Skip to comments.U.S., Pakistan bolster joint efforts, treading delicately
Posted on 04/29/2010 6:43:27 PM PDT by ErnstStavroBlofeld
The scheduled arrival of 50 additional U.S. military personnel to Pakistan in June, accompanying four new F-16 fighter jets, will increase the official number of American boots on the ground there by 25 percent. It is enough to make the Pakistani government shudder with trepidation.
Exaggerated tales of U.S. soldiers and spies flooding the country are regular front-page fare in Pakistan, and cause for strident political criticism of Western intervention that sometimes erupts into violence. Pakistan's military and intelligence services remain highly suspicious about the motives and methods of their U.S. counterparts, a wariness mirrored in American attitudes toward Pakistan.
But a strategic decision by both sides to improve counterterrorism cooperation, along with the personnel requirements of increased U.S. aid, have led in recent months to a small but significant expansion in the U.S. presence in Pakistan.
There are currently about 200 U.S. military involved in security assistance in Pakistan, including a Special Operations training and advisory contingent, initially set at 80 troops, that has twice been enlarged since last year and now totals up to 140 troops in two Pakistani locations, according to senior U.S. military officials. The Pakistani government prohibits U.S. combat forces.
The CIA has sent additional intelligence-gathering operatives and technicians in recent months. Plans are underway to establish a joint military intelligence processing center. After an initial period of tension, Pakistani officers are using cross-border intelligence compiled at two joint coordination centers on the Afghan side of the frontier.
Although news media and the public continue to criticize the CIA's drone-fired missile attacks targeting insurgent figures in western Pakistan, intelligence cooperation in directing the missiles has improved, according to Pakistani officials who say U.S. operatives have gotten better on coordinating such activities to prevent conflicts with Pakistan's own air operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas,
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