Shots And Salt: Measured in Grains
Expect to see reports regularly that Pakistani troops have fired on US helicopters or drones or other aircraft. They should be taken with a grain of salt until there is a US fatality or manned craft downed inside Pakistan.
Pakistani troops fired at American reconnaissance helicopters patrolling the Afghan-Pakistan border Thursday, heightening tensions as the U.S. steps up cross-border operations in a region known as a haven for Taliban and al-Qaida militants.
Two American OH-58 reconnaissance helicopters, known as Kiowas, were on a routine afternoon patrol in the eastern province of Khost when they received small arms fire from a Pakistani border post, said Tech Sgt. Kevin Wallace, a U.S. military spokesman. There was no damage to aircraft or crew, officials said.
"They did not cross the border and they did not fire back," Wallace said.
The Pakistani military disputed that assertion, saying its troops fired warning shots when the two helicopters crossed over the border -- and that the U.S. helicopters fired back."When the helicopters passed over our border post and were well within Paskitani territory, own security forces fires anticipatory warning shots. On this, the helicopters returned fire and flew back," a Pakistani military statement said.
Domestically, Pakistanis must see themselves as independent and protecting their sovereignty. The sad truth is that their sovereignty is under assault from within, and they remain politically and - perhaps - militarily incapable of defeating the Taliban-al-Qaeda enemy alone. Some may even argue unwilling to do so.
But domestic perceptions and considerations must be taken into account. It is not wild speculation to assume that US military and intelligence in theater understand this. For what it's worth.
UPDATE: From our friends at Rantburg: today, an article worth a look: Pakistani, U.S. clash won't escalate: analysts.