Walter Pincus reads the 1513 page Defense Appropriations Bill, so you don’t have to. And he finds reason to worry about something that I was already worried about. For over a year, the US has been supporting Pakistan’s Frontier Corps, a paramilitary force in the tribal areas of Pakistan that does in those areas what Pakistan’s regular military cannot do.
The Frontier Corps is a federal paramilitary force stationed in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Balochistan Province, known as FC NWFP and FC Balochistan, respectively. Both forces are separate entities that operate under the Federal Interior Ministry and are each headed by an Inspector General (IG). Both of these offices are invariably held by army officers (major generals) on deputation from the Pakistani Army.
The task of these forces is to help local law enforcement in the maintenance of law and order when called upon to do so. Border patrol and anti-smuggling operations are also delegated to the FC. Lately, these forces have been increasingly used in military operations against insurgents in Balochistan and militants in FATA.
The United States has been supporting the Frontier Corps for the last few months with provisions of the latest communication equipment and bullet-proof helmets (Dawn, December 6, 2006; http://www.state.gov). Lately, it has made increased financial commitments toward the Corps capacity building, but without a mechanism to closely monitor implementation of the reforms, progress is not guaranteed.
Pincus confirms that there is a $75 million appropriation for goodies for the Frontier Corps in the Appropriation Bill. And he reports that one purpose of it is to get our Special Forces into the tribal areas.