July 11, 2009

A sound Obama policy - missile strikes in Pakistan

In what has to be one of the worst-kept secrets of the ongoing war against al-Qa'idah militants holed up in Pakistan, U.S Central Intelligence Agency unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) continue to conduct missile strikes despite the change in administration in Washington.

Armed Predator UAV
USAF MQ-1 Predator similar to that used by CIA

What is not a secret is my criticism of many of President Obama's policies in the Middle East and South Asia, most notably his attempts to diplomatically engage the oppressive regime in Iran, and his ill-advised outreach to the non-existent "moderate elements of the Taliban."

However, his decision to continue the "covert" program under which CIA (and/or US Air Force) operated UAV's conduct missile strikes against al-Qa'idah and Taliban targets in Pakistan was a wise one. I commend him for that.

Not only has the President allowed the program to continue, it appears to be even more robust under his command. The aircraft operating from a standoff position at altitudes over 10,000 feet to conduct surveillance and gather intelligence - they are virtually unseen and unheard. When a target presents itself (or himself), operators can fire laser-guided Hellfire missiles, as seen in this video clip. This is the only effective way to "reach out" to the Taliban.

These attacks in Pakistan, as well as U.S. air power in Afghanistan have proven to be effective in dealing with the militants. Taliban and al-Qa'idah fighters in both Pakistan and Afghanistan have expressed their appreciation for the devastating effects of fixed-wing, helicopter and UAV delivered ordnance. It is probably the single most effective tool in dealing with the remnants of al-Qa'idah hiding out in the lawless tribal areas of Pakistan.

The missile strike program is the proper way to deal with both al-Qa'idah and the Taliban - hunt them down and kill them.