Pakistan: U.S. Security Assistance Programs Help Address Shared Challenges

Posted by Tom Countryman
June 7, 2010
Pakistani solider as helicopter takes off in South Waziristan, Pakistan.

About the Author: Tom Countryman serves as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.

As part of the recently launched U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, the United States committed to building a comprehensive long-term partnership with Pakistan across a wide range of issue areas, from economic development and energy to education, healthcare and strengthening democratic governing institutions. Attacks by al-Qaida and associated extremist groups inside Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan -- and the desire of such groups to extend their reach to the United States -- demonstrate the urgency and importance of developing a long-term relationship with our partners in Pakistan to address shared security challenges as well.

Security cooperation is a critical element of building a comprehensive, long-term partnership with Pakistan. In fact, I recently returned from Rawalpindi, where I co-led a meeting of the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue's bilateral Security Assistance Working Group. U.S. security assistance programs overseen by the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs aim to improve Pakistan's counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operational capabilities, deepen our bilateral relationship, and underline America's long-tern commitment to helping Pakistan and its neighbors to promote peace and security in the wider region.

In the meeting, I joined Deputy Director of the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency Jeanne Lynn Farmer, and Major General Nasir Mahmood, Additional Secretary, Pakistan Ministry of Defense Production, to review the status of defense goods aimed at strengthening Pakistan's capabilities to meet shared security challenges. In recent months, these deliveries have included U.S. P-3C patrol aircraft to the Pakistan Navy and an Oliver Hazard Perry Class naval vessel, as well as progress in construction at Pakistan's Shahbaz Air Force Base, which will allow for the delivery of new F-16 fighter aircraft for their air force later this year.

But U.S.-Pakistani security cooperation is much more than equipment deliveries. Pakistan is among the leading beneficiaries of more than $7 billion in annual security assistance programs overseen by our Bureau in 70 countries. As a part of that security assistance, Pakistan receives approximately $300 million a year in U.S. training and equipment provided under Foreign Military Financing (FMF), as well as opportunities for more than 100 Pakistani officers and enlisted personnel a year to study at U.S. military schools through the International Military Education and Training program (IMET), offering them a chance not only to acquire key technical skills, but also to forge lifelong professional ties and personal relationships with their U.S. counterparts.

We plan to further expand our commitment to stronger security ties as the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs assumes responsibility later this year for the new Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capabilities Fund (PCCF), which supports the Government of Pakistan in building and maintaining the capability of its security forces to conduct counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations, and to clear and hold terrain in contested areas throughout the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and elsewhere along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan.

PCCF is aimed at strengthening Pakistani security forces so they can diminish extremist access to safe havens from which attacks on Pakistan, the United States, and international forces operating in Afghanistan are planned and executed. PCCF also complements our efforts to implement our $7.5 billion, five-year civilian assistance strategy, which includes efforts to help the Government of Pakistan provide basic services to the Pakistani people, particularly in areas vulnerable to extremists.

As Secretary Clinton recently observed, “Pakistan is on the front line of confronting the violent extremism that threatens us all. And Pakistan's civilians and security forces continue to bear the brunt of that fight. We respect the sacrifices that Pakistan has made in combating terrorists who seek to undermine its stability and undo its progress.” Pakistan's armed forces have stepped up to the challenge from Swat to South Waziristan, and the United States will continue to support Pakistan as we work together to protect our citizens and our countries from the violent extremism that threatens us both.

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