After several delays and threatened cancellations, 25 US military personnel arrived in Pakistan some time last week to begin a controversial training program aimed at bolstering Pakistan’s Frontier Corps (FC). The program would not directly train the corps itself, but rather would train Pakistani army instructors who would then be responsible for training the FC members. The FC is a paramilitary organization, and technically part of the Pakistani Interior Ministry, though officers come from the Pakistani Army.
The training program was part of a Pentagon proposal designed at bolstering the forces to fight militants in the restive tribal areas along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The planned mission was temporarily put on hold in June after US air strikes killed several FC members.
US officials have also questioned the loyalty of the Pakistani military in general and the FC in particular. Sen. Carl Levin (D – MI) told reporters in May the FC shouldn’t be strengthened, citing evidence of support for the Taliban.
US relations with Pakistan have also been harmed by a spate of unilateral air strikes carried out on Pakistani soil in the past two months. Though this has raised the level of discontent in Pakistan’s tenuous coalition government, US officials remain hopeful that Pakistan will continue to shun peace overtures from militants in the tribal regions and continue a policy of offensives.
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