The Pakistani Army is getting help from U.S. spy drones, in its offensive against Taliban militants in South Waziristan.
“For months the United States and Pakistan have been sharing information from Predator flights in the volatile border regions” between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the L.A. Times’ Julian Barnes and Greg Miller report. “but until now the Pakistanis had not accepted help for their major military operations.”
These flights aren’t the same as the killer drone attacks, under the CIA’s operational control, which have left slain up to 1,000 people, including several top leaders of the Pakistani Taliban.
Instead, these U.S. Air Force Predators are providing overhead video — and possibly radio intercepts — for the Pakistani campaign. “Pakistan has superior human intelligence on the ground, where its powerful Inter-Services Intelligence has cultivated networks of informants among militant groups. But the government has a limited ability to intercept cellphone calls and other transmissions,” the Times notes.
“Any type of imagery would be of use to the Pakistanis, either from Predator or other means,” a senior U.S. Defense official tells the paper. In particular, Pakistan has sought intelligence “on locations of the enemy, resupply routes, resupply activity . . . in real time.”
For at least a year, the American and Pakistani militaries have tried to figure out the best way to share the intelligence that the unmanned aircraft gather. At first, Pakistani officials publicly denied that there was any cooperation. Then Google Earth images showed U.S. Predators parked on a Pakistani runway.