A new classified U.S. military proposal outlines an intensified effort to enlist tribal leaders in the frontier areas of Pakistan in the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban, the New York Times reported Monday.
It was said to be part of a broader effort to bolster Pakistani forces against an expanding militancy, according to the paper.
If adopted, the proposal would join elements of a shift in strategy that would also be likely to expand the presence of U.S. military trainers in Pakistan, directly finance a separate tribal paramilitary force that until now has proved largely ineffective, and pay militias that agreed to fight al-Qaida and foreign extremists, it said.
The United States has only about 50 troops in Pakistan, a Pentagon spokesman said, a force that could grow by dozens under the new approach.
The new proposal is modeled in part on a similar effort by U.S. forces in Anbar Province in Iraq that has been hailed as a great success in fighting foreign insurgents there.
But it raises the question of whether such partnerships can be forged without a significant U.S. military presence on the ground in Pakistan.
And it is unclear whether enough support can be found among the tribes.