Less than a year after the Mumbai terrorist attacks, the United States Mission in Islamabad urged Washington to commit $2 billion over a five-year period beginning April 2011 to enable the Pakistan military to address, among other security needs, its “growing conventional disadvantage vis-à-vis India,” in order to secure its cooperation in the “war on terror.”

The U.S. Government accepted the recommendation. A report in the Washington Post on October 22, 2010 said: “The Obama administration will ask Congress to expand military aid to Pakistan, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday, announcing a five-year, $2 billion package that would increase current financing for weapons purchases by about one-third.”

After the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistani territory by U.S. forces, several American politicians have questioned their country's lavish funding of the Pakistani military.

Even two years ago, the U.S. had expressed doubts about Pakistan's commitment to the war on terror, but believed giving the Pakistan military more money would cement the gaps in the relationship.

A cable dated October 14, 2009 (229597: confidential), accessed by The Hindu through WikiLeaks, details the U.S. Embassy's recommendation for a substantive increase in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) to assist Pakistan address its security requirements.

“The Pakistanis utilize FMF to address the country's broad security needs, which entails their dividing the funds among their services -- Army, Navy, and Air Force -- and developing conventional as well as counterinsurgency capabilities. This includes their addressing their growing conventional disadvantage vis-a-vis India,” the cable noted. It was sent under the name of U.S. Ambassador Anne W. Patterson.

The U.S. Mission also recommended that the quantum of the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capabilities Fund (PCCF) be raised to $1.2 billion for the financial year 2011.

The U.S.' two principal military assistance funding streams for Pakistan — FMF and PCCF — serve different purposes. FMF is designed to build trust with Pakistan's military and foster long-term U.S.-Pakistan military-to-military ties.

The Mission said that while the U.S. works with the Pakistan military to develop FMF spend plans, the Pakistani side drives the specific FMF procurement requests.

“In contrast to FMF, PCCF is a temporary authorization necessary to address Pakistan's immediate counterinsurgency and counter terrorism requirements. The uses of PCCF are largely directed by the US side.”

The cable argued that FMF is, and must, remain the foundation of the bilateral security relationship. “To build a long-term relationship with Pakistan and increase the country's political will and military capability to fight insurgent and terrorist groups, post recommends (1) Obtaining ‘cash-flow' financing authority for Pakistan's FMF; (2) announcing a Presidential commitment to Pakistan of $400 million in FMF per year for FY2011 through FY2015; and (3) Cash-flow financing will allow Pakistan to contract for defence articles and services without having the full amount of FMF available upfront.”

The Mission maintained that a multi-year FMF commitment, combined with cash flow financing, would enable Pakistan to engage in a more strategic approach to defence procurement and increase Pakistan's trust in the U.S. as a reliable, long-term security partner.

“While PCCF fulfils a critical function, it is not aimed at building a long-term relationship with Pakistan or countering Pakistani fears that we will disengage from them when we ultimately pull back from Afghanistan (as we did after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan).”

The cable said the two initiatives would provide a powerful signal to the Pakistan military of the U.S. commitment to a true, long-term strategic partnership with Pakistan.

Elaborating on the request for a five-year FMF commitment, the cable said the Pakistan Army intended to purchase new transport and attack helicopters and modernise its tactical communication system.

The Navy planned to request via EDA and refurbish via FMF up to four Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates and outfit them with helicopters. The Air Force would use FMF to implement the security procedures required for the delivery of new and MLU-ed F-16s.

The cable said the specific counterinsurgency capabilities the PCCF was developing included C4/ISR, air mobile capability, close air support, military intelligence, humanitarian assistance delivery, night operations, counter-IED capability, smuggling interdiction, forward critical medical care, and combat logistics sustainment.

It said the Defence Department originally envisioned PCCF as a five-year programme. However, PCCF may be needed to enhance Pakistan's military capabilities as long as U.S. troops are engaged in combat operations across the border in Afghanistan.

The Mission said the first two years of PCCF required the execution of $1.1 billion over 14 months, and the need for future PCCF was $1.2 billion for FY2011, and $900 million for both FY2012 and FY2013 — a total of $2 billion over that three-year period.

The cable explained that the FY2011 request was $500 million above the FY2010 request as a result of the increased counterinsurgency engagement with the Pakistan Army, which will be the recipient of the bulk of FY2011 PCCF funds.

“This increased engagement has led to increased Army requirements for communications and ISR, as well as anticipated ‘train and equip' requirements for unit rotations as the Army moves brigades and battalions into the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). We will also take advantage of Air Force involvement in ongoing operations for improvements in Air Force ISR assets, command and control, and integration with the delivery of close air support.”

In addition to the proposed military aid, Washington is committed to provide $1.5 billion a year (beginning with 2010) for a period of five years.

A cable dated December 2, 2009 (237503: unclassified) from the State Department on the Af-Pak strategy of the Obama administration said:

“We are now focused on working with Pakistan's democratic institutions, deepening the ties among our governments and people for our common interests and concerns. We are committed to a strategic relationship with Pakistan for the long term.

“We have affirmed this commitment to Pakistan by providing $1.5 billion each year over the next five years to support Pakistan's development and democracy, and have led a global effort to rally additional pledges of support.”

The Pakistan Cables are being shared by The Hindu with NDTV in India and Dawn in Pakistan.