12 May 10. The commander of Pakistan’s special forces has described the difficulties in conducting counter-insurgency operations along the border with Afghanistan, the Middle-East Special Operations Commanders Conference has heard. Addressing delegates including multinational special forces commanders in Amman, Jordan on 10 May, Special Services Group General Officer Commanding, Maj Gen Mohammed Haroon Al-Salam said ‘hundreds’ of operations has been conducted in the Swat Valley since Pakistan entered the Global War On Terror in 2003. Describing how militants were using the routes to cross into Afghanistan in order to avoid Pakistani military operations, Al-Salam said his country’s focus was on ‘supporting coalition operations which made its security forces a legitimate target for militants’. With approximately 22 routes ‘frequently’ used by militants to cross the Pakistan and Afghanistan border, not to mention an additional 320 ‘unfrequented’ trails, Al-Salam said the ‘borders cannot be sealed. It is extremely difficult’. With altitudes ranging between 3,000 and 12,000 ft, Al-Salam described how the
mountainous Hindu Kush area made resupply and reinforcement missions ‘extremely difficult’ in the heat of battle. He added that forward operating bases could be stocked for anything up to eight months and a limited number of helicopter landing sites meant casualty evacuations could be severely delayed. Artillery fire support and the use of land mines were described as being ‘less than effective’ and Al-Salam said both friendly forces and militant defensive areas could be wiped out by avalanches while the high altitude conditions easily caused cold weather injuries such as hypothermia and frostbite. Similarly, conditions restricted vehicle manoeuvrability and allowed only a limited number of attack options. Inaccuracies in mapping and images also contributed to difficulties in achieving surprise ahead of attacks while helicopters provided militants with early warning of strike operations allowing them to fleet or prepare to retaliate.‘Militants are well-acclimatised and faceless,’ he said and conceded that it was proving ‘difficult’ to hunt down high value targets. ‘Only a limited number of key figures have been apprehended’ Al-Salam stated. (Source: Shephard)
11 May 10. Commanders of international special operations forces (SOF) have called for the increased use of specialised indigenous forces to counter the emergence of a fourth ‘battlefield realm- the human domain’.
Speaking at the Special Operations Forces Exhibition (SOFEX) Conference in Amman, Jordan on 10 May, Commander of US Special Operations Command Central, Maj Gen Charles Cleveland said current concept of operations had to be ‘refined’ in light of the latest addition to the traditional ground, air and maritime domains. ‘This fourth domain is most likely to feature in the future,’ he explained while describing how the human realm comprised an ‘existential sphere encompassing culture, beliefs, knowledge, ideas, social structure, capabilities, motivation and intent amongst local populations’. He said it was important that SOF units operate within the human domain in order to ‘eliminate enemy freedom of movement’ and added that an effects-based approach was required. This, he said, should incorporate ‘precise targeting in
execution and selection of time and object…sending the right public message is critical’. His thoughts were backed up by Brig Gen Ali Ahmed Jeradat, Commander of Jordan’s Joint Special Operations Command, who said, ‘Winning the hearts and minds of the local population is a key component to success. They will come to us with flowers instead of explosive belts.’
Cleveland also called for Command and Control (C2) and headquarter elements to be ‘stuffed’ with local area experts, human and technology experts and knowledgeable leaders. Additionally, he stated that raid or strike operations remained an important part of the SOF capability but warned that