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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs