British commando used Pasthun force to hunt Taliban in Tribal Areas: Report

Thursday, November 29th, 2012 10:37:29 by

A British commando led a Pashtun force to raid Taliban camps, hunting down kidnap victims and detaining suspected terrorists in tribal areas of Pakistan, a book revealed.


According to a report published in The Telegraph, Lieutenant Commander Howard Leedham, an ex-Royal Navy pilot recruited Pakistani Pathan soldiers to hunt Taliban. Breaking his silence after eight years, he declared this model for securing Pak-Afghan border.


The report said that the commando had worked secretary under the supervision of the US State Department in the tribal areas that border Afghanistan.


It noted, “Under a one-year contract, Leedham was granted use of an American fleet of seven helicopters and two fixed-wing planes to conduct anti-terrorist operations in support of local troops from a base in Quetta, capital of the restive province of Baluchistan. To do it he had to persuade a Pakistani general to allow him to recruit a handful of local Pathan soldiers.”


Lt Cdr Leedham tells his story in a new book, Ask Forgiveness Not Permission. In his book he noted, “For a moment in time there was a group of Pathans, there were some Pakistani military officers, there were American mechanics, there was me.”


According to the report, Leedham had left the British military after a career as a helicopter pilot for Royal Marine Commando. He had worked with an executive air service in the US when he was approached to take over a failing State Department programme in Pakistan.


The British commando taught the recruits the basics of desert warfare and gave an intense course in helicopter-borne assault techniques. In his view, the local Pathan soldiers really had performed.


Lt Cdr Leedham said the model he used — small teams of local fighters with tight security protocols that prevent tip-offs to militant leaders — could still be used to hunt terrorists even as Western forces pull out of the region.


Lt Cdr Leedham returned to the US at the end of his one-year contract at the age of 46. Today he lives in London and works in the financial world.

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