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Flournoy to Testify on U.S. Aid to Pakistani Counterinsurgency

With a new Pakistani military response to Taliban advances underway, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy goes before the House Armed Services Committee this afternoon to discuss what military training and aid in counterinsurgency the United States is offering that the Pakistanis will accept. Working with a proud and powerful institution like the Pakistani Army is much, much different than the training and mentoring efforts that the United States has undertaken in Iraq and Afghanistan. Julian Barnes has a good piece in The Los Angeles Times about the initial partnering difficulties:

“They [the Pakistani military] are struggling to come to grips with the fact that the threat is really within and it is really a threat they helped build and now it has turned against them,” the senior Defense official said.

Although it is not clear what Mullen offered Kayani, he did outline Washington’s plans to dramatically ramp up aid.

“The message has been consistent: We are ready to help in any way you think we can,” the military officer said.

Right now, the Pakistanis appear to want the U.S. to provide it with equipment, like helicopters, night-vision goggles, light weaponry. That’s not necessarily inappropriate, since, as Barnes notes, the Pakistani military has a whole lot of heavy stuff that’s more useful for fighting India’s big military than for conducting counterinsurgency operations. But it’s also insufficient, because the United States has a number of counterinsurgency-experienced officers who can train the Pakistanis in best practices for how to use all this stuff. And the Pakistanis don’t appear so eager to expand the 70-dude U.S. trainer contingent. So what assurance will the United States have that Pakistani units are using the equipment we’d provide them the right way? That’s not to say that increasing the number of U.S. trainers guarantees a better outcome, but providing equipment alone guarantees much less.

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