In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Grande Strategy

Full Text of Official Pakistan Army Response to Salala Post Attack Part 1

This is the full text response of the Pakistan Armed forces regarding the Salala attacks. The response gives clear evidence and argument that the attack was neither a mistake nor that the US investigations were honest. 





This is an online reproduction of the original report. It is being posted in because the international media has ignored this report and thus it is in the interest of Pakistan to have the report dispersed as widely as possible.

23 January 2012



Note: Quotes that have been taken directly from the US Investigation Report and reproduced in this document appear in red, followed by reference of each from the original US / ISAF Investigation Report.


1.         The US Investigation Report into the Salala incident of 26th  November

2011,  involving  aerial  strikes  by  US  aircraft  and  helicopters  resulting  into Shahadat (killing) of 24 Pakistani soldiers and injury to 13 others, was received by the General  Headquarters (GHQ) Pakistan Army on the 24th  of December
2011. The report received is the same unclassified version as available on the Central  Command (CENTCOM) Website. The analysis of the US Investigation Report  conducted  b Brigadier  General  (BG)  Clark  has  been  carried  out hereafter with a view to reiterate facts and correct the perspective.

Mandate of the US / NATO Investigation Report

2.         It is unfortunate to note that the mandate given to the US Investigating Officer (BG Stephen Clark), did not include affixing specific responsibility for the grave incident (Reference:  General Mattis letter to Brigadier General Stephen Clark dated 28 November 2011 appointing him as Investigating Officer, Page 3, Paras 9 and 10). Without this specific mandate the Investigation Report could not have been complete.

3.         It is also revealing to read the mandate given to NATOs (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Allied Joint Force Command (JFC) Brunssum team (headed by Brigadier General Michael Jorgensen) concurrently investigating the incident. In  words  of  the  US  Investigation  Report;  The  JFC  Brunssum  goal  was  to conduct an operationally focused fact-finding investigation into the circumstances surrounding the engagement between friendly forces and  PAKMIL (Pakistan

Military) ........". (Reference: Page 6, Para 1, Lines 11 through 15). Implicit in the mandate is the fact that, Pakistan was considered in an adversarial role and not part of friendly forces.


4.         For  developing  a  correct  perspective,  it  is  important  to  give  some background before going on to the specifics of the Incident (26th November 2011) itself. The background is  covered hereafter under three headings i.e. “Events Leading up to the Incident”, “Environment” and finally “Coordination Mechanism”.

Events Leading up to the Incident

5.         Although  the  incident  of  26th    November  2011,  was  the  gravest,  it unfortunately was not the first of its kind. The current incident was preceded by four others which happened between June 2008 and July 2011 and resulted in loss of 18 precious lives of our soldiers  and injury to 10 others, including an incident at Ziarat Post (Mohmand Agency) on 17th  June 2011 which happened close to the area of 26th November 2011 incident. The US / International Security Assistance  Force  (ISAF)  are  well  aware  of  these  incidents  and  each  time
resolved to prevent recurrence. It is illuminating to mention the details of these incidents, the  first of which took place on 10th  June 2008 at Goraprai Post of Pakistan  located  in  Mohmand  Agency,  in  which  US  /  ISAF  carried  out  an unprovoked  aerial  strike  resulting  in  Shahadat  (death)  of  eleven  Pakistani soldiers and injuries to seven others. The second such incident happened on 30th September 2010 in Kurram Agency at Kharlachi Post, where two US helicopters carried out unprovoked firing on Pakistani Post resulting in Shahadat (death) of three soldiers and serious injuries to three. The third incident took place on 19th July 2011 in Angoor Adda Sector of South Waziristan Agency, wherein; mortar and artillery fire suddenly erupted, initiated by US/ISAF against Pakistani Border Posts at 0945 hours (Pakistan Standard Time). Despite repeated contacts with ISAF, including Lieutenant General (LG) Keen  and Major General (MG) Laster and activation of other coordination mechanisms, the fire which was proving fatal continued for several hours resulting in the Shahadat (death) of four  Pakistani soldiers. As US / ISAF failed to bring the fire to an end, COAS General Kayani had    to          intervene              personally           with     Chief  ODRP          (Office               of                  the     Defence


Representative Pakistan), LG Keen at the US Embassy Islamabad, warning, that if the fire did not stop immediately he would order an enhanced level of response, beyond the one which was already being given by Pakistan Military up until that time in the shape of small arms and mortar fire. This intervention finally brought the fire to a halt. The resultant US / ISAF inquiry  into this, and other similar incidents  remained  shy  of  accepting  responsibility  and  hence  failed  to  hold anyone accountable, as far as we (Pakistanis) know.


6.         Before going into the details of the incident of 26th November 2011 and the US Investigation Report, it is important to understand the environment as well as the  coordinatio mechanisms  which  existed  to  prevent  exactly  such  an eventuality.

7.         After an extensive nine months operation in Mohmand Agency, Pakistan Army cleared the entire area upto the border with Afghanistan and established several border posts  including Volcano and Boulder at the end of September
2011. When  the  Pakistani  forces  were  carrying  out  operations  in  Mohmand Agency, US /  ISAF were kept informed and they carried out some supportive operations on the Afghan side, along and close to River Kunar. With no presence of US / ISAF / Afghan forces close to the border on Afghan side, these Pakistani Posts were critical for prevention of terrorists infiltration from either side of the border.  This  is  substantiated  by  the  US  Investigation  Report,  which  when referring to the Area of Operation SAYAQA states, “….. there had been neither Coalition nor ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) presence in the area for some  time (Reference:  Page  15,  Para  18,  Last  Line).  Pakistan  has  been experiencing infiltration of  terrorists from Afghan Province of Kunar which had become a safe haven for terrorists of all hues including those who had escaped the Pakistan Armys operation in Mohmand. Since September 2011, no crossing from Pakistani side from Mohmand Agency into Afghanistan had  taken place, however, unfortunately several large (and some small) scale attacks on Pakistani Border Posts and civilians had occurred regularly, emanating from Kunar and Nuristan provinces of Afghanistan into Dir, Chitral, Bajaur and Mohmand areas of Pakistan. There were  seven such major attacks by terrorists from Afghan side


resulting in loss of 102 personnel and injuries to 25 others (security forces and civilians).  Pakistan has repeatedly provided specific information to US / ISAF about  presence  of  hard-core  terrorist  elements  including  some  High  Value Targets located in the Afghanistan Province of Kunar and Nuristan.

8.         The  Pakistani  Posts  in  question  (Volcano  and  Boulder)  are  located approximately 1450 metres apart on a kidney shaped barren ridge, which is just under 8000 feet high (Refer Figure 1 below). The posts were (and are) located
300-400 metres from the international border inside Pakistan. There are a few abandoned huts opposite Volcano Post. Village Maya {map references of which were asked for by  Pakistan Military and received from ICEPAK-ODRP (ISAF Coordination Element Pakistan-ODRP) on 29 December 2011 and where ISAF ostensibly        carried        out        operations   on         night       25/26                     November      2011}            lies approximately 1.5 kilometres from the Pakistani Boulder Post and 1.2 kilometres from the border. The Pakistani  Posts and most of Maya Village are mutually inter-visible. Each of these Pakistani Posts had 5-6 bunkers none of which were underground, but were constructed above the surface of the 8000 feet high ridge which was devoid of vegetation. All these bunkers, therefore, were easily visible from  afar.  These  bunkers  and  posts  had  been  there  for  over  two  months. Volcano Post had 27 personnel while Boulder had 25. They belonged to 7 Azad Kashmir (AK) Regiment  of Pakistan Army which had played a crucial role in clearing Mohmand Agency from terrorists and, therefore, were well familiar with the environment and their surroundings. In the  absence of any ISAF / Afghan National Army (ANA) / Afghan Border Police (ABP) presence opposite these, and some  of  the  other  posts  in  Mohmand  Agency,  any  movement  which  is  not shared, especially at night close to the border, is assumed to be hostile. Fire, therefore, is  carried out on such movement(s). This is true for both ISAF and Pakistan Military for entire Area of Responsibility of ISAFs Regional Command - East (RC-E) and that of Pakistan Militarys 11 Corps. Fire is also carried out on suspected movement(s), such a fire is called “speculative fire”. On any given night  several  Pakistani  Posts,  if  and  when  deeme necessary  carry  out speculative fire.

