Special forces to counter Taliban’s deadliest weapon

Published: April 11, 2012
Army to deploy troops at 820 posts to stop smuggling of home-made bombs. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Army to deploy troops at 820 posts to stop smuggling of home-made bombs. PHOTO: AFP/FILE


To counter the use of homemade landmines – the weapon that causes the most troop and civilian casualties on both sides of the border – Pakistan is to deploy specially trained Counter-Improvised Explosive Devices (C-IED) forces at 820 border posts along the Pak-Afghan border.

“Special instructions are being passed to all agencies to enhance vigilance on the Pak-Afghan border. Pakistan has deployed 23 wings of the Frontier Corps (FC) for border control. The manpower deployed on approximately 820 posts established by the Pakistan Army/FC along the international border are being trained to monitor the movement of Calcium Ammonium Nitrate (CAN),” said an official document available with The Express Tribune.

CAN and Ammonium Nitrate (AN) are used to manufacture fertilisers but simultaneously function as key ingredients in making homemade mines called IEDs.

The FC has trained their personnel in basic Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) to undertake search and disposal operations, while specialised police units have been established to undertake EOD tasks which will be used not only on border points but during raids on IED manufacturing sites on its side of the border.

While last year’s Nato attack brought Pak-US relations to a new low, military cooperation and intelligence sharing between the two countries continues at certain levels.

The US had been pressing Pakistan to take measures to ensure control of the cross-border movement of IED material. Islamabad, on the other hand, says that a regional approach will be required to check the smuggling as a number of other countries neighbouring Afghanistan also produce CAN and AN.

‘Afghan cooperation needed’

During recent interactions with US security officials, the Pakistani army told the United States and NATO forces that such efforts would only yield positive results if both sides of the border were manned in coordination with each other, according to the policy document.

“Having identified certain deficiencies in the search aspect of Counter-IEDs, the Pakistan Army is in the process of reorganising and re-equipping certain engineer units to improve this capacity … As part of the army’s efforts to prevent/minimise the possibility of cross-border smuggling of CAN, army/FC troops manning border posts are being educated to prevent cross border movement of CAN. The same kind of arrangement, suitably coordinated, should however be undertaken on the Afghan side of the border as well,” read the paper.

The document further said that the Pakistan Army has developed the capacity to undertake C-IED operations as 730 personnel have been trained in C-IED over the last five years.

IEDs hampering Nato

IEDs have caused over 13,918 (civilian and military) casualties, which is 47% of the total casualties suffered by Pakistan over the past four years in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and Khyber-Pakthunkhwa alone.

The use of Taliban homemade landmines and roadside bombs against Nato forces has reached record levels according to a Pentagon task force.

IEDs are the number one cause of casualties for International Security Assistance Forces (Isaf), newly trained Afghan National Security Forces (NSF) troops and civilians.

The US has devoted huge resources to defeating the IED threat over the years but with little success.  The US Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) alone has an annual budget of over $3 billion, and since 2006, $20 billion have been spent on C-IED efforts.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 11th, 2012.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (22)

  • Mirza
    Apr 11, 2012 - 9:57AM

    Finally the establishment has accepted a main demand of the US and NATO forces. It would save the lives of many and establish the control over our own land.


  • shah g
    Apr 11, 2012 - 10:17AM

    we ll do everything we can and spill the very last blood of our nation and soldiers for U.S endgame in Afghanistan. whether we get $ or not. we are martyrs


  • Apr 11, 2012 - 11:04AM

    Nice spin. IED used against 30,000 Pakistanis not the other way round. Raymond Davis might ring some bells.


    Apr 11, 2012 - 11:13AM

    It is being felt that NO one (judiciary/media/political parties/government /army) is taking any notice of the systematic killing of shiaz in Pakistan…..and mostly thses bombs are being used against SHIAZ……


  • Yaida M
    Apr 11, 2012 - 11:24AM

    Ha ! So the Pakistani military bowed to the wishes of the American masters. Why make all the pretense of standing up to them?


  • Ahmed
    Apr 11, 2012 - 11:56AM

    We should support our troops all the time… don’t you see how hard they re working to protect US interests!


  • MarkH
    Apr 11, 2012 - 12:01PM

    @shah g:
    Do you guys suddenly go blind at the mentioning of any Pakistani deaths that don’t have US/NATO/India in the same paragraph?


  • MarkH
    Apr 11, 2012 - 12:22PM

    That made no sense. Though I’m not surprised. After stretching things to blame everyone else but the ones you should so much, it’s only a matter of time before you drop the ball.


  • Rameez
    Apr 11, 2012 - 1:35PM

    this should have happened a decade ago when talibans started to erupt.


  • Shahid
    Apr 11, 2012 - 1:46PM

    Also arrangements for security required at KKH to counter the extremists and taliban supported gangs operating in Chilas and Kohistan areas. Govt. should do that too…. Why it’s always pushing for security when america wants… they should do it themselves


  • naive
    Apr 11, 2012 - 3:03PM

    Taliban’s deadliest weapon is Religion. What weapon you have to counter it. Nothing in fact.


  • ather
    Apr 11, 2012 - 3:44PM

    we are expending our resources and man power to protect the americans and afghans. while everyday people are being killed in pakistan. no one is arresting the thugs. if these bombs don’t go to afghanistan they will explode in pakistan killing more pakistanis. these forces should be deployed in the entrance of fata and kpk to arrest the culprits before any lives are lost.


  • Roflcopter
    Apr 11, 2012 - 3:56PM

    So we’re trying our best, what exactly will NATO do to prevent thousands of militants from pouring in from Afghanistan?


  • god
    Apr 11, 2012 - 4:48PM



  • Cautious
    Apr 11, 2012 - 7:45PM

    Lets hope the American’s are not fooled by this gesture – these outposts don’t stop any contraband from moving across the border – not because they can’t recognize ammonia nitrate or other illegal goods but because they either don’t care or get paid to “don’t care”. Adding troops who are trained in recognizing ammonia nitrate isn’t going to help at all. America wants you to chemically alter the fertilizer at the factory making it both traceable and unsuitable for explosives – the USA has offered to subsidize the additional cost.


  • Apr 11, 2012 - 7:47PM

    While smuggling of opium and hashish goes on with American C130’s


  • Apr 11, 2012 - 7:47PM

    Dear Shah G,

    We urge you to look at the broad picture, and refrain from keeping a one-sided view. A safe and stable Pakistan is imperative for the stability of the region. We have repeatedly highlighted the importance of Pakistan in defeating terrorism. Pakistani officials have also voiced the importance of mutual cooperation in regards to achieving our common objectives. The truth is that our forces are regularly attacked by the same terrorists, and any combined efforts to counter their terrorist activities should be seen as a sign of unity against our common enemies. Does the logic not tell us to look past our differences, and target those who are looking to harm our forces and nations? Then, it must be understood that a safe and stable Pakistan is in the best interests of the U.S. We have lost some precious time due to our differences. And yes, we are approaching the end of this phase in the WOT, and therefore, it is extremely important for both nations to be on the same page, while moving forward. The signs of recovery are beginning to show, and that’s great news for both nations. We hope to see better cooperation and coordination in the months ahead.


  • NuPak
    Apr 11, 2012 - 9:38PM

    Nowhere have I read the identities of the chemicals used in the bomb making than here at Tribune. Why other world papers don't want to make money by any means as much as our media? Besides, I wonder if our agricultural & chemical industry has imposed any quota, control, count or maths of how much who is buying of what chemicals & fertilizer?

    That only need few more employees and little more paper work, now that’s not asking too much to save the lives of women, children, innocent civilians or the men protecting them__ sometimes the loved ones of the same manufacturers.


  • Freeman
    Apr 11, 2012 - 10:27PM

    @US Centcom: Here are 2 big problems in Afghan borders.

    1- 1400 Mile Border is completely open specially mountaneous area
    2- It is very difficult to keep an eye on every inch of the border.
    3- Its not only Paksitani troops responsibility to keep an eye. ISAF troops need to check on the other side of the border too. They should take responsibility as well
    3- Pakistan is a Agriculturist country and it is very difficult to check ever bag of the fertilizer where those people are taking them after purchase.

    I think Pakistan should put the fence on the Pakistan and Afghan border like india did on the Line of control in Kashmir to make sure no one can cross the border illegally. This will also help in smugling of Fertilizer and checmicals as well as Heroine.


  • Apr 12, 2012 - 8:46AM

    Yes, won’t make sense to you. The problem with peddling propaganda is in the end the peddler starts to believe it.


  • Climp Jones
    Apr 12, 2012 - 9:32AM

    Pakistan is wasting their time. All that fertilizer Pakistan is complaining is made by fertilizer plants in Pakistan run and owned by the Pakistani military. Recommend

  • malik
    Apr 12, 2012 - 5:22PM


    When our countrymen die, we refer to them as shaheeds, not as victims. This you will never understand.

    Pakistanis are our own people and we all live and love to die for our country. In a family, a brother can hit another brother. But, that does not mean an outsider can beat him too. If we fight and kill each other, what is your problem ?


More in Pakistan