US troops embedded with Pakistani forces: WikiLeaks

The cables released by WikiLeaks said that US special operations forces were embedded with Pakistani troops for intelligence gathering.

Updated: May 21, 2011, 23:59 PM IST

Islamabad: Contrary to Pakistani
military`s persistent assertion that it will not allow foreign
troops to operate within the country, US special forces were
embedded with Pakistani troops for intelligence gathering and
were also deployed on joint operations in their territory,
according to secret US diplomatic cables.

The cables released by WikiLeaks said that US special
operations forces were embedded with Pakistani troops for
intelligence gathering by the summer of 2009 and deployed with
them on joint operations in Pakistani territory by September
the same year.

The issue has gained heightened sensitivity in the
wake of the US raid against Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.
The revelations go against the Pakistani military`s
claim that it will not allow foreign troops to operate within
the country for operations to flush out the Taliban and other
militant elements.

"We have created Intelligence Fusion cells with
embedded US Special Forces with both SSG and Frontier Corps
(Bala Hisar, Peshawar) with the Rover equipment ready to
deploy," then US Ambassador Anne Patterson was quoted by Dawn
newspaper as saying in a cable to the State Department in May

"Through these embeds, we are assisting the
Pakistanis collect and coordinate existing intelligence
assets," she said.

At the time, Patterson noted that the US had "not
been given Pakistani military permission to accompany the
Pakistani forces on deployments as yet."

By September, plans for joint intelligence activities
had been expanded to include army headquarters.

"Pakistan has begun to accept intelligence,
surveillance, and reconnaissance support from the US military
for (counter-insurgency) operations," Patterson wrote.

"In addition... intelligence fusion centers" had been
established "at the headquarters of Frontier Corps and the
11th Corps and we expect at additional sites, including GHQ
and the 12th Corps in Balochistan", she said.

In April 2009, the cell at Bala Hisar assisted the
Pakistan military operation then taking place in Lower Dir
district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

"US Special Operations Command Force are assisting
the FC at the Intelligence Fusion Cell at FC Headquarters with
imagery, target packages, and operational planning," a cable
from that month said.

A number of leaked cables reveal that the US was
eager to embed American troops with Pakistanis soldiers.

"On a brighter note, there is the possibility that
operations in the northern FATA may provide additional
opportunities to embed US Special Operations Forces with FC
units to provide ISR (intelligence, surveillance and
reconnaissance) support and general operational guidance,"
Patterson wrote in a November 2009 cable.

"If we can expand on what we have recently been
doing in Bajaur Agency with our embeds, it would be a
significant opportunity to contribute to the pursuit of the
TTP," she said.

The Bajaur operation with the Frontier Corps that
Patterson referred to is likely one that was conducted in
September 2009 and was described in an October 2009 cable
previously published in the media.

That cable also mentioned that US troops were
deployed at Wana in South Waziristan and Miranshah in North
Waziristan with the Pakistan Army`s 11th Corps and that the
Frontier Corps had requested a further deployment in Bajaur.

"Previously, the Pakistani military leadership
adamantly opposed letting us embed our special operations
personnel with their military forces...The recent approval by
GHQ appears to represent a sea change in Pakistani
thinking," the cable said.

"These deployments are highly politically
sensitive....Should [they] receive any coverage in the
Pakistani or US media, the Pakistani military will likely stop
making requests for such assistance," it said.

Another previously published cable described how, in
a January 2009 meeting with army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez
Kayani, then US Central Command chief Gen David Petraeus
explained he "had given instructions that Special Operations
Forces would be deployed regularly and constantly, and the US
`needed to move their soldiers in here, so they could engage
productively with the Frontier Corps`".

However, a deployment of US forces in Pakistani
territory planned for April 2009 was called off at the last
minute, according to another cable.

"The 3rd Commando Group of the Pakistan Special
Services Group (SSG) exploited the weakened state of the
Taliban surrounding Daggar, the main city within Buner
(district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa), to secure the city early on
April 29," the cable from the US Embassy in Islamabad said.

"Although reported [earlier] that US officials would
accompany the FC deployment to Daggar, a late-night decision
on April 28 by the Pakistan Military General Headquarters
(GHQ) denied the joint deployment, saying the FC had all the
assets needed. Embassy will work with GHQ to determine the
reason for the late change and to promote integrated operation

In the wake of the May 2 US raid that killed bin
Laden in the garrison city of Abbottabad, the Pakistani
military decided to reduce the US troop presence in the
country to the minimum.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani military denied the
revelations in the WikiLeaks cables about US troops working
with Pakistani forces.

A military spokesman "categorically denied the
presence of US troops in North and South Waziristan Agencies"
as reported in the WikiLeaks cables.

"No US troops are involved in any military operations
in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas," the spokesman
said in a brief statement.