U.S. Mulls New Covert Raids in Pakistan

Pakistani Taliban supporters pray for those killed in an alleged US missile strike.
Associated Press + More

To make up for Pakistan's inaction, the CIA's covert drone program has targeted Haqqani leaders, safe houses, bomb factories and training camps inside Pakistan, and special operations raids have hit Haqqani targets on the Afghan side of the border, but that has failed to stop Haqqani attacks on U.S. and Afghan troops and civilian targets.

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The officials say Allen expressed frustration that militants would attack and then flee across the border in Pakistan, immediately taking shelter in urban areas where attacking them by missile fire could kill civilians.

The officials say options that have been prepared for President Barack Obama's review included raids that could be carried out by U.S. special operations forces together with Afghan commandos, ranging from air assaults that drop raiders deep inside tribal areas to hit top leaders to shorter dashes only a few miles into Pakistan territory.

The shorter raids would not necessarily be covert, as they could be carried out following the U.S. military principle known as "hot pursuit" that military officials say entitles their forces to pursue a target that attacks them in Afghanistan up to 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) inside a neighboring country's territory.

The U.S. has staged two major raids and other minor forays into Pakistan's tribal territory before during the George W. Bush administration; the most contentious was in September 2008 when Navy SEALs raided an al-Qaida compound. The operators killed their target, but the ensuing firefight triggered a diplomatic storm with Pakistan.

Rather than fly in, which U.S. military planners at the time feared would alert the Pakistanis, the SEALs marched across the mountainous border, arriving later than planned because of the harsh terrain and just as the fighters were waking for morning prayers, according to one current and one former U.S. official. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the clandestine operation.

Everyone inside the targeted compound opened fire on the SEALs, including the women, one of whom lightly wounded one of the American operators. The firefight also woke the entire village, which joined in the battle, so the SEALs had to call for strafing runs by Black Hawk helicopters to beat them back.

At least one woman and one child were among the many dead.

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