The US military has launched a coordinated operation with Pakistani forces to put pressure on insurgents on both sides of Afghanistan’s eastern frontier, a US military commander said on Tuesday.
Dubbed “Operation Lion heart,” the operation takes cooperation between the US, Afghan and Pakistani forces to “the next level” in terms of intelligence sharing and coordination, said Colonel John Spiszer.
“We are in coordination on a daily basis with the Frontier Corps,” said Spiszer, who commands the 1st Infantry Division’s 3rd Brigade.Spiszer said his troops were working along the Kunar River valley and up into the mountain passes along the border to intercept and ambush insurgents trying to escape from Pakistani operations in Bajaur Agency.
“What we have done is worked very hard to refocus our ISR assets, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance assets to do everything we can to identify transiting across the border,” he said.
Spiszer said he did not have enough troops but would get more with the arrival of a brigade from the 10th Mountain Division early next year. He hailed the cooperation developing between the United States and the Pakistan military as a major success.
“I wish I had more resources to devote to it. And we will have more over the coming months,” he said in a teleconference from Afghanistan. He said a Pakistani offensive against militants in the Bajaur region was pushing insurgents across the border into Afghanistan, where Nato forces have seen a rise in violence.
Spiszer said he expects violence to rise through the winter as militants take shelter from the Pakistani forces in the mountainous border region. Violence levels against the US and Nato forces in Kunar, Nuristan and Laghman provinces, increased last month as a result of the military action by the Pakistani Army and the Frontier Corps in the Fata, he said.
Spiszer said the Pakistani operations have been slow but sustained and effective at clearing militant bases. “They’re running out of options on places to go,” he said, adding, “We may
see some increased violence trends over the winter that we haven’t seen in the past. But if that is the case, it’d be because the Pakistan military’s been taking away their safe havens in Pakistan.”