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US Plans More Training of Pakistani Forces Fighting Islamic Militants


U.S. defense and military officials say they want to step up the training of Pakistani forces in the country's fight against a growing insurgency.

Admiral William Fallon, the head of the U.S. military's Central Command, this week proposed U.S. troops help increase Pakistan's military capability in the battle against Islamic extremists, especially in Pakistan's tribal region.

Defense officials say they are mindful of Pakistan's sovereignty and any effort to provide training or counterinsurgency help would first have to be approved by Pakistani military leaders.

U.S. officials say they hope for increased cooperation with Pakistan's new chief of armed forces, Ashfaq Kiyani. Kiyani took over the military after President Pervez Musharraf relinquished the post under political pressure late last year. They say Kiyani has already taken steps to shift the army's focus from India to battling militants within Pakistan.

If approved by Pakistan's government, much of the U.S. military training will go towards boosting the Frontier Corps - Pakistan's paramilitary force which patrols the tribal region along the Afghan border.

Officials say the Frontier Corps lacks training and equipment necessary to fight insurgents.

Since 2001, the U.S. has given roughly $10 billion in aid to Pakistan, with much of it going to the military.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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