ISLAMABAD: US special forces were embedded with Pakistani troops on intelligence-gathering missions by the summer of 2009, confidential American diplomatic cables showed.
The disclosure comes a day after another set of cables showed that the army chief not only tacitly agreed to the covert US drone campaign against militants, but asked for "continuous Predator coverage" of the tribal areas by these aircraft. The army denied the contents.
The cables reveal that US special forces were deployed with Pakistani troops in joint operations in Pakistan by September of 2009.
"Through these embeds, we are assisting the Pakistanis collect and coordinate existing intelligence assets, the cables quoted then American ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson as saying.
Several cables showed the United States was eager to embed American troops with Pakistani soldiers.
Patterson wrote in November of 2009 of the possibility that "operations in the northern FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) may provide additional opportunities to embed US Special
Operations Forces ... ".
By September 2009, plans for the joint intelligence activities had been expanded to include army headquarters, according to the cables.
"Pakistan has begun to accept intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support from the US military for COIN (counterinsurgency) operations," Patterson wrote.
"In addition, intelligence fusion centers" had been established "at the headquarters of Frontier Corps and the 11th Corps and we expect at additional sites, including GHQ and the 12th Corps in Balochistan."
Pakistani military officials were not immediately available for comment on the cables.
The presence of US trainers in Pakistan has been publicly acknowledged, but such joint operations have not.
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