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
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid