Tuesday, July 27, 2010

One of the major revelations to come out of the 92,000 previously classified documents recently released by wikileaks is that apparently the Taliban have on several occasions fired at U.S aircraft using surface to air missiles better known as MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defense Systems). The media has seized upon this story as yet another government blunder since after all wasn't it the U.S. government who originally supplied the Mujahideen with stinger missiles back in the 80's when they were fighting the Soviets? However, a closer examination of the specs on these stingers leads one to a far different and perhaps more dangerous conclusion; that Pakistan has begun to supply the Taliban with their own surface to air missiles to use against U.S. forces.

I had often heard that there were several hundred stingers unaccounted for after the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan and when I was there this summer I asked the crews of helicopters I was flying on why it was that we no longer considered these weapons a threat. According to weapons experts, the batteries on stinger missiles are good for one shot each and they must be changed out if the delivery system is to be used more than once. Furthermore, the average shelf life of unused batteries is only 4-5 years. Meaning that any stinger missiles given to the Mujahideen in the 80's would no longer be effective today. While it is not beyond the realm of contemplation that a skilled technician could jerry rig some sort of alternative battery for these devices, such skill is likely out of the range of the vast majority of Taliban. These weapons are however still capable of exploding, only the delivery device is deactivated. As such a great deal of the remaining stingers left over from the 80's have probably since been turned into IEDs.

The fact remains however that the Taliban are getting fully functioning MANPADS from somewhere, which in all likelihood have been constructed in the last 4-5 years. The most likely candidate is Pakistan which is both the traditional patron of the Taliban and has for the last twenty years been a manufacturer of their very own surface to air missile known as the Anza. The Anza has an effective range of up to 5000 meters and could certainly have been behind the downing of several US helicopters in recent years. In recent years, Pakistan has advertised the Anza series for export,displaying it at the International Defense Exhibition (IDEX) 2007 event in the UAE.

Worst case scenario: The Pakistani ISI is directly providing the Taliban with surface to air missiles

Best Case: Pakistan is irresponsibly selling MANPADS on the open market and they are ending up in the hands of the Taliban through a middleman


Catie Corbin said...

the front page of The Tribune (or Express) says "Islamabad slams allegations of ISI-Taliban links; Pakistani officials question veracity; Afghanistan is 'unsurprised'; US is enraged."
I'm just not sure why this is surprising everyone? ISI has always had ties with the Taliban and it seemed that only after 9/11 did Islamabad feel obliged to cooperate with US policies in the area. But the ISI and Islamabad are two different things. The ISI doesn't really answer to Islamabad. They do their own thing. Maybe Islamabad doesn't want the world to know it doesn't have control over its Intelligence Services, but that's the reality. To say this is surprising news, is kind of a joke.
A few weeks ago D&D (I think Beau) wrote a great post on the midterm elections (I think he called it a "referendum on the economy"). Do you think this was leaked to put the Obama administration in bad light for the midterms? Do you think stances on Pak and Afgh will now be more important? Or is the talk still economy, economy, economy?
P.S. Really liked your anecdote about the Stingers on your trip. Really good information that I definitely would not have otherwise known. Keep the stories coming!

homelesseus said...

And then when no one was looking, Wikileaks dropped a bomb on the whole affair. How will this play out among the populations of Europe regarding NATO and the overall war effort? Stay tuned for more penetrating analysis from the flag-waving contingent.

It's impossible to see the time while tinkering with the weights and gears.

"We didn't lose, we sort of like didn't really win, but. . . ."

Anonymous said...

Pakistan has suffered a lot in the hands of UK n US. It's high time to pay back.
When Pakistanis are killed by NATO forces, there is nothing wrong in ISI supplying secret weapons and helping the Holy Islamic forces to kill the criminal NATO forces.

Catie Corbin said...

Oh dear. Hammurabi's code is classified as "primitive" for a reason. It's almost 4,000 years old.
Look, I don't condone abuses made my NATO forces or American forces or British forces and in my opinion current policy should be drastically changed. But the promotion of "Holy Islamic forces killing the criminal NATO forces" is a mindset I hope few people share with you.
Every party in this situation needs to set their priorities straight. Alternatives do exist.

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