Figure 1


9.         Opposite Mohmand Agency, where these posts were located, US / ISAF had carried out at least 1-2 operations in and around Village Maya prior to 26th November incident in the months of October / November 2011, which involved ground forces and air support. Even  when active ground operations are not taking place, an average of 2-3 US / ISAF aerial  platforms operate opposite Mohmand Agency on daily basis; these include Intelligence  Surveillance and Reconnaissance   (ISR)    aircraft,    fighter    aircraft,    helicopters    and    drones.
Resultantly, it is inconceivable that these or any other Pakistani Posts in the area were / are not known to US / ISAF.

Coordination Mechanism

10.       Having  elaborated  the  environment,  it  is  essential  to  understand  the detailed coordination mechanism and mutually agreed procedures which existed between  Pakistan  an US  /  ISAF  for  effective,  incident-free,  near-border operations. The coordination mechanism includes a number of forums at three different  tiers  i.e.  at  strategic,  operational  and  tactical,  all  meant  to  build redundancy  by  timely  sharing  of  information  an coordinating  near-border operations.  At  the  strategic  level,  Military  Operations  Directorate   of  GHQ interfaces  with  ODRP  headed  by  (LG  Keen)  based  at  the  US  Embassy Islamabad. Within the US Embassy another setup called ICEPAK also interacts with Military  Operations Directorate, GHQ. In addition to this interface, Military Operations Directorate also has communication through the office of the Director General Military Operations (DGMO), with  the Headquarters ISAF represented by  MG  Nicholson,  but  more  regularly  with  HQ  ISAF  Joint  Command  (IJC) represented                          bMG      Laster.            Pakistans        Air        Headquarters                   also interacts/coordinates  with  Tactical  Monitoring  Cell  (TMC)  located  within  US Embassy Islamabad and working alongside  ODRP.  The strategic coordination mechanism is aided by exchange of Liaison Officers (LOs) at operational level.

11.       These operational level measures are further reinforced by tactical level arrangements These  include  Border  Coordination  Centres  (BCCs)  where Pakistan, US / ISAF and Afghanistan sides are represented by Liaison Officers


for tactical level coordination. One such centre is located opposite Mohmand Agency inside Afghanistan at a place called Nawa. It was this Centre which was responsible for the  coordination of operations where the incident took place. These BCCs are centrally linked to  Joint Operations Centre at RC-E Bagram through Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) at Torkham with the purpose of sharing operational information and assisting in resolving issues.  Additionally, Border Flag Meetings are also organized at local / tactical levels to coordinate routine issues. There are a total of twenty six Pakistani Military LOs deputed for the aforementioned purposes.

12.       There also exist mutually agreed procedures for near-border operations. These include; effective utilization of border coordination mechanism, sharing of informatioabouimpending            operations       and                coordinating           requests          for establishing  blocking position  /  conducting complementary operations on  the other side of the border. Moreover, in case, if troops of one side come under fire which is originating from  across the border, immediate sharing of information about point of origin of fire is done with the side wherefrom the fire is originating. The responsibility thereafter to bring the fire to a halt is of the country from where fire is originating. Finally, in the eventuality of both sides opening fire  on each other, immediate cessation of fire must take place as soon as communication is
established. Unfortunately, on 26th November 2011, US / ISAF violated all these

mutually agreed procedures.

Unfolding of Events

13.       Having  explained  the  background  (Events  leading  up  to  the  Incident, Environment, Coordination Mechanism), the details of the 26th  November 2011 incident are covered hereafter using the US Investigation Report.

14.       The unfolding of events is explained in the succeeding paragraphs under the same  three stages or sections {Stage 1: Preparation and initial operation, Stage 2: Contact and lethal action, Stage 3: Reaction. (Reference: Page 11, Para
10)} as enunciated in the US Investigation Report, quoting from the report itself to highlight  discrepancies and omissions in US/ISAF version of events so as to


bring facts to the fore. Although, Pakistan Military has differences with some of the timings of the unfolding of the events as given in the US Investigation Report, it has chosen to use the same timings (as given in the US Report) for analyzing, so  as  to  avoid  confusion  and  use  a  common  basis.  For  the  same  reason Pakistan Military has also not questioned the  existence  of an operation called SAYAQA, planned and conducted on night 25/26 November 2011 by US / ISAF.

