Barely two weeks after a NATO helicopter disaster killed 24 Pakistani troops, the skies above the Afghanistan-Pakistan border may get even more dangerous. The State Department’s Islamabad embassy is hiring a contractor to coordinate air operations along the border to stop the flow of drugs and insurgents. Just what a tense situation calls for.
The new “aviation adviser” will oversee both the State Department’s “fleet of … aircraft” in Pakistan, which isn’t very often discussed, and provide “aviation support” to the Pakistani Frontier Corps, which patrols the tribal areas. The “end game” of the adviser’s mission is “interdicting the movement of illegal drugs, arms and people across the border,” not exactly a diplomatic specialty.
It’s unclear what kind of aircraft the State Department has in Pakistan. It’s also unclear whether State will help the Frontier Corps maintain its own aircraft or actually provide air support for the corps, a much more dramatic step. Either way, the department’s call for the “aviation adviser” comes at a time when U.S. generals accuse the Frontier Corps of helping insurgents attack U.S. troops in Afghanistan.