drew a protest from Pakistani officials.
But fewer than 15 months previously, Pakistani forces were flying cross-border missions in the other direction to resupply a “base camp” in Nangarhar Province occupied by fighters from the Taliban, al-Qaida and the Hezb-i-Islami faction led by Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Nash said in a Sept. 17 telephone interview.
He had previously alluded to the episode in a PowerPoint briefing he had prepared to help coalition forces headed to Afghanistan. The briefing, titled “Observations and Opinions IRT Operations in Afghanistan by a Former ETT OIC,” and dated August 2008, has circulated widely in military circles. A copy was obtained by Army Times, a sister publication of Defense News.
Nash said his embedded training team, ETT 2-5, and their allies from the Afghan Border Police’s 1st Brigade fought “a significant fight” in late June 2007 in the Agam Tengay and Wazir Tengay valleys in the Tora Bora mountains of southern Nangarhar — the same region in which al-Qaida forces fought a retreat into Pakistan from prepared defenses in the winter of 2001-02.
“I had six [Marine] guys on a hill,” Nash said. “They weren’t surrounded, but in the traditional sense they might have been.”
At a critical point in the battle, the Pakistanis flew several resupply missions into a Taliban base about 15 to 20 kilometers inside Afghanistan, Nash said. None of the Marines witnessed the helicopter flights during the four days they were there, he said in a Sept. 19 e-mail. But the flights had been reported to them by Afghan soldiers and local civilians in the village of Tangay Kholl.
Summarizing the reports, he said, “A helo flew in the valley, went over to where we knew there was a base camp, landed [and] 15 minutes later took off.” That happened “three different times,” he said.
The Afghan government’s intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security, had sources in the camp who confirmed that the helicopters were on a resupply mission, according to Nash. “From NDS sources that we had in the opposing camp, [we know] they were offloading supplies,” he said.
This was consistent with multiple other reports Nash and his Marines received during that period, he said in the e-mail. “The officer that I had advising the [Afghan Border Police brigade] intelligence officer reported to me the presence of this support in south Nangarhar throughout late June and into August of ’07,” he said. “Both Maj. Razid — the ABP [Brigade] intelligence officer — and Lt. Col. Daoud … then working in ABP intelligence separately and on numerous occasions reported this to the ETT.”
He said these reports were confirmed by a separate set of Marine trainers advising an Afghan National Army battalion in the area, who checked the reports out “through their Afghan intelligence officer.”
Two NDS lieutenant colonels, working separately, made further reports to the Marine ETTs about the Pakistani helicopter support to the Taliban.
Nash set great store by the NDS reports. “In general, we do not rely on the Afghan human intelligence nearly enough,” he said. “Everybody will always roll out the one time that somebody [in NDS] was working for the other side. But I can tell you that when bullets were flying, they were spot-on for me, so I trusted them.”
There were few other U.S. forces involved in the late June battle, because the major U.S. force in the area, the 173rd Airborne Brigade, was focused elsewhere at the time, Nash said.
The U.S. military public affairs office at Bagram air base near Kabul also did not respond to e-mailed questions before press time.
Nadeem Kiani, the press attaché at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, denied Nash’s claims.
“There is no truth to these sorts of reports,” Kiani said, adding that “120,000 Pakistani troops are fighting terrorism in the tribal areas” and that about 2,000 Pakistani troops had lost their lives to terrorists.
Several U.S. military and civilian officials expressed surprise and said this was the first they had heard of such support.
Retired Army Lt. Gen. David Barno, the senior U.S. commander in Afghanistan from November 2003 to May 2005, said he “would have been absolutely astounded” had the Pakistanis attempted to re-supply the Taliban by helicopter during his tenure in command. “Nothing remotely like that occurred.”
A field grade Army officer with recent experience in eastern Afghanistan was also surprised by Nash’s claim. “I never saw or heard of an ISI helicopter resupplying the enemy inside Afghanistan,” he said.
Another Army officer, currently stationed in eastern Afghanistan, also said he had never heard of any cross-border Pakistani helicopter flights to support the Taliban.
Tip of the Iceberg
But according to Nash, the helicopter missions were just the tip of the iceberg. Pakistani forces also provided logistical support, training, and even direct and indirect fire for the Taliban and its allies in his area of operations.
“What they [the Pakistanis] bring to the fight is not only tactical expertise, but [because of] how they’re arrayed along the border, they can easily provide support by fire positions that our enemies are able to maneuver under,” Nash said. “We were on the receiving end of Pakistani military D-30,” a towed 122mm howitzer.
“On numerous occasions, Afghan border police checkpoints and observation posts were attacked by Pakistani military forces,” usually those belonging to the Frontier Corps, a locally recruited force in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas that abut the border with Afghanistan, he said.
In addition, he said, his Marines had definitely seen combat with Pakistani forces.
The introduction of al-Qaida and Pakistani military training teams into Taliban and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-i-Islami units had resulted in a “dramatic increase in capabilities” for those forces, Nash said.
The Taliban and its allies had evolved from “hit and run” attacks to “hit and maneuver,” he said. “We started to see attacks that weren’t conducted by goat herders.”
Shown a copy of Nash’s briefing, a U.S. government official who closely tracks events in Afghanistan and Pakistan said he could confirm everything Nash said about Pakistani support to the Taliban, with the exception of the line about “helo resupply.”
“All of that’s going on,” the U.S. government official said. “They have [training] personnel in place. … I’ve heard the logistical supply is very much going on.”
 


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