Stage 1: Preparation and Initial Operation by US / ISAF (Preparation and

Insertion through Helicopters upto Pre-Contact)

15.       What we now know as Operation SAYAQA, was not shared at any level with the Pakistan Military despite multiple existing arrangements between the two sides to do so. The incident is even more regrettable because a few hours prior to  it,  Commander  ISAF  (General  Allen) and  at  least  two  of  his  senior  staff members  were  in  GHQ  to  coordinate  an share  details  of  exactly  such operations which ISAF now claims to have conducted on  the  night of 25/26
November  2011.  Major  Generals  Nicholson  and  Laster  who  accompanied General Allen to GHQ on 25 November 2011, briefed DGMO about some other operations in another zone but chose not to share anything about an operation opposite Salala which was to happen the same night and so close to the border. MG Laster at the time of visiting GHQ had already been briefed by his staff about the operation opposite Salala area planned for night 25/26 November 2011. The operation was named SAYAQA. The US Investigation Report states that, The initial  CONOP  (Concept  of  Operations)  proposed  insertion  at  a  Helicopter Landing Zone  (HLZ),  which was within 1km (kilometre) of the Pakistan (PAK) border...... Accordingly, it was  briefed  to the IJCs  DCOS  JOP(ISAF Joint Commands Deputy Chief of Staff Joint Operations), U.S. Marine Corps Major General (MajGen) James Laster on 22 November 2011. He made two demands: move the HLZ further away from the border, effectively reducing this to a Level 1
CONOP; and, confirm the location of Pakistans border checkpoints (Pakistani Posts). The  CONOP was rebriefed to him on 23 November 2011 with a HLZ (known as HLZ HOLDEM) 1.3km to the north of the objective (Maya Village) and


2.3km from the Pakistan border, and a map produced showing the known PAK borde checkpoints  (Pakistani  Posts).  The  map  did  not  show  checkpoints (Pakistani Posts) in the area where the engagements took place. The CONOP was then approved by MajGen Laster  in his separate capacity as USFOR-A DCOS Interoperability (United States Forces in  Afghanistans Deputy Chief of Staff) (Reference: Page 11, Para 11.a. of US Investigation Report). MG Lasters one observation of moving the HLZ away from the border was  addressed,  the other i.e. confirm the location of Pakistan's border checkpoints” (Reference: Page 11, Para 11.a., Lines 6-7 of US Investigation Report) was not. It is clear from the foregoing that the Pakistani Posts were not verified, despite instructions by MG Laster. When MG Laster was re-briefed on the CONOP on 23 November
2011, he should have been told about the Pakistani Posts. As he wasnt told it implies the staff did not carry out adequate pre-mission preparation. This raises serious  questions  about  the  planning  process  because  the  confirmation  of Pakistani  posts  could  easily  have  been  done  by  a  simple  ISR  sweep.  The Investigation Report has also recommended the same  (Reference: Page 27, Para 43 of US Investigation Report).

16.       The CONOP approved by MG Laster should have been shared at various levels  in  the  existing  elaborate  coordination  mechanism  meant  for  this  very purpose.  It  wasnt   intentionally so,  due to  the  mistrust  amongst  the  ISAF personnel towards Pakistan Military. In the words of the US Investigation Report, The REL (releasable) PAK CONOP was not released to the PAKMIL in a timely manner   contrary  to  SOPs  (Standard  Operatin Procedures),  order  and directives because of a prevailing sense of mistrust amongst the three forces (PAKMIL, ANSF and Coalition Forces) (Reference: Page 28, Para 48, Lines 6 through 8 of US Investigation Report).

17.       The    US    Investigation   Report    states,    The    NBCC    (Nawa    Border Coordination Centre) was not provided with a copy of the CONOP through official channels  but  received  a  “back  channel” copy  from an  interested  third  party (reference is not understood)...... ICEPAK (ISAF Coordination Element Pakistan)


was not provided with a copy of the CONOP.(Reference: Page 12, Para 11.b., Lines  3  through  8).  The  ODRP  usually  receives  near-border  CONOPs  in advance; however, the CONOP for Operation SAYAQA had not been sent to the ODRP” (Reference: Page 14, Para  15,  Lines 3 through 5 of US Investigation Report).

18.       It is interesting to note that this was not the first time that operations in Maya Village  were being carried out; US / ISAF had already conducted 1-2 operations in and around the  area of Maya Village in the months of October / November, prior to 26th November incident. It is not possible that even during the previous operation(s), US / ISAF made an innocent omission of not checking the details of the Pakistani Posts.

