U.S. military prepares to train Pakistani forces
US officials have requested $750 million to expand a program designed to assist foreign militaries engaged in counterterrorism.
Suggesting a dramatic shift in Washington's counterterrorism strategy, the State Department and the Pentagon want to beef up training of foreign militaries and paramilitary troops. The proposal comes as US military trainers are preparing to train Pakistan's paramilitary forces this summer.Skip to next paragraph
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In a proposal to Congress this week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice requested $750 million to train troops around the world who are engaged in counterterrorism operations. That would constitute a 250 percent increase, The New York Times reports.
Mr. Gates said that rapidly building up the armed forces of friendly nations to combat terrorism within their borders was "a vital and enduring military requirement."
The additional funding is designed to augment the Global Train and Equip program, created in 2006 to assist foreign militaries, The Times reports.
"The current program has paid for parts and ammunition used by the Lebanese Army against terrorist threats in a Palestinian refugee camp as well as for helicopter spare parts, night-vision devices and night-flight training for Pakistani special forces fighting suspected members of the Taliban and Al Qaeda along the Afghan border, Mr. Gates said."
Gates and Rice seek to increase funding authority for the program from $300 million a year to $750 million, make it permanent and expand it to allow assistance to police and paramilitary forces. The program is to expire at the end of September.…
A third facet of the proposal would make permanent a program that allows U.S. Special Operations Forces to spend $25 million annually to pay or supply equipment to indigenous forces that support their clandestine operations.
The proposal comes as Washington is preparing to send military trainers to Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, an area near the Afghan border where Taliban troops and Al Qaeda have been on the upsurge, CNN reported last week.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has signed deployment orders that will send U.S. military trainers to Pakistan this summer, CNN has learned.
Their mission: To teach Pakistan Frontier Corps units counterinsurgency skills critical to fighting the Taliban and al Qaeda.
The U.S. trainers will begin by training key Frontier Corps units to become trainers themselves so the program can quickly expand. The Frontier Corps is drawn from tribes in the border area and is considered vital in the fight against militants. In July 2007, The Christian Science Monitor reported that the intention of such training “would be to turn the corps against Al Qaeda, much as the US military in Iraq has forged alliances with Sunni tribes to take on Al Qaeda in Iraq.”