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Frontier Corps

1. Chitral Scouts
2. Khyber Rifles
3. Kurram Militia
4. South Waziristan Scouts
5. Tochi Scouts
6. Mahsud Scouts
7. Mohmand Rifles
8. Shawal Rifles
1. Zhob Militia
2. Chaghai Militia
3. Sibi Scouts
4. Kalat Scouts
5. Makran Militia
6. Kharan Rifles
7. Pishin Scouts
8. Maiwind Rifles
9. Ghazaband Scouts
10. Bambore Rifles
11. Loralai Scouts

The Frontier Corps' status as a locally-raised Pashtun force allows it access and acceptability amongst the indigenous population that even the Pakistani Army does not have. The 'Frontier Corps (FC) are a Federal paramiltary force manned mostly by people from the tribal areas and officered by officers from the Pakistan Army. The FC Stationed in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Balochistan Province, are known as FC NWFP and FC Balochistan, respectively. Both distinct provincial groups are run traditionally by an Army officer of at least major-general rank.

Another lesser-trained paramilitary force, having officers from the Police Service of Pakistan and other personnel from the Pashtun tribes, is also known as FC, though it stands for Frontier Constabulary.

The Frontier Corps, also called the Scouts, were reorganised after the Third Afghan war in 1919. The FC was raised and deployed there before the creation of Pakistan in 1947 by British colonial rulers of India. They are lightly armed soldiers who act as the political agent's police force. These forces are known for its bravery and hard work. They have served with bravery and distinction. They operate in those parts of the tribal areas where government writ extends; about 1/8th of FATA.

All the tribal administrative agencies have either one or two units of this force. They are manned by the tribes, who normally serve in mixed configurations to prevent breakdown of disciple. They are officered by regular officers of the Pakistani military. Today, they are tasked to assist the 90,000 strong army stationed in FATA.

With a total manpower of approximately 80,000, the task of these forces is to help local law enforcement in the maintenance of law and order when called upon to do so. Border patrol and anti-smuggling operations are also delegated to the FC. Lately, these forces have been increasingly used in military operations against insurgents in Balochistan and militants in the Federally Administered Tribal areas.

The Frontier Corps (FC) operated in FATA for securing the Afghan border and assisting the political administration of the seven tribal agencies to maintain law and order. This paramilitary force is well suited to operate in FATA. The largely Pashtun force is drawn from the same ethnic groups that inhabits the tribal areas, and so isr able to win the trust of the people and match their fighting skills. Presently 50,000-member strong and set to total 55,000 following fresh recruitment, the FC has largely managed security duties in the tribal areas and on the border with Afghanistan and earned praise for its discipline and bravery. While Frontier Corps troops understand the culture and region better and speak the local language, they have even less equipment and less training than the military.

Over a period of time, a separate FC was raised for Balochistan to police that part of Pakistan's border with Afghanistan and be available for security duty in the violence-prone province. The FC subsequently spearheaded military operations against Baloch separatists and assisted the Pakistan Army in flushing out insurgents and protecting the country's largest gas deposits at Sui along with other natural resources in Balochistan.

The FC NWFP and FC Balochistan are commanded by officers drawn from the Pakistan Army. A serving major general serves as commander of the force and is referred to as the Inspector General Frontier Corps (IGFC). Tribesmen recruited from all Pashtun, Baloch and other tribes residing in the NWFP, FATA and Balochistan form the rank and file of the FC. The FC is also called Scouts.

Throughout its 100-year history, the Frontier Corps has faced diverse challenges. In recent years, there has been a lot of focus on counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations. But just as drugs and terrorism are linked, investigations of terrorists and drug criminals often overlap, and accordingly the Frontier Corps is very involved in counter-narcotics. In fact, it is estimated that in 2007, the Frontier Corps Baluchistan conducted 80% of the heroin and morphine-base seizures in Pakistan.

Recruited from the tribal areas and led by Pakistani army officers, the 80,000-member Frontier Corps historically has been poorly armed and trained. Some analysts maintain that the ISI has set up private organizations to distance the relationship between its military leadership and extremist fighters. These private organizations are staffed by retired ISI officers and funded through the budget of Pakistan's Frontier Corps.

The United States is working with Pakistan's paramilitary Frontier Corps to train and equip this force and enhance its ability to capitalize on the unique skills, access, and abilities that it has in the border area. The special $75M authority Congress created for the Frontier Corps is an effective tool to aid U.S. efforts, but it too has its limitations - specifically, that it cannot be used for any other non-military force (which excludes, for example, the Frontier Constabulary, etc.).

In October 2008 a small contingent of US military trainers begun a training program aimed at turning Pakistan's Frontier Corps into an effective counter-insurgency force. The aim is "basically to train the Frontier Corps in counter-insurgency warfare to make them more effective in the tribal areas," The Pentagon had spent about $25 million so far to equip the Frontier Corps with new body armor, vehicles, radios and surveillance equipment, and plans to spend $75 million more in the next year. Over all, a senior Bush administration official said, the United States could spend more than $400 million in the next several years to enhance the Frontier Corps, including building a training base near Peshawar. United States trainers initially would be restricted to training compounds, but with Pakistani consent could eventually accompany Pakistani troops on missions "to the point of contact" with militants, as American trainers now do with Iraqi troops in Iraq.

"The 2007 plan to provide U.S. training and assistance to the tribal paramilitary Frontier Corps is misguided, however. Since their inception a century ago, those units have always been poachers-turned-wardens, with well-recognized limits on their reliability; and today they are more deeply infiltrated and compromised by divided loyalties than ever before. The Frontier Corps' problems have little to do with weapons and training, and U.S. troops recruited largely from the inner cities and trained for conventional warfare have little to teach rugged Pashtun hillmen about fighting in their own mountains in any case." No Sign until the Burst of Fire - Understanding the Pakistan-Afghanistan Frontier Thomas H. Johnson and M. Chris Mason International Security, Vol. 32, No. 4 (Spring 2008), pp. 41-77

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Page last modified: 28-07-2011 00:54:04 ZULU