News / USA

Pentagon Intelligence Chief Urges Pakistan to Keep Up Pressure on Militants

The top US defense intelligence officer says it is not clear how successful Pakistan's military operations have been in reducing the Taliban threat to US and NATO troops. The chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency tells VOA the Pakistani army should keep up the pressure.

Multimedia

Audio

Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess said there have been notable successes against the Taliban and al-Qaida by U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Pakistani troops on the other side of the border in South Waziristan and Swat.

"I think that we have been very successful in our operations in Afghanistan, and I think that our Pakistani partners have been fairly successful in some of their undertakings," he said.  "But what we see happening with al-Qaida is that they still have the ability, working with the Taliban and some of the other groups in there, to cause pain and to bring about some of the more spectacular events that may occur from time to time," he added.

Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess, US Defense Intelligence Agency Chief
Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess, US Defense Intelligence Agency Chief

In an exclusive VOA interview, General Burgess says it is not clear how much the Pakistani military operations have reduced the threat to American and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

"What is unclear to me as I look at it as an intelligence professional is how many of the enemy have actually been taken off the board, so to speak.  Or has the enemy melted away into the countryside or moved to another location?" Burgess asked.  "While there is always something to be gained by forcing an enemy out of its sanctuary, at the end of the day I think this is an enemy that you are going to have to kill," he said.

Pakistan's military - reluctantly, according to many American analysts - began a ground offensive in October to clear out the terrorist sanctuaries in the South Waziristan area of Pakistan's tribal lands.  

On the other side of the border, General Burgess said there is not as much of a traditional lull in fighting in Afghanistan's winter months as in previous years.

"The enemy always has a vote.  In the past we have seen a drawdown, if you will, in terms of their activities over what we would call the winter months.  We Are not sure we are going to see that as much this winter," he said.  "We expect to see the numbers this winter, in terms of engagements and casualties if you will, to be up over last winter.  But I think you will not see the numbers that you saw, for example, during the summertime just because of the nature of the seasons over there," he said.

A nagging question remains of whether Pakistan is helping the Taliban as part of a grand strategy to thwart growing influence in Afghanistan by Pakistan's arch-rival India.  The allegation is common among many Western analysts, but Pakistan denies it.

General Burgess says he takes Pakistan's top leaders at their word.  But, he adds, lower-ranking officers of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, the ISI, may be helping the militants without official sanction.

"They say that there is no official relationship that exists with those [groups]," he said.  "But that is not to say that inside an intelligence organization that at some lower level, as far down as you might want to go, that someone does still not have an old relationship that may have spanned the last 15 or 20 years.  That is somewhat in the nature of the intelligence business.  But I am comfortable that there is no official connection that I see at this time," said Burgess.

A just-released report by the chief of U.S. military intelligence in Afghanistan calls military intelligence efforts there token and ineffectual.  In the report - released without Pentagon approval - Major General Michael Flynn said analysts focus almost exclusively on insurgent groups, but know little about the social and political environment in which they operate.

General Burgess says he would have preferred the issue to have been kept within the intelligence family, calling the report's release outside of official channels "unusual".  He says he does not agree with all of General Flynn's recommendations, but says they deserve serious study since he is the top military intelligence officer in Afghanistan.

"As the J-2 [intelligence chief] he has identified some of those shortcomings.  And so now we as entity need to address some of those.  But at the end of the day he, as the J-2 on the ground, has to allocate the resources to get the information the commander needs," he said.

General Burgess says DIA is also studying what lessons it can learn from the December 30 suicide bombing at a CIA base in Afghanistan that killed 7 CIA officers and a Jordanian intelligence official.

"We all have folks on the ground out there doing that type of mission.  And what we have taken that to do for us here inside the Defense Intelligence Agency is, "Okay, what facts can we glean from that?" He asked.  "And because we are a learning organization, what can we take from that and apply to our tactics, techniques, and procedures to ensure that we try to mitigate the possibility of something like that happening?  But, you know, this is war," he concluded.

About 30,000 additional U.S. troops are being deployed to Afghanistan in the coming months as part of a new strategy.  An undisclosed number of them will be military intelligence personnel.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs