The U.S. Department of Defense is delighted to see the Pakistani military -- or at least the poorly trained Frontier Corps -- take on the Taliban in Buner and Dir, two districts neighboring Swat, where the Taliban run the show. The DoD "hopes for sustained effort" by the Pakistani military against the Taliban, according to an article released at the military website DefenseLink:
Defense leaders are "clearly pleased" to see the Pakistani military take action against increasingly emboldened Taliban forces, and have offered additional support if Pakistan's government will accept it to promote a sustained effort, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said today.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen and others have expressed "a very real concern" about the eroding security situation in Pakistan in recent weeks, Morrell told reporters.
"They and others in this building were clearly pleased to see the Pakistan military take the initiative over the past couple of days and push back against the militants who had been encroaching ever further toward Islamabad," he said.
Taliban forces have moved in recent weeks from the Swat Valley into the Buner and Dir districts. But in recent days, Pakistani ground troops and heavy artillery have moved into the region to assault guerilla hideouts, with Pakistani jets and helicopters attacking Taliban positions from overhead.
"We think the military operations that are under way in Buner and Dir districts are exactly the appropriate response to the offensive operations by the Taliban and other militants over the past few weeks," Morrell said. "And so we are hopeful and encouraging of the Pakistan military that they are able to sustain these operations against the militants and to stem this encroachment on the more populated areas of Pakistan."
I've tracked the Pakistani military operations against the Taliban for years. The Pakistani military declares victory after each operation, yet curiously the Taliban move closer and closer to Peshawar and Islamabad and gain more and more ground (see here for a list of the Pakistani military "victories").
Perhaps this time will be different, and the Pakistani military is serious about this very real threat. We certainly hope so. But is the recent past is any indicator, the military will declare victory in a few weeks or months, then a "peace agreement" will be reached with the Taliban. And the Taliban will continue to take over more territory.