Stage 2: Contact Stage     (Contact and Lethal Action by ISAF)

19.       There is no doubt in the minds of Pakistan Military that US / ISAF troops were aware of the border alignment, as at least 1-2 operations had been carried out in and around the Maya  Village prior to 26th  November incident during the months of October / November. According to the US Investigation Report The GF (Ground Forces) were aware of the  heightened threat as Coalition Forces had experienced several contacts (coming under fire) in this area, the last being
5 October 2011 (Reference: Page 15, Para 18, Lines 4-5). This was the same area where operation           was       being          carried            out          on    26th              November   2011. Investigation Report further confirms the fact that US / ISAF troops were aware of the  Border  when  it  states,  At  2206  hours  (Afghanistan  Standard  Time),  all elements were “boots on  the ground at HLZ HOLDEM. The GFTL (Ground Forces Team Leader) noted that it was uncharacteristically quiet. As the special operators adjusted to their environment they looked up at a dark gray moonless sky  and  fixed  their  eyes  upon  the  rocky  ridgeline  (the  general  location  of Pakistani Posts) as a reference because it was the only contrasting image that
they  could  see;  they  were  aware  that  this  was  the  border  with  Pakistan.

(Reference: Page 15, Para 20, Lines 1 through 5).


20.       According to the US Investigation Report, The GF comprised a team of

14  U.S.  Special  Operations  Forces  ……..  and  an  ANA  CDO  (Commando) Company (100  men) (Reference: Page 15, Para 18, Lines 1 through 3). The Investigation Report goes on to  state, "The CONOP was rebriefed to him (MG Laster) on 23 November 2011 with a HLZ (known as HLZ HOLDEM) 1.3km to the north of the objective and 2.3km from the Pakistan border" (Reference: Page
11, Para 11.a., Lines 7 through 9). The GF were, according to the Investigation Report, in  Maya Village at 2309 hours, when they came under fire, “At 2309 hours the GF came under heavy machine gun fire, the tracer rounds indicating that it came from the eastern ridgeline  near the border …. Following the initial contact of heavy machine gun fire, the rest of the ME (Main Elements) and SE1 (Supporting Elements) were engaged by effective mortar fire; …. coming from a point on the ridge the machine gun fire did not stop but increased and a second mortar round which landed only 50m (metres) from the group, divided the force” (Reference: Page 16, Paras 22,23 and 24). According to the Investigation Report, it was in response to this Pakistani fire and in self defence that the GF asked for air support. The  aerial platforms then engaged the Pakistani Posts, according to the Report, for a 90 minute  period (Reference: Page 4, Para 1, Line 9 of US Investigation Report) (factually Pakistani Posts had been engaged for two hours). In fact the Pakistani Posts had never fired in the direction where US / ISAF patrol (without sharing any information with Pakistan Military) was ostensibly operating. The speculative fire from Pakistan side was undertaken on a suspected  militant movement by firing only three mortar and a few machine gun rounds at a location only 400 metres from the Volcano Post, a location which was already registered and which lay almost 1.5 to 2 kilometres away from Maya Village, and in a different direction. Therefore, there is absolutely no chance that this fire could have landed even close to US / ISAF GF, let alone being effective. It is, therefore, evident from the aforementioned detailed account that, by US / ISAFs own admission, the GF was in Maya Village at 2309 hours (The exact map references / LAT/LONGs of Maya Village were asked for, and provided to Pakistan Military by ICEPAK-ODRP, obviating any possibility of confusion). Even


if they were not in Maya Village at the time, they just could not have been at the location where Pakistani Posts carried out speculative fire, as this was temporally not possible. On any given  night several Pakistani posts carry out speculative fire if and when deemed necessary.

21.       Figure 2 below is illuminating. The Figure highlights the distance of the HLZ  to  Maya  Village  based  on  what  has  been  stated  in  the  US  /  ISAF Investigation Report,  The CONOP was rebriefed to him (MG Laster) on 23
November 2011 with a HLZ (known as HLZ HOLDEM) 1.3km to the north of the objective (Maya Village) and 2.3km from the Pakistan border (Reference: Page
11, Para 11.a., Lines 7 through 9). It also indicates the direction of Pakistani speculative fire which was in a totally different direction. If the GF were, as per timings  quoted  above,  in  Maya  Village,  busy  in  their  operation  when  they allegedly came under Pakistani Fire; for the report to draw linkage of US / ISAF aerial response  to this fire to justify its unprovoked  attack is unjustified and violative of self defence ROE (Rules of Engagement).


Part 2 continued here.
Vision Without Glasses


Post a Comment